With David Lametti, M.P., Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Trade
The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) consultation was held on Wednesday, August 3rd at the Mount Pleasant Library. The two hour meeting included opening remarks by Rob Oliphant, M.P. to provide context, followed by a detailed overview of the TPP presented by David Lametti, M.P. and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Trade. The session concluded with comments and questions from constituents and stakeholders that were in attendance.
Concern was expressed about the lack of transparency in the TPP negotiation process, speculating that it was rife with secret negotiations between corporations and governments. It was stated that small businesses lack the capacity to fight government policies in the same way that large corporations can. Continued concerns were expressed that most of the benefits of the agreement will accrue to corporations, which are not the drivers of the Canadian economy to the extent that smaller businesses are.
There was also concern regarding the extension of the protection period for intellectual property, as it will extend patent provisions for industries such as the pharmaceutical industry. It was stated that this provision would delay the introduction of generic forms of prescription drugs and thus raise drug costs. Furthermore, the lack of discussion on climate change as well as the provisions under the TPP that could allow corporations to sue the Canadian government for environmental policies that limit their profits were both brought up as issues with the TPP.
Many constituents were undecided as to whether or not Canada would be better to remain out of the TPP or ratify it as is. Some were in support of the principles of free trade, but remained opposed to the way that the potential agreement was constructed. It was stated that Canada could focus instead on enhancing economic relations with current partners and work on eliminating internal trade barriers between provinces.
Others believed that the TPP and the subsequent increase in trade could have a net positive impact on small and medium-sized businesses, and discussed alternate ways in which the government could provide support during the implementation of the agreement. It was suggested that the government study markets in detail and find ways to take advantage of the new environment created by the TPP, as small business owners will not necessarily know how to succeed in new markets and would need the government’s assistance. Another suggested tool was the provision of a trade promotion program for small businesses and the provision of subsidies for manufacturing in the face of increasing energy costs.
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