Under the stewardship of its young leader, Justin Trudeau, the Liberal Party has taken control of Canada, raising questions about the future of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP).
Trudeau and his party led a so-called "stunning rout" of the Conservative Party – helmed by nine-year prime minister Stephen Harper – and the New Democratic Party (NDP), the official opposition, The New York Times reported. The news outlet cited Harper's "heavy-handed" approach to policies, such as his party's support of TPP, as one reason the Conservative's lost the Oct. 19 federal election in Canada. The Liberal Party captured 185 of the 338 seats in the next House of Commons. The Conservatives, meanwhile, saw their clout in Parliament reduced. With the government shifting into the hands of the Liberal Party, the future of what could be the globe's largest free trade deal looks less clear than it did when the deal was recently reported as completed – and even then, it wasn't such a sure thing.
Liberal Party takes middle path on TPP
While the NDP vigorously opposed TPP and the Conservatives supported the deal, the Liberal Party took a middle road, requesting that the secretive agreement be opened to public scrutiny. A Liberal Party press release from the week leading up to the election called for a release of the details of the Pacific trade deal. The statement noted that the agreement would lift trade barriers, strengthen Canada's middle class and improve the country's free trade opportunities.
However, the statement went on to heavily criticize Harper's secretive approach to the deal.
"The Liberal Party has requested TPP be opened to public scrutiny."
"Your lack of transparency continues to this day," the press release, written by John McCallum, a liberal candidate for Markham-Unionville, as a letter to the prime minister, explained. "Despite a commitment by the Minister of International Trade, Mr. Ed Fast, to release the text of the agreement so all Canadians can judge it on its merits before Election Day, media reports this week state that the details will remain secret. It is troubling that with just four days remaining until Election Day, you continue to refuse to release the text of the agreement for Canadians to see."
Trudeau and the Liberal Party are 'pro-trade'
Trudeau has noted that while he is "pro-trade," he is also "pro-Parliament," indicating that the passage of the TPP should not be the prime minister's decision, the Huffington Post reported. The scope of such a deal would require much consideration before it is approved in Canada, at least according to members of the Liberal Party. And now, with Trudeau's victory, it seems that the 12-nation Pacific trade agreement will be under the microscope for some time in Canada.
"We would have a full discussion in caucus and Parliament, and vote on this as a team. We are very clear in our platform that the Party is pro-trade," Kate Purchase, a Liberal Party spokeswoman, explained to the news outlet in an email.
TPP doubts sure to rise in Canada, US, as political processes play out
The middle road approach taken by Trudeau and his party indicates that the deal at least has to be reviewed thoroughly before it is considered by Parliament. The extremely secretive negotiations process under Harper has left the liberals with little in terms of the details of the agreement. While the party has certainly indicated that it is pro-trade, and willing to expand Canada's global trade opportunities, it has also preached careful and transparent consideration of the TPP.
Meanwhile, the political process in the U.S. has also cast a pall over negotiators' recent completion of the trade deal. The presidential election cycle is in full swing there, which means politics will likely play heavily into public discussion of the TPP and subsequently, people's attitudes on the deal. One Democratic frontrunner, Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., has long maintained an opposition to the deal, while the other, Hilary Clinton, also recently came out against the agreement. Meanwhile, many Republicans in Congress have sided with President Barack Obama in support of the TPP. The U.S. presidential election is just over a year away.