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National Observer: Why is the TPP bad for Canada?

No Big Industry interests were harmed in the making of this agreement. Article by Stuart Trew & Scott Sinclair by the National Observer As the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations slouch toward an agreement, supporters have cranked the volume on their praise for what is sometimes called the “NAFTA of the Pacific.” Critics, of which there are a growing number, prefer “NAFTA on steroids” – a sign the 12-country pact can only lead to more of the same deregulation, offshoring and rising inequality that are the legacy of 20 years of North American free trade.

A key vote in the U.S. House of Representatives, which could come within weeks, will decide if the TPP is soon sealed or the talks linger on. President Obama has inexplicably teamed up with his otherwise implacable Republican foes to champion trade promotion authority (aka fast-track), or the power to sideline Congress by forcing a yes or no vote on trade agreements in their entirety. With only five of the TPP’s 30-plus chapters directly relating to trade, you can understand the reluctance of Democrats to give up their ability to review the deal and make changes.

Because of overwhelming opposition from the Democratic caucus and a handful of libertarian Republicans, the vote is still too close to call. But one thing is certain: if the fast-track bill passes, Canada will be mercilessly arm-twisted to make economically and socially harmful concessions.

Remember that Canada only joined the TPP talks in 2012. The federal government made the decision somewhat reluctantly and there were strings attached. One of them was that Canadian negotiators could not reopen any closed text. Canada’s bigger business lobbies even called it a defensive move to “secure” NAFTA supply chains rather than offering any meaningful market access elsewhere.

Predictably, the Canadian corporate community is now urging the government to do whatever is needed to make the TPP happen. Most Canadians have almost no idea what’s going on. (Wikileaks is raising a $100,000 reward for anyone who can leak them the full text, until now secret.) But people are starting to ask the obvious questions: what’s in it for us, and what will we have to give up to get it. The answers are equally obvious if you look past the hype: not much, and quite a lot.

- Read more at the National Observer

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