The Council of Canadians and allies outside the Standing Committee’s hearing on the Trans-Pacific Partnership in Vancouver, April 18, 2016.
The Liberal-dominated House of Commons Standing Committee on International Trade has issued its report on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), just weeks before TPP negotiators are expected to meet in Canada to pursue the so-called ‘TPP 11 coalition of the willing’ option (the TPP without the United States).
On April 10, the Standing Committee recommended:
“That, recognizing the United States’ withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership and wanting to conclude agreements that are in the best interests of Canadians, the Government of Canada actively pursue a trade and investment agreement with Trans-Pacific Partnership signatories, as well as additional trade and investment agreements in the Asia-Pacific region. These agreements should be pursued on a priority basis, and should supplement other measures designed to support the trade and investment activities of Canadian businesses in the Asia-Pacific region.”
The 10-member Committee was chaired by Liberal MP Mark Eyking and was comprised of six Liberals, three Conservatives, and NDP MP Tracey Ramsey.
Numerous Council of Canadians chapters – including the Comox Valley, St. John’s, Saint John, Prince Edward Island, North Shore, South Niagara, London Northwest Territories, Calgary and Peterborough-Kawarthas chapters – presented and wrote submissions to this committee in opposition to the TPP. Many other chapters also organized protests and public forums against the TPP during this time.
Among the concerns they raised was the controversial investor-state dispute settlement provision and intellectual property rules with respect to extended patent protections for pharmaceutical corporations.
The report (simply and insuffciently) states, “The Committee believes that, in future FTAs negotiated by the Government of Canada, mechanisms to resolve disputes between states and investors should be open and transparent and should reaffirm the ability of government to regulate in the public interest.”
And the committee only acknowledges, “With respect to IP, the two concerns cited most often by witnesses appearing before the Committee related to the potential for increased drug costs in Canada resulting from the proposed extension of the patent term for pharmaceutical products, and the possibility that the extension of Canada’s copyright terms would be detrimental to the country because it is a net importer of IP content.”
This outcome shouldn’t be surprising.
In March 2016, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stated, “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.”
And in February, The Globe and Mail reported, “Trade Minister François-Philippe Champagne said he will explore ‘whether there is the possibility to pursue something on the multilateral level with the coalition of the willing or bilaterally’.”
Now The Straits Times reports, “The [TPP] that seemed dead in the water after the United States’ withdrawal could get a second wind, with Japan prepared to take the lead in an 11-country agreement sans the US. Japan has long maintained that the TPP would be ‘meaningless’ without the US. In a shift in its calculations, Japan is now working to resurrect the pact with just 11 members, local media reported [April 15]. Japan decided to move forward with the pact after it became clear that the US would not oppose such an arrangement, Nikkei Asian Review reported.”
That report adds, “The chief TPP negotiators will begin talks early next month in Canada [city and exact date unknown at this time], before their trade ministers meet in Vietnam weeks later [at the APEC summit on May 20-21].”
To call on the Trudeau government to immediately withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, please click here.