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Globe and Mail calls for parliamentary review of the Trans-Pacific Partnership

Secret negotitation location revealed
The Council of Canadians outside the Delta Ottawa City Centre to draw attention to the secretive Trans-Pacific Partnership talks taking place inside. Photo: Ben Powless

The Council of Canadians has called for a full public review of the 12-country Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) ‘free trade’ deal.

Today, we have an unusual (nominal) ally in that demand – The Globe and Mail.

The newspaper comments, “Chrystia Freeland, Canada’s Minister of International Trade, has said the Liberal government is ‘committed to reviewing the agreement… and, crucially, to giving Canadians a chance to read it and to respond to it.’ Okay, listen. Really? [Canadians] are going to read a 6,000-page legal document that contains two million words and, in paper form, weighs 45 kilograms? It’s a noble goal – no question of that. But come on. …If Ms. Freeland and her party are serious about making sure Canadians understand its implications, they will have to give Parliamentary committees the time and resources to go over it section by section and hear testimony from neutral experts. Parliament will have to report back to Canadians in plain language about what they are getting and what they are giving up. And then the government will have to make an argument for ratification, or demand further negotiations to protect Canada’s interests.”

The Council of Canadians has called for:

  • A comprehensive and independent analysis of the TPP text by the Parliamentary Budget Officer. Among other things, the analysis must assess the deal’s impact on human rights, health, employment, environment and democracy.

  • Public hearings in each province and territory across Canada as well as separate and meaningful consultation with Indigenous communities and First Nations. No agreement can be ratified without their consent.

  • Ensure that the any progress made at the United Nations Conference on Climate Change in Paris (COP21) is protected from the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) provisions in the TPP. Furthermore, the ISDS provision must be removed from the deal.

Just two weeks before the election, Trudeau promised, “a full and open public debate” on the Trans-Pacific Partnership and highlighted the imperative to “defend Canadian interests during the TPP’s ratification process – which includes defending supply management, our auto sector, and Canadian manufacturers across the country.”

That said:

  • On. Oct. 21, the Canadian Press reported, “A White House statement on [an Oct. 19] telephone call between Trudeau and U.S. President Barack Obama said [the leaders] agreed in principle on the importance of the TPP’…”

  • On Oct. 31, Reuters reported, “Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Canada’s prime minister-designate Justin Trudeau agreed to promote the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), both seeing the free-trade deal as beneficial to the region, Japan’s foreign ministry said in a statement. The two leaders exchanged views on the pact during a 15-minute telephone call on Friday [Oct. 30], Japan’s foreign ministry said.”

  • On Nov. 10, CBC reported, “Canada’s new agriculture minister [said] he is likely to support the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiated by the previous government…” [Lawrence] MacAulay says, “I suspect when I evaluate the whole thing, it will be something I support. I see nothing today that would make me not want to support the whole package.”

It’s clear that the deal does not have strong public support in Canada. An EKOS poll released on Oct. 28 found that the deal is opposed by 38 per cent of Canadians and supported by 41 per cent. The poll also found that 31 per cent of Canadians think the TPP will be harmful, while 33 per cent believe it will be good for the economy.

What will Trudeau choose to do?

On Nov. 16-18, Trudeau will be meeting with the leaders of the eleven other signatories to the Trans-Pacific Partnership at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Manila, the Philippines. This will be an important occasion for him to commit to full public hearings on the TPP and to signal to the other leaders that Canada may be seeking significant changes to the deal as a result of that public input.

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