A Pacific Rim free trade deal has finally been reached after almost eight years of negotiation, but whether that is a good thing will be the subject of debate in Canada where the federal election cycle is sure to make the agreement a hot topic.
Conservative Stephen Harper, the prime minister of Canada, believes that the Trans Pacific Partnership is in the country's best interests. The 12-nation deal covering around 40 percent of the global economy will improve access to Asian-Pacific markets while protecting current jobs and creating more in the future, he explained. He believes the deal, which will open up Canadian agriculture markets more than ever before and transform the North American auto parts market, will be something no one will regret a century from now.
"The three parties offer different options on TPP."
"Unlike the Liberals who have almost no record on trade, or the NDP who have vowed to rip up the deal, Conservatives know that Canadian exporters can compete with the best the world has to offer, and win," Harper explained in a statement. "Canada's Conservative governments have created virtually all of Canada's free-trade access to the world and we will continue to open up new markets for Canadian businesses and workers."
The NDP's Mulcair voices opposition to the TPP
While Harper and Conservatives approve of the free trade deal, his statement illustrates that opinions differ across party lines. The NDP, for example, does not see the TPP the same way that Harper and his compatriots do. Tom Mulcair, the party leader, has stated that the NDP is the only party willing to stand up to proponents of the TPP. In a letter sent to Harper, he explained that the NDP would not be bound to the Pacific trade agreement if elected.
"You have no mandate to make concessions that could put thousands of well-paid Canadian jobs and the communities that depend on them in peril," Mulcair wrote to Ed Fast, Canada's international trade minister, according to The Globe and Mail. "These changes will impact millions of Canadians every day. Your Conservative government has not consulted Canadians on any of them, and you have no mandate to trade them away."
Harper has responded to the NDP's repeated attacks on the TPP by claiming the party has a "protectionist ideology."
Liberals forge a middle ground, seek transparency
As the NDP and Conservatives' war of words over the validity and advantages, or lack thereof, of the TPP continue, the Liberal party seems to have taken a middle ground approach, not exactly extolling Harper for how his government proceeded with negotiations, but not prepared to attack the trade agreements. Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau believes that the trade deal was negotiated in a manner that lacked transparency, and has stated that should his party win the election, he will hold an open debate on whether the TPP will be beneficial for Canada. It seems though, that he certainly has high hopes for the Pacific Rim trade deal.
"These are some of the largest economies in the world coming together to sign this deal," Trudeau said of the deal. "It's important that Canada be part of it."
With the election coming soon the three parties offer different options – with the Conservative party and the NDP on two opposite ends of the spectrum – and the Liberals sitting in the middle. Should Harper's party take the election, the TPP will be more likely to progress, while if the Mulcair and the NDP win the deal, it will face tough opposition in Canada. Trudeau's Liberals, meanwhile, intend to hash out whether the agreement is good for Canadians in public forum before it makes any moves, should it win.