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Harper sacrificing Canadian agriculture on the altar of “free trade”

Tractor on Bank StreetOTTAWA – Today, farmers from across the country drove their tractors to Parliament Hill to protest the damage that will be inflicted on the dairy and other Canadian industries by the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal. As CBC reported yesterday: the TPP will open our border to “more American milk, without getting reciprocal access for Canadian dairy farms in the U.S.” Farmers are saying it will decimate the industry.

“The Conservatives are picking on farmers, especially family farms,” says Maude Barlow, National Chairperson of the Council of Canadians. “At a time when people want local and sustainable produce, the Conservatives are destroying the very system that could support it. Instead, this deal will prioritize factory farms, including those outside Canada. The butter may be cheaper, but the cost to our infrastructure and our environment will be enormous.”

Barlow says that there is disturbing trend of Conservatives giving away Canadian jobs in desperation for a deal.

“How many casualties will there be before Canadians pull the plug on this deal?” asks Barlow. “We are seeing the government acquiesce on rules of origin, which could affect 25,000 auto worker jobs in Canada. Then we have leaked documents suggesting that our crown corporations could be forced to act as private companies. When the veil lifts after the election on this ultra-secret agreement, what other give-aways will we find?”

The Council of Canadians and other groups such as the Trade Justice Network and the Réseau québécois sur l’intégration continentale are calling for an independent analysis of trade agreements by the Parliamentary Budget Officer. In a recent Council of Canadians poll by EKOS Research, 71 per cent of Canadians thought that the Canada-EU trade deal required public analysis and oversight.

“There is no economic analysis on the table, no document to look at, no place for civil society, unions or environmental groups to even be involved in the process,” says Sujata Dey, Trade Campaigner for the Council of Canadians. “We are expected to have confidence that a process influenced by more than 600 corporate lobbyists will be good for the average Canadian. This is just another example of the Conservatives’ ideological pursuit of trade deals at any cost.”

Negotiators are meeting in Atlanta this week to discuss rules of origin of auto parts, another possible causality of the TPP agreement. Ministers will join them at the end of the week.


PHOTO: Council of Canadians