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Winnipeg chapter activist & regional organizer write op-ed on the Trans-Pacific Partnership

Jobb Arnold and Brigette DePape.

Jobb Arnold and Brigette DePape.

Council of Canadians Winnipeg chapter activist Jobb Arnold and organizer Brigette DePape attended a federal government ‘consultation’ on the Trans-Pacific Partnership in their city on Jan. 22.

In an op-ed published in today’s Winnipeg Free Press, Arnold and DePape write, “As soon as we heard the consultations were passing through Winnipeg, we knew we had to be there. Why? Partly because of the TPP’s effects on people and the environment. We are particularly concerned the deal could disrespect First Nations. …We asked [parliamentary secretary David] Lametti directly about how this deal could make it tougher to protect the environment. He responded there is a chapter in the TPP that addresses the environment. Admittedly, he said, the chapter was negotiated before the Paris climate agreement. He argued countries signing onto it have an understanding of environmental issues.”

But they counter, “An analysis of the TPP’s environmental chapter … shows the subject of climate change isn’t even mentioned. As well, the wording of the chapter is framed as aspirational, not binding standards that need to be met by countries. And we still remained concerned about the fact, under the TPP, companies will be able to sue countries under investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) provisions when governments enact a new environmental policy that affects investors’ profits. Corporations can sue not only for actual project costs but also for projected lost profits.”

Arnold and DePape then highlight the threat ISDS provisions pose to First Nations peoples.

They note, “This could affect the First Nations on Lelu Island, B.C. With its lush forests and blue Steller’s jays, it is a community. There, the battle is against Petronas, a company that wants to exploit liquefied natural gas. It’s not just the land and water but also the fishing economy at stake for future generations. Under the TPP, Petronas, a Malaysian company, could sue the Canadian government if it were to limit LNG exploitation on the island. In this way, the TPP gives multinational corporations more power and grassroots land-defenders less. It takes power away from states and puts pressure on them to side with resource-development corporations, rather than land defenders, for fear of being sued.”

They conclude, “We need to do the opposite. Instead of giving corporations more rights to profit from our environment, we should be celebrating governments and people who consciously choose to protect the planet. We need to defend our planet against climate change for current and future generations.”

Other Council of Canadians activists have been raising concerns about the TPP at these ‘consultations’ including in Vancouver (on Jan. 12) and Regina (on Jan. 22). The Chilliwack chapter wrote to Global Affairs Canada to express concerns about ISDS and Bovine Growth Hormone tainted milk and more can be read about that here. The Cowichan Valley chapter organized a community forum (on Jan. 24) featuring three speakers who were able to provide information and analysis on the deal. The chapter then encouraged people to continue to do their own research and contact their MP with their concerns.

On Jan. 13, trade campaigner Sujata Dey attended the ‘consultation’ in Montreal that trade minister Chrystia Freeland spoke at. Dey’s comments to Freeland were wide reported. The Canadian Press reported, “A Council of Canadians representative on Thursday described TPP as a deal of ‘plutocrats’, in reference to Freeland’s latest book of the same name about income inequality.”

For more on our campaign against the TPP, please click here.