Photo: Yesterday, the Council of Canadians and allies organized a protest outside trade minister Chrystia Freeland’s “town hall” on the TPP in Toronto.
The Council of Canadians has been calling for an extension to public consultation period on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).
The House of Commons Standing Committee on International Trade has held a series of “public hearings” into the TPP in various cities across the country. Council of Canadians chapter activists and staff have both presented to this Committee and participated in protests outside the hearings.
We have highlighted that the space for public presentations has been less inclusive than it should be. In response to this criticism, the Committee began to allocate two-minutes of time to individual speakers during the last hour of each of the one-day hearings in a session they have framed as “spontaneous presentations”.
We have also highlighted the 15 month gap between the June 30 deadline for public comment and the expected September-October 2017 ratification vote on it in the House of Commons.
On May 13, the Committee held a public hearing in Toronto. At that time, South Niagara chapter activist Fiona McMurran told them – during the “spontaneous presentation” section – that, “This is an extraordinarily complex deal as I know you now appreciate. How on earth are your colleagues going to be prepared to vote on this? I ask you to please consider this and find some way of extending the discussion and particularly the discussion with ordinary Canadians on this deal or you do us all a terrible disservice.”
Yesterday, the Committee issued a media release stating it “is extending the deadline for Canadians to submit written comments on the topic of the [TPP] agreement. Canadians who wish to provide a written submission in the context of the Committee’s TPP public consultation must do so before 23:59 EDT on October 31, 2016.”
The Committee announcement adds, “Please note that written submissions exceeding 10 pages must be accompanied by a summary of no more than 1,500 words. The Committee may decide to translate, distribute and/or publish only the summary. More information on the process for providing a written submission can be found in the Guide for Submitting Briefs to House of Commons Committees. Written submissions should be emailed to: email@example.com”
While this is a step forward, we demand more.
In terms of process, we have called on the federal government to “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.”
In the meantime we encourage our supporters, as many of you have done already, to continue to write the Committee to oppose the TPP. On Tuesday evening, our London chapter even organized a submission writing workshop with about 30 people to share analysis to inform the content of those submissions.
For more on our campaign to stop the TPP, please click here.