To the Editor:
I am deeply concerned about the misinformation being spread in our riding about the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
Former Conservative MP Jim Abbott, now senior advisor to the David Wilks election campaign, trumpets the new trade agreement as “a gigantic achievement” and suggests the Elk Valley’s coal industry is at stake if Canada’s Parliament does not ratify it.
The Conservative claim that the Trans-Pacific Partnership is vital to the Elk Valley metallurgical coal industry is simply wrong. The principal markets for Teck’s metallurgical coal are in South Korea, Japan and Taiwan, none of which had any import duties, tariffs or taxes on metallurgical coal prior to the TPP. What can be lower than zero?
There are growing markets for Teck coal in places like China and India. China does have a 3% import tax on metallurgical coal, but unfortunately China is not part of the TPP.
To suggest that 25,000 local jobs are threatened if the trade agreement is not ratified in its current form is a serious distortion verging on fear-mongering.
The fact is the Conservatives conducted these trade negotiations in secret and now will not release the full text of the negotiated agreement until after the October 19 federal election.
From the scant information available, it appears there may be local benefits for our softwood lumber industry, fruit growers and cattle ranchers, all important sectors of our economy. But it may be deeply harmful to the dairy industry in Creston and elsewhere, and the long-term benefits of the dairy compensation package are uncertain.
As a Green Party candidate, I am not taking a position on the TPP trade agreement simply because it remains largely secret, with only a few select details being shared by Stephen Harper’s Conservative government. I am concerned they gave away a lot of key Canadian interests in the final days of the negotiations because they were desperate to use the deal as an election tactic. In their haste, they gave away any negotiating power they had.
Before Canadians can make an informed decision about whether the TPP is a net benefit for Canada, we need to see the entire agreement and understand what Canada has given away, particularly with respect to protection of our national sovereignty, Canadian industries, human rights and the environment.
Kootenay-Columbia Green Party Candidate