Liberal government's stance on TPP 'flim flam': Mulcair
Michael Shulman, CTVNews.ca
Published Monday, January 25, 2016 11:04AM EST
Last Updated Monday, January 25, 2016 7:18PM EST
NDP Leader Tom Mulcair is criticizing the Liberal government's decision to sign the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership without committing to ratifying the deal, calling their position "flim flam."
International Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland announced on Monday that Ottawa intends to sign the 12-country treaty at a meeting next week in New Zealand.
However, Freeland refrained from making a full commitment to the trade agreement.
"Just as it is too soon to endorse the TPP, it is also too soon to close the door," Freeland wrote in an open letter posted to her department's website.
"Signing does not equal ratifying.... Signing is simply a technical step in the process, allowing the TPP text to be tabled in Parliament for consideration and debate before any final decision is made."
She added that a majority vote in the House of Commons would be required to seal the deal.
In an appearance on CTV's Power Play, Mulcair said the Liberals were being dishonest in their hesitancy to push forward with the current terms of the agreement.
"It is a bit of a flim flam, frankly, when a government says: 'Well, we're signing it but it doesn’t really mean that we really like all parts of it,'" said Mulcair.
"It's been transparent since Day 1. The statements that were made during the campaign by … (Environment Minister) Catherine McKenna … made it clear that they were signing this thing in its present form."
Freeland has indicated that the massive deal, which includes powerhouse economies such as the United States and Japan, cannot be renegotiated.
Mulcair and the NDP took a hardline stance against the TPP during the election campaign, arguing that the agreement would drive up the cost of prescription drugs, drive down wages, cause job losses and negatively affect the environment.
Mulcair added that he was "very disappointed" that Prime Minister Trudeau and the Liberals are moving ahead with the deal, which was agreed to in-principal by the former Conservative government "holus-bolus" -- without changes.
"They say there's going to be a debate, but they've got a majority and I don't think they're planning on any changes," he said.
The NDP leader also argued that Trudeau should look south of the border to see that there are reasons for concern
"In the (United) States, you know that a lot of politicians have looked at this and said it comes up short," said Mulcair.
"Hilary Clinton is saying that's not a good enough deal for the U.S., but the U.S. got a better deal than Canada."
Clinton, who is in the midst of a campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination, declared her opposition to the TPP in October after previously promoting the deal as secretary of state during President Barack Obama's first term.
Meanwhile, Conservative Leader Rona Ambrose urged Ottawa to go ahead with the agreement on Monday, saying it could boost Canada's ailing economy.
"Right now when Western Canada is hurting... the Trans-Pacific Partnership offers huge opportunities, particularly in the business services sector and the agricultural sector," Ambrose said in Ottawa.
Former prime minister Stephen Harper celebrated the announcement of an agreement-in-principle in October, during the final stretch of the federal election campaign, saying it would give Canada access to a vast market of nearly 800 million people.
In the weeks leading up to Freeland's announcement, she has conducted public consultations on the wide-ranging accord.
She has also requested a transparent study by parliamentary committee.
If the deal is ratified, it would establish new international rules for many sectors of world economies besides trade, such as intellectual property.
These provisions have drawn intense scrutiny, with many experts wondering if they present a bad deal for Canada. Former Research in Motion CEO, Jim Balsillie, went as far as saying that the deal heavily favours U.S. entrepreneurs and could cost Canada billions of dollars in the innovation segment of the economy.
Freeland said on Monday that these concerns have been heard.
"It is clear that many feel the TPP presents significant opportunities, while others have concerns," Freeland wrote.
"Many Canadians still have not made up their minds and many more still have questions."
Freeland said that countries have up to two years to consider ratifying the TPP before making a final decision.
The deal will kick into action if it it's ratified by six of the twelve countries, who represent 85 per cent of the original groups total GDP.
It remains unclear whether the U.S. will ratify the agreement.
Trade minister from the Pacific Rim nations have been invited to sign the deal on Feb. 4 in Auckland.
Freeland said that signing the deal ensures that Canada can maintain its status as a potential full partner.
With files from The Canadian Press