The NDP doesn’t believe the Trans-Pacific Partnership is really about trade, let alone fair trade.
New Democratic Party international trade critic Tracey Ramsey and Nanaimo-Ladysmith MP Sheila Malcolmson hosted a town hall meeting Wednesday at White Sails Brewery to discuss the 12-nation trade deal and its implications for Canadians.
“If you oppose a trade deal, it doesn’t mean that you’re anti-trade. It actually means that you’re pro-fair trade and the current deals that we’re looking at are not fair trade,” said Ramsey.
She said that 97-98 per cent of Canadian exports to Trans-Pacific Partnership countries are already duty-free and suggested positive impacts on the economy would be cancelled out by job losses.
“Regardless of the economic modelling that’s done, it shows negligible growth,” she said.
Ramsey said that the TPP is mostly an investor-protection agreement and she is concerned about investor-state dispute settlement provisions in the deal. She said Canada is already the most-sued nation in investor-state tribunals and cited an example of an oil and gas company suing because of a temporary ban on fracking under the St. Lawrence River. She worries that these types of lawsuits could mean that the TPP would become a barrier to climate action.
“Something really weird begins to happen when you can be sued for trying to bring in legislation or regulation to protect public health, public safety, the environment and many other things,” said Ramsey.
She also foresees negative impacts on technology and innovation, manufacturing and dairy farming, and said language in the deal regarding prescription drug patents will keep costs of pills artificially high and preclude implementation of pharmacare in Canada.
Ramsey is vice-chairwoman of the House of Commons’ Standing Committee on International Trade, which is studying the Trans-Pacific Partnership separately from the Ministry of International Trade’s consultations. She’s visiting ridings across the country talking about the TPP in hopes of creating a loud-enough conversation to influence Liberals. The Canadian government has signed the TPP, but the agreement hasn’t yet been ratified in Parliament and the NDP is asking for a free vote in the House.
“I’m hopeful that they will realize the impact of this on Canadians’ lives, our communities, our families, our jobs and that they’ll see the seriousness of entering into this deal,” Ramsey said.