The main party leaders are staking out their positions on the Trans Pacific Partnership, with Conservative Leader Stephen Harper hailing the deal, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau reserving judgment, and NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair re-stating that his party won’t be bound by the sweeping trade agreement.
The tentative deal was announced Monday in Atlanta, Ga., after negotiations stretched on for five days. The blockbuster TPP agreement would encompass approximately 40 per cent of the world's economy, and eliminate barriers for certain Canadian exports, including pork, beef and high-tech machinery.
The deal will need to be ratified by national governments. The text of the agreement is currently undergoing a legal review, and it's not clear if it will become available ahead of the Oct. 19 federal election.
Shortly after the agreement was announced, Conservative Leader Stephen Harper welcomed the news.
"I think we got a tremendous deal here that achieves virtually all of our objectives in every sector," he said during a news conference in Ottawa.
Harper said the agreement will set a new standard for future global trade agreements, and will create more jobs while opening up new markets for Canadian exports.
Appearing on CTV's Power Play Monday, Trade Minister Ed Fast echoed Harper's enthusiasm for Canada becoming part of the "largest trade block in the world."
"Can you imagine if Canada was outside of the TPP, where our preferences within the North American market place would become eroded?" Fast said. "We've achieved an outcome that will serve Canadians for many, many generations to come."
Liberals are a 'pro-trade' party
During a campaign event in Waterloo, Ont., Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau said his party will have to look at the details of the agreement, but stressed that Liberals have always been a "pro-trade party."
"We know that trade is important for jobs, good-paying jobs, and for economic growth," he said, adding that the TPP deal involves three out of five of Canada's largest trading partners, and therefore must be seriously considered.
Trudeau said, if elected, the Liberals will conduct a review of the agreement and will open up the discussion in Parliament. It will also consult with Canadians and affected sectors, to ensure it is in the best interest of the Canadian economy.
"We will demonstrate the kind of openness and responsibility that, quite frankly we haven't had in 10 years of Stephen Harper's government," he said.
NDP 'will not be bound' by deal
Speaking in Toronto, NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair repeated that his party will "not be bound" by the terms of the trade agreement he accused the Conservatives of negotiating in "secret."
"I will not be bound by Stephen Harper's secret deals," he said. "I will fight for your community, I will fight for your jobs."
Mulcair accused Harper of "selling out" the country's automakers and farmers, and press the Conservative leader to release the full text of the agreement before Canadians head to the polls.
The NDP leader also said, if elected, his party will not support a trade agreement that results in the loss of 20,000 auto sector jobs, as estimated by the autoworkers' union Unifor.
Leading up to the deal announcement, Canadian automakers and dairy producers slammed the trade agreement, warning that it could harm their industries.
Under terms of the deal, cars would be allowed into Canada without tariffs, as long as 45 per cent of their content comes from TPP regions. That’s lower than the 62.5 per cent regional provision under NAFTA.
Also under the deal, the country will allow an additional 3.25 per cent of foreign imports into the dairy sector. To compensate them for their losses, Harper said the Cabinet has already approved $4.3 billion in funds to be paid out to farmers and processors over the first 15 years of the agreement.
Greens, Bloc express disapproval, disappointment
Green Party Leader Elizabeth May tweeted her disapproval of the deal, noting that Green Party MPs will vote to block it in its current form.
"It appears that the Conservatives, operating a 'care-taker government' in an election, have just double-crossed the supply-managed sectors of Canada's agricultural sector, as well as the auto sector," May said in a statement.
Bloc Quebecois Leader Gilles Duceppe also expressed disappointment over the deal on Monday, saying it would cost milk producers thousands of dollars in income.
The Bloc estimates that each milk producer would lose out on $25,000 if the TPP and proposed free-trade agreement with Europe go through, because the deals would allow an increase in exported milk from other countries.
"This is no modest breach," he said while campaigning in Montreal. "What needs to be maintained in its entirety is the revenue of farmers."
With files from The Canadian Press