Ontario’s Economic and Development minister says he has been kept largely in the dark during ongoing talks linked to a massive 12-country trade deal that could have a significant impact on his province.
In an interview with The West Block‘s Tom Clark, Brad Duguid expressed concerns about several reported elements of the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, including new rules that would allow for more foreign-made auto parts in vehicles sold in Canada, and the potential scaling back of the supply-management system for dairy and poultry. Dairy and poultry farmers are heavily concentrated in Ontario and Quebec, and Ontario is home to many of the country’s auto manufacturing jobs.
“The federal government has responsibility for negotiating these types of trade deals, but it would have been helpful to us, I think, for us to be a little more informed as to where they’re going on areas that are going to impact our respective provinces,” Duguid said.
“In Ontario’s case, information about the auto sector, we get more from the media than we do directly from the federal government.”
Duguid acknowledged that his government would have few legal options should the final deal have an enormously negative impact on the relevant sectors, and that compensation from Ottawa might need to be discussed. For now, he said, Ontario is just waiting for news out of Atlanta, where the latest round of TPP talks are scheduled to wrap over the weekend. As of Sunday morning, no deal had been reached.
“We’ve been continually trying to make overtures to our federal colleagues to negotiate very aggressively and do everything they can to ensure that they stand up for our auto sector. Thus far, we don’t know whether those pleas have fallen on deaf ears or whether in fact the federal government has worked hard to protect the auto sector in Ontario,” Duguid said. “We’re talking about $16 billion in Gross Domestic Product impact … in our auto sector as a whole. That’s a sector worth standing up for.”
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