The TPP: What’s Behind It?

Photo by Backbone Campaign

It is hard to believe that poverty and inequality could come to such unconscionable levels in a rich country like Canada. It tells us who is running the show or making the decisions for our future and it’s not we, the people. It’s the corporate elite, otherwise universally known as the 1%, using, among other things, the so-called free trade agreements and globalization as the conduit.

Agreements such as NAFTA are turning the world into a free market planet, countries without borders. More and more, the multinationals are overriding the democratic process, so that the election of government to represent the will of the people is becoming a mockery. The autonomy or sovereignty of countries is being undermined by the new world order of neo-liberal dog eat dog free market ideology. The latest are CETA, TiSA and TPP.

Since Mulroney’s Conservative government’s enactment of the Free Trade Agreement in 1988, followed by NAFTA in 1994, along with privatization and deregulation, more than 400 thousand manufacturing jobs have been lost, with cuts to unemployment benefits, transfer payments to the provinces, welfare benefits, environmental regulations, scientific research and the attack on unions, to name but a few.

Government policies have been driven nationally by organizations such as the Canadian Council of Chief Executives representing about 150 of the largest corporations in Canada and their CEOs, many of whom take their orders from foreign head offices. In 2013, Wikileaks noted a secretly negotiated draft of the TPP (Trans Pacific Partnership) which includes Canada among 11 other countries. Regarding this, the Electronic Frontier Foundation says TPP has ” extensive ramifications for users’ freedom of speech, right to privacy and due process, and [will] hinder peoples’ abilities to innovate.”

We might ask, if these agreements are so good, why the secrecy? Where is the honesty, the accountability, the obligation to be open in a democratic society? They are made with little or no concern for the democratic process or for the environmental, economic or social impact they might have. The bottom line is more and more corporate profits, paying less and less or no taxes, using tax loopholes and havens in offshore accounts amounting to billions of dollars, with outrageous compensation for CEOs and their fellow travellers, political and otherwise.

The latest unconscionable example of this is that of 62 of the world’s richest billionaires have more wealth than the bottom half of the world’s population of 3.5 billion people. In Canada, the richest 5 corporate billionaires have more wealth than the bottom 30% of the population, or about 10 million people. It is reported that by this year, the top 1-% will have more wealth than the world’s entire population of 7 billion people. These psychopathic parasites are taking the food, shelter and clothing off the backs of the poor and the less fortunate, worldwide.

In June 2014, Wikileaks revealed that the even more far-reaching Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA), a 50-country agreement that will promote unprecedented levels of privatization across the world, and the agreement will essentially prevent governments from returning public services into public hands. This could, for example, also dramatically affect our ability to enact environmental regulations and work related safety legislation.

The TPP proposed agreement, not yet passed by Parliament, is a “regressive last-century trade agreement” as pointed out in the Monitor (Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives journal). It will entrench the market power of the largest investors, exporters, and patent and copyright holders at the expense of consumers and citizens. Climate change is not even mentioned once in its 6,000 + pages. The environmental and labour chapters will be almost impossible to enforce. (For the obvious reasons, they will create a backlash and political turmoil).

The United States representative branded it a “Made in America” deal. Enough said.

Former Representative of Research in Motion CEO Jim Balsillie said the TPP will cost the Canadian economy billions, turning the country into a permanent underclass.

How our new Liberal Government will stack up in openly discussing this with the people of Canada is not yet known. Will our Prime Minister Justin Trudeau live up to his commitment to Canadians to represent all the people, the middle class and working class, or will he crumble under the weight of the owners of our capitalist system, the multinational corporations, financial institutions with their unconscionable greed and that of their handmaidens, the racketeers on Wall Street and Bay Street? Time will tell.