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Steelworkers call on Trudeau government to step back from job-killing CPTPP

The United Steelworkers are calling on the Trudeau government to dump the so-called “Comprehensive and Progressive” Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). The CPTPP is a large multilateral trade agreement between 11 countries bordering the Pacific Ocean, including Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.

The Harper government started negotiations on the deal, and the Trudeau government signed it in 2016. The enacting legislation is now being fast-tracked through the House of Commons.

The United Steelworkers said: “Amidst the turmoil of a tariff war and trade negotiations with a hostile U.S. administration, it is unacceptable that the federal Liberal government is pushing ahead with the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) – a flawed trade deal projected to kill 58,000 Canadian jobs.”

“It is inconceivable that the Liberal government wants to ram through the CPTPP, a trade deal so badly flawed that it compromises the positions Canada must defend at this very moment in the highly sensitive NAFTA renegotiations with the U.S. and Mexico,” said Ken Neumann, United Steelworkers (USW) National Director.

“If the CPTPP is implemented, Canadians will lose middle-class livelihoods in our auto, steel, skilled trades and supply-management sectors,” he added.

As with other unbalanced trade deals, the CPTPP will give multinational corporations the power to sue various levels of Canadian governments for enacting laws and regulations that protect our environment, food safety and other public interests. Canadians will have no recourse to oppose such challenges, which are heard in unaccountable, secret tribunals headed by international trade lawyers.

“The CPTPP is yet another corporate rights agreement that will eliminate good jobs, erode Canada’s manufacturing and industrial base, drive down wages and weaken labour standards, increase inequality and worsen global environmental challenges. The agreement does not even mention the words ‘climate change,'” Neumann said.

Council of Canadians Honorary Chairperson Maude Barlow agrees. “We are in complete solidarity with the United Steelworkers and what they and other labour organizations are saying. The CPTPP is a corporate rights deal and the Trudeau government is dead wrong to rush it through.”

Neumann points to the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), which has led to a worsening trade imbalance for Canada since the deal came into effect last year.

“Since CETA came into effect, there has been a flood of imports from CETA countries into Canada, while Canadian exports to these same countries have decreased,” he said. “The effects of the CPTPP will be much worse for Canada’s economy and Canadian jobs. The Liberal government must step back from this potentially devastating agreement,” he added.

The Council of Canadians, with the help of our supporters and chapter activists, has joined with labour, trade justice organizations and other progressive groups to call on the Trudeau government to stop this harmful trade deal. The Council of Canadians supports trade that is fair and in the best interests of people and the planet, not corporations.