Commentary: Cost of Harper’s great deal on TPP — $5 billion and counting

"This is a deal by business, for business, with a price tag Canadians shouldn’t have to pay."

Commentary by Larry Brown, National Secretary-Treasurer, National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE).

Ottawa (8 Oct. 2015) — Stephen Harper was desperate to get a Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) deal during the election campaign.  After all, his last great trade deal, the CETA with Europe, is in serious trouble in the EU and may never be implemented.

So now we have the TPP. A great deal for Canada, we’re told.  

Except that this great deal is going to hurt our dairy farmers so much that the taxpayers of Canada are going to have to pay $4.3 billion in compensation for their losses.

Except that this great deal is going to hurt our auto parts manufacturing so much that it’s going to cost the taxpayers of Canada another $1 billion to compensate them.

What did we get? Empty assurances from a PM who never saw a free trade deal he didn’t like.

The cost? On top of the $5 billion in cash, on top of the thousands of jobs that will be lost, Harper promised to give corporations from Australia, and Japan, and Vietnam, and Malaysia, and seven other countries, the right to challenge the democratic decisions of our government.

Harper promised to let companies from Brunei and New Zealand and Singapore and all the rest of them, have equal rights with Canadian companies to bid on publicly financed projects or contracts. No more local purchasing, no more using Canadian taxpayers’ money to support Canadian companies and workers.

Harper promised that if any government in Canada decided to privatize a public service, they, or any successor government, will never have the right to change their minds, even if the privatization was an absurd mistake. Governments could move only one way — to privatize. They call it the ratchet effect.

Harper has signed an agreement that means that no government from here on will be able to introduce a new social program that isn’t bound by the privatization ethos of the TPP.

Harper has committed that our crown corporations will not be able to serve the public interest, rather they will have to act under strictly commercial considerations.

Harper has agreed that Canadians shouldn’t really have the right to pass regulations governing corporate behaviour, unless the whole of the TPP world, including the U.S., Australia, and Vietnam, is in agreement.  

And there’s more. Drug prices will almost certainly increase again.

We don’t know for sure what we’ve given up in the areas of intellectual property or IT.

The value of the TPP? Completely hypothetical.  

The costs? Far too high.

This is a deal by business, for business, with a price tag Canadians shouldn’t have to pay.


The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 360,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE

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