What Canadians are saying

There are winners and losers in every trade deal that I am aware of.  And I know of no trade deals where the winners are not international corporations and the losers are not the citizens of the countries in these undemocratic deals. The eroding away of environmental safeguards (because they stand in the way of the ability for energy and mining corporations to make money) has been a constant feature.  The ridiculous dispute settlement mechanism has been such a gold mine for corporations that there is now even a sub-industry for corporate lawyers to sue countries in these kangaroo “courts” for legislation that prevents corporate profit without having any intention of ever mining or drilling.  It’s difficult to believe that a county like Canada (successfully sued in dispute settlements more than any other country) is still happy to bargain away more of our sovereignty for the prospect of more market access. Terry Conroy

I am glad that Canadians have been asked for their opinion on the TPP and I am grateful that so far the government is adhering to its policy of openness – what a wonderful change! Although my husband and I have not dug our way through all 5,544 pages of the TPP, we have done enough research to be able to state, unequivocally, that this agreement is NOT in the best interest of most Canadians, including the middle class that Mr. Trudeau has promised, so emphatically, to support. In fact, the acronym TPP may as well stand for “Totally Pernicious Plot” – we are not sure if there is anything redeemable in this agreement, unless you happen to be the CEO of a large, multi-national corporation!

For us, the worst aspects of the TPP are: 1)     The power that it gives to large corporations. It is totally unbalanced: small Canadian businesses can’t sue the likes of Walmart for loss of profit, only the other way round. Unions can’t sue. Farmers can’t sue for land damage. This is unfair. Plus the fact that a corporation would be able to sue a democratically elected government over legislation enacted to protect its people and the environment, should such legislation happen to come between the corporation and its future profits! That is utterly and completely unacceptable! 2)

Based on point 1) above, we are particularly and deeply concerned about the environment! In the face of such unmitigated corporate power, how can Canada protect its fresh water resources or limit pesticide use, just as an example? The gains made in Paris at the climate conference would be all but meaningless! 3)     There is NO end date! If the thing, at the very least, had an expiry date, so one could reevaluate the impact after a year or so, it wouldn’t be quite so scary, but this is like chaining yourself to a wall and throwing away the key! For these reasons, TTP and all agreements of this nature should not be ratified.

Jacqui and Fernando, Carleton Place, Ontario

Dear Sir or Madam,

Thank you for asking Canadians what they think about the TransPacific Partnership. It appears that the business community driving the TPP forward are focused on a few possible gains for themselves, and are either not aware of, or not exposing, the many aspects of TPP that will trouble ordinary people in all 12 countries.

There are many reasons for concern about the TPP. It promises corporations new countries to outsource Canadian jobs to, replacing China with Vietnam for cheap labour, perhaps offering new ways Canadian corporations can off-shore profits to avoid taxes, and allowing the importing of foreign workers even though there is unemployment at home. Corporations call TPP ’the gold standard’ – they got their wish list in full. However, it promises losses on many fronts for ordinary Canadians.

This resembles other trade agreements. Although Canada’s GDP grew under NAFTA, most of those gains accumulated in a few pockets, leaving millions less well off and hundreds of thousands of jobs outsourced. Why would we repeat this mistake?

My biggest concern about the TPP is that it effectively creates a layer of policy-making that over-rides the government through the punitive ISDS lawsuits. Further, these profit protecting policies are made by unelected, businessmen who act as if the planet’s resources are their right to financially exploit, and who appear short-sighted regarding the needs of delicate ecological balances, the effect of GHG emissions, and the dangers of all kinds of chemical pollution. This is criminal! Any health or environmental regulation that effects their bottom line is grounds for another lawsuit, adding to the $5 billion of lawsuits already in the pipeline due to NAFTA. Governments will quickly be bankrupt under this scheme, which I guess is ideal for corporations who want to privatize all government services.

It’s a clever spin to say that ‘Canada benefits from tariff reductions.’ Corporations benefit from not paying tariffs; the Canadian government loses a revenue stream, and the market regulation the tariffs are designed to create. How is this a benefit to anyone except the writers of the agreement?

Sure, beef exporters might benefit from the 10% reduction from 37.5% to 27.5% Japanese tariffs on beef phased in over 15 years, but shouldn’t we be reducing shipping basic commodities like this so far when we know we need to reduce emissions? Should we even be eating so much beef now we know the climate impact through methane emissions, sewage, water use, loss of Amazon forest to grow soy to feed the cattle, and the enormous cruelty in these factory farms? The focus on these tariff gains is myopic.

For a 3% increase in international market, for a possible 0.5% increase in GDP, Canada will have to find billions to pay for pharmaceutical and biologic extended copyright protection, millions to re-write copyright laws, billions for ISDS lawsuits, billions more in unemployment assistance, even business advocates say it will be many years before Canada sees financial gain – and we give away control of the internet, and lose an ability to oversee our land, our health regulations, and even to raise minimum wage in the process. Signing this agreement will mean the Liberal government supports this profiteering and democratic loss. TPP is the opposite of the change this government promised. There are other ways of creating jobs and income. I have many ideas – please contact me!

Please do not sign this agreement. Hilary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, even Donald Trump won’t sign. Perhaps they know what we are still unsure of: putting corporate bottom lines above our collective well-being is just plain unethical.

Please let me know where you stand on this issue.

Kaia Nightingale, MA