Pondering the TPP

Pondering the TPP

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If it turns out democracy is a sham and the world is actually ruled by a team of dark capitalist overlords, then the Trans Pacific Partnership makes a lot of sense.

At face value, the TPP simply breaks down trade barriers. And trade barriers are pretty easy to criticize – take for example the stiff tariffs imposed upon non-Canadian producers that result in some commodities costing nearly 50 per cent more in the South Okanagan than they do just south of the border in Oroville. And despite the major cost differential in products like dairy, there doesn’t seem to be any added value in Canadian cheese. If we want those savings up in Canada though, we would have to grant American farmers full access to our dairy market, and that would make it tough for Canadian dairy farmers to protect their jobs.

But protecting Canadian jobs isn’t the mandate of the TPP, and it’s willing to pay our dairy farmers $4.3 billion to end their Canadian monopoly. So one prong of the trade agreement forces us to sacrifice good agricultural jobs in exchange for a cheaper cost of living.

Another implication of the TPP could see the CBC and Canada Post turned into privately-owned enterprises. Both Crown-owned corporations have their critics, but the majority of the population seems happy to have them run as state-owned enterprises. Canada Post has a very strong infrastructure and makes mail delivery affordable for anybody to use. And the CBC, through every digital medium, produces unique Canadian content and treats every citizen of every demographic as an equal member of its audience. If our public corporations are turned over to private investors, we can’t expect them to carry the same altruistic priorities forward.

It’s hard to think of Canada Post and the CBC as trade barriers, and Canadians aren’t so desperate to attract foreign investment that we’re willing to give up two of our beloved Crown corporations. But they stand in the way of big business – for entrepreneurs from other TPP countries to consider investing in Canada’s media or postal industries, they’ll want assurance that they won’t be competing against public corporations, which make for stubborn marketplace opponents since they can survive without earning any profit. 

Lessening the cost of commodities would be nice, but it’s hard to imagine how hollowing out Canada Post and the CBC will improve our way of life.

Surprisingly, the TPP is a common enemy of both local left-wing MP Richard Cannings and unhinged Republican nominee Donald Trump.

“At best it’s useless and at worst it’s a very damaging piece of legislation,” Cannings said. He went on to say that even the most conservative economists will concede that the TPP will only offer incremental benefits, and the only allure is the rhetoric that ‘it’s better to be on the inside than on the outside.’

“Well I don’t think that’s a good enough reason to sell off our sovereignty,” Cannings says. “It gives international corporations the right to sue governments at every level, like the Town of Oliver, that make it harder for them to do business. The TPP lets corporations run our country and I don’t think any trade deal is worth that.”

Even Donald Trump, who promotes very polarizing philosophies, has a similar criticism to make, arguing that we shouldn’t pander to foreign interests at the cost of our sovereignty. Trump said Democratic nominee Hilary Clinton will sign the United States onto the TPP because she is “bought, controlled and paid for by her donors and special interests, 100 per cent.”

That makes me wonder if Trudeau and Harper, who are both in favour of the TPP, were influenced by their donors when decided that Canada should sign onto the agreement. Either way, it’s an odd issue: Canada’s NDP is aligned with Donald Trump and the Republican Party, while Canada’s Conservative party is on the same page as Clinton and the Democrats.

I wonder what are the true intentions of the people behind the scenes who are pushing forward the TPP deal. Was it initiated by patriotic/xenophobic politicians who hope to advance the geopolitical dominance of Western allies? Is it the result of wealthy political donors twisting the arms of governments’ to advance selfish interests?

Hopefully it’s the work of benevolent visionaries who want to materialize the concept of the John Lennon song Imagine.

DAN WALTON

Oliver Chronicle

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