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PEI chapter to rally against the TPP

The Council of Canadians PEI chapter will be rallying against the Trans-Pacific Partnership on March 31.

The chapter will be rallying outside the Delta Hotel at 1:30 pm because of a ‘by invitation only’ consultation on the TPP there with David Lametti, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Trade, at 2 pm. To be able to attend this meeting, Global Affairs Canada says, “Please RSVP to ExportSuccess-ExporterAvecSucces@international.gc.ca by Tuesday, March 29. We would also appreciate if you would include a brief biography for yourself, or your designated attendee, when sending the RSVP.”

Later that afternoon Lametti will also be at the University of Prince Edward Island for a “public consultation” starting at 3:30 pm.

The Council of Canadians opposes the Trans-Pacific Partnership and has highlighted that the deal would mean job losses, greater income inequality, further powers for transnational corporations to challenge public interest legislation through its investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) provision, higher costs for medicines given its extended patent protections for pharmaceutical corporations, Bovine Growth Hormone-treated milk entering Canada unlabelled, and the further exploitation of temporary foreign workers. We have also argued that there has been little advance public notice for these “consultations”.

Despite limited notice, Council of Canadians activists in Vancouver, Montreal, Regina, Winnipeg, Guelph and St. John’s have been able to make their way to these consultations. Our PEI chapter had also previously tried to attend a Jan. 21 consultation in Charlottetown but were told it was “by invitation only” and “not a public meeting”.

Those concerned about the TPP can also raise their concerns about the deal when Lametti visits the University of New Brunswick on March 30.

The Council of Canadians has made four demands of the federal government with respect to an independent review of the TPP:

– Ask the Parliamentary Budget Officer to conduct a comprehensive and independent analysis of the TPP text. Among other things, the analysis must assess the deal’s impact on human rights, health, employment, environment and democracy.

– Hold 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 full consent.

– Protect any future agreement at the United Nations Conference on Climate Change (COP22) from the investor-state dispute settlement provisions (ISDS) in the TPP. Furthermore, ISDS must be excised from the TPP.

– Remove health care and pharmaceuticals from the TPP. Our public health policy should be dictated by evidence, not by trade agreements, and put people before profit.

It appears now that one of these demands has been partly heard and that the House of Commons Standing Committee on International Trade will be holding “hearings” next month in the following cities: Vancouver (April 18), Calgary (April 19), Saskatoon (April 20), and Winnipeg (April 21).

Unfortunately, a March 10 media release from the Committee says, “The Committee’s primary objective is to assess the extent to which the agreement, once implemented, would be in the best interests of Canadians.” That’s a different spin than Justin Trudeau’s election-time Oct. 5, 2015 statement that, “Canadians deserve to know what impacts this agreement will have on different industries across our country.” It’s also different from trade minister Chrystia Freeland’s Jan. 25 statement that, “Just as it is too soon to endorse the TPP, it is also too soon to close the door.”

And while the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives has argued Trudeau should inform TPP partner countries that “public input could result in Canadian demands for changes”, Freeland has stated, “The negotiations are finished and for Canadians it’s important to understand that it’s a decision of yes or no.”

The Council of Canadians will continue to demand a more robust process for consultation, but we are also encouraging our supporters to attend both the consultations and hearings to raise key questions and concerns. The House of Commons Standing Committee on International Trade will be receiving written submissions (of no more than 1,500 words in length) before April 30. You can email your comments to them at ciit-tpp-ptp@parl.gc.ca You can also e-mail the government directly your comments and concerns at TPP-PTP.consultations@international.gc.ca

For a sampling of questions you could ask – and the type of responses Global Affairs Canada has given to date – please see these two blogs: Trudeau disagrees with Canadians expressing concerns about the TPP and Over 1,000 emails sent to Trudeau government about the TPP.