The Trans Pacific Partnership hurts us

A proposed international trade agreement between Canada and 11 other nations, is a bad deal for Canadians and deserves far more scrutiny.

The Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), a proposed international trade agreement between Canada and 11 other nations, is a bad deal for Canadians and deserves far more scrutiny.

The TPP will limit our access to generic drugs, erode health, labour, safety, consumer and environmental standards, threaten the viability of the CBC and Canada Post, and end Canadian content rules for culture industries.

The TPP could also have negative consequences for forestry jobs on Vancouver Island. A leaked memo from Canada’s Foreign Affairs department reveals the TPP could result in the elimination of forestry tariffs to B.C., removing or significantly modifying control of raw log exports.

The export of raw logs from BC has led to mill closures and devastating job losses. The priority of our governments should be to create favourable conditions for value-added industries that employ Canadian workers. Locking Canada into trade agreements that will only increase raw resource exports is a sell out.

The Green Party is the only Canadian party that fully opposes the TPP. The Conservatives and Liberals support it, and NDP leader Tom Mulcair is “enthusiastically in favour.”

What makes the TPP so dangerous is that it gives corporations additional rights and powers, while limiting those of governments and citizens. The negotiations are being carried out in secret, with input from corporations, but none from labour, environmental, health, safety or consumer groups.

Leaked documents are giving some insight into its breadth and scope. The Intellectual Property chapter would extend patents on pharmaceuticals. This would delay generic drugs from coming on the market and cost Canadians billions in extra drug costs. That would have drastic effects in developing countries, where generic drugs mean the difference between life and death for millions of people.

The anti-democratic Investor State Dispute Settlement provisions in the TPP give foreign corporations the right to sue Canada for loss of potential profit. This means that laws protecting labour, health, safety, consumer and environmental standards could all trigger challenges decided by corporate lawyers in secret tribunals, and cost taxpayers dearly.

Canadians have already paid out hundreds of millions under the Investor State Dispute Settlement provisions of NAFTA, and an additional $6 billion in disputes is on the table.

Another leaked document states that a “majority of TPP countries” have agreed that state-owned enterprises will have to “act on the basis of commercial considerations.”  This means that the CBC and Canada Post would have to operate as for-profit corporations, which would severely undermine their mandate to benefit and serve Canadians.

The TPP could put an end to the Canadian content rules that have helped to establish Canadian music, TV and film talent and could allow for the foreign take-over of the Canadian telecom industry.

The Green Party supports fair trade that puts Canadian sovereignty and democracy above the rights of corporations, and allows governments to act in the best interests of citizens. As your Green MP I will vigorously oppose deals such as the TPP that threaten our democratic rights.

Paul Manly is the International Trade and Investment critic for the Green Party of Canada.