TPP: Urgent need for full, independent assessment

Hearings into the massive Trans-Pacific Partnership kicked off in Vancouver with a stark warning from the Trade Justice Network about the deal’s many negative consequences, and an urgent call for a comprehensive, public and independent assessment of the pact.

TJN co-chair Blair Redlin told members of the House of Commons Committee on International Trade there is no rush to ratify the TPP, and every reason for a proper economic, social and environmental evaluation of the deal.

Outside the hearings, demonstrators rallied against Canada ratifying the deal, and advocacy group OpenMedia organized a giant TV screen displaying protest messages from across the country.

Redlin told the committee the TPP is not about trade, as 97 per cent of Canada’s exports to TPP countries are already duty-free. Instead the deal aims to secure and expand corporate rights and protections.

The TPP’s investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) system will let foreign corporations sue governments if a law or regulation interferes with their investments – and profits. Under these NAFTA-style rules, Canada is already the most-sued developed country. Expanding access to this one-sided process could mean a spike in new cases.

The TPP’s controversial ISDS rules will limit government powers to regulate in the public interest, including by supporting industries that create good local jobs, and protecting the environment. A government investing in transit or wind turbines could face challenges for favouring local procurement.

Ratifying the TPP comes at a high price, said Redlin. Independent analysis of the deal has found it will:

  • cost Canada 58,000 jobs;
  • increase income inequality;
  • limit access to generic drugs, which in turn will drive up health care costs;
  • let corporations move to countries with cheaper labour and weaker labour laws;
  • hurt Canada’s agricultural, manufacturing and technology sectors; and
  • threaten internet freedom.

Redlin highlighted the outcomes of a recent TJN-sponsored forum, where Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz described the TPP as “the worst trade deal ever.”

The TPP was finalized by the former Harper government during last year’s federal election, and then signed by the new Liberal government. Consultations on the deal have been limited, poorly publicized, and have appeared to favour the voices of corporations – not citizens.

Blair Redlin’s presentation notes

Making sense of the TPP: A forum at the University of Ottawa

Poster_TPP-EnglishOn April 1, a blue-ribbon panel of experts from Canada, the United States and Europe will hold a forum in Ottawa on the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership.

The keynote speaker at this free event will be Noble Prize-winning economist Dr. Joseph Stiglitz.

Proponents of the TPP argue that it is a once-in-a-generation trade deal that will create jobs and boost Canada’s economy. Opponents counter that the TPP is far more than trade deal – it is an unprecedented set of rules created to increase the profits of transnational corporations and grant them extraordinary powers to override governments that enact legislation in the public interest.

Canada’s Liberal government has called for extensive public consultation before deciding if it will ratify the TPP, and International Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland has promised to commission an impact study.

MAKING SENSE OF THE TPP is meant to be an informed contribution to the consultation process. It will be hosted by the University of Ottawa and sponsored by CWA Canada, the country’s only all-media union, and the Trade Justice Network.

In addition to Dr. Stiglitz, participants include:

  • Prof. Gus Van Harten, author and expert on international investment law
  • Dr. Ron Labonte, University of Ottawa Canada Research Chair in Globalization and Health Equity
  • Jeronim Capaldo, ground-breaking Tufts University Research Fellow
  • Scott Sinclair, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives economist
  • Pia Eberhardt, Brussels-based international trade researcher for the European Corporate Observatory

The experts will explore the TPP’s potential impact on jobs, manufacturing, health care, sovereignty and the Internet. The forum will also examine the controversial ISDS provision of the TPP, which would grant foreign corporations the right to sue governments if they believe a government decision negatively impacts their potential future profits – something neither Canadian companies nor private citizens have the right to do.

 Date: April 1, 2016

Time: 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. (Keynote address at 11 a.m.)

Location: Room FSS4007, Social Sciences Building, University of Ottawa

RSVP: (attendance is free but space is limited)

Media inquires: Contact Bill Gillespie at 647-786-4332

CETA: Liberals trying to hoodwink Canadians

OTTAWA, February 29, 2016- The Trudeau government’s announcement of reforms to the Investor-State dispute settlement (ISDS) provisions within the Canada-EU Comprehensive Trade and Economic Agreement (CETA) is nothing more than window dressing.

“The minor tweaks to CETA’s investor-state provisions do nothing to stop foreign corporations from using the threat of billion dollar lawsuits to prevent governments from enacting socially or environmentally responsible measures,” said Larry Brown, co-chair of the Trade Justice Network.

CETA’s Investor-State dispute settlement (ISDS) mechanism, now rebranded as the Investor Court System to further mask the pro-investor bias, will allow Europe’s richest corporations to bypass our domestic courts and sue our government for millions or even billions of dollars if a measure is deemed to threaten their future profits.

