Trump, a profound nationalist, is often described as an isolationist with regards to his foreign policies, namely his strong opposition to NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement). This in particular would greatly affect Canada in terms of trade policy, jobs, unions, a large part of the Canadian economy, even the exchange rate if he were to actually win in the general election this November.
In many countries, there is a debate over how much power we give to corporations. And it is boosting populist right-wing parties and left-wing parties that are against trade. In Europe, many of the right-wing parties are opposing free trade agreements. At the same time, from the left of the spectrum, voices such as Bernie Sanders and Jeremy Corbyn are also targeting free trade.
Should Canada not ratify the agreement now and decide to try and join later, it's doubtful that any of the probably hundreds of exemptions and carve-outs that it currently has would be offered again. In other words, if you don't like this version of the TPP you'll be less happy with what we would get later.
If Keystone XL were built, it would produce 110 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions every year, which is incompatible with effective U.S. action to cut climate pollution. Ultimately, the loser isn't the big bad Americans; it's our environment, and the right of governments to protect it for their citizens.
When our democracies try to act on climate, trade agreements get in the way. For over 20 years, we have been fighting ISDS, the investor state dispute settlement clause in Chapter 11 of NAFTA, which allows companies to sue states over their decisions. It is a favourite tool of energy and mining companies.
I cannot help thinking that, while countries rush to sign trade deals such as CETA and the new TransPacific Partnership, they cannot seem to get a binding climate change agreement. Very little at the UN or in previous climate conferences has been binding. CETA and TPP are both major trade deals that must be fought.
The TPP court could pose a roadblock for Canada to fulfill its obligations with regard to the right to health, including access to healthcare and the underlying social determinants of health. For example, the TPP could block governments from establishing a national PharmaCare plan that would increase access to prescription drugs but could decrease pharmaceutical companies' profitability.
I can't remember feeling this disheartened about a federal election since 1997. Ever since then, there's been a growing malignancy in our body politic -- a malignancy that goes beyond partisanship. Regardless of who's been in power in Ottawa (and provincial capitals, for that matter), we've been watching the gradual but unmistakable enfeeblement of government, to the point where it may well be irreversible.
This week, it was announced that an agreement on the TPP had been reached, although few details were forthcoming. For more than 10 years, experts on North American economic integration have been calling for a deepening of the NAFTA. The TPP offers such an opportunity. Canada would be foolish to miss it.
The bottom line with the Trans-Pacific Partnership for Canada is that it really doesn't have a choice about whether or not to join. The Americans and Mexicans are joining and they're taking the North American market i.e. Canada's market, the source of its prosperity, with them -- whether or not Canada agrees. The TPP will turn North America from a privileged table for three, which Canada has more or less had to share only with Mexico, into a crowded sauve qui peut la vie table for 12.
This will be the first generation of Canadians in our history to be worse off than their parents. That blunt fact is the new reality of our country, where seven per cent of workers are officially jobless (and much more if hidden unemployment is included) and youth unemployment stands at over 13 per cent. And that reality is a direct result of the policies and actions of this Conservative government and the Mulroney government that came before it. Friday's headlines point to the 26,000 auto parts jobs at risk as Harper drives ahead to sign the Trans-Pacific Partnership deal.
Trade negotiations are growing in importance as developed and developing countries alike increasingly realize that protectionism is not a path to prosperity. Federalism poses challenges for our trade negotiations that are exacerbated by elections at both levels of government in Canada, and among our trading partners. The electoral clock is also ticking on Japanese Diet elections next summer and on U.S. presidential and congressional elections next fall. If the machinery of trade talks ground to a halt every time an election approached, there would be no trade agreements at all -- which is, perhaps, what some people desire.