VANCOUVER – NDP Trade critic Don Davies (Vancouver Kingsway) is calling on the Harper Government to give Canadian MPs the same information that US Members of Congress have about the ongoing Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations.
The NDP has learned that all members of the US Congress are being given access to the draft text of the TPP.
“The TPP is a sweeping agreement covering issues that affect many areas of Canada’s economy and society – including several areas of policy that have never been subject to trade agreements before,” said Davies. “By keeping Parliament completely in the dark on negotiations the Conservatives also leave Canadians in the dark and, for an agreement of this magnitude that is abnormal and unacceptable.
“If the US can allow its legislators to see the TPP text, there is no reason that Canada can’t,” Davies said.
Davies further expressed concern that American legislators are being given an undue advantage over Canadian MP’s, saying “it is both unfair and unwise for Canadian parliamentarians to operate from such an imbalanced knowledge base in discussions with our US colleagues.”
Access to Information requests have also revealed that there is a small group of insider industry associations that have special access to Canada’s negotiating position, but the Harper Government has prevented others from having access to the text, including Parliamentarians.
“Canadians have a right to know how trade policies are being negotiated, and Parliamentarians have a duty to defend the public’s interests,” said Davies. “Allowing private actors to have information that Parliamentarians don’t have is inappropriate,” said Davies.
Recently, trade experts from across the political spectrum have criticized the Harper Government for being far too secretive in its approach to trade negotiations.
“Canada’s trade performance has suffered badly since the Conservatives took power,” said Davies. “The prosperity of all Canadians depends on healthy, balanced international trade. To get there, we need trade negotiations that are more inclusive and transparent.
“Mr. Harper’s obsession with secrecy is unhelpful, undemocratic and, as the US practice demonstrates, unnecessary.”