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Southwestern Ontario chapters to mobilize against the TPP

Liberal trade minister Chrystia Freeland signing the TPP, February 2016. The House of Commons is expected to vote on the deal in late 2017.

Several Council of Canadians chapters will be mobilizing on November 5 in opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

The Council of Canadians Hamilton, South Niagara, London and Guelph chapters will be coming together for a protest outside the constituency office of Chris Bittle, the Liberal Member of Parliament for the riding of St. Catharines.

The South Niagara chapter’s promotion on Facebook notes, “Join us outside the Constituency Office of St. Catharines MP, Chris Bittle, 61 Geneva Street, for a Day of Action against the Trans Pacific Partnership — help us send a message to our MPs that this ‘free trade’ deal is a bad deal for Canada. It will eliminate good Canadian jobs, increase the cost of pharmaceuticals, make it much harder to address climate change and honour Canada’s commitments in the Paris Accord, overrule Indigenous land rights…and make our Internet less open.”

Council of Canadians chairperson will also be participating in an upcoming Canadian Labour Congress tour opposed to the TPP. Those tour dates are: November 2 – Windsor; November 8 – Toronto; November 10 – Halifax; November 22 – Vancouver; and November 23 – Winnipeg.

The Canadian Labour Congress’ promotion for the tour highlights, “The TPP threatens tens-of-thousands of Canadian jobs, will lead to higher prescription drug costs, and threatens our health care system. Learn what the TPP will mean for Canada, your community, and how to stop it.”

The Trans-Pacific Partnership includes G7 ‘major advanced economies’ (the United States, Canada and Japan), G20 ‘major economies’ (Australia and Mexico), relatively smaller economies (New Zealand and Singapore) and ‘developing economies’ (Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, Peru and Vietnam).

The TPP contains the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) mechanism. Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz says, “It used to be the basic principle was polluter pay. If you damaged the environment, then you have to pay. Now if you pass a regulation that restricts ability to pollute or does something about climate change, you could be sued and could pay billions of dollars.”

It also includes a provision that extends patents for pharmaceutical corporations. In her comments on the TPP, Margaret Chan, the director-general of the World Health Organization has stated, “If these agreements open trade yet close the door to affordable medicines we have to ask the question: is this really progress at all.”

And in terms of economic consequences, a study by Tufts University found that the TPP would cost Canada 58,000 jobs and increase income inequality.

People across Canada have voiced their opposition to the TPP at hearings, consultations and protests. But our Prime Minister has commented, “In our conversations with Canadians, with industries which are ongoing, there are a lot of people in favour of it and there are a few who have real concerns and we’re looking at understanding and allaying certain fears and building on some of the opportunities.”

The Standing Committee on International Trade has set a deadline of Monday October 31 for public comment. It’s vital that they hear very clearly that we are opposed to the TPP. To send your message to them, please click here.