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  • Report looks at captured nature of BC’s Oil and Gas Commission August 6, 2019
    From an early stage, BC’s Oil and Gas Commission bore the hallmarks of a captured regulator. The very industry that the Commission was formed to regulate had a significant hand in its creation and, too often, the interests of the industry it regulates take precedence over the public interest. This report looks at the evolution […]
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
  • Correcting the Record July 26, 2019
    Earlier this week Kris Sims and Franco Terrazzano of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation wrote an opinion piece that was published in the Calgary Sun, Edmonton Sun, Winnipeg Sun, Ottawa Sun and Toronto Sun. The opinion piece makes several false claims and connections regarding the Corporate Mapping Project (CMP), which we would like to correct. The […]
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
  • Rental Wage in Canada July 18, 2019
    Our new report maps rental affordability in neighbourhoods across Canada by calculating the “rental wage,” which is the hourly wage needed to afford an average apartment without spending more than 30% of one’s earnings.  Across all of Canada, the average wage needed to afford a two-bedroom apartment is $22.40/h, or $20.20/h for an average one […]
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
  • Towards Justice: Tackling Indigenous Child Poverty in Canada July 9, 2019
    CCPA senior economist David Macdonald co-authored a new report, Towards Justice: Tackling Indigenous Child Poverty in Canada­—released by Upstream Institute in partnership with the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) and the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA)—tracks child poverty rates using Census 2006, the 2011 National Household Survey and Census 2016. The report is available for […]
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
  • Fossil-Power Top 50 launched July 3, 2019
    What do Suncor, Encana, the Royal Bank of Canada, the Fraser Institute and 46 other companies and organizations have in common? They are among the entities that make up the most influential fossil fuel industry players in Canada. Today, the Corporate Mapping Project (CMP) is drawing attention to these powerful corporations and organizations with the […]
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
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The TPP is a Bad Idea, part 27

On June 16th the House Committee on International Trade held its 27th meeting about the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The Canadian Labour Congress, the Canadian Association of Research Libraries, Scott Sinclair, and Gus Van Harten were all in Ottawa to tell parliamentarians just how bad the Trans-Pacific Partnership would be for Canada.

We outlined the limitations on governments right to regulate in the public interest, the expensiveness and unpredictability of Investor-State dispute mechanisms, and the ways in which the deal will tie the government’s hands in trying to implement their mandate for economic growth, a green transition, managing health care costs, and indigenous rights.

There was limited time to make our case though, as presentations are limited to 5 minutes, and answers to questions were even shorter. I left the meeting feeling as if I wanted to clarify a few points:

  1. Being pro-trade is not the same as being pro-trade deals. Similarly, being against trade deals doesn’t mean you’re against trade. We’ve long past the point where trade deals have much to do with lowering tariffs. Instead, trade and investment deals have become a convenient back-door for multi-national corporations to lobby for legislative and regulatory changes that they could never get through a democratic process. One example is the extension of copyright duration to life + 70 years, which has some pretty significant benefits for Disney & Hollywood in general, but that the librarians (and others) have significant concerns about. Another example is opening up access to unlimited numbers of temporary work visas, with no right to require needs tests or to set limits, and no mechanism to enforce wages and working conditions for these vulnerable workers. It’s this bypassing of democratic institutions that is most worrying.
  2. Even the most rosy macro-economic analysis of the TPP shows limited benefits for economic growth. And these analyses were undertaken with unrealistic assumptions. They assume that the trade balance stays constant (when actually we’ve seen an increasing trade deficit after signing our trade deal with South Korea, for example), and they assume that employment stays constant. If you use a model that allows these outcomes to vary, like the Tuft’s University study did, you find smaller economic benefits overall, and that workers in all TPP nations lose out. Pointing out that there is the potential for limited micro-level benefits (say, for beef producers) does nothing to change the big picture analysis that Canadians and workers overall would lose out from the TPP.
  3. In general, the process for negotiating trade deals is secretive and not accessible to most Canadians. Scott Sinclair is a veteran of Canadian trade negotiations, and he says that the TPP was the most secretive ever. When you consider that large pharma, energy, and tobacco corporations and lobbyists *are* often included, and civil society organizations are not – it’s not only secret, it’s plain undemocratic.
  4. It is time to come back to more reasonable form of investor protection. A Canadian company has never won an ISDS case against the United States, but we have been successful under WTO processes. Investor protections which should be:
    • subsidiary to national judicial processes,
    • should privilege state-to-state settlements, and
    • should emphasize investors’ responsibilities just as much as the protection of their assets.

If you want more detail, here is a link to Scott Sinclair’s testimony, Gus Van Harten’s new paper on ISDS, and Hassan Yussuff’s statement to the committee.

To learn even more and add your voice to stop the TPP, visit stoptpp.ca

Enjoy and share:

Comments

Comment from Harry Wilkinson
Time: July 15, 2016, 3:15 pm

Without question, free trade has cause a tremendous amount of grief for Canadian workers and this government must not implement any of the clause that will exacerbate the situation. As well, Canada cannot afford to give up one iota of sovereignty that will enable protection of the Canadian economy.

Canada has been becoming far less democratic since the inception of neoliberal economic theories starting around 1960 or so. These theories must be consigned to history, and lessons learned from about how necessary it is for the people who are affected by such esoteric thinking to have a substantial input. Democracy is supposed to be “the will of the people” according to Winston Churchill. This has certainly not happened with respect to how our economy has been operating for the past 50 years. Democracy has been hijacked by the political parties and the business sector.

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