BUSINESS

Trans-Pacific Partnership Text Won't Be Available Before Election

10/14/2015 05:20 EDT | Updated 10/14/2016 05:12 EDT

Canadians won't be able to see the text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal before they vote.

Government officials told CBC News on Wednesday that the exact wording of the full agreement in principle announced Oct. 5 won't be finalized until next week.

The federal election is next Monday, Oct. 19.

Twelve countries have signed on to the Pacific Rim free trade deal in principle, although it will require a separate ratification process in each country before it takes effect.

In Canada, Conservative Leader Stephen Harper has committed to a vote in Parliament.

Harper has made the successful conclusion of the TPP talks last week in Atlanta a centrepiece of his campaign for re-election, pointing to it as an example of the Conservatives' sound strategy for economic growth.

NDP Leader Tom Mulcair has said New Democrats won't be bound to the terms agreed to by the Harper government. Justin Trudeau's Liberals say they are broadly pro-trade, but want to see the full text of the deal.

Release 'certainly before the election': Fast

Both Harper and his trade minister, Ed Fast, suggested last week that Canadians wouldn't have to wait long to read the agreement.

"As soon as we possibly can, certainly before the election, we're going to release a provisional text," Fast said in an interview with Chris Hall on CBC Radio's The House last weekend.

"I can't give you an exact date, because we want to make sure we get this right, that when Canadians get this information, they see the text, they can be confident that's the agreement that Canada has signed on to," Fast said.

A source attributed the delay to all the countries' various lawyers haggling over wording. Canada continues to request a rapid conclusion to this process, but that now appears unlikely.

The original timeline for releasing the text was this week, the source maintained.

Government officials noted that in the meantime Canada has released its own background briefing information and summaries of the deal. Critics and the media have found these materials to be incomplete and departmental officials slow to provide details in response to specific questions.