Lack of debate about TPP an embarrassment for Canada

Democracy doesn’t count for much under these corporate-friendly deals

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tppOTTAWA, ON Jul 10, 2015/ Troy Media/ – Recently the United States had a spirited secret debate about the huge ‘trade deal’, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), that’s being negotiated by many countries, including Canada.

Why the secrecy? A former U.S. Trade Representative, Ron Kirk, said he opposed making the text public because doing so would raise such opposition that it could make the deal impossible to sign.

Exactly. If people knew what was in this proposed deal, they would tell their governments to drop the talks immediately.

The TPP will be so unacceptable that it isn’t supposed to be made public for four years after it’s signed. A deal that would cover almost every aspect of our economy, and we aren’t supposed to be told what’s in it even after it’s complete.

In Canada, if one reads our mainstream media, the only issue in the TPP worthy of comment is the effect on our dairy farmers. Even that supposedly won’t be a problem for long because our federal government is going to use public money to compensate the dairy farmers. Apparently, there is nothing else of importance.

The lack of serious reporting on this proposed massive international agreement is shocking.

The TPP would give corporations, from every country that signs on to the deal, the right to challenge the democratic decisions of our federal, provincial and municipal governments. Corporations will have the right to challenge decisions about how we protect our environment, how we manage our resources and how we regulate our industries. We will be significantly weakening our right to govern ourselves.

More to the story: For more on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, click here

The Canada-Europe deal, CETA, is the subject of a major political battle in Europe because it includes this outrageous provision, called ISDS or Investor-State. The deal may well be rejected in Europe because of the corporate rights it includes. Here at home, the whole debate has been virtually ignored.

The TPP will encourage the privatization of our public services, and make it virtually impossible to reverse a decision to privatize, even if it’s obvious that the decision was a terrible mistake. Even if a new government is elected on a promise to reverse a privatization boondoggle, they won’t be able to. Democracy doesn’t count for much under these corporate-friendly deals.

Our drug costs will go up, once again. We’ll pay more for the same drugs we now get.

If we want to protect our workforce, we will find that we are competing with countries with essentially no workers’ rights, and those countries will be able to sell their goods in Canada tariff free.

We will be also prevented from any action to protect our culture.

We will lose most of our remaining manufacturing sector. NAFTA has decimated our factories, and our factory workforce, and ensured our wages stagnate. TPP will make that 10 times worse.

This deal is huge and will affect us very directly. There is so much in it – we know from leaks about the negotiations – that it should be scrutinized by every Canadian before we let our governments give away our right to make democratic decisions about our own country.

But at this stage, this massive potential agreement is completely unknown to three-quarters of Canadians. And why would they know about it when a genuine debate is impossible because, in the view of our media, it’s not a significant story?

We need to demand the truth from our government. No more silence. What are they are doing at the TPP table? What are they prepared to sign away? They are not the government of the corporate sector, they are the government of Canada. As Canadians, we are entitled to know what our government is doing.

And we need to demand that this major story, a story about the very future of Canada, gets the attention it deserves.

Larry Brown is National Co-chair of Canada’s Trade Justice Network.

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