As trade ministers gather in Chile, new report reveals why Canadians oppose the TPP and how the government can restore trust in trade processes
March 14, 2017
March 14, 2017 – “Next time, consult us!” - that’s the clear message coming from Canadians on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). A new report published today finds that Canadians want to withdraw from the TPP, and for the government to ensure much greater transparency and public engagement for future trade deals. The report is published as trade ministers gather in Chile to discuss the future of trans-Pacific trade, following the withdrawal of the U.S. from the TPP.
The report, which was crowdsourced from 27,996 Canadians, found that the most common reason for opposing the TPP was the failure of the federal government to consult with the public during TPP negotiations. Canadians also highlighted concerns around digital rights, corporate overreach, democratic accountability, healthcare and public services, the environment, labour issues, and the economy as reasons they opposed the deal.
“The biggest takeaway here is that Canadians cannot support agreements made in secret,” said Meghan Sali, the report’s lead author and communications specialist with OpenMedia. “It’s no surprise we found such strong opposition to the TPP, given that Stephen Harper’s government conducted the negotiations in near-total secrecy, excluding the public while privileging narrow corporate interests.”
Sali continued: “There is a better way. It’s clear that Canadians want real transparency when it comes to future trade negotiations, along with genuine multi-stakeholder engagement. If future trade deals are to win public support, Canada needs to learn from the mistakes made while negotiating the TPP. A much more open approach is required to restore public trust in trade processes.”
“This report is more than a rebuke of the TPP. Rather, it is a symbol of hope,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “Tens of thousands of Canadians contributing to a public dialogue on trade policy is a reminder of our vibrant, engaged, and active democracy. To our elected officials, it is a reminder that voters expect better than what has been delivered by governments and trade negotiators — and that corporate interests must never trump the broader public interest.”
“Deals like the TPP never truly die. Their destructive nature – killing jobs and the environment – lives on in other forms,” said Maude Barlow, National Chairperson of the Council of Canadians. “Even without the U.S., other countries are trying to revive the dubious legacy of the TPP. It’s time they got the message: People are tired of these agreements, and we must do better. This report reminds us that we have to dramatically shift the business-as-usual approach to trade agreements.”
“The TPP was negotiated without meaningful input from trade unions, First Nations, and other civil society groups. Our citizens deserve better and we will not support the TPP,” said Ken Neumann, United Steelworkers Canadian National Director.
The report’s release is timely given that Canada is heading into a number of important trade negotiations this year with NAFTA, China, Trans-Pacific nations, and the UK. The findings of the report were crowdsourced from nearly 28,000 people who used the Let’s Talk TPP tool to participate in government and parliamentary TPP consultation processes.
The key recommendations of the report are:
Formally withdraw from the TPP: An overwhelming majority of respondents want legislators to reject the TPP.
Implement real transparency: Canadians told us that the levels of secrecy around trade negotiations go far beyond what is necessary. People cannot support agreements made in secret.
Embrace multi-stakeholder engagement: The government should conduct stakeholder consultations with citizens, public interest groups, and civil society throughout all stages of the negotiation process.
The Let’s Talk TPP project is endorsed by the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, Council of Canadians, CWA Canada, Leadnow.ca, NordVPN, Private Internet Access, Progress Champions, Unifor, and United Steelworkers. The final report was made possible with generous support from the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, CWA Canada, NordVPN, Private Internet Access, Unifor, and United Steelworkers District 3.
Canadians can send the Let’s Talk TPP report to their MP and to federal Trade Minister François-Philippe Champagne at LetsTalkTPP.ca
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