NDP get support for 'Buy American Trade Deal' hearings motion

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OTTAWA - NDP International Trade Critic Peter Julian secured full support for his motion pushing the Standing Committee on International Trade to hold hearings to review the Buy American agreement which was signed and implemented on Feb. 16th by the Harper government while Parliament was prorogued.

Julian will be calling on expert witnesses to provide answers to many of the questions that Canadian municipalities, companies and the public are asking.

"We seem to have given up a considerable amount of access to public procurement right across the country and these hearings should help determine how much we have given up and how much of the US market we can effectively access", said Julian.

"Assessing the impact on Canadian jobs and communities should have been the first step taken by the Harper government. I am pleased that members of the International Trade committee have agreed to go deeper into this issue".

The Buy American program was brought about by the Obama administration under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) in February 2009 to stimulate economic growth. However, the final draft of the Canada-U.S. Agreement on government procurement agreement was signed just a few days before the closing of the bidding for U.S. stimulus funding. Ninety-eight per cent of U.S. stimulus money had therefore already been allocated.

This left Canadian companies next to no time to bid on projects with no guarantee that they would win any significant business. Furthermore there is no mechanism to enforce Canadian Access to American contracts.

"The Harper government has fast-tracked a major agreement without due diligence; most particularly, Parliament has not been consulted on the agreement and has had no opportunity for oversight", said Julian.

"The fact that we have obtained only partial access to what is left of the Buy American program and yet seem to have given up considerable access to the Canadian public procurement market is a matter of real concern."

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