Opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership Trade Deal
Demonstrations at Hearings Oppose the Deal
The people’s opposition is deepening the legitimacy crisis of the institutions which advocate the neo-liberal agenda and the parties which champion it. Their attempt to use public consultations to give legitimacy to a neo-liberal free trade deal that has already been negotiated and signed behind the backs of Canadians is seriously at risk. In every city where the government’s consultations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) have been held, Canadians inside and outside pointed out that far from upholding trade on the basis of mutual benefit, the TPP puts trade further under the domination of global monopolies in pursuit of their own private interests. It is a nation-wrecking agreement that attacks the right of Canadians to sovereign decision-making power.
As part of opposing the TPP demonstrators questioned the premises of the consultations, pointing out that the government already signed the TPP as of February 4. The government has expressed on many occasions its support for the agreement along with platitudes from International Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland such as “Canada is a trading nation,” the same excuse used by the previous government when it had to justify anti-social measures. At the same time, she says consultation and debate in Parliament is needed before a “final decision” is made. One of the witnesses at the Richmond, BC meeting on April 18, Brenda Sayers of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs pointed out that a single pipeline project or dam is subject to a much more thorough environmental impact assessment than the TPP, with many more witnesses called.
Canadians have many questions about these consultations and others the government has launched and likes to speak about. How does the government set the framework for how Canadians are consulted, what they are asked and what kind of feedback they can provide? Who is invited to participate and to what extent? More importantly, what is the relationship between the information received by the government and the decisions it makes? Is it arbitrary and serving an agenda already decided from outside the people or is there a principle involved?
Are the TPP consultations set up for the purpose of translating the public will of Canadians into the legal will of the government or for government to claim legitimacy for its actions? What will become of the e-mails sent by Canadians, 15,000 of which have reportedly been received so far, and will the government dismiss their serious concerns? A concern is that these hearings, which The Hill Times characterized as “mostly comprised of industry and non-profit groups familiar to the committee members and with ties to national lobby groups in Ottawa,” will be used by the government to claim that “most” or even “the vast majority” of those consulted favour the agreement and that is that.
The hearings are not over, and more are expected to be held in Atlantic Canada over the next month. Renewal Update salutes the efforts of working people to not permit the government to claim legitimacy for decisions which go against their interests. By making clear that they oppose the TPP outside and, whenever possible expressing their opposition inside the hearings, they stand up for their right to decide and say No! to neo-liberal trade agreements which uphold monopoly right and negate public right.
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