Across Canada and around the world, people are speaking out about the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement (TPP). They are rallying against the secrecy of the 12-country negotiations and the corporate agenda behind the deal.
On February 12, 2014 legislators in seven of the 12 TPP countries issued the following joint statement about the negotiations:
"We, the undersigned legislators from countries involved in the negotiation of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, call on the Parties to the negotiation to publish the draft text of the Agreement before any final agreement is signed with sufficient time to enable effective legislative scrutiny and public debate."
In Canada, the statement was endorsed by the federal NDP and the Green Party of Canada. It is the simplest of demands for democracy on a “trade” deal that threatens to undermine the very notion of the public good, by giving corporations more power to undermine public policy.
Click here to amplify this message to Canada’s international trade minister and members of the parliamentary trade committee.
The TPP directly threatens:
Public health and access to medicines: The U.S. is using the TPP to push for excessive patent protections and other intellectual property rights that are guaranteed to make medication much more expensive in Canada and even inaccessible to the poorest countries involved in the negotiations. Across the world, health advocates plea it is a matter of life and death that we say no to these changes in the TPP.
Environmental protection measures: The TPP will include an environment chapter that U.S. negotiators would like to be enforceable. But the 11 other TPP countries, including Canada, object to the idea that protecting the environment is as important as protecting corporations from government regulation. The reality is the TPP cannot and does not pretend to help reduce emissions or protect the Earth. It will however put a screen on all environmental policies to make sure they do not hurt trade and investment. The only winner from this situation is climate change.
Access to knowledge and the open Internet: The U.S. wants TPP countries to change their copyright laws in ways that restrict the open Internet, make it illegal to circumvent digital locks on copyrighted material even for non-infringing purposes, stifle innovation, raise the prices of books, CDs and movies, and reduce economic opportunities to businesses, creators and the public. The dream of a democratic world-wide web is fading, but still there. The TPP would make the dream much harder to realize.
Community-led public policy: Like NAFTA, the TPP will include an investor rights chapter and investor–state dispute process that lets companies sue governments in secret tribunals when public policies get in the way of profits. The polices or decisions can be legal and fair (i.e. they treat national and foreign firms identically), or designed to effectively protect the environment or public health, and still face corporate lawsuits demanding hundreds of millions, and sometimes billions of dollars in compensation. Canada has lost or settled five such claims under NAFTA costing the public over $160 million. Leaked texts show the TPP will create even more opportunities than in NAFTA for corporations to challenge public decisions. This powerful tool of corporate rule, designed to undermine democracy, is reason enough to stop the TPP.
We need to amplify the simple demand of legislators across seven TPP countries: Expose the TPP and give the public a say before it is signed. Use the form here to send a letter to Canada’s International Trade Minister Ed Fast and parliamentary trade committee members.