Questions about the TPP which Canadian citizens need answering

This document helps frame the discussions Canadians need to have with MPs and government around the TransPacific Partnership (TPP). All these questions need answers.

  • Ongoing secrecy: The secrecy started by the Harper government, appears to be continuing with the Liberal government. Please explain the lack of public discussion about the far reaching, long term implications of TPP. Where’s the flyer? Where is information laid out in newspapers and discussion on the radio?
  • With only 5 of the 30 chapters about trade tariffs it appears only part of TPP is about trade. Does any Canadian MP know what is in all the 5,544 pages of fine print? Do we really know what we are signing?
  • TPP has no end date and there appears no provision in the document for a country to be able to remove itself from the agreement if it is not working out as promoted.  How will Canada remove itself from the TPP agreement when it is not working out?

Corporate gain, citizen and government losses

  • Currently the Canadian government receives around $3 billion annually in tariffs. What is the government’s plan to replace their tariff revenue stream after TPP tariff reductions? How will the government regulate domestic markets and economy without tariffs?
  • While multi-national corporations eagerly focus on areas of potential gain for them, the rest of this high cost agreement is receiving very little attention. Please explain why the TPP ca website outlines the benefits and does not lay out, in financial terms, the costs and downsides.
  • Doing the math: The corporations promoting TPP are promoting on the basis of 0.5% GDP growth whereas the World Bank estimates Canada’s GDP will grow by 1.2% by 2030 – or 0.1% each year, and Tufts University calculates a GDP increase of 0.28% over ten years. If we go with the World Bank figure, 0.1% of current 1.8 trillion GDP would create $1.8 billion of potential annual growth. This figure needs to be weighed against costs such as the expected $3-5 billion increase in health care costs to cover the longer pharmaceutical patent protection, loss of tariff revenue ($1-3 billion), the cost to governments of ISDS lawsuits, (the potential liability from pending suits under NAFTA  already stands  at $6 billion), 4.3 billion compensation to dairy farmers, the cost of EI and welfare to support the 58,000 jobs Tufts University calculates will be lost in Canada.
    Big Question: Why would Canada sign a trade agreement in which the economic losses clearly far outweigh the benefits?
  • The writers of the TPP are the benefactors, and also the promoters of it. MPs are told by corporate lobbyists that TPP will create jobs and wealth. They focus on the few areas Canada can benefit, neglect to mention that after numerous trade agreements with different countries there few big tariff gains left, and that this deal is mainly about increasing their control of banking, the internet, food and safety standards (25 of the 30 chapters). Are MPs aware how serious this is?

    Loss of sovereignty

  • Please explain what protection is in place to prevent corporations from bankrupting a government with the ISDS lawsuits.
  • German courts have ruled ISDS lawsuits illegal. Can Canada please do the same?
  • When are you going to explain to the people of Canada how ISDS lawsuits will supersede government regulations through financial punishment. Governments cannot afford to pay billions to corporations, so they will adopt poor standards, not respond to environmental crises, because they cannot afford to do otherwise, and there will be nothing citizens can do about it.
  • Please explain the one-way street whereby corporations can sue governments, yet neither citizens nor government can sue corporations under ISDS.
  • Why is the government not explaining to the people of Canada how ISDS lawsuits will supersede government regulations through financial punishment. Governments cannot afford to pay billions to corporations, so they will adopt poor standards, not respond to environmental crises, because they cannot afford to do otherwise, and there will be nothing citizens can do about it.
  • Please explain the one-way street whereby corporations can sue governments, yet neither citizens nor government can sue corporations under ISDS.
  • Is the government making clear to the Canadian people that in the future, regardless of who they elect in parliament, environmental, food, safety, banking, internet, intellectual property rights regulations can be put at risk or overturned any time unelected corporate leaders deem regulations hinder their profit. The NAFTA lawsuits prove this; entrepreneurs are now setting up businesses to help corporations find lawsuits, since the lawsuits are more profitable than the businesses themselves. While illogical and absurd, this is perfectly legal under the TPP.
  • Please explain why Canada has been so poorly represented in the TPP negotiations.

