As the Liberal government prepares to sign the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal on Thursday, a new Leger poll suggests a majority of Canadians who are aware of TPP don’t actually know what is in it.
The poll, commissioned by Leadnow a third-party advocacy group, found that of the 60 per cent of Canadians who have heard of the TPP deal, 53 per cent are not familiar with the details.
“The deal was negotiated by Stephen Harper over a number of years in secret,” said Francis Kung, a spokesperson for Leadnow, noting the full text of the trade deal is over 6,000 pages. “There is still a lot we need to learn about the deal about all the details in it and we are finding the more people learn about it the more they dislike it.”
The Conservatives had supported the TPP deal saying it could help Canada’s lagging economy.
“Right now when Western Canada is hurting,” Conservative leader Rona Ambrose told reporters in Ottawa last week. “The Trans-Pacific Partnership offers huge opportunities, particularly in the business services sector and the agricultural sector.”
The trade ministers from 12 different Pacific Rim countries have been invited to New Zealand on Feb. 4 to sign the deal, and in an open letter to Canadians Minister of International Trade Chrystia Freeland said the new government will be among them.
“Signing does not equal ratifying…. Signing is simply a technical step in the process, allowing the TPP text to be tabled in Parliament for consideration and debate before any final decision is made.”
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The agreement is touted as a way to create new markets for Canadian exports such as beef, fruit and forestry products.
The deal would also affect North American auto makers as more foreign car parts will be allowed to enter Canada and the U.S., which could lower costs for manufacturers and consumers while possibly hurting auto workers.
Other concerns about TPP involve a potential impact on Canada’s dairy producers, higher costs of pharmaceuticals, concerns about governments being sued by corporations and provisions on intellectual property.
The recent poll of 1,500 Canadians conducted between Jan. 27 to Jan. 31 found 68 per cent think it’s unacceptable for the feds to sign the TPP before completing public consultations and before it’s debated in parliament. Seventy per cent feel it’s unacceptable for the government to ratify the agreement if a majority of public consultations were opposed to the deal.
Freeland has conducted public consultations on the wide-ranging accord, but wrote that “just as it is too soon to endorse the TPP, it is also too soon to close the door.”
Leadnow is a grassroots organization that claims no political affiliation but made a Canada-wide effort to defeat the Conservatives in the last federal election.
“We think Canadians have a lot to say about the TPP, we think Canadians need to learn more about it,” said Kung. “We think it’s a fundamentally bad deal, and we are disappointed the signing is going through.”
The Leger poll was conducted online of 1,500 Canadians conducted between Jan. 27 to Jan. 31, 2016 and has a margin of error of +/- 2.5%, 19 times out of 20.
*With a file from the Canadian Press
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