Council of Canadians Chilliwack chapter activist Sandy Forbes notes the local implications of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) in her recent letter to the editor published in both the Chilliwack Progress and the Chilliwack Times.
Forbes highlights, “Should a company feel wronged in the choice governments make on our behalf, they are free to sue for perceived damages. The tribunals that adjudicate these cases will be made up of attorneys. These attorneys will rotate between serving on the tribunals and representing corporations that bring cases to be heard by the tribunals. This is a conflict of interest because the attorneys serving on the tribunals will have tremendous incentive to rule for the corporations if they want to continue to get lucrative corporate business.”
Backing Forbes in her analysis is University of British Columbia political science professor Michael Byers and University of Auckland law professor Jane Kelsey.
Byers has warned, “There’s the very real possibility that large cities could pay millions of dollars in arbitration and they have no say in the matter. This is being imposed on them.” And Kelsey has written, “Investors from TPP countries will have the power to challenge local government decisions that damage their commercial interests, including disputed procurement or PPP [public private partnership] contracts, planning and consent processes, or blocking price increases for utilities like water or sanitation. …The contracting out of services, greater use of PPPs, including for water, and asset sales will intensify the exposure of local government to the TPP and heighten the risks of investor-state disputes over disputed contracts.”
Several Council of Canadians chapters – including in Yellowknife, Vancouver-Burnaby and Kelowna – have also raised these concerns with their municipal council.
These are issues that should also be brought to the attention of the House of Commons Standing Committee on International Trade. That Committee has now announced that it’s deadline for public comment has been extended from June 30 to October 31.
Yesterday, the Committee issued a media release stating it “is extending the deadline for Canadians to submit written comments on the topic of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement. Canadians who wish to provide a written submission in the context of the Committee’s TPP public consultation must do so before 23:59 EDT on October 31, 2016. Please note that written submissions exceeding 10 pages must be accompanied by a summary of no more than 1,500 words. The Committee may decide to translate, distribute and/or publish only the summary. More information on the process for providing a written submission can be found in the Guide for Submitting Briefs to House of Commons Committees. Written submissions should be emailed to: email@example.com”
The Chilliwack chapter has been actively opposing the TPP. In January, chapter activist Wendy Major raised 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 “investment protection” provision in the deal. And in April the chapter hosted Dr. Shiv Chopra speaking on the TPP and food safety. Chapter activist Suzy Coulter commented, “Being in the heart of BC’s farmland and dairyland, we in Chilliwack should know and care about where our food comes from and what’s in it. The TPP would make that impossible. And the only time to stop it is now.”
For more on our campaign to stop the TPP, please click here.