So Brian Lilley put up this video on Monday when the Trans Pacific Partnership deal was announced.
What he didn't point out is that he knows about as much about it as I do. He, like the rest of the country, really just knows the government's talking points.
I'm personally in favour of free trade. Indeed, the first vote I ever cast was for the U.S Free Trade Agreement.
I do, however, have some concerns about TPP.
1) I don't trust the Americans to live up to it. They have yet to sign a deal that hasn't been undermined by some nobody senator from nowhere who has a bug up his butt about something, or a presidential candidate's endless huckstering of the stupid. I'm exhausted by having to revisit decades-old trade agreements every two to four years because American politicians are genetically incapable of abiding by them.
Mr. Lilley states that the U.S will ratify TPP "with or without us", which is actually far from certain.
President Obama's passage of fast-track authority was a very closely fought thing. He had to rely on Republicans to get it, and that didn't even happen until the last minute. And the Republicans who voted for fast-track don't seem all that committed to final passage. And with an anti-trade populist, like Donald Trump, leading the Republican primaries, ratification seems increasingly unlikely. The same is true of Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primaries. When the populist wings of both parties are against something in an election year, I wouldn't bet that the Americans "are going to pass it, with or without us."
2) Whether online privacy should be annihilated in the name of national security is debatable. That it should be just to keep Hollywood lobbyists happy isn't.
By the way, how much of a say are our authoritarian partners like Vietnam and Singapore going to have in Internet regulation? Does C-51 get scrapped because it doesn't comply with the U.S First Amendment? The deal, by definition, strips all sorts of sovereign power away from the signatory countries. How much remains uncertain because no one has seen the actual text yet. If TPP can strip away the Harper government's copyright law, who can say that it can't regulate other online laws? Will The Rebel be able to continue to use other media's video under "fair use" after TPP?
We simply don't know. We don't know any of that.
3) If individual foreign corporations have the ability to overturn domestic laws, democratically arrived at, there's very little point in having politicians at all. We should just have the bureaucracy and the courts run everything.
This has the potential of giving us the worst of both worlds, where we still have to vote for scumbags, but they don't have any actual power to legislate. That's new.
I have the power to vote against individual politicians, but to change the board of directors of a corporation, I'd have to buy a great deal of stock and attend board meetings, which I'm too poor and lazy to do. By the way, so are you, especially if it means going to New York, Tokyo, or even Santiago every three months.
On the other hand, if you like giving "unelected judges" and "foreign money" even more power than they already have, great! Just don't complain about it later. Watching the media wing of the Harper Party arguing with their own past (and present) positions might just be worth it. Like it or not, entities like the Tides Foundation will have the same rights to sue the Conservative government over our laws that, say, Nabisco will.
I'm for marriage equality, but I suspect that a good deal of the people reading this aren't. Under TPP, it's entirely possible that corporate lawsuits can change the definition of marriage through the loophole of defined benefit plans. Or contraception coverage. Or paid abortions. Remember, wherever corporations have the latitude to run rampant over domestic laws, so too do unions.
4) I want to see how this impacts things like the government's bulk buying agreements on things like pharmaceutical drugs, and their impact on price. If government can no longer negotiate price with corporations, I have a hard time justifying the continued existence of government. Besides which, negotiating price is one of the central tenets of capitalism itself. As we saw in the banking crisis, corporations aren't all that enthusiastic about capitalism when it doesn't go their way.
5) Conservatives of all stripes want to see all of the side-deals and negotiating points between Iran and the IAEA on the nuclear deal, but TPP makes that illegal for four years. I want to see that circle squared before I decide anything. Canadians should see exactly what their government gave away, when, and for what.
6) I want to see the full text before the election. Since Harper has demonstrated that he'll lie about anything that Jason Kenney can create a social media meme about, I don't trust his talking points.
7) I agree with Tom Muclair that Harper's caretaker government doesn't have the legal authority to negotiate international agreements during a writ period and present them to Parliament as non-negotiable. And I'm pretty sure that the Conservatives would feel that way about an NDP or Liberal government doing precisely the same thing.
8) In the event of a minority Parliament, this should ABSOLUTELY be a confidence vote. More than anything else since 1988, it should be a ballot issue that Canadians should get more than two weeks to make up their minds about.
Based solely on what I know about it, which isn't all that much, I'd vote against it. I'm persuadable, but that relies on everything being put out there and an honest debate being held.
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