Constituent Letters: Harper Government Sells Out Canadian Workers

In response to Fred Rinne's editorial Buy American deal gets us back on track (Feb. 8).

We would suggest the Harper government has snuck a deal through that will do more harm than good for Canadian workers in the long term.

This deal fails to protect Canadian interests, it gives up more than it gets and trades off long-term opportunities for possible short-term gains.

The special exemption deal, widely cited as an emergency measure to protect the interests of Canadian companies shut out of U.S. economic stimulus funds, could effectively remove the rights and powers of provincial and municipal governments to manage public spending on big ticket construction projects. For example, we could be found in violation of the World Trade Organization Government Procurement Agreement (GPA) if, as a municipality, we decided to spend our tax dollars on creating Canadian jobs.

Currently, only 37 U.S. states are party to that agreement, with no U.S. municipalities having signed on.

So, what did we get for this deal? Well, we will have the chance to bid on whatever remains of U.S. federal and state economic stimulus projects up until Feb. 17 (when the project awards will be complete). No guarantees were made to ensure Canadian jobs will be created. At the same time, it opens up the floodgate of Canadian purchases to U.S. companies.

Buy America provisions are still widely used in the U.S. for most federally funded projects and will continue to be used long after the recession is over. Why are we opposed to doing the same in Canada?

At a time when a growing number of Canadians are expecting government to protect Canadian jobs, the Harper government is going in the opposite direction.

Tim Carrie
President CAW Local 27 London
London-Fanshawe Constituent