Changing the TPP’s name doesn’t make it any better

Changing the TPP’s name doesn’t make it any betterOttawa – February 3, 2018 – Canadians have started to learn that while Prime Minister Justin Trudeau talks a good game, his actions rarely match his rhetoric. Saying something is progressive doesn’t make it progressive, and the announcement that a deal has been reached on a new Comprehensive and Progressive Trans Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) is a good example of this.

The CPTPP was formerly known as the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), a proposed trade deal originally covering 12 countries in the Pacific region. When the United States withdrew from negotiations on the deal, most people thought the TTP was dead. Unfortunately, though, the TPP has been revived from the dead, with the Trudeau government announcing that it will sign onto a revised TPP now called the CPTPP. This despite the fact that the details of the plan have not been revealed to Canadians.

UFCW Canada has opposed the TPP from the very beginning, and while Trudeau has not released any information regarding the CPTPP, a summary of the deal from the government of New Zealand reveals that the new partnership contains only minor changes to the original TPP.

The government claims that, in negotiating the revised CPTPP, Canada made gains on culture, labour, and environmental standards in the trade deal. However, those changes are only included in the introductory remarks, and various details and side deals that are not reflected in the core deal remain secret.

When the House of Commons Committee on International Trade held consultations on the TPP, they heard from over 400 witnesses and received over 60,000 written responses. 95 percent of Canadians who were consulted on the TPP disapproved of the deal. And a report by the Global Development Environment Institute estimated that Canada would lose over 58,000 jobs and jeopardize our supply management system if we signed onto the TPP.

Again, UFCW Canada has opposed the TPP from the beginning. The deal will give foreign poultry and dairy producers an even bigger share of our market, putting UFCW members in processing and production jobs at risk. And while owners and producers have been promised compensation, no such commitment has been made to workers. Studies have also shown that the deal could lead to the loss of 20,000 jobs in the Canadian auto parts sector, where many UFCW members work. 

UFCW Canada is also concerned about the labour mobility provisions originally contained in the TPP, which do not appear to have changed under the CPTPP. These provisions strengthen the very worst aspects of Canada’s Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP). As well, the agreement allows companies to bring foreign workers to Canada to take jobs that Canadians are ready, willing, and able to fill. In addition, the new deal continues to threaten our democracy through its investor-state dispute settlement provisions. Corporations will be able to directly sue democratically-elected governments when they pass legislation that serves the public interest, like introducing universal public services such as pharmacare. Investor-state dispute provisions in other trade deals have helped Canada become the most sued country in the world by corporations using such provisions.

With the negotiations on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) appearing likely to fail, it seems that Justin Trudeau was anxious to get the TPP signed and was willing to sell out hard-working Canadians to do so. Worse, this new deal weakens the government’s hand in the NAFTA negotiations. It is hard to claim that Canada is determined to protect its supply management system when we have already sacrificed our dairy and poultry sectors in the CPTPP.

The TPP was a bad deal from the beginning, and simply changing the name by adding the words “comprehensive” and “progressive” doesn’t make it any better. Regrettably, Trudeau has once again demonstrated that he is more concerned with the profits of multi-national corporations than ordinary, hard-working Canadians.