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Council of Canadians tells trade minister TPP is a deal for plutocrats

TPP Forum

Today’s event in Montreal. Photo by Canada Trade.

Federal trade minister Chrystia Freeland is currently on a ‘national consultation’ tour seeking input on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

Montreal-based Council of Canadians trade campaigner Sujata Dey attended the forum that Freeland spoke at today at the Université de Montréal. The Canadian Press is now widely reporting, “A Council of Canadians representative on Thursday described TPP as a deal of ‘plutocrats’, in reference to Freeland’s latest book of the same name about income inequality.”

Back in 2012, before she was a minister, Freeland wrote a book titled, Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super-Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else.

The blurb for the book explains, “There has always been some gap between rich and poor in this country, but in the last few decades what it means to be rich has changed dramatically. Alarmingly, the greatest income gap is not between the 1 percent and the 99 percent, but within the wealthiest 1 percent of our nation–as the merely wealthy are left behind by the rapidly expanding fortunes of the new global super-rich. Forget the 1 percent; Plutocrats proves that it is the wealthiest 0.1 percent who are outpacing the rest of us at break-neck speed.”

The Guardian UK’s book review notes, “Freeland, I should point out, is no Marxist, and although conceding to him one or two minor points, she is still very much of the opinion that capitalism is ‘the best prosperity-creating system humanity has come up with so far’, as she has said in the financial blog she writes for Reuters. …That Freeland is probably not going to be your best political friend should not put you off. It will also make you laugh in a very bitter way when you recall the slogan of the recent [British] Tory conference: ‘for hard-working people’.”

That book review from two years ago is likely prescient in that Freeland certainly isn’t turning out to be our “best political friend”. As today’s Canadian Press report highlights, “A renegotiation of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal is not possible even though serious concerns may be raised during public consultations, Canada’s trade minister said Thursday. ‘The negotiations are finished and for Canadians it’s important to understand that it’s a decision of yes or no’, Chrystia Freeland told reporters Thursday after receiving varied feedback at a meeting at the University of Montreal.”

Stuart Trew and Scott Sinclair from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives have argued, “An agreement that purports to set binding rules for regulating commerce in the 21st century certainly deserves public hearings, across the country. …[Prime Minister Justin Trudeau could invite the premiers] to help him co-ordinate national consultations on the TPP. …[He could also inform] TPP partner countries Canada cannot be bound by the agreement as negotiated, and that public input could result in Canadian demands for changes. His resolve can only be strengthened by the U.S. insistence that it can still force changes in Canada’s implementation of its TPP commitments.”

But the trade minister doesn’t seem to accept that argument.

Instead, a not-widely publicized Government of Canada web-page has posted the line, “Canadians are invited to visit this page frequently for consultations activities and regular updates. You can also send your comments at any time via email: TPP-PTP.consultations@international.gc.ca.”

We encourage you to send your message to that email address.

And based on the trade minister’s statement today on the binary choice we appear to be presented with, your message might only have to say “no”.

We also ask that you keep demanding a proper public consultation on the TPP. To do so, you can go to our Let’s have real public consultations on the TPP! action alert. More than 6,000 people have already done so, but we need more people pressing the federal government with this demand.

For more on our campaign to stop the TPP, please click here.