TPP agreement is wrong

Canada is ready to be swallowed up; let's flush the TPP, writes Peter Brown.

In the Nov. 4th edition of the Gazette, a Raeside cartoon of Canada’s position in the Trans Pacific Partnership, (a caricature of a chicken ready to be swallowed up by a huge crocodile) gives an accurate picture of where we stand in regard to the TPP. I prefer to refer to the TPP as Toilet Paper Politics.

The goal of the TPP is to make level playing fields for corporations (particularly the multi-nationals) in the agreement so that they can transact business without the complications of the laws of individual countries hindering their ability to do business and make profits. To do this, governments will be ‘required to conform their domestic laws and regulations to the TPP agreement’. To ensure that the corporate interests (profits) are ‘protected’, a tribunal is to be set up to handle cases where a corporation feels its profits, (or even potential profits), have been lost due to a country’s anti-TPP laws.

This tribunal is to be totally independent from any judicial system, with the ability to enforce multimillion (or billion) dollar fines on ‘guilty’ countries’ governments. It is ludicrous that sovereign nations would be subject to such a ‘kangaroo court’.

In hindsight, now that the Harper years are over, it is interesting to look back and see how Mr. Harper was in such ‘lock step’ with the secretive nature of the TPP negotiations. It is plain to see that for an agreement such as this to happen, that is to create a ‘level playing field’ among 12 nations, standards in many areas will have to be lowered to the lowest common denominator, whether that be in environmental protection, labour laws, agricultural practices, etc.

Although it really started before the Harper era, the Canadian government has shifted from being the ‘public service’ to the ‘corporate service’. However, this policy was certainly built upon over the past 10 years. Prime examples of this have been the reduction in environmental protection, the protection of corporations by not allowing labelling of genetically modified foods and the feet dragging on climate change issues. These and many other examples appear to be a preparation for signing on to the TPP. During the election, a small part of what would result if the TPP were to be ratified became apparent when the dairy farmers of Canada got wind of the effect that the TPP would have on them. To appease them, Mr. Harper offered them a subsidy program of $4.3 billion, yes billion.

That was just one group to be affected by the TPP. How many other groups would need these subsidies? Insanity! Besides the economic effect on the farmers, the TPP would require access to the Canadian market of American milk from cows treated with the GE hormone rBST, which is illegal in Canadian milk production.

Negotiations for the TPP have been in total secrecy, (as they have for the upcoming trade agreement with Europe- CETA), even from those who have been elected to represent us. And I fear that massive corporate pressure will stifle an honest and open debate over this agreement in the public forum before it may be passed into law. This is undemocratic and wrong.

As I write this, it is three days away from Remembrance Day. My grandfather and my father both served for Canada, in the First and Second World Wars respectively, as did millions of other Canadians. What did they serve our country for? I believe for freedom, for democracy, and the ability for Canada to make sovereign decisions. I believe that they would stand up and say that this TPP agreement for Canada is wrong. Like the chicken in the Raeside cartoon, Canada is ready to be swallowed up. Let’s flush the TPP.

Please contact our MP Richard Cannings and International Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland. Let them know how you feel about the TPP.

– Peter Brown, Grand Forks