We’ve consistently argued that the Trans-Pacific Partnership will bring high social and environmental costs and few economic benefits to Canada. The deal privileges multinational corporations and foreign investors while failing to protect the public interest and promote inclusive economic growth here at home.
A new report from the C.D. Howe Institute adds fuel to the fire, suggesting that the TPP will create little to no economic growth or economic welfare in Canada. According to the study, the TPP will grow the Canadian economy by just 0.068% by the year 2035, which is effectively nothing at all. The authors even admit that the assumptions in their model are “overly generous” to the deal and more a conservative approach “reduces the estimated gains for Canada considerably.”
More importantly, the study predicts that the costs of not ratifying the TPP will be even smaller: a mere 0.026% hit to Canadian GDP over the next 20 years. In fact, according to the study, a number of Canadian industries will be better off if Canada abandons the deal, including, ironically, fossil fuels and forestry.
Why are we doing this again?
We already knew that the TPP’s economic benefits, if any, would be small for Canada. The government admits as much. But business groups and other TPP cheerleaders have maintained that we can’t afford to miss out.
As it turns out, the economic costs of ditching the deal aren’t so bad after all, and the supposed benefits remain elusive. Yet ratifying the TPP would mean permanently implementing some highly destructive policy choices, including:
- New rights for foreign investors to sue governments
- Rules that threaten our public health care system and increase the cost of drugs
- New pathways for employers to hire and exploit migrant workers
- Hollow protections for workers, the environment and Internet users’ privacy
If we take the consequences of these provisions into account, the Canadian case for joining the TPP falls apart.
Taking consultations seriously
Considering how poorly Canadians were consulted during the TPP negotiating process under the previous government, it is tempting to dismiss the latest round of government and parliamentary consultations as political theatre. Admittedly, the government has expressed its willingness to push the TPP through regardless of public opinion and the so-called pre-study has been discouraging.
Yet concerned Canadians would be remiss to forgo this opportunity. As the Standing Committee on International Trade crosses the country soliciting public input on the TPP, we encourage Canadians to speak up and get involved.
After a decade of backroom negotiations, the TPP is finally starting to see the light of day. As decision makers ponder the deal, now is the time for Canadians to make their voices heard.
Hadrian Mertins-Kirkwood is a CCPA trade and energy researcher. Follow Hadrian on Twitter @hadrianmk.