Here we are in the middle of an official election period. This is a period in which all important decisions are supposed to be delayed until after the election. And yet, Harper again flouts rules and traditions and is preceding full speed ahead with the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade negotiations. Why?

Canadians have several reasons to be concerned. For example, all negotiations are taking place behind closed doors.Another concern is that eighty per cent of Canadian exports to these countries are raw or semi processed goods, while 80% of imports are high value-added goods. A good way to export good paying Canadian jobs wouldn’t you say.

As well, leaked information confirms that the TPP includes an investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) mechanism similar to NAFTA chapter 11, which allows rich countries to sue governments when policy decisions interfere with their investments. Canada is already the most sued developed country in the world because of NAFTA’s ISDS process and TPP will significantly increase the number of foreign investors eligible to sue.

Seniors (and others) are going to suffer too. The intellectual property chapter of the TPP could prove a disaster for efforts to control drug costs in Canada, which are already the second highest in the world.

Farmers are next. Supply management is squarely in TPP’s crosshairs. In July, again behind closed doors, negotiators gave the European Union an additional five percent of our high-end cheese market, and Harper weakened Canada’s bargaining position by indicating willingness to reduce dairy tariffs and increase the tariff-free imports of milk. Since the GATT and the Uruguay Round of the WTO, Canadian farmer’s share of our own dairy market has been nibbled away bit by bit through various trade deals. Isn’t the loss of 17,000 tonnes of cheese production to Europe with CETA and the potential loss of 10% of our market to the USA under TPP enough for Harper?

Unlike the USA, Canada does not allow the growth hormone rBGH which is used in the U.S. to increase dairy cows’ milk production, and our dairy farmers are not subsidized by the taxpayer. Supply management provides a fair return to farmers and a reasonably priced supply of fresh milk, eggs and poultry of food to consumers.

Unionized auto workers aren’t going to escape either. U.S. negotiators have reportedly agreed to lower the domestic-content requirement to 30% for auto parts and 45% for vehicles. Presently, NAFTA says domestic content for auto parts and vehicles must be more than 60%.

In any case, 26,000 Canadian jobs are expected to be lost.

It appears that under the Harper government everything Canadian is up for sale at fire sale prices.

Joyce Neufeld
Waldeck, Sask