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Public determined to have their say, as key parliamentary TPP hearings arrive in Toronto

Following pressure from civic society groups, members of the public will now have one hour to present their views on the TPP at Toronto hearing on Friday

May 13, 2016 The public will have a new way to make their voices heard on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), when Parliament’s trade committee hosts hearings in Toronto today. Following pressure from civil society groups concerned about the sidelining of citizen voices, the hearing format has been changed and now includes an open hour for participation by members of the public.

A diverse range of organizations are also planning a public demonstration starting at 10am outside the Toronto’s Ritz-Carlton Hotel where the hearings will be held. The event will include speakers from Unifor, Council of Canadians, Leadnow, OpenMedia, and others, in addition to the unfurling of a gigantic banner with the names of 170,000 Canadians who have spoken out against the TPP.

“The TPP is simply the latest in a series of destructive trade agreements, negotiated by our former conservative government, that do little to promote trade or create jobs for Canadians,” said Unifor National President Jerry Dias. “Our federal government is under no obligation to ratify this deal, and they shouldn’t. There are better ways to build our economy and promote fair trade, and that’s a discussion we should have as Canadians.”

“With the government seemingly on the fence, it’s more important than ever for Canadians to speak up,” said OpenMedia’s communications specialist Meghan Sali. “At the Vancouver hearings, we asked the committee to create new opportunities for the public to be heard. Now we need people to show up on Friday to help convince MPs to reject a bad deal that will shred our digital rights and cost our economy millions.”

"The TPP is a dangerous, costly, and lopsided deal that serves the interests of multinational corporations and the super wealthy, leaving everyday Canadians in the dust," said Brittany Smith, Campaigner at Leadnow. "If the TPP is truly an 'agreement', then we're here to show decision-makers that the public - including the 170,000+ people who have taken action against it - is saying "we don't agree."

“The TPP’s big winner is the pharmaceutical industry. More patent rights for Big Pharma will mean more price gouging, higher drug costs and less availability of the medication Canadians need,” says Michael Butler, Health Care Campaigner with the Council of Canadians. “The TPP will add more than $800 million to our prescription drug bill and all but eliminate the possibility of creating a national pharmacare plan.”

Today’s hearings take place at Toronto’s Ritz-Carlton Hotel from 8am to 12.45pm, with the hour between 11:45am and 12:45pm set aside for public participation. Members of the public wishing to speak are encouraged to arrive well before 11.45am, as there are limited speaking slots available, and individuals will be able to speak on a first-come first-serve basis.

These organizations have raised a number of concerns about the TPP, including:

  • It will restrict how we innovate and share culture, and it will overwrite our national laws without our consent. (source)

  • Copyright term extensions will cost Canadians money, and actually make it harder for artists and creators to make new works. (source)

  • Foreign companies could sue the Canadian government for implementing regulations that would protect the environment. (source)

  • An independent study concluded that Canada will lose at least 58,000 jobs because of the TPP. The government has yet to publish an independent economic analysis of how exactly the TPP would impact Canadians (source)

  • Under the TPP, Canadians will pay more for pharmaceuticals, while seeing their healthcare privacy undermined. (source)

To date, over 16,000 Canadians have placed their TPP concerns on the public record using a tool at LetsTalkTPP.ca that is co-hosted by the Council of Canadians, OpenMedia, Stand (formerly ForestEthics), and SumOfUs.

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