Saturday, August 9, 2008

TILMA - The First Step That is Needed

TILMA, the Trade, Investment and Labour Mobility Agreement between Alberta and BC is the first step that is needed in North America. As a continent we are doing ourselves huge economic harm by building restrictions into how we can conduct business.

I know on the left there are a lot of people decrying this agreement, especially the Council of Canadians. But there is nothing there to back up what they are suggesting is going to happen. TILMA is similar to some of the provisions within the EU, I was dealing with these back in the early 1990s. As far as I can see, allowing investment, people and trade to move around Europe is not doing any harm to anyone.

What we need to see is expansion of TILMA now, immediately. This expansion needs to include the US, Canadian and Mexican federal governments and all of the states and provinces. We need to move to a situation where we have free movement of people between all three countries, we need our own Schengen agreement.

The US has dragged its heals every step of the way with respect to free trade and free movement of people - we need to push them on this now. The free movement of people will quickly raise the living standards in Mexico. A proper agreement would allow Canadians and Americans to own land in Mexico without restriction - Mexico would see a boom of snowbirds.

I am still amazed the US passed NAFTA with the chapter 11 provision. I am glad that there there is something out there that protects people and business from arbitrary and unfair attacks from the government. So far that chapter has done a lot to force governments to consult more and act in a fair and consistent manner.

I dream of TILMA extending from the arctic to the tropics. I would love to see Mexican companies getting contracts to work here. We would also have a lot less problems with finding people to do the jobs no one in Canada wants to do.

Really what is needed is a return of the Multi-lateral Agreement on Investment. If the MAI had been completed ten years ago, we would have seen even more people manage to rise above poverty in the developing world. The defeat of the MAI condemned hundreds of millions of people in countries like India and Pakistan to ongoing enduring poverty. Ever trade and business liberalization is a step forward for eliminating poverty.

TILMA will reduce poverty in BC and Alberta by making government more efficient, by allowing an easier flow of workers from one province to the other, and by giving people wanting to start a business the confidence that this is a place where they have some certainty.

For the moment we have to accept that TIMLA is only here in the west, though this will make BC and Alberta a more cohesive economic unit and one that clearly outweighs Quebec and with this will follow a lot more political power and Quebec will matter less federally that it does now.

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