Liberals sign Trans-Pacific Partnership deal but won't commit to ratification

OTTAWA -- The federal government is studying the potential economic impacts of the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership, Canada's international trade minister confirmed Wednesday.

See Full Article

Chrystia Freeland was in New Zealand on Wednesday where she signed the massive 12-country Pacific Rim treaty, a deal opponents warn could eliminate Canadian jobs and damage some sectors of the economy.

That signature comes before the government has finished assessing the economic costs and benefits the deal potentially holds for Canada, she acknowledged.

But Freeland has also said on multiple occasions that signing the deal does not necessarily mean ratification, a final step that is up to two years away.

The Liberals have billed the signature as a "technical step" that will allow Canada to stay at the bargaining table.

In the meantime, the government is taking a closer look the TPP's potential consequences, Freeland acknowledged Wednesday in a conference call from Auckland prior to signing the agreement.

"That is a very important part of the analysis and of the conversation that Canadians need to have," she said.

"It's a big job and we are working on it."

Freeland has also requested a thorough study of the agreement by a parliamentary committee and has conducted public consultations. Now that the deal is signed, only a majority vote in Parliament would seal its ratification.

In a statement that followed the signing, U.S. ambassador Bruce Heyman predicted the deal would help small businesses grow, create jobs and pay higher wages.

"The agreement also includes strong and enforceable provisions that will promote higher labour standards in TPP countries," Heyman said.

"These higher standards will pave the way for a race to the top, providing other nations an incentive to raise their standards and giving North American workers and businesses a fair shot in one of the world's fastest-growing regions."

During question period Wednesday, the Liberals came under pressure from the opposition New Democrats, who demanded to know why the government would sign the accord without first exploring its potential consequences.

NDP Leader Tom Mulcair also asked if the government will make its findings public.

"We said we would study the accord and that's exactly what we will do," David Lametti, Freeland's parliamentary secretary, said in response to one of Mulcair's questions.

"He says he must conduct studies," Mulcair shot back, "therefore he just admitted that they don't have a study -- and yet they're signing it today."

The wide-ranging accord covers 40 per cent of the world economy and -- if ratified -- would set new international rules for sectors beyond trade.

Supporters of the TPP have said it would open foreign markets and could bring significant benefits for sectors like forestry, some manufacturing segments and agriculture, especially canola, beef and pork production.

On the other hand, law experts and business leaders, including BlackBerry co-founder Jim Balsillie, have been highly critical of the deal's intellectual property provisions.

Mulcair has insisted the agreement would kill thousands of Canadian jobs, damage the auto industry and weaken the country's supply managed dairy and poultry sector.

The deal was negotiated under the former Conservative government, which also offered a $4.3-billion compensation package over 15 years to help the dairy industry cope with the impact of additional imports.

On Wednesday, Freeland said she was "very sympathetic to and mindful of the need for support" should the TPP to come into force.

But it's too early to say if the Conservative compensation package will remain on the table if the deal is ratified, she added.

She also said Ottawa was well aware of the potential impacts that ratifying the deal would have on the auto sector and the entire production chain.



Advertisements

Latest Economic News

  • Trudeau defends Bombardier aid after executive compensation rose last year

    Economic CTV News
    BRAMPTON, Ont. -- Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is defending his government's decision to provide federal assistance to Bombardier after the company's senior executives saw their compensation rise by nearly 50 per cent last year. After touring a Magna auto parts facility in Brampton, Ont. Source
  • GDP numbers Friday expected to show economy started 2017 strong

    Economic CBC News
    Some economists are revising their forecasts upward for Canadian first-quarter gross domestic product growth, ahead of the Friday release of figures for January. The market consensus for January calls for a growth rate of 0.3 per cent, which would match the December report. Source
  • Brad Wall to meet with Trump cabinet members when he heads to Washington

    Economic CTV News
    REGINA -- Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall says he has landed meetings with two members of Donald Trump's cabinet next week, including the president's point man on NAFTA. Wall is scheduled to be in Washington and says he will sit down with Secretary of Energy Rick Perry and Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, the man tapped by Trump to deliver on a promise to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement. Source
  • Alberta premier checking to see if Saskatchewan's Wall breaking free-trade deal

    Economic CTV News
    RED DEER, Alta. -- Alberta Premier Rachel Notley says she is looking at whether Saskatchewan's Brad Wall is breaking regional free-trade rules by offering incentives for oil and gas firms to move to his province. Source
  • McDonald's opts for fresh beef, not frozen, for some burgers soon

    Economic CBC News
    Coming soon to McDonald's: Fresh beef. The fast food giant said Thursday that it will swap frozen beef patties for fresh ones in its Quarter Pounder burgers by sometime next year at most of its U.S. Source
  • Environmental groups challenge Keystone XL pipeline approval

    Economic CBC News
    A coalition of environmental groups challenged the U.S. federal permit for the Keystone XL oil pipeline in court on Thursday because they say additional environmental scrutiny is needed. The Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council and other groups say the initial environmental review completed in 2014 is inadequate and outdated, and that it underestimated how much the pipeline would encourage tar sands oil production in Canada. Source
  • Cenovus shares fall in wake of $17.7B oilsands purchase

    Economic CBC News
    Shares in Cenovus Energy were down 11 per cent shortly after markets opened Thursday following its announcement to acquire Canadian assets belonging to Houston-based ConocoPhillips.Cenovus Energy buying most of ConocoPhillips' Canadian assets for $17.7BUnder the $17.7 billion deal, the Calgary-based energy company would take over most of ConocoPhillips's investments in Canada in what is the latest mega oilsands sale by a major foreign oil and gas producer. Source
  • Is Toronto's housing market in a bubble? Not quite, analyst says

    Economic CTV News
    Despite a recent declaration by Bank of Montreal Chief Economist Douglas Porter that Toronto’s red-hot housing market is indeed in a “bubble,” other economists have been hesitant to use the controversial label to describe the city’s current real estate boom. Source
  • CIBC boosts takeover offer for PrivateBancorp to more than $6B

    Economic CBC News
    Shares of Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce traded lower Thursday after the bank boosted its takeover bid for PrivateBancorp by 20 per cent. Under the terms of a new takeover agreement that has approved by the boards of directors of both firms, the deal values Chicago-based PrivateBancorp at approximately $6.6 billion Cdn, or $60.92 US per share, Source
  • Air Canada lawsuit accuses Airbus of negligence in Halifax crash landing

    Economic CTV News
    HALIFAX - Air Canada is claiming a French aircraft manufacturer's negligence contributed to a crash landing at Halifax Stanfield International Airport two years ago. The Canadian airline is suing Airbus SAS, saying the company failed to identify shortcomings of the Airbus 320. Source