Canada’s Agriculture Minister Announces Support for TPP

Canada’s Agriculture minister, Lawrence MacAulay, has announced that he sees nothing wrong with the TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) and is inclined to support “the whole thing”.

Recently, the Liberal government announced that they will not make any changes to the TPP. Now, the Liberal government has sent its strongest signal out yet that their mind is made up and Canadians will be saddled with the hugely controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement (TPP).

The announcement was picked up on the CBC which notes his comments:

“I suspect when I evaluate the whole thing, it will be something I support,” said Lawrence MacAulay, 69, a former potato and dairy farmer who represents Prince Edward Island in cabinet.

“I see nothing today that would make me not want to support the whole package,” he told Reuters in an interview, his first as agriculture minister.

Earlier this month, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed his support for the TPP in a phone conversation with Japan’s prime minister.

Meanwhile, the text received universal condemnation from civil and digital rights advocacy individuals and organizations. The Electronic Frontier Foundation commented with the following:

if there’s one thing we can take away from this, it’s that the TPP’s secretive, lobbyist-controlled policymaking process has led to a deal that upholds corporate rights and interests at the direct expense of all of our digital rights. We’re going to do all we can to ensure this agreement never gets ratified by the United States Congress or any other country that is a party to this deal. To do so, government officials need to hear from us loud and clear that we won’t stand by and let them trade away our rights to powerful multinational corporations.

Open Media Canada is already trying to push strongly against the TPP, noting, among other things:

Trudeau ran on a platform of “RealChange”, we need to create a message that the TPP is the poster child of Harper’s failed policies and approach to government. Ratifying the TPP would not be “RealChange” it would be “Really The Same as Harper”.

Accepting the investor state clauses in the TPP and then rushing desperately to sign the deal prior to the election can be viewed as a tactic by Harper to freeze in place the Conservative’s evisceration of environmental protections over the last decade, and block any future government from reversing them.

This is what we need. In order to convince the government to reject it, we need to convince majority of the population to reject it.

Prior to the text being released, Amnesty International also joined the chorus of opposition to the agreement:

Negotiators from nine countries gathering outside Washington DC to draft a new Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement must ensure that any new rules on copyright and patents adhere to core principles of transparency and uphold human rights, Amnesty International said today.

“No one has the right to trade away our hard-fought legal protections for free speech and the right to health, and much less to do it behind closed doors,” said Suzanne Nossel, executive director for Amnesty International USA.

“It is time for TPP negotiators to show the public their cards and, more importantly, the draft text of the agreement.”

This text has been kept a secret since negotiations began in 2007, but leaked information suggests that it would attempt to achieve some of the same objectives of the widely criticized Anti-Counterfeiting Agreement (ACTA).

Specifically, leaked TPP draft text neglects protections for fair use and standard judicial guarantees – such as the presumption of innocence – and includes copyright provisions that could compromise free speech on the internet and access to educational materials.

Public Knowledge added their voice to the universal condemnation saying, “The current intellectual property chapter of the TPP is the epitome of such overbroad protections, laying out restrictive provisions that weaken U.S. exceptions and limitations.”

The Counsel of Canadians is currently urging Trudeau for public consultations on the agreement:

The Council of Canadians is opposed to the Trans-Pacific Partnership because of its investor-state dispute settlement provision that allows corporations to sue governments for public interest legislation that affects future profits. We have also raised concerns about the impact of the TPP on dairy farmers, auto parts workers and its extended patent provision that profits transnational bio-pharmaceutical corporations. We are concerned about reports that the TPP would mean more foreign workers, exploitation and suppressed wages in Canada. And we are just about to launch a petition calling on Trudeau to reject the TPP on the grounds it would allow milk produced with Bovine Growth Hormone into Canada.

We support the call for public hearings that would result in these substantive changes (and more) to the TPP.

That was just a small sample of the public outrage of what has been known to be in the TPP.

Given the ministers position of not seeing anything wrong with the agreement, the Liberal party appears to be gearing up to take a hardline approach to pushing through the TPP. It also seems to signals that a line in the sand is being drawn between the government and major multinational corporations and citizens and civil rights. Given the recent ramping up of TPP support in the Canadian government, it seems that it’s only a matter of time before a major war breaks out between Canadians and their own government.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Google+.



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