Protest against the TPP outside the House of Commons committee hearing into the deal in Saskatoon yesterday. Photo by Don Kossick.
The Council of Canadians and Climate Justice Saskatoon highlighted the limited nature of the House of Commons 'public hearings' into the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) at a protest in Saskatoon yesterday.
The Saskatoon Star-Phoenix reports, "Members of Climate Justice Saskatoon and the local chapter of the Council of Canadians set up placards and protested outside the Radisson Hotel during a public consultation on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement. ...Protesters outside of the consultation meeting, including rally organizer Justin Fisher of Climate Justice Saskatoon, said the event catered more to corporations than the wider public. ...[The Standing Committee on International Trade] heard about a dozen presentations from organizations in Saskatchewan."
Fisher says, "We were very disappointed in the official consultation that happened here. These massive trade deals like the TPP, they’re made to be confusing and inaccessible to the public, and this consultation process is reflecting that as well.” He has also commented, "They decided to have a poorly publicized consultation on a weekday morning where only 12 people were permitted to speak, all of them representing special interests. If you’re travelling around the country to hear from people directly, than you should really make an effort to hear from people who want to speak to you."
Global News notes, "Fisher said he hopes many people take the time to write [the standing committee], however he added that only physically listening to 12 people wasn’t sufficient. He said 'a lot of everyday folks applied to speak', but didn’t make it on the 12-person list. At the rally, which occurred directly after the meeting, a microphone was set up to allow anyone to speak about their TPP concerns."
Saskatoon-based Council of Canadians Board member Tracey Mitchell adds, "The Liberals are clearly stretching the meaning of the word ‘public’ with these hearings. Saskatoon’s hearing has been poorly publicized, will include just 12 speakers, and is happening on a weekday morning. We want genuine public consultation, not a rigged process that reflects corporate pressure.”
The standing committee is holding 1-day hearings in Vancouver (April 18), Calgary (April 19), Saskatoon (yesterday) and Winnipeg (today).
The Council of Canadians also participated in the protest outside the hearing in Richmond (Vancouver). We commented that it was held in an airport hotel far from more accessible downtown locations and was overly-policed by the RCMP. While the clerk of the committee would not confirm, rally organizers noted that 175 people had applied to speak at this hearing, but again only 12 organizations were chosen (with only three selected to voice critical concerns about the deal). Our report on that hearing can be read here, A most unpublic 'public hearing' on the TPP.
Today, Council of Canadians Winnipeg chapter activist Douglas Tingey and regional organizer Brigette DePape will present to the committee.
You can email your comments on the TPP to the committee via email at firstname.lastname@example.org The committee is accepting written submissions (of no more than 1,500 words in length) until June 30. Media reports suggest that the House of Commons will vote on the ratification of the TPP in the fall of 2017, just before the November 2017 deadline set by the 12-signatory countries.
For our critique of the TPP, please see our campaign web-page here.