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SD5 sends letter to Terry Lake, concerned about water/rightsPosted: April 23, 2012

Letter to the Editor

The following is a copy of a letter sent to the Honourable Terry Lake, B.C. Minister of Environment, from School District No. 5.

Dear Mr. Lake,

Re: Canadian European Trade Agreement

In February, 2011, the SD5 Board received a letter from CUPE re: the Government of Canada’s current negotiations for a Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) with the European Union (EU) that outlined CUPE’s concern this agreement, if ratified, presents a serious threat to Canada’s public water system including rights of public ownership, sanitation standards and expensive procurement practices could potentially and negatively affect school boards.

In April, 2012 the Board carried the following motion.

MOTION R – 12- 045

M/S that a further discussion take place at the April Board meeting regarding the draft letter to Minister Lake on the Comprehensive Economic Trade and Agreement. It is further recommended that the Board approves and sends the letter to Minister Lake.

We understand that The Canada Water Act calls for joint consultation between the federal and provincial governments in matters relating to water resources, including regulation and that “[t]his shared responsibility necessitates close cooperation and collaboration among all levels of government, Aboriginal peoples, and the public.”

Having reviewed a number of media updates on this issue, including strong positions/motions carried by the BC School Trustees Association and the Union of B.C. Municipalities as well as other school boards and municipalities etc. across Canada our Board requests the Ministry of Environment –with regard to the CETA—to consider the following recommendations:

  • Fully exclude drinking water and wastewater services from CETA trade offers.
  • Issue a clear, permanent exemption protecting the powers of municipalities, hospitals, school boards, utilities, universities and other sub-federal agencies to use procurement, services and investment as tools to create local jobs, protect the environment, and support local development.
  • Assure – and ask that the federal government assure – the CETA cannot be interpreted to limit the powers of citizens to decide, through their councilors and/or other elected officials, the type of services that can be offered or controlled by local governments.
  • Oppose any obligations to liberalize or privatize public services or measures that would remove from governments, councilors and/or other elected officials the capacity to regulate in the public interests.
  • Inform municipalities as soon as possible on the aspects of CETA that affect municipal procurement.
  • Withdraw support from CETA negotiations until the public and other elected officials have had a chance to review negotiation offers.

We look forward to hearing back from your Ministry regarding the recommendations you put forward to the federal government in your discussions around the CETA.

Frank Lento, chair

School District 5

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One Response to SD5 sends letter to Terry Lake, concerned about water/rights

  1. Open request to Mr Frank Lento

    I for one, have never heard of any issue in regards to The Canadian European Trade Agreement, let alone any media coverage of same. For another, I really don’t see any reason, based on your letter of wanting to be considered in federal and provincial discussions with some group / governement in Europe, that there is any reason for concern on the part of muncipalities let alone teachers or school boards.
    Maybe to garner any credence in regards to this possible ? issue, you might tell us what and where the issues are from your perspective Mr Lento. I might also suggest you supply the public with a link to the source document to show that there might be or might not be a potential issue for both schools and municpalities.
    At first blush, this appears to be a federal / provincial responsibilty, not something a minute as a School board concern.
    Maybe you could inform the public a lot more prior to this type of letter being posted ?

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