As the Council of Canadians reports today, Elizabeth May, leader of Canada’s Green Party, and MP Don Davis, the New Democratic Party’s trade critic, have joined the call by 40 parliamentarians from other countries to their respective trade ministers to to oppose the United States’ certification process.
The certification process allows the United States to vet the other countries’ sovereign laws ensuring they “conform” with the trade agreement, before the United States obligations would come into effect.
The open letter states, “If applied to the TPP, this practice would infringe on the sovereignty of our governments to determine the meaning and extent of the obligations they have agreed to and adopted under the TPP; it would impugn the constitutional authority and responsibility of legislatures and lawmakers; and it would constitute interference by a foreign government in the sovereignty of our countries.”
The letter was sent to International Trade Minister Ed Fast and his counterparts in the other countries. From Australia, Canada, Japan, Malaysia, and New Zealand, the signatories include ministers, prominent former parliamentarians as well as current leaders of political parties, spokespersons for trade, and members of committees with responsibility for the TPP.
“We have been saying since Free Trade 1.0, the US-Canada Free Trade Agreement, that free trade agreements undermine the right of nation state governments to regulate in the interests of their people and the environment ,” says Maude Barlow, Chair of the Council of Canadians. “This agreement diminishes the democratic rights of citizens to hold their governments accountable.”
According to news reports, for example, Canada is being pressured by the United States to end supply management for farmers. The original Canadian provisions allowed farmers to produce efficiently according to the demand, and to preserve the livelihood of small family farms.
In Peru, the Deputy US Trade Representative “helped” the Peruvian government in 2008 to finalize 35 new laws to better suit the US. As well, two teams of US government lawyers assisted Peru on drafting environmental and business laws. The laws covered data protection for pharmaceuticals, investor arbitration, changes to indigenous land ownership and the education system.
This week, to international surprise, the TPP received a major blow from Obama’s own party: Senate democrats temporarily successfully filibustered Obama’s Fast Track bill. The bill would have given him executive authority to sign the TPP.