Canada to sign TPP
Over the past couple of weeks and in one of my latest articles you have probably noticed me writing about one thing more than others – the TPP. There are many reasons for this. Among others, this trade deal has the potential to give new, unseen powers to corporations. Powers that can put them atop (legally speaking) countries simply for costing them profits. The deal in its thirty chapters, although boasting sufficient legislation for labour, actually gives very little protection suggesting no enforcement mechanism. Particularly scary are the chapters relating to intellectual property and information about the costs of medicine. The trade deal asks countries and workers to give up several rights in favor of profits for corporations, but for what? A very small portion of the text that discusses ILO standards. Doesn’t seem fair to me.
In a “shocking” twist of fate, Liberal Minister of Trade, Chrystia Freeland announced today that Canada will be signing the troubling, controversial trade deal. In an open letter to Canadians on the Global Affairs Canada website (which you can find here) she comments on her party’s commitment to have an open debate in parliament and to consult with experts and academics in the coming months. She says that Canada must stay at the table as leaving the table would mean leaving the negotiations altogether. Freeland is a strong believer in trade as a way of strengthening the middle class as she relays in her letter and in an article earlier in the Liberal government’s mandate. “If we want our middle class to be prosperous — which is the core of our agenda — having trade deals with the world is absolutely essential,” she said in August 2014. So we can probably see where this is going.
“Signing does not equal ratifying. Only a majority vote in our Parliament can allow the Agreement to take force.” A laughable statement. With the Liberal commanding majority and the Conservative Party’s modest opposition of 99 seats the deal will surely pass in a vote in Parliament with overwhelming support. I at least applaud Freeland mentioning that the deal is controversial and not everyone agrees with it; this is of course a much different tone than the last government who would have just lambasted those who thought otherwise. But it seems that democracy may fail in this instance as any sort of opposition to the deal will be almost a meaningless with the dominant support in the House.
Today, Parliament will resume and the members will debate issues such as this one – hopefully some opposition members will bring forward thoughtful criticism and commentary on the deal. We can only hope.