The Trade Justice Network reported on May 2 that high level negotiators from 11 countries were meeting at an undisclosed location behind closed doors in Toronto in an attempt to resuscitate the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP).
The proposed corporate mega-trade deal appeared to be dead after public pressure prompted the U.S. to withdraw from the pact following the presidential election.
The TPP sparked strong public opposition in all 12 countries, in part because the deal which could have covered 40% of the world’s economy was negotiated entirely in secret and without public input. As details of the TPP began to leak out, opinion polls in most
of the participating countries tracked growing public opposition.
The renewed talks have sparked protests from the Trade Justice Network and other civil society groups who warn that this secretive pact cannot be the basis for Canada’s future trade relationships with Asia-Pacific nations. The groups say it’s absurd and undemocratic for the federal government to host secret talks at a secret location on a deal that will dramatically impact the lives of Canadians.
“The TPP is only marginally about trade. It is about harmonizing standards and regulations across countries and strengthening the rights of corporations at the expense of citizens, workers, the public at large, and the environment. The costs of ratifying the TPP far outweigh any small benefit that may be gained. We urge the Trudeau government to stand up for Canadians and against the Trans-Pacific Partnership,” said Larry Brown, Co-Chair of the Trade Justice Network and President of the National Union of Public and General Employees.
“Deals like the TPP never truly die. Their destructive nature – killing jobs and the environment – lives on in other forms,” said Maude Barlow, National Chairperson of the Council of Canadians. “Even without the U.S., other countries are trying to revive the dubious legacy of the TPP. It’s time they got the message: People are tired of these agreements, and we must do better.”
“TPP was a bad deal then, and it’s a bad deal now,” said Unifor National President Jerry Dias. “We were told we had to be in the TPP because the U.S. was in it. Now, the U.S. is out. Why would we revive a trade deal that was so bad for Canadian workers and communities? The federal government has not even completed its review of the last TPP deal. Canadians have said they do not want the TPP. The government does not have a mandate to bring this bad deal back to life.”
“The TPP is an unfair and undemocratic deal that was negotiated behind closed doors without any meaningful public participation,” said David Christopher, communications manager with OpenMedia, the Internet advocacy watchdog. “Such a flawed and unpopular deal cannot be the basis for Canada’s future trade relationships. Instead of hosting secret talks to resurrect the TPP behind closed doors, the government needs to go back to the drawing board and ensure any future trade deal is shaped by citizens every step of the way.”
The recent Let’s Talk TPP report, crowd-sourced from nearly 28,000 Canadians, found that the most common reason for opposing the TPP was the failure of the federal government to consult with the public during negotiations. Canadians also highlighted concerns around digital rights, corporate overreach, democratic accountability, healthcare and public services, the environment, labour issues, and the economy as reasons they opposed the deal.
The TPP has been criticized as a transfer of power from democratically elected national governments to multinational corporations that would result in higher drug prices, a dumbing down of national environmental and health regulations and would give corporations special rights to sue national governments without having to go through the established court system.
The TPP has also been condemned by citizens groups including the Sierra Club, Doctors Without Borders, and the Canadian Labour Congress, and LeadNow. More information is available at LetsTalkTPP.ca.
The Trade Justice Network is a network of environmental, civil society, cultural, farming, labour and social justice organizations that aims to raise awareness about free trade agreements and their implications, and to call for a more sustainable, equitable and socially just international trade regime.
This article was first published by People’s Voice.