The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a trade deal designed to loosen trade restrictions for 40% of the global economy. While not yet completed, it aims to include a diverse group of countries. A CBC report suggests that Canada might lose its place in the trade deal, therefore potentially missing out on what Jon Stewart famously referred to as the “Pacific Rim jobs”.
If you’re a man with hair below the ears or a woman with hair below the shoulders, chances are you already hate the TPP. That’s usually how trade deals work…public opinion correlates with hair length and volume. So maybe Canada’s possible exclusion from the TPP is good news for you but, like many things that are good for you, this government doesn’t like it.
Thankfully for those wishing to remain a part of the trade deal, Canada’s problem is simple. The United States has taken issue with our government’s attitude toward agriculture. According to a U.S. Senate aide, Canada has yet to make a “serious offer” on agriculture market access so the U.S. is prepared to move forward without us. A representative for Canadian Trade Minister Ed Fast maintains that (rim)jobs and prosperity are on the way, but doesn’t deny that the Canadian/Harper government is trying to protect certain sectors of the economy.
We’ve seen this act before. Not just the promise of jobs and prosperity that never arrive, but the protectionism too. We’ve watched as our government protects our oil and gas industry as aggressively and ineffectively as a preacher might protect his daughter. By now we ought to have learned that you can’t teach innocence. The preacher’s daughter is a dirty girl, and, likewise, Canadian oil and gas is a dirty, dirty industry. Let’s heed that lesson, and let’s remember why we wanted a gigantic free trade deal in the first place.
Canada joined these trade deal talks because this government says that free trade paves the road to paradise. That’s debatable, but if it’s truly what we believe, then why not endorse it in practice? The government is worried that the TPP will weaken Canada’s dairy and poultry industries, which are propped up by prices held high by supply restrictions. Ok, fair concern, but isn’t that the point of fair trade? The strong survive and the weak find their comparative advantage somewhere else. Perhaps Canadian dairy and poultry farmers can start making “stop the tar sands” t-shirts. Frankly, these sound like the best rim jobs available. Best of all, our government has already made a global market for them.