U.S. President Barack Obama is expected to announce today that Canada has been offered the chance to participate in the Trans Pacific Partnership negotiations. The offer will be described as big win for the Canadian government, yet reports indicate the conditions for entry may have been very steep. While much of the Canadian focus will be on supply management issues, the questions I would be asking include:

1.   According to Inside US Trade, the U.S. established two conditions for Canadian entry. First, Canada will not be able to reopen any chapters where agreement has already been reached among the current nine TPP partners. The problem with this is that Canada has agreed to this condition without actually gaining access to the current TPP text. Has Canada agreed to be bound by terms it has not even read? Can it disclose what it has effectively agreed to simply by accepting the offer to enter the negotiations?

2.   Inside US Trade also reports that Canada has second tier status in the negotiations as the U.S. has stipulated that Canada would not have “veto authority” over any chapter. This means that should the other nine countries agree on terms, Canada would be required to accept them. Has Canada agreed to this condition? How will it deal with the prospect that the other nine countries agree to terms that are disadvantageous to Canada?

3.    Canada launched a consultation on joining the TPP earlier this year (my submission is here). Where are the results of that consultation? Did Canadians express support for entering the negotiations? Why has the government not released the results?

4.    Last night, the House of Commons passed Bill C-11, the copyright reform bill. Yet leaked versions of the TPP intellectual property chapter suggest that Canada would be required to re-write much of the bill due to the TPP. For example, the leaked TPP draft requires an extension of the term of copyright, new statutory damages provisions that would undo the C-11 approach, even tougher digital lock rules than those found in the bill, and new Internet provider liability provisions. Having just passed legislation it claims strikes the right balance, is the government already prepared to go back to the drawing board on copyright based on new U.S. demands?

5.   The TPP has faced sharp criticism for its lack of transparency. In prior agreements, Canada has adopted a position that favours greater public disclosure. Where does the Canadian stand on TPP transparency?


[Originally posted on michaelgeist.ca]