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75% of Canadians have never heard of major “TPP” trade deal being negotiated in secret

Secret negotitation location revealed
The Council of Canadians outside the Delta Ottawa City Centre on July 7, 2014 to draw attention to the secretive Trans-Pacific Partnership talks taking place inside. Photo: Ben Powless

OTTAWA – Three out of four Canadians have no idea that the federal government is negotiating a huge international trade deal known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) that could have serious repercussions for the country, a new poll suggests.

The poll, conducted by Environics Research Group for Trade Justice Network, found that 75 per cent of respondents had not heard of the TPP, which is being negotiated with 11 other Pacific Rim countries and would cover more than a third of the world’s trade.

The survey also found:

  • Seventy-five per cent of respondents were very or somewhat concerned that the deal is being negotiated in secret with no input from MPs, labour leaders, environmentalists or other experts.
  • Eighty-three per cent of respondents were very or somewhat concerned that the deal could include a provision allowing multinational corporations to sue Canadian governments under trade tribunals – rather than though the courts – if they feel our labour, environmental, health or other standards contravene the TPP and would lead to a loss of profits.
  • Forty-seven per cent of respondents said Canada is more likely to lose jobs under the TPP as Canadian companies move manufacturing and other jobs to low-wage countries, such as Vietnam where the average wage is 65 cents an hour. Only five per cent said Canada is more likely to gain jobs. Forty-six per cent said they didn't know enough to say.

The survey of 1,002 Canadians was commissioned by Trade Justice Network (TJN), a coalition of social, labour, environmental, student and other groups concerned about the secrecy and anti-democratic provisions of international trade negotiations.

TJN spokesman Martin O'Hanlon said the whole process surrounding the TPP negotiation is "deeply disturbing."

"Most Canadians have no idea that this deal is being negotiated in secret under the guidance of multinational corporations with no input from labour leaders, environmental experts or even MPs," O'Hanlon said. "It's frightening that this can happen in a democracy."

One of the most troubling things about the TPP is the fact that multinational corporations would have the power to override Canadian sovereignty and sue our governments under secretive trade tribunals, O’Hanlon said.

“Who else has the power to avoid the courts?” he asked. “This process effectively puts corporations above the law.”

O’Hanlon also stressed that the deal will result in the loss of thousands of Canadian jobs as manufacturers and others move work to low-wage Vietnam.

"We support fair trade, but how can you have a fair trade deal with countries like Vietnam that pay workers 65 cents an hour and have no real health, safety, labour or environmental regulations?"

The poll, which was conducted by telephone June 3-12, is considered accurate to within 3.2 percentage points 19 times out of 20.

You can find the Trade Justice Network on Twitter (http://twitter.com/@TradeJusticeNet@TradeJusticeNet) and on Facebook.

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For more information contact:

Martin O’Hanlon, Trade Justice Network, (613) 867-5090

Bill Gillespie, Trade Justice Network, (647) 786-4332