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Trudeau supports free trade, but promises consultations on the TPP

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Photo: Council of Canadians

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland and Foreign Minister Stephane Dion are now in Manila, the Philippines for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit.

The CBC reports that at a meeting of business leaders, "which included representatives of Canadian banks, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce and other groups," Trudeau highlighted. "It's great when we can create leaders' dialogues and talk about better collaboration and sign trade deals and partnerships." And Trade Minister Freeland stated:

"Please take this gathering as a real sign of the absolute importance that our government is placing on Canada's business relationships abroad, our real conviction that trade and international trade is a hugely important path to the middle-class prosperity, which is a central part of our mandate."

But the CBC's National Affairs Editor Chris Hall comments, "Freeland wasn't committing the Liberals to approving the TPP, noting her government didn't negotiate it and the 6,000-page text was only released 12 days ago -- the day after Trudeau was sworn in." Foreign Minister Dion gave a somewhat mixed message though by stating at a press conference, "Everybody appreciates that we are a pro-trade government and everybody understands that we have to consult our people. Ratification is not tomorrow for [any] country so we'll have the time to engage Canadians seriously about this trade deal."

The Globe and Mail adds, "Mr. Trudeau's government is taking an officially neutral position on the deal in Manila, arguing that it needs time to allow for the consultations they promised during the recent election."

That said, the newspaper notes, "U.S. President Barack Obama is pressuring Canada and the other members of the Trans-Pacific Partnership to approve the trade deal as quickly as possible" and that "the [Trudeau] government has also dropped hints that it will ultimately sign on to the deal." Among those hints are Trudeau's agriculture minister Lawrence MacAulay stating, "I suspect when I evaluate the whole thing, it will be something I support. I see nothing today that would make me not want to support the whole package." Reuters also reported late last month that Trudeau and Japan's prime minister Shinzo Abe had "agreed to promote" the TPP with Japan's foreign ministry stating "both seeing the free-trade deal as beneficial to the region."

The earliest date that U.S. President Barack Obama could sign TPP is February 3, 2016. There had been speculation that the U.S. Congress could then vote on the ratification of the deal as early as April 2016. But this week the United States International Trade Commission stated that the "anticipated date" for the release of its report on the economic impacts of the TPP would be May 18. The USITC is an independent, bipartisan, quasi-judicial, federal agency of the United States that provides trade expertise to both the legislative and executive branches. Their report would normally accompany a free trade agreement implementing bill when it is sent to the U.S. Congress.

It has been also reported that, "In its notice of investigation, the ITC also announced it will hold a public hearing on the economic impacts of TPP 9:30 a.m. on Jan. 13, 2016. Dec. 22 is the deadline to file requests to appear at the hearing and Dec. 29 is the deadline to file pre-hearing briefs and statements."

The Council of Canadians rejects the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

We encourage all our supporters to take action by demanding that the Trudeau government hold public hearings on the Trans-Pacific Partnership in each province and territory as well as separate and meaningful consultations with Indigenous communities and First Nations. No agreement can be ratified without full consent. To send your message to the prime minister, please click here.

For more on our campaign to stop the TPP, click here.

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