By: David McDonald
From the surface, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) seems like a smart economic decision for Canada, and every nation involved.
It involves 12 countries: the US, Japan, Malaysia, Vietnam, Singapore, Brunei, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Mexico, Chile and Peru. The pact aims to deepen economic ties between these nations, slashing tariffs and fostering trade to boost growth.
When I first heard about the deal, it sounded a lot like NAFTA, a trade pact between Canada, the U.S. and Mexico that works to remove tariffs on imports and exports, and this, increase trade between the countries.
I mean, NAFTA isn’t without its faults, but it has helped maintain substantial trade between the three involved nations, and from my knowledge, it has created many jobs.
So if NAFTA was working just fine, why increase our trade barriers to our pacific neighbours? How can we possibly benefit from lowered tariffs on goods coming in and out of these countries? What can this deal offer us? Keep reading to find out exactly what the TPP plans to do, as well as how it will impact the Canadian economy and you, the average Canadian consumer.
What is the TPP?
This is a political, social, cultural and moral decision about our place in the world. The TPP will have far-reaching effects on human rights, but not necessarily in a positive way. It will give power to corporations, and grant protection for wealthy domestic, and offshore investors. The Canadian government balances power, and our courts balance public interests with private company interests. In contrast, NAFTA/TPP-style agreements grant extended, unchecked rights to corporations. Furthermore, trade tribunals translate those unchecked investor rights and corporate values into action.
Trade tribunals seek maximum possible trade and maximum opportunities for investors, not for the public good or public interest.
Under NAFTA, TPP and TTIP, global corporations who are unhappy with some court decision, even one from the American Supreme Court, can take that issue to a sympathetic corporate-dominated trade tribunal.
Thus, corporations will be granted more power with the addition of the TPP, while the opinions of the average person will be cast under a shadow of the needs of wealthy investors and multinational companies.
How will the TPP impact Canada?
Many sectors of the economy — Atlantic Canadian seafood, central Canada plastic and industrial machinery, Western Canada agriculture and wood products — stand to benefit from the elimination of tariffs on Canadian exports.
It will be easier for big corporations to ship our jobs overseas, which will push down wages and increase income inequality.
Countries within the TPP can ship resources to Canada (and vice versa) much easier because of reduced tariffs. However, this could mean that our country will be flooded with unsafe food.
With more power being given to large corporations, they will be able to increase the cost of medicines within North America.
Corporations will have the power to attack our environmental and health standards. Along with this, the TPP will grant companies more opportunities to file for lawsuits against non-conformists (journalists, spokespeople, media voices, that do not agree with what the company is doing.
Unfortunately, this is only the beginning of the negative ramifications that could behold Canada in the not-so-distant future.
The TPP raises significant concerns about citizens’ freedom of expression, due process, innovation, the future of the Internet’s global infrastructure, and the right of sovereign nations to develop policies and laws that best meet their domestic priorities. In sum, the TPP puts at risk some of the most fundamental rights that enable access to knowledge for the world’s citizens.
The secretive trade agreement is basically threatening to extend restrictive intellectual property (IP) laws across the globe, hence, why it has been kept such a secret.
The Liberal Canadian government run under Justin Trudeau, fully supports the TPP, which is a bit concerning. Trudeau has been careful not to oppose the trade agreement, but has promised that he will hold a full debate in Parliament before making a final decision. However, I don’t think enough Canadians are aware of the economic and social consequences that could arise from being apart of the TPP.
The fact that foreign companies will be given the right to challenge Canadian laws and regulations that interfere with profit-making is a bit troublesome to note. This is much like NAFTA, where the U.S. and Mexico were given special rights to negotiate with Canadian laws, but now there will be an additional nine countries that can potentially dispute our country’s policies.
For those who will argue that this is a highly unlikely event, U.S. firms (not the government) used similar provisions under NAFTA to roll back Canadian environmental and public ownership laws.
It is a popular consensus that by increasing our free-trade barriers to more countries, it will open up severe legal, economic, and public privacy issues within Canada.
On the contrary, some positive aspects that could be reaped from joining the TPP include the decreased tariffs, as well as offshore job opportunities (if you see that as a benefit). If Canada stays out of the Trans-Pacific deal, it risks losing potential jobs in many pacific jurisdictions. TPP supporters claim that if Canada does not join, their economy will suffer; I like to claim the opposite.
