Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) explained

At the last Nanaimo Council meeting there was a brief presentation on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). It was shocking to hear how many on council had never heard of the TPP, the largest free trade deal ever.

What is the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP)?

On February 4, 2016, after only a few weeks on the job, The Minister of International Trade signed for Canada on a 6,000 page document called the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). This free trade agreement encompassess Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, United States and Vietnam. It is the largest free trade deal between pacific rim countries ever to be made.

But trade is just the tip of the iceberg. What this deal is really about is to ‘harmonise’ to the greatest extent possible rules, regulations and standards on food and consumer product safety, environmental protection, biotechnology and toxic chemicals management, financial services and banking, domestic regulation of services, pharmaceutical patent terms, and many more areas of public policy.

Corporations to write laws

All these regulations would concede extensive rights to private companies. Imagine having representatives of large multi-nationals taking a seat at parliamentary committees and dictating what they, your elected representatives, are supposed to do. In fact these corporate interest groups would sit together at a table with your members of Parliament and write laws together. And you wouldn’t even know about it. The meetings would be behind closed doors.

Kangaroo Courts vs. Canada

“ISDS works like a global legal straightjacket that makes it very, very difficult and expensive for governments to regulate corporations … It is dangerous for democracy,”  Pia Eberhardt, of Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO), a Brussels-based campaign group.

Further to that, if someone in Parliament actually had the gumption to stand up to these corporations, they could then sue our government. How? They would appear before private arbitration tribunals (Investor-State Dispute Settlement, ISDS for short) and state their case. These panels have more power than the Supreme Court of Canada. We’ve already been exposed to these types of panels from NAFTA. (the North American Free Trade Agreement between Canada, U.S.A., and Mexico).

ISDS allow multinationals to ride roughshod over national legislation and even constitutions. Corporations have used these ISDS tribunals to sue the government for alleged lost profits and “expected future profits”.

Canada sued for loss of unreal corporate profits

Under NAFTA, Canada has been sued for loss of corporate profits, costing hundreds of millions of your taxpayer dollars. Wouldn’t you rather that your tax dollars go towards schools and hospitals than paying a mining company $300 million for a mine that was never developed? That’s what the people of Nova Scotia are facing right now.

The result of a NAFTA win for Eli Lilly, says Public Citizen, “could expose Canada to a slew of investor-state attacks from other drug companies that have had patents invalidated because their medicines have not met the promises they made to initially obtain patents.”

American pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly (makers of methadone, prozac, and cialis) makes tens of billions in revenue every year. Last year, they went to a NAFTA tribunal to sue the Canadian government for $100 million for two drugs whose patents had expired after it was realized that these new drugs were more harmful than helpful and not an improvement on existing medication. Now Eli Lilly has raised their demand – they want $500 million. If Eli Lilly wins, other pharma companies could use this case to sue the Canadian government for drugs that were never made. The hearing is scheduled for May 30 – June 9, 2016.

Under the TPP, there will be increased patent protections for Big Pharma which could jeopardize Canada’s pharmacare program, and raise the cost of medicines to the point that they may become inaccessible.

How has NAFTA helped Canada? There is almost $500 billion in untaxed profits from “Canadian” companies that are sitting in offshore tax havens.

Chinese State Owned Enterprises control Canada

The Foreign Investment Promotion and Investment Agreement (FIPA), signed in Russia, is a bilateral investment treaty that essentially hijacks municipal, provincial, territorial, and federal laws that threaten the profitability of Chinese State Owned Enterprises (SOE).

If, for example, a Canadian environmental regulation negatively impacts a Chinese SOE’s extractive industry, then the Chinese company can sue for lost profits. Can you imagine the country being sued for hundreds of millions for a mine or a natural gas project that never got off the ground?

In 2013, the Hupacasath First Nation tried to stop FIPA from being ratified. What do you think happened? It was barely covered in the news. Only a handful of supporters showed up at the courthouse. The Federal Court of Appeal  dismissed the Hupacasath’s legal challenge. Yet this new investor treaty could override every First Nations’ constitutionally-protected rights and title in the country.

TPP equals NAFTA on steroids

The TPP goes a step further than NAFTA. Guess what? You can’t pass any new environmental protections.Too bad Harper gutted all the water protections. You can’t raise minimum wages either.

“It used to be the basic principle was polluter pay,” economist Joseph Stiglitz said. “If you damaged the environment, then you have to pay. Now if you pass a regulation that restricts ability to pollute or does something about climate change, you could be sued and could pay billions of dollars.”

After ratification by all signatories, the TPP will come into effect on February 4, 2018.

No public input

175 people were turned away from speaking at a TPP public hearing held in Richmond on April 18, 2016. It was held in a room that could only accommodate 60 people.

The government arranged four “public consultations” on the Trans-Pacific Partnership for western Canada. Only 12 people were selected to speak at the public hearings in Saskatoon.

Across the country there is virtually no public voice at the House of Commons ‘public hearings’ into the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The entire TPP consultation and information process is made to be confusing and inaccessible to the public.

Canada under America’s thumb

This is very different from what is happening in the United States. Under U.S. law, before any trade agreement can take effect, the President must determine whether the agreement’s partners have taken measures to bring it into compliance with the deal. The TPP agreement stipulates that the U.S. determines how other countries implement the TPP.

What can you do?

You can email your comments on the TPP to the committee via email at The committee is accepting written submissions (of no more than 1,500 words in length) until April 30th.

The House of Commons will vote on the ratification of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) in the fall of 2017.