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Report on TPP's economic cost ignores potential damage to innovation and our digital economy

A just-published government assessment of the economic impact of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) fails to consider the damage the TPP will cause to Canada's digital economy. The report completely ignores mounting evidence that the TPP's extreme copyright rules will cost jobs, undermine innovation, and cause millions in economic losses.

The federal government has yet to come to a decision on the TPP, with a parliamentary public consultation still ongoing. Leading figures in Canada's digital economy, such as former Research In Motion CEO Jim Balsillie, have warned the TPP could cost billions and become "the worst public policy decision in the country's history."

The TPP's extreme copyright rules will rob the public domain and cost our digital economy a small fortune. That's why it's shocking to see an official government report completely ignore the damage the TPP will cause to innovation and our digital sector. Making a final decision on the TPP using this flawed and limited assessment would be like buying a used car sight unseen.

In our conversations with Canadians, online copyright and intellectual property have come up again and again -- yet the word "Internet" doesn't even appear once in this report. That's why my first reaction on reading it was "where is the rest of it?." With so many jobs on the line, the stakes are too high for Canadians to accept such an incomplete assessment.

The government's report admits (section 2) that its forecasting model does not take into account the TPP's sweeping changes to intellectual property rules and that, as a result, "there could be some under or overestimation of the size of TPP gains for Canada."

Evidence has been building that the TPP will in fact cause a great deal of damage to Canada's digital sector:

  • The New Zealand government's economic impact assessment predicts a loss of $55 million per year as a result of copyright term extensions alone -- and that's in a nation with a population 8 times smaller than that of Canada's.

  • Canadian innovator and co-founder of Research In Motion Jim Balsillie has called the TPP the "worst thing in policy that Canada's ever done" and warned that the agreement could cost Canadians billions in lost opportunities in the innovation sector.

  • Canada Research Chair in Internet and E-commerce Law, Michael Geist, calls into question the rules that could tie the hands of the Canadian cultural industry in updating cultural policies for the digital age.

  • A Tufts University study concluded that the TPP will cost Canada 58,000 jobs and increase income inequality.

Over 20,000 Canadians have submitted their TPP concerns to an ongoing Parliamentary consultation using the LetsTalkTPP.ca tool. The deadline for public feedback is October 31.

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