Secret talks in Canada aim to revive Trans-Pacific Partnership
Opponents of the TPP protest in Vancouver in October 2015. | Council of Canadians

TORONTO – The Trade Justice Network reports that high level negotiators from 11 countries met at an undisclosed location behind closed doors in Toronto in an attempt to resuscitate the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) on May 2 and 3.

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 of its 12 original signatory countries, in part because the deal, which could have covered 40 percent 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 in Canada who warn that the secretive pact cannot be the basis for the country’s future trade relationships with Asia-Pacific nations. The groups say it is undemocratic for the federal government of Justin Trudeau 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,” 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, the Canadian Labour Congress, and LeadNow.

This article originally appeared in People’s Voice.


People’s Voice
People’s Voice

Canada's leading socialist newspaper, in the tradition of The Worker, Canadian Tribune, and Pacific Tribune.