TPP meeting postponed after Canada fails to agree

International media blames Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for the meeting’s sudden cancellation

Efforts to reach an agreement this weekend on a Pacific Rim trade pact appeared to collapse Friday when persistent concerns over the deal, including Canada’s, forced the abrupt cancellation of a scheduled leaders’ meeting.

Some international media quickly blamed Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for the meeting’s sudden cancellation.

The heads of the 11 countries that have been negotiating a revised Trans-Pacific Partnership had planned to meet on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation leaders’ summit in Danang, Vietnam.

Trudeau did not go to the conference room at the scheduled time to meet the other TPP leaders.

However, the Prime Minister’s Office insisted that Canada was not the only country to raise concerns. A spokeswoman said Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the meeting’s chair, cancelled the event after a 50-minute face-to-face discussion with Trudeau.

A report in Australia’s Sydney Morning Herald said Trudeau “sabotaged” the talks at the last minute by failing to show up for the meeting. The New Zealand Herald reported that Trudeau’s ”no-show” had delayed TPP talks indefinitely. Canada’s foreign affairs minister said Ottawa is still at the TPP negotiating table and it doesn’t want to rush on such a complex deal.

“I’m not going to speculate on what other countries might say,” Chrystia Freeland said when asked about the allegations that Canada is holding up the TPP.

She also suggested Canada wasn’t the only one to blame for Friday’s cancellation.

“There are a few countries who continue to have some important issues that they would like to be addressed,” Freeland said.

RELATED: Pro-Western think tank urges support for Trans Pacific Partnership

Freeland refused to share details on Canada’s concerns over the TPP, saying it was International Trade Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne’s file. She added that he wasn’t available to speak to reporters Friday because he was back at the TPP bargaining table with other trade ministers.

Canada’s resistance to the new TPP does not come out entirely of the blue.

Over the past week as talk of some kind of deal grew louder, senior officials and Trudeau alike have talked about wanting to roll back concessions made during the broader TPP talks when the United States was still involved. In particular, they point to a need for stronger protections for Canadian culture, supply management and intellectual property.

At the same time, Canada has been pushing to add new elements to the revised TPP, including provisions for gender, environment and labour.

Heading into the APEC summit, some countries had expected an agreement.

The 11 remaining TPP countries have been working to revive the deal, which was abandoned earlier this year by U.S. President Donald Trump.

Earlier this week, Trudeau said wasn’t going to be pressured into committing to an agreement “at all costs” and that it would have to address the best interests of Canadians.

A senior government official says Japan has been one of the countries applying pressure on Canada to come to an agreement on an updated TPP.

Trudeau’s lengthy bilateral discussion with Abe started before the meeting’s cancellation.

It appeared to get off to a chilly start.

After they greeted each other inside their meeting room, Trudeau and Abe stood side by side and smiled for the news cameras. But they only clasped hands after someone in the room said: “Shake hands please.”

Canada and Japan, the two largest economies at the TPP talks, appeared to have different expectations ahead of Friday’s scheduled negotiations.

Late Thursday, Trudeau’s Liberal government flatly denied media reports quoting Japan’s economy minister saying that a “deal in principle” had been reached on the TPP.

International Trade Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne quickly disputed it.

“Despite reports, there is no agreement in principle on TPP,” Champagne tweeted late Thursday.

Champagne and Freeland were in the room for Friday’s Trudeau-Abe meeting.

“We are still negotiating — this is a very, very complex negotiation,” Freeland said.

“This is already a very, very fast process considering how complicated the agreement is and the fundamental change with the U.S. withdrawing makes to the geometry of that agreement.”

Follow @AndyBlatchford on Twitter

Andy Blatchford, The Canadian Press

Just Posted

Council reverses past practice, will broadcast meetings during election campaign

Nanaimo city council votes 5-4 to continue with broadcasts

Close to $10,000 worth of tools taken from construction site in Nanaimo

Theft happened overnight Sept. 12-13 on Old Slope Place

Police ask for help finding missing Nanaimo man

27-year-old Justin De Goutiere was reported missing on Monday

Attorney general takes Nanaimo councillor to court over release of confidential documents

Coun. Gord Fuller and three other Nanaimo citizens named in Supreme Court petition

Porsche and Subaru dealerships can proceed with planning in north Nanaimo

City council unanimously allows rezoning application process to move forward

U.S. congressman issues dire warning to Canada’s NAFTA team: time is running out

Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland is expected to resume talks with the U.S.

Candidate lists finalized for Nanaimo, Lantzville, RDN, school district

Nomination deadline passes in advance of Oct. 20 local government elections

21 new paramedics promised for B.C. Interior

A total of 18 new full-time paramedics will be hired for Kamloops and three are being hired for Chase.

Community comes out for Terry Fox Run and its cause

Event was held Sunday morning at Nanaimo’s Bowen Park, raised $24,000 for cancer research

School board candidate hopes to recognize student excellence

Bill Robinson hoping to earn another term on Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools board

Federal stats show slight increase in irregular migrant claims in August

113 extra people tried to cross the Canadian border last month

Cube van, SUV crash in Harewood

No one hurt in accident at Fifth Street and Howard Avenue in Nanaimo on Monday afternoon

Work begins to remove cargo from grounded Haida Gwaii barge and fishing lodge

Westcoast Resorts’ Hippa Lodge broke from its moorings and ran aground early this month

Most Read