As we have noted in previous campaign blogs, the Liberal government has provided an e-mail address for people to send their comments on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).
Council of Canadians Chilliwack chapter activist Wendy Major raises several key issues in her letter to the government, including Bovine Growth Hormone (BGH/rBST) tainted dairy products that could enter Canada as a result of the TPP and the implications of the Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) provision in the deal.
Major writes, "Farm management [in the United States] uses antibiotic medication and hormone additives injections to blanket control disease prevention in crowded conditions and to induce increased milk supply to match their 'supply and demand' market requirements. ...At this point, rBST is not allowed in Canada. So if TPP were to be approved [will rBST enter the Canadian food market]? And she asks, "How will we pay the high costs of a tribunal decision ... when we are challenged by foreign corporations in Pacific Rim countries under the 'Investor-State Dispute Settlement Mechanism' because they have not been given the access or results they expected?"
The Trans-Pacific Partnership Division at Global Affairs Canada has now responded to Major's letter.
They don't comment at all to the BGH/rBst issue, but remarkably they defend ISDS by citing our experience under NAFTA.
The letter states, "Our government supports free trade – it will help to open markets to Canadian goods and services, grow Canadian businesses, create good-paying jobs, and provide choice to Canadian consumers. With respect to Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS), the TPP will not impair the ability of Canada or its partners to regulate and legislate in areas such as the environment, culture, safety, health and conservation. Our experience under the NAFTA demonstrates that neither our investment protection rules nor the ISDS mechanism constrain any level of government from regulating in the public interest."
This glosses over the reality that Canada has been subject to 35+ NAFTA investor-state claims since the deal came into force on Jan. 1, 1994. Sixty three per cent of those claims have involved challenges to environmental protection or resource management measures. Canada has already lost or settled six claims, paying damages totaling over $170 million not to mention tens of millions more in legal costs. Transnational corporations are currently seeking over $6 billion in damages from the Canadian government for infractions like the Quebec government banning fracking under the St. Lawrence River.
With respect to Bovine Growth Hormone, CBC has reported, "At the initial briefing offered to journalists, TPP negotiators said Canadian health and safety regulations would apply [to dairy imports]. ...But further clarification recently revealed that doesn't mean dairy producers outside Canada have to follow the same rules Canadian farms do. Most notably, it's illegal in Canada to administer bovine growth hormone (rBST) to boost milk production in dairy cattle. But there's no such restriction in the U.S. ...No new certification or inspection regime appears set to screen milk destined for import into Canada. It's also unclear whether U.S. milk would be segregated at Canadian processing facilities, or simply mixed with Canadian product."
Why didn't Global Affairs Canada respond to Major's concerns about this?
To demand more and better from the Liberal government, please add your name to our Let’s have real public consultations on the TPP action alert. And to tell the Liberals 'to protect the health and safety of Canadians by rejecting the TPP', specifically on the Bovine Growth Hormone issue, please add your name to our Reject the TPP petition.
You can also do as Major has done and write the government at TPP-PTP.firstname.lastname@example.org.
In his critique of this e-mail form of consultation, iPolitics writer BJ Siekierski noted, "The Global Affairs Canada website provides an email address and invites comments from the public on TPP, but doesn’t give a deadline or say what it plans to do with them." We still don't really know what they'll do with your feedback, but it appears they may ignore key points you raise and (remarkably) defend the controversial investor-state provision.
The Canadian Press reported today that federal trade minister Chrystia Freeland has now confirmed that she will be in Auckland, New Zealand on Feb. 4 to sign the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
For more on our campaign to stop the TPP, please click here.