“Canada is already the most-sued developed country through ISDS. The federal government has paid more than $200 million to corporations through this mechanism so far and is facing active claims worth billions more,” said Blair Redlin, co-chair of the TJN. “As well, ISDS puts a serious chill on the ability of governments at all levels to enact legislation and public policies that protect the health and well-being of citizens or promote sustainable development. If the new Canadian government ratifies CETA, these problems will only get worse.”

The secret renegotiation also failed to address the numerous other problems with CETA including a billion dollar increase to drug prices, threats to supply-management, a ratchet mechanism that locks in privatization and restrictions to local procurement which will hurt locally sourced food programs and other buy local programs.

“Unfortunately, Minister Freeland has done nothing to fix the fundamental problems with this deal. CETA is still a terrible deal for everyday Canadians, and it cannot be ratified without thorough and transparent renegotiation,” said Brown.

TJN is an extensive and multi-sectoral network uniting environmental, civil society, student, Indigenous, cultural, farming, labour and social justice groups whose aim is to challenge the scope and secretive nature of most free trade agreements.

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For more information: Larry Brown, co-chair, Trade Justice Network


Cost of Harper’s Great Deal on the TPP: $5-Billion and Counting

Steven Harper was desperate to get a TPP deal during the election campaign. After all, his last great trade deal, the CETA with Europe is in serious trouble in the EU and may never be implemented.

So now we have the TPP. A great deal for Canada, we’re told.

Except that this great deal is going to hurt our dairy farmers so much that the taxpayers of Canada are going to have to pay $4.3 billion in compensation for their losses.

Except that this great deal is going to hurt our auto parts manufacturing so much that it’s going to cost the taxpayers of Canada another $1 billion to compensate them.

What did we get? Empty assurances from a PM who never saw a free trade deal he didn’t like.

The cost? On top of the $5 billion in cash, on top of the thousands of jobs that will be lost, Harper promised to give corporations from Australia, and Japan, and Vietnam, and Malaysia, and seven other countries, the right to challenge the democratic decisions of our government.

Harper promised to let companies from Brunei and New Zealand and Singapore and all the rest of them, have equal rights with Canadian companies to bid on publicly financed projects or contracts. No more local purchasing, no more using Canadian taxpayers’ money to support Canadian companies and workers.

Harper promised that if any government in Canada decided to privatize a public service, they, or any successor government, will never have the right to change their minds, even if the privatization was an absurd mistake. Governments could only ever move one way, to privatize. They call it the ratchet effect.

Harper has signed an agreement so that no government from here on will be able to introduce a new social program that isn’t bound by the privatization ethos of the TPP.

Harper has committed that our crown corporations will not be able to serve the public interest, they will have to act under strictly commercial considerations.

Harper has agreed that Canadians shouldn’t really have the right to pass regulations governing corporate behaviour, unless the whole of the TPP world, including the US, Australia, and Vietnam, is in agreement.

And there’s more. Drug prices will almost certainly increase again.

We don’t know for sure what we’ve given up in the areas of intellectual property or IT.

The value of the TPP? Completely hypothetical.

The costs? Far too high.

This is a deal by business, for business, with a price tag Canadians shouldn’t have to pay.

Mexican Dairy Farmers Oppose TPP too

The Union of Dairy Producers of the Mexican Republic and the Mexican Dairy Federation asked the government to refrain from presenting offers in the negotiations for the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), which are being carried out in Atlanta, Georgia, United States, that have not been agreed to by the national sector.

The National Front of Dairy Producers and Consumers demanded that the product be removed from the negotiations. Alvaro Gonzalez Muñoz, the group’s president, explained that the risks are very high, since the nations that make up the commercial bloc will offer very low prices for dairy products, which will lead to the bankruptcy of the majority of the 250,000 producers.
Vicente Gomez Cobo, president of the Mexican Dairy Federation, indicated that the national negotiators “should not use milk producers as a bargaining chip. We are not like textiles or patented medicines.”

Salvador Alvarez Moran, president of the Union of Dairy Producers of the Mexican Republic, explained that the sector is going through a profound crisis, created by the oversupply of milk on world markets, which has led to a 70 percent drop in prices in the last year and a half. “The situation could get worse if we include dairy in the TPP, since New Zealand is the main exporter of milk and cheeses in the world. Its competitive advantages allow it to produce milk at half of what it costs in Mexico.”

He referred to the Mexican dairy supply chain, which is made up of 250,000 farms, of which 96 percent have fewer than 100 heads of cattle, and which generate 635,000 direct and indirect jobs.

Both reported that the 240,000 dairy producers continue to confront a complicated situation due to the low prices they receive, which are below the costs of production. “Hundreds of small and medium producers are at risk of disappearing,” they indicated in separate interviews.

Gomez Cobo said that production costs have risen 30 percent due to the effects of the devaluation of the peso against the dollar, since 85 percent of inputs are priced in that currency.


Harper undermines TPP negotiations with careless remarks



OTTAWA (Sept. 22, 2015) – Prime Minister Stephen Harper has shown reckless incompetence with his recent remarks on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations and Canada now has no choice but to step away from the table, says the Trade Justice Network.

