TPP protest in NYC. Twitter photo by Popular Resistance.
Common Dreams reports, "Braving snow and blizzard warnings, health, labor and environmental activists rallied outside a New York City hotel on Monday where industry leaders met with international trade representatives to commence the 'final negotiations' over the secret text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership [TPP]."
The Council of Canadians is opposed to the Trans-Pacific Partnership and endorsed yesterday's protest.
Health care implications of the TPP
The article highlights, "Leading the protest and carrying signs that read 'Hands Off Our Medicine', protesters with health groups Doctors Without Borders and Health Global Access Project (GAP) warned that the TPP will undermine efforts to ensure access to affordable, life-saving medicines in both the United States and abroad. ...'The TPP would create a vicious cycle. The provisions currently proposed will allow for fracking and other practices that fuel environmental degradation and make people sick. Strengthened intellectual property rules will then prevent people from accessing life- saving medicines', said Michael Tikili, national field organizer for Health GAP, in a press statement. 'Thirteen million people living with HIV depend on generic AIDS medicines and another 20-plus million are waiting line for treatment. By protecting Pharma’s bloated profits, the Obama administration is undermining its own global AIDS initiative—this isn’t a trade agreement—it’s a death pact.'"
Likelihood of fast track authorization
The report also notes, "After the rally, protesters reportedly marched to the office of Senator Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) to call on the lawmaker to oppose Fast Track authorization and demand to see the the contents of the agreement."
Last Friday, Globe and Mail columnist Jeffrey Simpson wrote, "Congressional battle lines are forming around a forthcoming vote on renewing a provision called Trade Promotion Authority. TPA commits Congress to holding a speedy up-or-down vote on a trade agreement negotiated by the president – in this case, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, involving 12 countries, including Canada. Without TPA, such trade deals would likely founder in the dysfunctional Congress, as U.S. legislators demanded this or that amendment."
He adds, "President Barack Obama’s administration, having lollygagged on the file for a long time, is now pushing hard for TPA and for a completion of the TPP negotiations early this year. Mr. Obama appealed for congressional approval for TPA in his State of the Union address this week. With majorities in the House and Senate, the Republicans are largely in favour. They don’t like Mr. Obama, of course, but they are generally far more open to free trade than Democrats."
Political risks for Harper in an election year
Simpson highlights, "If Congress passes TPA, the American push to complete TPP (which it sees as a geopolitical response in Asia to Chinese power) will intensify. An American push will put the squeeze on Canada’s supply-managed farmers and the government that has defended them. ...[But] it would be difficult for the Harper government to make serious concessions on supply management at any time, so powerful are the supply-management lobbies. It would be harder still in an election year, counting on the support of farmers, who tend to vote Conservative, at least outside Quebec. [And yet] no concessions by Canada, or measly ones, might leave the country outside any final deal. The door would be open for Canada to join TPP later, but only if it amended supply management."
Watch for developments on this front soon.
For Council of Canadians blogs opposed to the Trans Pacific Partnership, please click here.