The Trans Pacific Partnership has been described as ‘NAFTA on steroids’. While I don’t generally care for such pop metaphors this one may be quite apt.
It’s also been described as a multi-national agreement on enforced monopolies, one that would infringe on a wide spectrum of consumer, labour and environmental concerns.
And it’s by far the most secret trade agreement ever, so secret in fact that there’s a cash reward of $72,000 for a copy of its contents. So far only the negotiating parties have been allowed to look at the content, though in the way that the agreement has been designed, individual nations may only get to see the parts that directly apply to them in particular. The full scope of the agreement remains hidden, especially from the global public.
It’s being touted as a free trade agreement, when in reality it’s actually the complete and total opposite of one in some respects.
But even if it were like NAFTA, we here in Canada stand to gain nothing at all.
Don’t forget, it hasn’t been twenty years since we ratified NAFTA. Since then, we, much like the people of the United States, have seen millions of jobs flow out of our respective countries.
The best way for capital to rid itself of the ‘labour problem’ is to simply eliminate labour positions. In the last twenty years Canada’s manufacturing base has all but been destroyed by ruthless multi-national corporations. Our dollar, while currently at parity with the American greenback, actually doesn’t even come close to its value (everything costs more up here, from food to books to internet access and airfare). Factory jobs have been replaced with call centre jobs throughout much of the industrialized eastern portion of the country, while we’re patted about the head and told by our hapless (and thoroughly out-of-control politicians) not to worry, that this is all normal.
There’s nothing normal about selling out your economic sovereignty.
And let’s get something straight, we’re not the best performing economy in the G7.
We’re the least fucked-up economy in a group of nations that are all undergoing the same process to one degree or another. Free trade isn’t fair, least of all for the working classes.
And these days, there’s no middle class. It’s not that the middle class may disappear, or could face problems in the future. It’s that the middle class hasn’t existed in over a decade and we haven’t yet caught wind of the development.
The TPP deal is only going to exacerbate all of this.
And as you might expect, those in power are doing just about all they can to keep us distracted, looking the other way.
All those Bay Street types who spent last week watching Rob Ford’s crack-sponsored meltdown weren’t paying attention to the TPP.
Or perhaps they don’t care. Those who gamble money on the stock markets don’t have much of a vested interest in keeping industrial jobs in Canada, protecting the Canadian environment, or enforcing consumer regulations. All of that removes the potential for profit.
The rich are not ‘national’, their concerns are global and they have the means by which to enjoy a global life. The rest of us can barely balance our chequing accounts, and are drowning in higher levels of debt than ever recorded in our country – including the Depression.
And yet, we are distracted and pushed aside. Even though we have the right to vote, we choose not to, and so these decisions that will impoverish and cripple us are made without the slightest murmur from the toiling classes.
And when we do complain, well, what do you think this $360,000 monstrosity is for?
Oh, and if you don’t know why NAFTA’s a bad thing, this should sum it up fairly well. An American company based in Delaware, Lone Pine Resources, as suing the Canadian government for $250 million because the province of Quebec has a fracking ban in place that would prevent the company from operating anywhere in the Saint Lawrence River Valley.
Fracking, for the uneducated, is a process wherein water is blasted into rock deep underground as a means of extracting natural gas.
It’s one primary drawback is that it destroys natural aquifers, makes your tap water flammable, and would, forceeably, force millions of North Americans, if not tens of millions, to rely 100% on bottled water.
Again, none of this bothers your run of the mill capitalist or any of the pigs who caused the economy to collapse (and so far haven’t been prosecuted); they just discovered a new business opportunity.
Here, add this to your nightmares.