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Government listens to Canadians, protects digital rights in new TPP agreement

Transparency continues to elude Canadian trade negotiation processes

January 24, 2018Yesterday Canada joined 10 other countries in signing onto a reworked version of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), now known as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

The new agreement suspends many of the controversial provisions included in previous versions, including some Intellectual Property (IP) and ISDS (Investor-State Dispute Settlement) provisions. These suspensions are welcome amendments to protecting the open internet in Canada.

The TPP’s impact on digital rights has continuously been among the top concerns with the agreement, and were among the top concerns raised in the government’s TPP consultation, which received over 18,000 email submissions – the majority of which were sent from the OpenMedia community. The Minister of International Trade, Francois-Philippe Champagne noted the influence of public feedback with regards to the IP provisions in the new version of the TPP.

It is encouraging to see the Canadian government clearly recognize the voices of concerned citizens, and directly reflect their consultations in the resulting policy and agreements. But despite these positive amendments, the CPTPP remains a deal negotiated in secret. Even after the extensive consultation process, discussions continue to be held behind closed doors with little information available to the public. This is a concerning precedent, which continues in the ongoing NAFTA negotiations.

While the Canadian government appears to be demonstrating its attentiveness to consultations, it has also promised transparency in trade – something we are yet to see in practice. This week marks the 6th round of negotiations in NAFTA, and the public is still yet to see any of the negotiating texts or consultation results.

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