Council warned of free trade pact

International trade agreement scrutinized by City of Vernon

International trade is coming under scrutiny at the City of Vernon.

Council has instructed staff to come back with a report on the proposed Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement between Canada and the European Union.

“It’s something we need to look at,” said Mayor Wayne Lippert.

“Other levels of government can affect how municipalities do business.”

The proposed trade pact has generated concerns from the North Okanagan Food Action Society.

“It covers all aspects of trade and economic development and it could have an impact on municipalities,” said Mary Stockdale, spokesperson.

Specifically, Stockdale suggests the trade pact could led to European corporations having full access to the purchasing of goods and services by municipalities, hospitals and school districts.

“Municipalities would have to remove any preference for local companies,” she said.

She added that there is the potential for large corporations to take control of facilities like water plants.

The Food Action Society wants the City of Vernon to oppose European access to municipal procurement processes, and that the city request a briefing from the provincial government on negotiations with the European Union.

“We’re hoping to take this to all of the municipalities in our region,” said Stockdale, adding that the matter has already gone before Spallumcheen council.