TILMA and the Ontario Election

During the provincial campaign, Dalton McGuinty seems to have changed his tune on TILMA. This change is somewhat reminiscent of the Saskatchewan Party’s “road to Damascus” conversion on the issue.

Six months ago, McGuinty praised TILMA and mused about joining it. A couple of weeks ago, he wrote the following in response to a questionnaire from the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU):

Regarding the Trade and Investment Labour Mobility Agreement (TILMA), let me assure you that our priority when studying any potential trade agreement is to ensure it would increase jobs -good jobs – here in Ontario. We will not sign an agreement that would lower or would allow for the lowering of environmental, labour, health and safety standards for Ontario workers.

We will not sign an agreement without first consulting with labour and business.

McGuinty deserves credit for backing away from his endorsement of TILMA. However, he still leaves the door wide open to joining it. Supporters of TILMA argue that it would increase employment without lowering standards. McGuinty offers no indication of whether he agrees or disagrees with this assessment.

Howard Hampton provided a far better response, which demonstrates an understanding that TILMA would reduce employment quality and provincial standards:

TILMA is a formidable instrument for de-regulation that will undermine the rights of working people. Labour standards and related measures are explicitly included as general exceptions to TILMA. This would allow companies to challenge labour standards like health and safety regulations and employment standards. Ontario’s NDP oppose any involvement in TILMA or any similar agreement.

As far as I know, John Tory has not responded to OPSEU’s questionnaire. However, his stance on TILMA is well known if contradictory.

It remains abundantly clear that the best way to stop TILMA in Ontario is to send as many New Democrats as possible to Queen’s Park on Wednesday.

Hats off to OPSEU for trying to pin down the party leaders on this important issue!

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