As the federal hearings into the Trans-Pacific Partnership came through Toronto, stopping at luxury hotel downtown, activists from across Canadian society gathered outside to let the politicians know how the deal would hurt them.
“Our heritage is at stake, and our jobs are at stake,” Unifor Local 79M President Jake Moore told the crowd at the Unifor-organized rally.
Moore, whose local represents media workers at CTV, Bell TV and other outlets, said the TPP would restrict the right of Canadian governments to set Canadian content rules or keep foreign investors from buying this country’s media companies.
Tim Deelstra from the United Food and Commercial Workers union told the crowd the TPP is the latest in a generation of trade deals that have been of no benefit to ordinary Canadians, but make it possible for big companies to move operations overseas.
“If we keep signing deals like this, we’ll have nothing less,” he said, describing how the peas and corn plant where three generations of his family had worked is now closed.
Council of Canadian health campaigner Michael Butler called the TPP “bad medicine” because it will prevent Canada from setting up a much-needed pharmacare program, which many Canadians have said they want.
Participants were urged to sign an online petition by Open Media, supported by Unifor, to let the federal government know they do not support the TPP.
“We will be holding them accountable to know that Canadians do not want this deal,” said Laura Tribe of Open Media.
Brittany Smith, a Campaigner at Lead Now, said one of the biggest threats from the TPP is its Investor State Disputes Settlement mechanism, which allows companies to sue countries if they pass laws that hurt their profits – even if those laws are in the public interest.
“The TPP is not a trade deal. The TPP is about changing the rules of the global economy in ways that help large corporations and hurt the rest of us,” she said.
Unifor Ontario Regional Director Katha Fortier said there no evidence the TPP will help ordinary Canadians, but plenty of evidence of who it will hurt – including forestry, media, dairy, auto and more.
“The government of Canada’s first priority is to the people of Canada.” Fortier said. “We want a country that builds. We want a country that puts people first.”