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Winnepeg Free Press

TPP Benefits the Few and Harms Many

A protest in Leesburg, Virginia. (Photo: GlobalTradeWatch/cc/flickr)

The Trans-Pacific Partnership, which has been called "NAFTA on steroids," is a harbinger of invasive and human rights-violating times. Called a trade agreement, it actually has very little to do with trade — it is more concerned with expanding the rights of corporations.

We are concerned about TPP for many reasons, but at the core of it is this deal was created mostly by corporate investors, behind closed doors, to protect themselves from regulations that protect people and the planet.

What we foresee with this agreement are increased drug costs, a global race to the bottom in wages, increased exploitation of temporary foreign workers, reduced health and environmental protections and indigenous sovereignty, a carbon-intensive economy, and undermined community and government efforts to buy local.

One major concern is this agreement was signed by the former Harper government before the 2015 federal election with very little consultation with the public. The current Liberal government also signed it but has not ratified the agreement. A decision will need to be made by 2018.

This deal was written largely by U.S. corporate investors. For us, this is like Canadian sheep being herded by an American herder. This is a push by U.S. corporate investors to make us more like the United States.

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The winners are clearly corporate investors. The losers? Everybody else. A study from Tufts University in Medford, Mass., predicts the loss of 58,000 jobs with TPP.

One ridiculous part of this agreement is the investor-state dispute-settlement provisions. ISDS would allow corporations to sue the government if it takes a stand that favours people and communities, acts compassionately and responsibly on climate change and says no to oil and gas projects. This is happening with the Keystone XL pipeline in the U.S. with TransCanada suing the Obama administration for US$15 billion because it rejected the pipeline.

In the 1980s, the majority of people opposed NAFTA. Then-prime minister Brian Mulroney went ahead with the deal, and its legacy remains with us. Let’s learn from our mistakes and instead of siding with corporations, let’s instead side with global humanity, workers, farmers and the planet.

We face the overlapping crises of climate change, economic inequality and racism. What we need right now is not a trade deal that drags us further along this path but sound public policy.

What’s inspiring is there is a growing global movement opposing the TPP, from indigenous communities in New Zealand to protesters in Tokyo to the belly of the beast of corporate power in the U.S.

NAFTA was a nuisance, but the TPP is a monster that needs to be reigned in. The choice is clear: Canada must reject the TPP and must not ratify it.

Hazim Ismail

Hazim Ismail is an organizer with No One is Illegal in Winnipeg Treaty 1 territory.

Leena Hasan

Leena Hasan is an activist with the Council of Canadians.

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