As many of you know, the federal government is undertaking a comprehensive consultation process examining the Trans-Pacific Partnership – a proposed 12-nation trade and investment treaty that will essentially rewrite the rules of North American (and global) trade, including for Canada.
Information and links on the TPP can be found on the Unifor National Website TPP Page.
The TPP is a big deal. And not because it promises to bring significant economic benefits to Canada. Even the most optimistic studies say Canada will realize little, if any, benefit. While others suggest Canada could lose tens of thousands of jobs, especially in the vulnerable auto and dairy processing sectors. In fact, the TPP really isn’t about trade. It’s more about exerting Western influence over emerging economies in the Asia-Pacific. It’s about moving the yardsticks forward on deregulation, everything from food safety to medicines to cultural policies. It’s about extending global patent and copyright protections that benefit large businesses, at the expense of future innovators. And it’s about granting private investors an even bigger stick with which to wield influence to profit on their investments and challenge government decision-making.
Canada joined the TPP under the direction of former PM Stephen Harper. The Trudeau government signed the deal on February 4th, but made clear to Canadians that “signing does not equal ratifying.” After the TPP was negotiated by the Harper Tories under a veil of secrecy, Federal Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland has committed to conduct an open and comprehensive consultation process on the TPP – leading to a final ratification vote in Parliament. Minister Freeland has also been clear that the TPP is a done deal, and non-negotiable. So Canada’s ultimate involvement in the pact will be put to a simple vote of “yes” or “no.” We don’t yet know when that vote will be held, but it must be before February 2018.
Unifor supports trade. We made this point clear in a recent 2014 convention paper entitled “Imagining a Fair Trade Future”. What we can’t support are agreements that bend trade rules in favour of powerful investors, dominant nation-states and multi-national corporations with no mutual concern for the rights of citizens, our workplaces and the environment. And this is what the TPP is – another so-called “free trade” agreement that will hurt Canadians more than it will help.
Our union is building a national campaign around the TPP, and more information on how local unions and members can plug in will be available soon. However, one phase of the government’s consultation process is quickly coming to a close – and we need to act fast! Unifor has teamed up with OpenMedia and other progressive groups in spearheading an online letter-writing tool that brings the voices of Canadians to the consultation.
Please take a moment and visit www.LetsTalkTPP.ca to send a letter to the Standing Committee on International Trade and express your views on the TPP. The website is equipped with suggested talking points as well, to help craft your letter. The letter can be as long as 1500 words.. or as short as a few sentences. We need as many local union leaders and Unifor members filling out this form as possible. And we have until June 30 to do it.
More campaign information will be made available, but for now we need your help on this first and pressing initiative. Should you have any questions, please contact Unifor’s Director of Political Action and Membership Mobilization Roland Kiehne at firstname.lastname@example.org