TPP Worries Some Canadians, Encourages Others
Rachel Debruyn | Layout Editor
Knowing it would cause national tension, former Prime Minister Stephen Harper signed the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement on Oct. 5, only weeks before the election. Harper states that the deal will benefit Canada’s economy, but many farmers and auto workers are frustrated.
At a time when the Conservative Party should have been avoiding controversy, they decided to move forward with a trade deal that puts around 20,000 Canadian jobs at risk and threatens the livelihood of Canadian poultry, turkey, and dairy farmers.
Among the people affected, dairy farmers have been particularly vocal with their concerns. Protestors drove tractors and walked dairy cows across Parliament Hill in September.
“If you really open up the market it could potentially corrupt our quota system,” says Lars Zeldenrijk, whose family owns a 160-head dairy farm in Ingersoll. “Smaller farms and their communities will be affected financially. They won’t be able to compete anymore.”
The Conservative Party’s lack of transparency during negotiations has frustrated the other parties. Harper moved ahead despite the possibility that the Conservative Party would lose power after the election yesterday. Now that the Liberal Party is in power, it’s not certain that they will support the terms of the deal.
In a letter addressed to the former Prime Minister on Oct. 15, the Honourable John McCallum, Liberal candidate for Markham-Unionville, wrote, “Unfortunately, you have failed to be transparent through the entirety of the negotiations — especially in regards to what Canada is conceding in order to be accepted into this partnership.”
Harper states that he carefully considered whether the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) was a deal worthy to join. He sought to protect Canadian workers as much as possible during negotiations. Canadians initially feared that trade would be opened by 10 per cent. Instead, Canada will join at a rate of 3.25 per cent. It is uncertain at this point if that amount will increase in the future.
“This is a very compassionately developed policy,” says Dr. Vahagn Asatryan, Associate Professor of Business here at Redeemer. “People have been given three to five years to prepare. It is very admirable that they would allow for that.”
The TPP includes 12 nations and is the biggest trade agreement in the world. It will allow partner countries to reduce tariffs, encouraging more international trade. It expands the number and distribution of Canada’s trade partners beyond its previous two: the United States and Mexico. The loss of supply management — the control of supply through quotas and high tariffs — will even out international competition. However it will mean a loss of security for many farmers.
Harper is prioritizing Canada’s presence in the global economy. Although former protectionist policies were good for automotive companies and various agricultural sectors, they were also isolating Canada from engaging with global markets.
Sean Donnelly, President and C.E.O. of ArcelorMittal Dofasco, recently spoke with Redeemer’s International Business class about how the business community welcomes the opportunity to partake in fair international competition conditions.
Harper insists that now is the time for Canada to join in international trade agreements, otherwise it will be left behind as other nations collaborate and grow.
“Politically, you can be either a driver or a taker,” says Dr. Asatryan. “You can be at the negotiator’s table or taking the effects later on.”
Canadian farmers will not be neglected among the changes. The federal government plans to give compensation to those immediately impacted. For example, the average dairy farmer will be given $165,000 over the next 15 years.
For those concerned that imported milk — like United States’ milk that is injected with controversial growth hormones — will take a toll on Canadian consumers, Canadian regulations will still apply to any imported dairy products.
“This is an opportunity for intellectual flourishing under dynamic labour conditions. An increase in trade opens the world for new workplace ministry opportunities,” says Dr. Asatryan.