Sunday, February 11, 2007

The right response

In what appears to be the Saskatchewan NDP's first strong public statement on the TILMA, Lorne Calvert is hinting that unlike the provinces to the west, Saskatchewan isn't eager to see its hands tied:
The NDP government says it will soon decide whether Saskatchewan will sign on to the controversial Trade, Investment and Labour Mobility Agreement (TILMA) between British Columbia and Alberta.

But for Premier Lorne Calvert, TILMA appears to have little appeal.

"Clearly from the beginning, I've wanted to see the work that we're doing at the national level. While we have an important relationship with Alberta and British Columbia, we also trade as much the other way -- significantly with Ontario, for instance, and a fair bit of trade with Manitoba. So, from our point of view, I'm looking for an agreement that achieves goals that are attached to real issues.

"TILMA is a broad, broad agreement, with not, in my view, clearly stated problems. So my point is, let's get to what the real problems are and let's build a real agreement. Maybe there are some things in TILMA we can learn from," he said in an interview this week, following a conference call among premiers where internal trade was a major topic of discussion.
Unfortunately, there are some problems in the general coverage within the article, as it continues the false claim that the agreement would require harmonization to the higher standard rather than harmonization period. And it's a bit worrisome that Calvert has apparently commissioned the Conference Board of Canada to do a study of economic effects given the laughable study they did to justify the agreement from B.C.'s standpoint.

But then, neither the media nor the Conference Board of Canada will ultimately get to decide the issue. With Calvert becoming (to my knowledge) the first prominent politician to point out that there's no reason for provinces to be bullied into signing the TILMA, the door is now wide open for others across the country to join the anti-TILMA crowd. And hopefully the end result will be an agreement which deals with existing labour mobility issues without needlessly preventing governments from serving their citizens.

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