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article imageOp-Ed: Discussion of TPP in Canadian federal election campaign limited

By Ken Hanly     Sep 28, 2015 in Politics
Ottawa - The three major parties, Liberals, Conservatives, and NDP basically support the huge Trans Pacific Partnership(TPP) trade deal even though auto parts companies and dairy producers have expressed concerns about it along with many other critics.
Only the Green Party's Elizabeth May has directly opposed the TTP and is critical of other trade deals as well. A video summarizing some of the problems with the TPP from the Green Party website is appended. The situation with respect to the three major parties is summed up by Thomas Walkom in an article published back in August: Aside from some comments on the need to protect farmers and the need for more transparency during the negotiations, the Liberal party supports the TPP. Likewise, the NDP have also come out in favour of the TPP, only criticizing the Conservative negotiators and likewise emphasising the need to defend farmers. Substantive criticism of the TPP has largely been confined to groups such as the Council of Canadians and the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. Given the magnitude of the deal, this is insufficient.
Thomas Mulcair seems determined to show he is in favour of "free trade" and orthodox in his economic views. He says the NDP is "enthusiastically in favour" of the TPP but also expresses concern for protecting areas in the Canadian economy where there is supply management as in dairy farming. This is particularly significant in Quebec. Mulcair said: "Supply management is something that has allowed Canadian farming families to hold on to their farms, despite the ups and downs … and lots of those farmers are worried. We've met them in southern Ontario, we met them here in Quebec, and we're going to stand up strongly and defend every step of the way our supply management system." The auto sector is also concerned about what effect the TPP would have on it. Both the Liberals and the NDP have complained about the lack of transparency in the negotiations as well. However, they have come out overall in favour of the agreement without even talking about the huge problems in the agreement as a whole. The parties seem to worry most about specific interests that have some political clout such as dairy farmers, or the auto sector.
As Walkom points out, the TPP could have huge implications for the cost of prescription drugs, making them much more expensive and even sabotage provincial efforts to build a national pharmacare system. U.S. negotiators are reportedly demanding that pharmaceutical giants be given even greater protection for new drugs. The suggested rules would make it very expensive to produce generic versions of these drugs which otherwise would be much cheaper. Australia, which has a national pharmacare program, is very much opposed to these changes. We do not know what Canada's position is.
Advocates of the TPP note the huge trading area that Canada would have access to with 12 countries involved including the U.S., Australia, Mexico, Japan, and Malaysia among others. Some critics claim leaked rules show that domestic laws and regulations would need to conform to TPP rules. There is to be an investor-state settlement mechanism that could be used to "attack domestic public interest laws." These types of mechanisms exist in other international trade agreements. In 2013 Nobel-prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz claimed that based on leaked drafts, the TPP agreement posed "grave risks" and "serves the interest of the wealthiest." It does so through serving the interests of huge global corporations, providing them with extended rights and limiting the power of democracies to pass laws that might conflict with their interests. Noam Chomsky said in 2014 that the TPP is "designed to carry forward the neoliberal project to maximise profit and domination, and to set the working people in the world in competition with one another so as to lower wages to increase insecurity." Further concerns about the TPP can be found at the Council of Canadians, and this Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives article.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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