The Canadian Trans-Pacific Free Trade Heist
“Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.”
-George Orwell, Politics and the English Language
Stephen Harper continues to use his token talking points when discussing any Conservative (Reform) Party initiative such as the Trans-Pacific Free Trade Deal that Canada will be taking part in. Harper had this to say about the negotiations: “This is a further example of our determination to diversify our exports and to create jobs, growth and long-term prosperity for Canadian families,”.
Normally I wouldn’t lead into an article with such directness, but this trade agreement will turn Canada into a serfdom. Lets step back for a moment and look at Canada’s economy and how it functions. First off, approximately 75% of our trade is with the US. The US is essentially on life support financially speaking. The under-unemployment rate is 23%. 46 million US citizens are on food stamps (up 70% in 3 years). The US has lost close to 50,000 manufacturing plants over the past 10 years (mainly to China). Many states such as California and Illinois are essentially bankrupt. The US Federal debt has almost doubled in 3 years. The Labour Participation Rate is the lowest it has been in 32 years, yet the population has grown significantly since 1980. Their government is running an official deficit of $1.3 trillion and increasing year after year. US consumers are maxed in debt and slowly losing their homes and other assets. The middle class in the US is being gutted. Our number one trading partner, whose citizens happen to have similar minimum wages and general standards of living, is clearly in decline.
According to the CIA Factbook on Canada:
GDP composition by sector
Labour Force by occupation
The free trade agreement is all about exploiting Canada’s natural resources & agricultural commodities and importing products produced in jurisdictions that have much lower wages in many cases. After WWII, the Canadian manufacturing sector made up 29% of our economy, but now it only makes up 13% (a 55% decline). This trend will only continue to get worse based on the decisions the Harper government is making. Our government should be supporting and promoting local businesses rather than outsourcing local economic potential. In addition, now that the 2012 Omnibus budget has been passed, environmental assessment on natural resource projects have suffered a serious blow. Projects will be fast tracked. The goal of the Harper government is to exploit Canada’s resources as quickly as possible in an effort to sell the raw material to developing nations so that we can purchase the finished products using bank credit. You can easily see where this is going. We will lose manufacturing jobs. Low paying service sector jobs will continue to make up more of our economy. The agricultural sector will face competition from countries that do not have collective selling power through quota systems like our dairy & poultry industries. Protected industries can force the cost of goods higher in price due to the monopolistic support structure, however, dumping of cheap products destroys the social fabric of communities as the existing companies/farmer go out of business. There needs to be balance and currently the economic paradigm favors greed on either side.
The outcome will be serious environmental degradation, lower wages, higher unemployment, a lower standard of living, increased disparity between the rich and poor and so on. It is utter hogwash to think that in the midst of a global economic collapse that we are going to create long term prosperity. We will continue to lose local businesses to the discount retailers such as WalMart as well paying jobs are transitioned to our free trade partners. How can we compete other than by offering up future generations of resources that will be exploited today?
IN RECENT NEWS
The Montreal Gazette | Canada to join Trans-Pacific trade talks
Canadian Business | Canada is in TPP talks, but will price of admission be too costly?
Ottawa Citizen | Canada joining talks on massive new free-trade bloc
Edmonton Journal | Canadian government lobbied U.S. to be included in Trans-Pacific trade talks
The Globe and Mail | Breaking down the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal