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Council of Canadians chapter president concerned about TPP

Open letter to Ron Cannan, Kelowna-Lake Country MP:

I write to you on the subject of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), a proposed “trade agreement” about which most Canadians know nothing because of the secrecy with which the negotiations have taken place.

I urge you to release information about this proposed agreement and facilitate a process whereby your constituents may have a chance to comment on it before it is too late.

The countries involved to date, led by the U.S., include Canada, Australia, Brunei, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.

From what I do know, this agreement is a 12-country corporate rights deal that is entering its 19th round of negotiations.

This round began on Aug. 22 and continues to Aug. 31 in Brunei.

Although the proposed agreement is called a trade agreement, only two of the 26 chapters under negotiation have to do with trade.

The other 24 include how a government regulates corporate activity, what Crown corporations can and cannot do, how long pharmaceutical patents or copyright terms should be, how the Internet is governed, the sharing of personal information across borders, banking and taxation rules and when a company or investor should be compensated when environmental or public health policies interfere with profits.

From information that has been leaked, it has been revealed that public health and access to medicines are threatened under this agreement.

The U.S. is using the TPP to push for excessive patent protections that would guarantee making medication much more expensive and even inaccessible to the poorest countries involved in the negotiations.

Health advocates are saying that it is a matter of life or death that people say no to such changes.

The TPP would also threaten community-led public policy in that it would include an investor rights’ chapter and investor-state dispute process that would let companies sue governments in secret tribunals when public policies get in the way of profits.

The policy could be legal, fair and indiscriminate and still face corporate lawsuits demanding hundreds of millions and sometimes billions of dollars in compensation.

In light of this, I feel that the public should be given an opportunity to give feed back and encourage you to facilitate such a process.

I await your reply.  Thank you.

Karen Abramsen,

Chairwoman, Kelowna chapter, Council of Canadians
Published in the Kelowna Capital News