    Foreign workers, outsourcing, increasing low wages and unemployment

  • Canadians will now be competing with Vietnamese 65 cent Cdn/hour minimum wage, 27% less than even Chinese minimum wage. There will be inevitable outsourcing, and concurrent increasing unemployment at home. How will the government raise the extra funds to pay for EI and social support?
  • Will the multi-nationals who are moving Canadian jobs abroad contribute to the inevitable impoverishment back home?
  • TPP exempts international companies in Canada from being required to offer jobs to Canadians first, and under TPP these foreign employees are allowed to be paid less than their Canadians counterparts. Canadians will then be competing with foreign workers in their home land. How can Canadians meet their household expenditures in an expensive country like Canada when forced to compete with low wages acceptable in developing nations where the cost of living is inexpensive?
  • What plans does this government have to support the inevitable working poor when wages at home have to compete with low paid foreign workers?
  • TPP has the potential to create new tax havens, further reducing government funding for much needed programs. How does Canada intend to prevent more loss of corporate contributions to government revenue, further reducing the tax base?

    Ethics
  • There is much excitement in the business world about Japan lowering it’s beef tariffs from 37.5 to 27.5 phased in over 15 years. Currently Canada only ships 3% of its beef to Japan. Given our climate change and pollution predicament, should we be shipping more beef such a distance or, for that matter, should we be increasing beef sales when beef is the most environmentally damaging of all foods?
  • We read that climate change is not mentioned once in the whole TPP agreement. Why is the bigger environmental context not considered in a global agreement of this size?
  • Please explain why making multi national corporate profit the center of this TPP agreement is
    ethical, b. of benefit to Canadian people and the natural environment.
  • Why would the government support multi-national corporations and not the people and land it is supposed to be governing?

    Food standards and new farming regulations

  • Canada went to great lengths to remove Bovine Growth Hormone from the food supply. Under TPP, we will have to import U.S. milk. What has the government done to alert people of this cancerous substance re-entering our food supply?
  • TPP limits country of origin food labeling. There could be no indication whether food is grown in a healthy climate or next to a heavy metal emitting factory. Why is Canada signing a deal that reduces important consumer information and potentially lowers our food standards?
  • Farmers used to be able to save and breed seeds. Corporations will be able to charge royalties on even non-patented seeds, and farmers will be unable to save, store or replant un-patented seeds. While the government says this will encourage innovation in the sector, many doubt this, and certainly the agreement will drive up costs for farmers. Canada must agree to this to sign TPP. Why would Canada sign away farmers and gardeners right to grow their own seeds?

    ISDS lawsuits, environmental standards, loss of sovereignty

  • Please explain the Canadian government is going to be able to protect its environment, such as the Nova Scotia coast, or the St Lawrence River, when such protection will result in costly lawsuits decided in offshore courts?
  • Please explain where the money is going to come from to pay corporations for these offshore tribunals: from education, from raising taxes or where?
  • Please explain why in interviews Chrystia Freeland, the Minister of International Trade, does not appear to know the impact of ISDS lawsuits.
  • Please explain why the letters issued by the TPP-consultation group in response to concerned citizens do not appear to show understanding of the problems involved, do not address the problems being sited, and include information that appears untruthful, giving the impression that the very people involved in this agreement have no idea what is in it!
  • Please explain why replies from the TPP government consultancy group give the impression that there is no real discussion, and the government has already decided to go ahead with the TPP.

Treason is the offense of acting to overthrow one’s government or harm its sovereignty. TPP is then, by definition, treason in that it allows multi-national corporations to override Canada’s own laws. What makes the TPP treasonous is its betrayal of country’s natural resources and vital economic interests by subjugating national law, granting to multinational investors and to the agreement itself and its dispute resolution process ultimate authority, literally, over Canadian rule. It could be found in law that the Liberal Government and multi-national corporations are committing treason.

Conclusion: A country has the right to rule itself. How else can good governance happen? Allowing coercion of our food and environmental standards every time a corporation decides the rules aren’t in their financial favour will accelerate climate change, pollution, species loss and degraded environments. TPP is incompatible with bold climate and environmental action. For all the reasons above, we should not be ratifying an agreement that benefits the few and harms the majority.