Last week’s debate at city council over the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) will hardly register as a blip on the screen of the overall discussion going on about this issue. Yet, the arrival of the CETA to City Hall is a welcome one.
In this story you can read about Mayor John Dooley’s spirited address to his colleagues last week, telling council that: “I think we’re better than this.” Despite the mayor’s plea that council let organizations like the Federation of Canadian Municipalities handle discussions with the federal government, the majority of council voted for a motion that Nelson be exempt from the deal.
Council’s motion will have very little impact on the final outcome, but throwing focus on this trade deal is important. It allows us to think more about the world economy and our place in it.
Both the Nelson and District Chamber of Commerce and Pacific Insight Electronics sent letters to council urging our leaders to not throw up walls against international trade. Having the community’s advocate for business and one of the area’s largest private sector employer speak up should not have fallen on deaf ears at the council table.
Obviously, we want all local companies to thrive and provide benefit to the community. Council should always be thinking of ways to help facilitate this. But protectionist strategies in our continually shrinking world is not the way to achieve it. Nelson-based businesses and consultants have just as much opportunity to gain from opening up markets with European nations.
At the end of the discussion last week, Councillor Candace Batycki (who brought forward the original motion at the request of concerned residents), did add a clause that threw some support behind the FCM. It was a wise move.
If the original intent by Batycki was to bring the CETA issue to a larger audience, then she has succeeded. Regardless of how Nelson’s motion will be measured in the final result, sparking discussion on how we see ourselves in the global economy provides great value.