‘I think that this is an issue that affects democracy in general, and that’s a lot of my motivation to be here tonight,” Tory Russell told council this week.
Russell, a Whitehorse resident is concerned about the Trade, Investment and Labour Mobility Agreement, and wanted to brief council about the deal.
TILMA was signed by the BC and Alberta governments without municipal consultation, said Russell.
It came into effect this spring, and the two provinces are now inviting other provinces and territories to sign on.
The agreement limits provincial border restrictions, similar to North American Free Trade Agreement.
“What happens under TILMA is that if a corporation thinks that a government has a restriction that affects their capacity to make money, then they can take that government to a dispute resolution panel and sue them for up to $5 million,” she said.
There are examples of trades looking after the labour mobility issues and standards on their own, said Russell.
“This seems like too much bang, for what they’re trying to accomplish.”
“Is this a situation where you give up some rights in return for some other benefits?” Councillor Stockdale asked her.
It’s not clearly stated what rights are being given up and the benefits do not seem well served by the agreement, said Russell.
“It’s too bulky, too overreaching and too swayed on the investors’ side over community input.”
“And what is your interest in this?” asked Stockdale. “It’s not just an ordinary citizen’s interest in democracy is it?
“You don’t have a job that’s related to this that might be impacted?”
“No, I’ve been following this for months and it’s being a downtown resident and knowing that a Calgary developer can completely override me.”
When the city was discussing building heights, Russell e-mailed her opinions to council, she said.
“If all my neighbours are for an eight-storey building than that sucks, but it’s alright, I’ll go with the majority,” she said.
“But if it’s an Outside investor that’s going to sue you guys and take you to a panel that I have no access to — then it’s the democratic principle that brings me here.”
The Association of Yukon Communities has said it is looking into the controversial agreement.
Recently the Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce announced that it is in favour of TILMA.