Given the fact that Canada can be almost entirely self-sufficient because of our abundance in land mass, natural resources, and low population, I don’t see a pressing need to join a further trade pact that only opens more legal problems to us.
I am not alone on the opposition of this idea (well, after researching the internet, I feel like the general opposition is in the majority). Figureheads are stepping up in Canada to strongly oppose the idea. Tech entrepreneur Jim Balsillie has said that the TPP promises to be, ”“the worst thing in policy that Canada’s ever done.”
The deal’s intellectual property rules, he says, are biased toward the U.S. and will disadvantage Canadian innovators.
Given Trudeau’s emphasis on encouraging high-tech innovation, the government might find Balsillie’s complaint particularly worrying.
The TPP’s Concerning Intellectual Property Rules
Personally, I can see why governments and corporations around the world would want to arm themselves against the most powerful weapon of our time: The internet (I know you’re probably thinking nuclear bombs but most people don’t have access to those, anyways, moving on).
The deal provides digital policies that benefit big corporations at the expense of the public. The average internet user would have extensive negative impacts for your freedom of expression.
There is a general lack of transparency with the deal. The TPP contains a chapter on intellectual property covering copyright, trademarks, and patents. The official release of the final TPP text confirmed that U.S. negotiators pushed for the adoption of copyright measures far more restrictive than currently required by international treaties, including the controversial Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA).
The TPP will rewrite global rules on intellectual property enforcement. All signatory countries will be required to conform their domestic laws and policies to the provisions of the Agreement. In the U.S., this will further entrench controversial aspects of U.S. copyright law—such as the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA)—and restrict the ability of Congress to engage in domestic law reform to meet the evolving needs of American citizens and the innovative technology sector.
Basically, this agreement will strip away the government’s ability to step in and enforce intellectual property rules, as well as enforce more harsh rules accompanied to freedom of speech, and e-commerce. The governments and corporations that propose this trade agreement clearly don’t want us talking about it, because they want to impose harsher laws on us if we touch on areas that are deemed ‘confidential’ or ‘not our intellectual property’.
Further areas of intellectual property policies within the agreement include:
Going to extend copyright term projections from life of the author +50 years, to life +70 years for works created by individuals.
Adopt criminal sanctions for copyright infringement that is done without commercial motivation. Users could be jailed or hit with debilitating fines over file sharing, and may have their property or domains seized or destroyed even without a formal complaint from the copyright holder.
Enact a “Three-Step Test” Language that puts restrictions on fair use. Companies that adopt more user-friendly rules could also risk lawsuits by content industry investors who believe these rules limit their profits.
Create New Threats for Journalists and Whistleblowers: Dangerously vague text on the misuse of trade secrets, which could be used to enact harsh criminal punishments against anyone who reveals or even accesses information through a “computer system” that is allegedly confidential.
The list goes on, but these are just a few. Basically, the TPP wants to lock down on copyright rules around the world so that governments and companies can maintain secrecy and imprison you for exploiting them.
Overall, the TPP serves no potential benefits for Canada
Trudeau wants to join the agreement to expand our economy, yet we already have one of the largest, most developed economies in the world.
I don’t see any reason why Canada should join the TPP.
The fact that meetings for the pact are being held in secret should serve as a flashing warning sign that reads: “WE ARE CURRENTLY SCREWING YOU, PLEASE DON’T PAY ANY ATTENTION TO US”, but instead, you will only see a few hearty protesters standing outside.
It is a pact that strengthens the global elite, and places even more power in corporations across the world.
It will create more laws surrounding intellectual property and hinder your right to privacy.
It will create more jobs, in other countries, and will hike up the prices of imports, as well as increasing the risk of lower quality materials coming into your country.
The negatives far outweigh the positives when it comes to the Trans-Pacific Pact, and considering that the privacy and economic security of the average North-American is at risk, I would strongly suggest arming yourself against what many call, “the largest trade agreement in human history”.
Thanks for reading.
If you share my viewpoint on this issue make sure to sign this petition below, it takes 20 seconds and it opposed the TPP within Canada.
http://campaigns.msf.ca/tpp/?gclid=CjwKEAjwiYG9BRCkgK-G45S323oSJABnykKAg_zhnjhPm7s571bOE-rE9ddx7dNKnU6AoHekfimHdhoChT_w_wcB sign this petition if you don’t want TPP to happen in Canada!