Twitter photo from Canada Trade.
The Council of Canadians Fredericton and Saint John chapters were present at a Trans-Pacific Partnership 'consultation' in Fredericton yesterday.
Just three days before the event, David Lametti, the parliamentary secretary to the minister of international trade, had tweeted, "Join me in #Fredericton on March 30th for public consultations on the #TPP."
Despite the short notice, Fredericton chapter activist Joan Green tells us that seven people from the Fredericton chapter and two people from the Saint John chapter were there. She says, "We all made our voices known." Fredericton chapter activist Garry Guild asked two questions of the parliamentary secretary and highlighted that the Trans-Pacific Partnership is not a trade agreement, it is an investors' rights agreement.
And Saint John chapter activist Leticia Adair has commented, "The deal gives investors the right to launch costly corporate lawsuits that undermine the government’s ability to tackle pressing issues like climate change. How will that affect our communities?”
Something additionally brilliant also happened at the meeting.
CBC reports, "As a town hall on the Trans-Pacific Partnership wrapped up at the University of New Brunswick on Wednesday afternoon, an audience member asked the crowd to give a show of hands on who wants the trade deal ratified and who doesn't. In the crowd of about 70 people, the majority raised their hand against the deal, a free trade pact between Canada and 11 other countries, including the United States, Australia and Japan."
In fact we are told the vote was almost unanimously opposed to the TPP.
In the news article, Lametti commented, "There are people for it, there are people against it. ...We've definitely not taken a position on the TPP. ...It might create economic opportunities for a large number of businesses and therefore create a large number of jobs ... It might create challenges for other sectors that would be negatively affected by the trade agreement."
In terms of public opinion, CBC reported in February on an Angus Reid Institute poll conducted on the issue. Éric Grenier writes, "Support for Canada joining the TPP stood at 32 per cent in the poll, with 20 per cent of respondents saying they opposed joining the deal. But that still left 49 per cent of Canadians without an opinion."
In early March, Global Affairs Canada told us, "The Government has received over 1000 emails expressing various views. The Government has seen and heard from Canadians who feel the TPP presents significant opportunities, those who have serious concerns, and also from those who have not made up their minds or have further questions as they continue to deliberate the merits of Canada’s participation."
As for the jobs argument, a study released in January by Tufts University found that the TPP will cost Canada 58,000 jobs and increase income inequality. An EKOS poll released in October 2015 found that 61 per cent of Canadians say the TPP will mean job losses in Canada, and 49 per cent say it will mean greater income inequality in Canada.
In a Canada Trade tweet, Lametti doesn't mention the impromptu vote at the meeting, he just says, "Thanks #Fredericton residents, @UNB students and professors for a good discussion on #TPP."
But maybe he will if others call for a vote at these meetings?
The Council of Canadians will continue to speak against the TPP. In fact, the Council of Canadians PEI chapter is rallying outside the Delta Hotel at this moment because a 'by invitation only' consultation on the TPP there with Lametti.
In addition, the House of Commons Standing Committee on International Trade will be receiving written submissions (of no more than 1,500 words in length) before April 30. You can email your comments to them at firstname.lastname@example.org You can also e-mail the government directly your comments and concerns at TPP-PTP.email@example.com
For more from Brent, follow him on Twitter at @CBrentPatterson