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”.

April Fools’ Day trade pact undermines measures to fight climate change

BC–Alberta agreement also creates hurdles for endangered species and curbing pollution

VANCOUVER, BC – 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 provinces’ 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.

“It’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,” said Keith Ferguson, Staff Lawyer with Sierra Legal. “In 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.”

One comment

  • The ALR, or Agricultural Land Reserve was introduced in BC by the NDP govt. of Dave Barrett around 1973, denying the sale and use of agricultural land for housing and commercial purposes. Except in Richmond etc., where the best lands in the province are covered with subdivisions and warehouses, taken from the ALR.

    The Socred and BCLiberal governments have been drooling and dreaming of doing away with the ALR completely, on the advice of professors of economics and such “prestigious conservative think tanks” otherwise known as PR agencies, as the Fraser Inst. but didn’t dare, fearing public outrage. Mainly from the cities, as many farmers and ranchers, forced against the wall by prices controlled by the multinational corporate mafia, would love to sell and get rich.

    Big monies, some coming in from Europe and from developers and professionals, like doctors and lawyers, have been buying up large areas from bankrupt farmers, waiting for the death of the ALR, so they can subdivide.

    Now TILMA will give them the green light to sue, win and take lands from food production to cover them with buildings and concrete.

    By the way, we have our land in the ALR. It wasn’t when we bought it in 1975, but we requested its inclusion, got it and it will remain there.

    Ed Deak, Big Lake, BC.

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