"We are asked to accept an economy-altering free-trade deal with no information, just cheerleading rhetoric.” — Larry Brown, Trade Justice Network Co-chair
Ottawa (09 Nov. 2015) — The release of the text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership confirms that it is a damaging corporate-rights deal that will kill Canadian jobs and override our sovereignty, and it is vital that the new Liberal government negotiate changes.
Liberal government must hold open debate with Canadians on Trans-Pacific Partnership
Canada’s two biggest trade justice networks are calling on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to live up to his campaign promise on TPP to “hold a full and open public debate in Parliament to ensure Canadians are consulted.”
The Trade Justice Network (TJN) and Réseau québécois sur l'intégration continentale (RQIC) say the government must conduct a thorough impact assessment to ensure the deal serves the public interest.
“We all support trade; the livelihood of millions of Canadians depends on it. But it must be fair trade — and it must be good for Canada,” said Martin O’Hanlon, President of Communication Workers of America Canada and a TJN spokesman.
“It is vital to our economy and to our democracy that there be a real debate about the TPP and that the government be open to revisions.”
Cannot proceed with TPP without a clear understanding of implications on Canada
TJN co-chair Larry Brown said the government must make decisions based on evidence.
“We should have an independent, unbiased review,” he said. “We know there will be job losses. So what are the benefits? We are asked to accept an economy-altering free-trade deal with no information, just cheerleading rhetoric.”
The text has just been released but it is already clear that the TPP would be damaging for many working families and for the democratic process.
The deal would cost thousands of Canadian jobs and force our workers to compete with 65-cent-an-hour wages in Vietnam and slave labour in Malaysia.
Multinational companies can override Canadian sovereignty
It would also allow multinational corporations (through an “ISDS” provision) to override Canadian sovereignty by suing governments under secretive trade tribunals — rather than though the domestic courts — if they feel our labour, environmental, health or other standards contravene the TPP and could lead to a loss of profits.
“Canada is currently being sued for more than $6 billion under NAFTA ISDS provisions,” said RQIC spokesman Pierre-Yves Serinet.
“The TPP deepens the restrictions on the right to regulate for public interest. ISDS limits the ability of governments to deal with climate change, for instance. It must be taken out of trade agreements in order to keep the policy space we need to enact strong measures to confront environmental challenges,” he said, noting this is the eve of COP21 on climate change in Paris where Trudeau said he wants to bring Canada back as a committed player.
Corporate lobbyists had plenty of input into TPP
It is telling, and deeply troubling, that the TPP was negotiated in secret with plenty of input from 600 corporate lobbyists, but nothing from labour leaders, environmentalists and other experts. Even our MPs had no input.
Among the other serious problems with the deal:
- The government will face new limits on the actions of Crown corporations like Canada Post, and will face new pressure to privatize them
- Federal, provincial and municipal governments would not be allowed to ensure that government contracts go to Canadian or local businesses, which could be a devastating blow to some communities
- New protections for big pharma that would cost Canadians billions of dollars per year
- New limits on our ability to decide our own rules for Internet use and privacy
- No truly enforceable standards for labour rights or environmental protection, including climate change
TPP not a done deal
The agreement may have been signed, but it’s by no means a done deal. It faces a huge hurdle in the U.S. Congress and reinvigorated anti-TPP campaigns in many countries.
“It is now up to Canadians to tell their politicians that they don't like the TPP and that Parliament must not ratify it without fundamental changes,” Brown said.
“We must protect Canadian jobs and sovereignty, and we must ensure that all member countries meet basic democratic, labour, health and environmental standards.”
The TJN represents over two dozen environmental, labour, cultural, farm, indigenous, student and social justice organizations. The RQIC is a coalition of more than 20 social organizations from Québec, representing over a million people. Together, the networks represent over four million Canadians.
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