TORONTO - The Harper Conservatives' eagerness to join Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade negotiations is a threat to Canadians, given the government's atrocious record on environmental standards, labour rights and public accountability.
"The Harper Conservatives have a clear agenda - unwavering support for transnational corporations, dismantling our environmental protections, attacking workers' rights and a complete disregard for public accountability," said Ken Neumann, Canadian Director of the United Steelworkers (USW) union.
"Given this appalling record, a Trans-Pacific trade deal could be another avenue for Harper to give special privileges to foreign investors while attacking our labour and environmental standards," Neumann said.
After two years of lobbying by the Harper Conservatives, Canada has been invited to join the TPP trade negotiations with countries including the United States, Australia, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore and Vietnam.
Canada already has trade deals with three current TPP members, while the other six TPP members combined account for below one per cent of Canada's exports, Neumann noted. Any conceivable increase in exports to these markets would be insignificant in terms of total Canadian output and employment.
"Canada should not enter into the TPP unless the Harper government makes an unequivocal commitment to the promotion of quality jobs, sustainable development and labour rights," Neumann said.
"Canada has a poor record for transparency when it comes to trade agreements, which are increasingly negotiated in secret without any significant public consultation," he said.
"Our government must commit to meaningful consultation with the Canadian public, civil society groups and trade unions. Agreements of this importance must be put to a vote in the House of Commons."
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For further information:
Ken Neumann, USW National Director for Canada, 416-544-5951
Bob Gallagher, USW Communications, 416-544-5966, 416-434-2221, firstname.lastname@example.org