To the Editor,
Do you remember the election debate over the Free Trade Agreement with the US (FTA) in 1988 or the public debate over the North American Free Trade agreement (NAFTA) in 1992-93?
Do you remember when the U.S. published the details of the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) in 2001?
Why is it that governments no longer think it makes sense to make the economic and social benefits of deals like the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) understandable to the public?
The TPP is like NAFTA on steroids and involves 12 Pacific Rim countries.
The negotiations have been kept secret but leaks of draft copies have revealed the true intent.
Although the TPP is called a trade agreement it is more of a corporate rights agreement.
Only two of the 26 chapters under negotiation have to do with trade.
The other 24 include how a government regulates corporate activity, what Crown corporations can and cannot do, how long pharmaceutical patents or copyright terms should be, how the Internet is governed, the sharing of personal information across borders, banking and taxation rules and when a company or investor should be compensated when environmental or public health policies interfere with profits.
The TPP threatens community-led public policy by including investor rights’ chapter and investor-state dispute process that would let companies sue governments in secret tribunals when public policies interfere with profits.
The public policy could be legal, fair and indiscriminate and still face corporate lawsuits demanding hundreds of millions and sometimes billions of dollars in compensation.
The Council of Canadians is calling on the federal government to make all TPP chapters public.