Jason Kenney has blasted Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau as "confused" and shockingly ignorant about the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
The Conservative cabinet minister made the remarks Wednesday in a Twitter rant targeting "Justin."
Kenney made no mention of NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair, who has been sharply critical of the TPP and has said he will not be bound by the deal if he forms government. The massive trade pact includes 12 countries who represent 40 per cent of the world's GDP.
Though the Liberal leader has declared his party is "resolutely pro-trade" and that he will always make the case for trade if elected prime minister, Trudeau has also said he wants to see the fine print before declaring his support.
It's a position Kenney evidently finds "astonishing."
2/ Virtually every business group in Canada has strongly endorsed #TPP as a huge boost for Canada's economy, but Justin can't figure it out?— Jason Kenney (@jkenney) October 7, 2015
3/ For the record, the U.S. Democratic Party, Japan's Liberal Democrats, Australia's Labour & Liberal parties all strongly support #TPP.— Jason Kenney (@jkenney) October 7, 2015
4/ New Zealand's opposition Labour Party opposes #TPP, in part b/c they want more access to Canadian dairy market. But the point is, every— Jason Kenney (@jkenney) October 7, 2015
5/ party has taken clear position, b/c leadership requires coherent positions on hugely consequential economic issues. But Justin's confused— Jason Kenney (@jkenney) October 7, 2015
6/ When Justin attacks us for "negotiating TPP in secret," this reflects a shocking ignorance. Would he broadcast our negotiating strategy?— Jason Kenney (@jkenney) October 7, 2015
7/ Would JT reveal the confidential negotiating positions taken by our partners, contrary to every principle of good-faith negotiation?— Jason Kenney (@jkenney) October 7, 2015
'60 per cent of the world economy'
But the prolific tweeter appeared to run into some trouble when he took exception to a line in a Toronto Star column that the TPP was "essentially a renegotiated NAFTA with Japan and a couple of cheap-labour countries (Vietnam, Malaysia) thrown in."
Kenney's reference to "60 per cent of the world economy" spurred a rebuke from economist Jim Stanford, who said the TPP includes 35 per cent of the GDP.
Gerald Butts, top adviser to Trudeau, also took to Twitter to poke fun at the minister.
Wouldn't be criticizing anyone's understanding of TPP if I were Kenney. 60% GDP? Does he think China & EU are in it? https://t.co/hPClJLtbqw— Gerald Butts (@gmbutts) October 7, 2015
It's possible Kenney was referencing the Tories' projection that the TPP, combined with deals with the European Union and South Korea will give Canadians access to 60 per cent of the world's economy.
U.S. Democrats support TPP? Not so fast
At roughly the same time Kenney took to Twitter to say U.S. Democrats were on board, Hillary Clinton, front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination, came out against the TPP.
Her main rival, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, has long been an opponent of the deal and argued in a blog for The Huffington Post in May the agreement would be "disastrous" for American workers.
In a big break from Barack Obama and reversal of earlier positions, Clinton said there were too many "unanswered questions" for her to support the deal.
"As of today, I am not in favour of what I have learned about it," she told PBS' "Newshour."
Clinton previously promoted the deal on Obama's behalf while serving as secretary of state, calling it the "gold standard in trade agreements" in 2012.
She released a statement Wednesday saying the deal hasn't yet hit her "very high" bar for creating jobs, protecting national security, and raising wages.
Trudeau jabbed from the left, too
Mulcair took to Twitter to laud Clinton's stand — as he did after Clinton announced last month that she was against the Keystone XL pipeline.
Mulcair told supporters in Toronto Thursday that Clinton's announcement shows international opposition to the TPP is growing.
He accused Trudeau and Stephen Harper of standing together "once again" to support a trade agreement that threatens thousands of jobs.
In his recent stump speeches, the NDP leader has repeatedly referenced a prediction from Unifor, the union representing auto workers, that the agreement could cost 20,000 job cuts.
"Canadians deserve to know why Justin Trudeau is not standing up for auto jobs right here in Ontario and for farm families right across the country," Mulcair said.
"I've said it before and I'll say it again: I will not be bound by Stephen Harper's secret trade agreement."
With files from The Canadian Press
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