Big business forces in Canada are ramping up the drive to ratify the Trans-Pacific Partnership, before the TPP becomes a hot-button issue in the US presidential campaign. It’s time to push back, not time to wait for Labour Day to move into action.
This spring’s round of staged “consultations” on the TPP was very revealing. In most cities, the federal Liberals stacked the deck, lining up corporate shills to praise this sellout to transnational capital. But as the TPP parliamentary road show went on, the Liberals were increasingly forced to allow critics to say their piece. Members of the Council of Canadians, environmental groups, Indigenous peoples, the Communist Party and others managed to present statements, shattering the lie that “everyone is in favour of the TPP.”
The Liberals are clearly nervous about the potential of this issue to rally a huge range of opponents against the entire neoliberal austerity agenda. That explains why right-wing forces are thundering that the government must ratify the TPP quickly, regardless of hostile public opinion. A good example is the recent National Post column by Rob Merrifield, arrogantly ordering the PM to “insulate Canada against the protectionist threat” by ratifying the TPP before November. (Rob was one of many Tory MPs who jumped Stephen Harper’s sinking ship before the 2015 federal election. After a career in Parliament where his claim to fame was “initiating the transformation of Canada Post,” Merrifield is currently a lobbyist for Big Oil.)
Differences over the TPP within the ruling class are mostly tactical. After all, the federal minister of international trade is Chrystia Freeland, a strong backer of corporate globalization. The Liberals do plan to ratify the deal, when the political timing is suitable. That’s why the main organizing against the TPP must go beyond parliamentary hearings and news releases, taking our case into the streets.