Trade the TPP: Imagining a fair trade future
Unifor lobbies MPs in Ottawa, consultations deadline extended
Unifor took its fair trade message to Ottawa in early November, meeting with more than 50 MPs, including addressing the NDP caucus. We urged politicians from all the major parties to vote against ratifying the TPP and to start building a Fair Trade Future, amid news that the deadline for public consultations was extended.
The week began with the House of Commons Standing Committee on International Trade announcing that public submissions on the deal can now be made until until January 27, 2017. The previous deadline was October 31. This is the third time consultations have been extended. There will be no more public hearings as were held over the summer and into the fall. Only written submissions emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org will be accepted.
The work during the lobby week started early, with politicians and Parliamentary staff waking up the first day to radio and newspaper ads telling them Unifor was in town. Meetings were held throughout the week, wrapping up with activists getting together to compare notes and plan for future activities.
Shortly after the week ended, Donald Trump was elected President of the United States. Trump had campaigned on a promise to pull the US out of the TPP, a move that would kill the deal. However, Trump also promised an America-first approach to trade deals. We will be watching closely how that plays out. Unifor's commitment to building a fair trade future remains unchanged by Trump's election, and is perhaps more important than ever.
These are important discussions about trade. The TPP, like many trade deals, would have a profound impact on the lives of all Canadians. In fact, many of the worst elements of the TPP are found in other trade deals, as well, including the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) with the European union. Whatever the future of the TPP is, Unifor will to fight for a fair trade future on all fronts.
A busy fall on the TPP issue began September 16 with the Rock Against the TPP concert in Toronto, followed the next day by a teach-in and postering event in the riding of Federal Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland. For full details of the weekend's events, click here. Many of the worst elements of the TPP are found in other trade deals, as well, including the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) with the European union.
Less than two weeks later, Unifor members were out in force as consultations on the TPP swung through Halifax. As they and others rallied outside, Unifor Atlantic Region Director Lana Payne told the Canadian government’s Standing Committee on International Trade the TPP will hurt Atlantic Canada. For a full report on the events in Halifax, click here.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership has been called "the worst trade deal ever" by Nobel Prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz. It's quite a statement, since there have been some pretty bad trade deals negotiated, including with Korea and the European Union.
The Rock Against the TPP show, plus the teach-in and postering the next day, helped raise awareness about the deal, and gave people the tools they need to tell our federal government that trade deals need to work for all Canadians, and not just our corporate elite. That starts with not ratifying the TPP.
With hearings continuing in Atlantic Canada, and full consultations taking place until October 31, there will be lots going on. Watch this space for details.
What is the TPP, anyway?
The TPP is a proposed new “free trade” agreement involving 12 member nations: Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States of America and Vietnam. Canada was late to the game, joining the TPP negotiations near their completion, which meant negotiating from a position of weakness with limited ability to shape the main features of the deal.
The TPP is not so much a trade deal as a corporate rights deal that limits the ability of democratically elected governments to regulate industry or pass laws that might infringe the profits of foreign companies - even if those laws are in the best interest of their citizens.
This campaign is important because the more Canadians learn about the TPP, the less they like it - and for good reason.
Unifor played a central role in raising concerns about the TPP during the 2015 federal election, and helped define the debate about the deal. Since then, our efforts and analysis of the deal have expanded, and we continue to have significant concerns about the TPP.
Unifor has been active as the federal committee looking into the TPP crisscrosses the country by holding rallies, testifying before the committee and giving voice to those who could not get a chance to testify. To see Unifor Local 444 President Dino Chiodo’s presentation to the TPP hearings in Windsor, click here.
A position paper adopted by Unifor's Canadian Council in 2014 outlines what a truly fair trade deal looks like, including 12 core principles for assessing any trade deal. A summary of those principles can be found here.
Unifor has prepared sector-by-sector reports on how the TPP will affect many parts of the Canadian economy. Keep watching this space for more reports.
Unifor is part of a wider movement of groups also concerned about the TPP. Check them out:
- Leadnow campaign page
- Canadians United for Change campaign page
- The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives “What’s the Big Deal: Understanding the TPP” website
- The Council of Canadians campaign page
- The OpenMedia campaign page
- Sign the federal NDP online petition
MORE INFORMATION ON THE TPP