The Council of Canadians got its message out yesterday as the full text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership was released by the New Zealand government.
The Canadian Press reports, "Several watchdog groups expressed a wide range of criticism of the deal, saying it would hurt workers in poor countries and deprive poor people of access to cheaper medicine. ...The Council of Canadians urged the government to ask the parliamentary budget officer to review the deal."
AgenceQMI adds (in French), "The Council of Canadians demands that the new federal government led by Justin Trudeau hold extensive public consultations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement. The Council also suggests that the Parliamentary Budget Officer in Ottawa is reviewing the commercial document on the economic plan, the environment and respect for human rights. 'After years of secret negotiations, where only handpicked advisers and lobbyists were allowed - excluding any involvement of Parliament, civil society and trade union organizations - the time is democratic and comprehensive reporting on this wide trade agreement', stated the Council. The Council of Canadians wants for its part the withdrawal of the commercial provision on settlement of disputes between investor and state, 'allowing multinationals to sue a state for loss of expected profits'. The organization hopes at least that advances that could be achieved at the climate talks in Paris next month is protected against potential lawsuits."
Radio Canada notes (in French), "The Council of Canadians and the Trade Justice Network, for their part, are asking the government to entrust the Parliamentary Budget independent analysis of the TPP."
RINF highlights, "With the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) text finally revealed, the Council of Canadians asks that new Prime Minister Justin Trudeau not repeat the mistakes of his predecessor by failing to consult with the public about the agreement. The Council of Canadians is asking for a full public consultation, including an independent human rights, economic, and environmental review of the document. It also asks that the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) provisions, which allow corporations to sue states for lost profits, be excised from the deal. If ISDS provisions are not excised, the Council of Canadians asks that any progress made at the Paris climate talks be shielded from lawsuits."
And the National Observer reports, "As the text of the formerly secret Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) deal was finally made public, the Council of Canadians called upon the newly elected federal government to hold public consultations over the deal. The council wants an independent human rights, economic and environmental review of the document and is calling for investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) provisions to be cut from the deal. ISDS provisions allow corporations to sue states for lost profits."
In terms of the Liberal government's response to the TPP, the Canadian Press article also notes, "Canada plans to release its own copy of the text once it is translated into French, said Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland. She said the government will solicit public comments on its website and is committed to a full parliamentary debate. But the consultation wouldn't happen overnight, in part because she just had her first briefing and the text is 6,000 pages."
But while the Trudeau government will seek public input, the Globe and Mail highlights, "The new Liberal government in Ottawa is making no promises about renegotiating a massive Pacific Rim trade deal now that the text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement has been made public. Instead, Justin Trudeau’s international trade minister is urging Canadians to review the accord, which numbers 6,000 pages. ...But she made no mention of asking the 11 other Trans-Pacific Partner countries to reopen the deal and make changes to what was negotiated by Stephen Harper’s defeated Conservative government."
We have previously stated that in order for the promised public consultations and parliamentary debate to have credibility that the Trudeau government should signal in advance to the 11 other TPP signatory countries that Canada could be seeking to make significant changes to the deal on the basis of the public feedback received.
And with respect to timelines, the Nikkei Asian Review reports, "The U.S. government began the legal process on Thursday [Nov. 5] to bring a sweeping Pacific free trade pact into force, with President Barack Obama notifying lawmakers of his plan to sign the U.S.-led initiative. Obama will sign the Trans-Pacific Partnership deal with 11 other countries in February at the earliest as U.S. law requires the government to wait at least 90 days before signing a trade deal after the president notifies Congress of an intention to sign it." In early October, the Globe and Mail reported, "A vote in Congress may not happen until next April, when the race to succeed Mr. Obama as president is in full swing."
There is no word yet from the Trudeau government on its schedule to ratify the TPP, but it's possible that it could be similar to the US timeline, meaning early spring 2016.
For more on why we are so concerned about the Trans-Pacific Partnership, please click here.