Hidden Montebello SPP agreement on industrial chemicals will weaken Canadian regulation—report

September 24, 2007

OTTAWA—Contrary to assurances from Prime Minister Harper, an SPP regulatory agreement signed at Montebello sets Canada on course toward a single North American regime for regulating industrial chemicals that will almost certainly weaken the existing Canadian regulatory system and erode policy autonomy, says a study released today by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

The study, by CCPA Executive Director Bruce Campbell, reveals that a sub-agreement on chemicals regulation was signed at Montebello, but it was not publicized and it was not posted on the Canadian government web site.

The sub-agreement commits the three NAFTA countries to harmonizing chemicals regulation in testing, research, information gathering, assessment, and risk management, as much as possible, by 2012. It also commits the three governments to work toward a single North American voice in international standard-setting bodies, which, given existing power realities, means an American voice.

The chemicals agreement follows the advice of the SPP business council, which complained that tougher Canadian regulations were preventing certain U.S. goods from being sold in Canada.

“Signing this SPP chemicals harmonization agreement is further evidence that the Harper government is moving Canada deeper into the business-friendly U.S. camp and away from the much stronger European system, which takes a safety-first approach to regulation,” says Campbell.

“How much more risk to health, safety and the environment will Canadians have to incur in the name of business competitiveness?” Campbell concluded.


More Than Jellybeans: The SPP Regulatory Cooperation Agreement and its Impact on Chemicals Regulation, is available on the CCPA web site: http://www.policyalternatives.ca

For more information contact Kerri-Anne Finn, CCPA Communications Officer, at 613-563-1341 x306.