The TJN, a coalition that includes labour unions – organizations with tremendous experience in negotiating – says Harper’s ill-advised comments on the auto industry have left Canada with no room to manoeuvre.

“Mr. Harper has already publicly conceded that Canada is prepared to accept a bad deal for Canada’s auto parts manufacturers,” said TJN spokesman Larry Brown.

“Canada’s negotiating team now has no leverage whatsoever with which to defend this crucial industry at the TPP talks. Every other country knows that Mr, Harper has publicly conceded on this point – he will accept a deal that does not protect the industry and its workforce.”

“No one should ever go to a negotiating table saying that reaching a deal is absolutely crucial; the other side knows that they can extract the maximum concessions because you’ve already implied that you will accept pretty much anything to get this ‘crucial’ deal.”

The TJN also questions whether the current government has any moral authority to reach an agreement on such a major issue as the TPP. It is unheard of for an outgoing government to conclude an international treaty of such scope during an election campaign, when they should be just caretakers.

“With no moral authority to conclude a deal and with Canada’s negotiators being completely painted into a corner by Mr Harper, the only sensible option for Canada is to stand aside, at least until the federal election is concluded,” Brown said.

“At that point our negotiators may get the kind of mandate from a new government that will allow them to actually bargain in Canada’s best interests, instead of having their position completely undercut by an incompetent negotiator like Mr. Harper.”

You can find the Trade Justice Network on Twitter (@TradeJusticeNet) and on Facebook.

For more information contact:

Larry Brown – Trade Justice Network

Ph# 613-799-3942 © 613-228-9800 (w)


Federal leaders’ debate: Canada’s trade deals need independent analysis, not corporate cheerleading, says Trade Justice Network

Ottawa — On the cusp of Thursday’s federal election debate on the economy, the Trade Justice Network, (, a coalition of Canadian unions, environmental groups and citizens’ groups, is calling on federal leaders to mandate the Parliamentary Budget Officer to do real fact-based analysis before they sign “free trade” deals that are destructive to Canadian jobs. In the case of CETA, the Canada-European Union trade agreement that has already been signed by the Harper government, this analysis should happen immediately.

In particular, the Trade Justice Network would like trade deals to be analyzed by the Parliamentary Budget Officer as part of a process of full accountability to Parliament, a recommendation made earlier today by Senator Céline Hervieux-Payette. Payette has asked if the PBO could do an independent analysis of CETA, the Comprehensive Trade and Economic Agreement between Canada and the EU.

“Most Canadians wouldn’t buy a new car without researching the warranty coverage, the mileage, reviews of the vehicle and so on.  Yet our government would have us agree to sweeping economic agreements like CETA and the TPP without providing us any facts at all, just empty slogans about how wonderful things will be after we sign on,” says Larry Brown, national secretary-treasurer of the National Union of Public and General Employees and co-chair of the Trade Justice Network.

Maude Barlow, national chairperson of the Council of Canadians, echoed this concern. “With CETA, Harper has been promoting dubious job figures that many economists have challenged. These deals often have nothing to do with real economic trade and with jobs but are corporate rights treaties that benefit only the few.  When we are making decision of that great importance, they cannot be negotiated in secret with no accountability to citizens and with no any real independent analysis.”

In Australia, the Productivity Commission, an independent government advisory body, analyzes trade deals before they are signed and has recently expressed concerns about the Trans-Pacific Partnership currently under negotiation.

“We completely support the Senator’s request to the PBO for some research into the real impacts of CETA or the TPP, and we wouldn’t want this research to wait until we’ve already signed on to the deals, we should be given the facts about the TPP long before our Government commits us to the deal, and certainly deserve the facts about CETA before it is ratified,” concluded Brown.

The Trade Justice Network is comprised of environmental, civil society, student, Indigenous, cultural, farming, labour and social justice organizations that have come together to challenge the scope and secret negotiating process of most free trade agreements. It emphasizes the need for a more sustainable, equitable and socially just international trade regime.


Contact: Sujata Dey, (613) 796-7724



TPP: 3 things to know about the Trans-Pacific Partnership | CTV

The public isn’t allowed to know what is specified in the full text of the TPP, which means that public knowledge of the agreement is limited – and according to one poll, most Canadians aren’t even aware the agreement exists, despite the fact that one of the many rounds of negotiations was held in Canada during an unpublicized Ottawa meeting from July 3 to 12, 2014.

Read the whole article here.


TPP 300 billion



Categories TPP

Why Stephen Harper’s ‘trade’ deals are losing their cachet: Walkom

Stephen Harper’s marquee trade and investment deals are in trouble.

The already-signed Canada-European Union pact, known as CETA, has hit a buzz saw in Europe. The as yet unfinished Trans-Pacific Partnership, which would link Canada to 11 other nations, including Japan and the United States, faces stiff headwinds in Washington.

A new book by lawyer and Osgoode Hall professor Gus Van Harten helps explain why.