President's Commentary: Liberal government tries to force bad TPP deal through Parliament at breakneck speed | National Union of Public and General Employees

President's Commentary: Liberal government tries to force bad TPP deal through Parliament at breakneck speed

This is a bad deal for Canadians.  Even the government, trying to prove this is a good deal, released a study that proves the opposite.  The so-called benefits of the TPP are so minor that we need a magnifying glass to see them, while the loss of jobs and the stagnation of wages will be unfortunately far too easy to spot.

by Larry Brown, NUPGE President

Ratified by 12 countries, the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a deal that amounts to a stealth attack on our economic security and our national sovereignty. The TPP is little more than a corporate wish list, designed to shift power to large corporations and remove the ability of governments and parliaments to regulate corporate interests.

It undermines access to affordable medicine, harms our auto and dairy industries and undermines our country’s ability to protect culture because it contains the weakest reference for cultural diversity of any modern free trade agreement.

The trade deal has been rattling around for more than 2 years, with Canada adding its name to it in February 2016.

Amazingly now, under a mighty strange negotiating strategy, the Liberal government wants to force the TPP through Parliament without any serious debate. This, at the same time as they are re-negotiating NAFTA, and pushing to include what Canada gave up in the TPP negotiations!

In the NAFTA negotiations, Canada has made a point of refusing to concede on supply-management in the dairy and agriculture sectors. yet had no problem giving market-access concession for dairy and eggs under TPP. When it comes to the auto sector under NAFTA, negotiators are holding fast that Canadian auto manufacturers receive preferential treatment, while allowing the TPP to ignore such protections.

Increasingly curious is the Liberals’ new-found commitment to ensuring their “progressive trade deals” include provisions on gender equality, Indigenous rights and protections for workers when none of these are included in the TPP.

So much for the ‘progressive’ trade agenda

The Liberals “progressive” trade agenda has been exposed as basically the same as the Harper government trade agenda: free trade deals everywhere, all the time, whatever the corporate sector wants. with the people of Canada paying the price.

Harper’s government negotiated Canada-European Trade Agreement (CETA) with the European Union. The Liberals adopted CETA, with some cosmetic changes that didn’t change the agreement in any important way.  Except, the Liberals started calling it “the most progressive trade deal ever,” while never explaining how that label fits.

We’ve now seen the early evidence that CETA was never the wonderful boost for the Canadian economy that both the Harper and Trudeau governments claimed it would be.  The critics of CETA were right about the problems; the cheerleaders were wrong about the benefits.

Harper’s government made a desperate plea to be allowed into the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP).  The TPP was criticized by academics, trade experts and civil society as a terrible deal for the public and good only for international corporations.  For a while, the Liberals couldn’t find a credible way to accept the TPP because it was such a bad deal.

Now, the TPP has, magically, become a good deal. Such a good deal, in fact, that they renamed it the Comprehensive and Progressive TPP! The fact is they didn’t improve it, they just renamed it.

I suppose we could rename winter, call it summer, and see if that prevents snow. Just saying it, doesn’t make it true.

For the Liberals to adopt the TPP now, in such a hurried and undemocratic fashion, is simply outrageous.  They promised to consult with the people of Canada, but only did so in the most superficial way. Even still, the people of Canada responded by saying that no way do we want the TPP.  The opposition was overwhelming, except from the boardrooms of the international corporations.

There are no protections for working people in the TPP. The ability of governments to protect the environment will be weakened.  Our prescription drugs will cost more.  We will lose more manufacturing jobs.  Corporations from other countries will have more rights to challenge the decisions of our government than the people of Canada will.  We will have trouble introducing any new social programs to protect Canadians.  If we allow privatization of any part of our public services, we will find it almost impossible to reverse that privatization, even if it’s an obvious mistake.

This is a bad deal for Canadians.  Even the government, trying to prove this is a good deal, released a study that proves the opposite.  The so-called benefits of the TPP are so minor that we need a magnifying glass to see them, while the loss of jobs and the stagnation of wages will be unfortunately far too easy to spot.

And meanwhile, the government is cutting the legs out from under its own negotiating position on NAFTA by pressing forward on issues they were more than happy to give away not so very long ago. Canadian negotiators are having a tough enough time negotiating the new NAFTA without having to contend with their own government undercutting them.   

Amazing.


NUPGE

The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 390,000 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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