Barlow & Moist call on Trudeau to reject the Trans-Pacific Partnership

Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow, Canadian Union of Public Employees national president Paul Moist, Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions Linda Silas, Canadian Health Coalition national coordinator Melissa Newitt and others are calling on Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau to reject the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

Their open letter states, "Canadians pay the second highest prices for drugs in the world. If the TPP passes, this unfortunate fact will become permanent. Furthermore, if the TPP passes it will make it much harder for Canada to establish the Universal Prescription Drug program roundly supported by all Canadians."

It specifies, "In 2006, the Conservative government amended the Food and Drug Regulations to increase 'data exclusivity' for brand-name drugs from five years to eight years. This move keeps generic drugs off the market for longer, obliging governments and consumers to purchase higher-cost brand name drugs for a longer period of time. On face value, this move looks as though it could have been easily reversed by a simple change in government. The Conservatives, however, are moving rapidly to enshrine this standard in the TPP agreement. If successful, this move would tie future government's hands making it virtually impossible to reverse."

The letter concludes, "We implore you to immediately take a strong position and oppose the TPP. Now is the time to raise your voice and tell Canadians you refuse to support a deal that will hurt anyone who relies on life-saving drugs. Leadership requires action in the face of tough choices - now is the time to act Mr. Trudeau."

In a media statement issued the day the TPP negotiations concluded, Trudeau did not comment on its patent provision, but did highlight, "The federal government must keep its word and defend Canadian interests during the TPP’s ratification process – which includes defending supply management, our auto sector, and Canadian manufacturers across the country." He additionally promised, "If the Liberal Party of Canada earns the honour of forming a government after October 19th, we will hold a full and open public debate in Parliament to ensure Canadians are consulted on this historic trade agreement."

The federal election takes place this Monday October 19. The Nanos Research poll released this morning puts the Liberals in the lead at 36.5 per cent, the Conservatives in second place at 30.6 per cent and the NDP in third with 23.5 per cent. On Tuesday, the Laurier Institute projected that the Liberals could win a minority government with 128 seats, the Conservatives could form the Official Opposition with 122 seats, and the NDP could be reduced to 84 seats.

The debates on the ratification of the TPP could happen very soon. Globe and Mail reporter Barrie McKenna has noted that a ratification vote in the United States Congress could happen in April 2016, just six months from now.

The Council of Canadians opposes the ratification of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. We have highlighted its investor-state dispute settlement provision that allows transnational corporations to sue democratically-elected national governments and be paid compensation if public interest legislation is passed that affects future corporate profits. We have also raised concerns about the impact of the Trans-Pacific Partnership on dairy farmers, auto parts workers and its extended patent provision that profits transnational bio-pharmaceutical corporations. More on our campaign to defeat the TPP here.

Further reading
TPP: profits before patients (October 2015 blog by Michael Butler)
The investor-state dispute settlement provision in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (October 2015 blog by Brent Patterson)
What's in the Trans-Pacific Partnership? (October 2015 blog by Brent Patterson)