TILMA and the environment
Last week, the Sierra Legal Defence Fund published a legal analysis on the environment and TILMA. Below is an excerpt from the press release, and the full document is here. This is an important analysis as BC’s point man on the file, Colin Hansen, has been claiming that the environment has been set aside as a “legitimate objective”.
BCâ€“Alberta agreement also creates hurdles for endangered species and curbing pollution
VANCOUVER, BC â€“ Key aspects of environmental regulation from municipal to provincial lawmaking will be turned upside down this Sunday April 1st when the Trade, Investment and Labour Mobility Agreement (TILMA) comes into force. Although the aim of the agreement is to turn Alberta and BC into an economic powerhouse, a legal analysis of TILMA by Sierra Legal reveals it could seriously threaten the provincesâ€™ endangered species and jeopardize potential initiatives to reduce air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.
TILMA sets rules for all governments within the trade zone (including, in 2009, municipalities) and allows individuals and corporations to sue BC or Alberta for up to $5 million if its rules are broken, even if a government, including local governments, is acting to help the environment. The agreement does include some environmental exemptions regarding water and the promotion of renewable and alternative energy, but other government measures (laws, programs, policies) aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions and air pollutants, or protecting endangered species cannot overly restrict trade or investment. No input from environmental groups or the public is required in coming to such a decision.
â€œItâ€™s scary to think that a dispute panel created under an agreement aimed exclusively at boosting trade and investment can make such profound decisions on our environment,â€ said Keith Ferguson, Staff Lawyer with Sierra Legal. â€œIn this time of increased awareness for the need to protect our environment, I find it unbelievable that the governments of BC and Alberta are pushing this.â€