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Trudeau’s agriculture minister supports Trans-Pacific Partnership, opposes Country of Origin Labelling

Demorcray vs TPPCBC reports, “Canada’s new agriculture minister said on Tuesday [Nov. 10] he is likely to support the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiated by the previous government…”

The article adds, “‘I suspect when I evaluate the whole thing, it will be something I support’, said Lawrence MacAulay, 69, a former potato and dairy farmer who represents Prince Edward Island in cabinet. ‘I see nothing today that would make me not want to support the whole package’, he told Reuters in an interview, his first as agriculture minister.”

We think there are ample reasons to oppose the TPP.

We oppose it because:

  • its investor-state dispute settlement provision that would allow corporations to sue governments for public interest legislation;

  • it would allow BGH milk into Canada;

  • it would grant increased access into Canada for US dairy producers without granting reciprocal access for Canadian dairy farmers;

  • it would allow Japan to export more vehicles into North America with fewer parts manufactured in Canada;

  • its patent provision means that transnational bio-pharmaceutical corporations would have lengthier patents and delay the introduction of less expensive biosimilars;

  • it would mean more foreign workers, exploitation and suppressed wages in Canada.

We have called on the Trudeau government to hold public hearings on the Trans-Pacific Partnership and to signal to TPP partner countries in advance that, as a result of those hearings, Canada could seek significant changes to the deal. To date, Trudeau appears to have sided with the United States and Japan in supporting the deal.

Additionally, the CBC notes, “MacAulay also said Ottawa is prepared to retaliate against the United States over a meat-labeling dispute, although he conceded that International Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland is in charge of that file.” The United States has County of Origin Labeling (or COOL) that allows consumers to know where various fruits, vegetables, fish and meats come from.

The previous Harper government portrayed this as an attack on non-U.S. meat producers. Canada and Mexico argued at the World Trade Organization (WTO) that COOL involved a “lengthy labelling and tracking system with an unnecessary paperwork burden and additional red tape.”

The WTO agreed with Canada and Mexico on that the labeling law was a technical barrier to trade.

Our US ally Food and Water Watch has strongly supported COOL. When the US revised their COOL regulations to be compliant with the WTO ruling, Food and Water Watch commented, “The proposed changes eliminate the vague and misleading ‘mixed origin’ country of origin label for meat and ensures that each cut of meat clearly displays each stage of production (where the animal was born, raised and slaughtered) on the label. This commonsense approach improves the usefulness of the information consumers receive from the label and allows livestock producers to distinguish their products in the marketplace.”

But the US amendments do not seem to have satisfied Canada’s new agriculture minister. MacAulay says, “You cannot have a deal with foreign countries and not have them comply with the rules and then just continue on. You have to take measures. Do we want to? No. But if we have to, I suspect we will.”

We fundamentally disagree with the Trudeau government on this. As Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow has stated, “People have a right to know where and under what conditions their food was produced!”

Further reading
Council calls for review of the TPP, Trudeau government makes no promises to renegotiate (Nov. 6, 2015)
Barlow says WTO COOL ruling is not cool (May 19, 2015)