Stephen Harper says “big multilateral trade deals are dead”

by: Obert Madondo |  | Published March 19, 2017, by The Canadian Progressive

According to former Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper, mega multilateral trade deals such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), “are dead”. Photo credit: Stephen Harper / Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

If you can believe it, former prime minister Stephen Harper wants you to know that the future of mega multilateral trade deals such as the doomed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is uncertain.

“It’s certainly the case that, for the foreseeable future, the big multilateral trade deals are dead,” Harper said back in January, according to Industry Week.

During his nine years in power, Harper negotiated or signed a number of job-killing multilateral trade deals, including the Canada-EU Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) and 12-country TPP, whose 11 other members were: the United States, Australia, Chile, Brunei, Japan, Peru, Mexico, Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia, and New Zealand.

During the 2016 US presidential election, Donald Trump vowed to “rip up international trade deals.” He labeled Canada’s other notorious international trade deal, the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the “single worst trade deal ever approved in this country.”

Soon after assuming office in January, Trump signed an executive order pulling the United States out of the TPP. In an informercial-style video, he called the deal “a potential disaster for our country.”

RELATED: Freeland Admits: U.S. Withdrawal Effectively Kills TPP Trade Deal

Michael Geist, the Canada Research Chair in Internet and E-commerce Law at the University of Ottawa, recently argued that “Canada should follow the U.S. lead and abandon the agreement.” Meanwhile, the publication, “Fighting TTIP, CETA and ISDS: Lessons from Canada,” by Maude Barlow, the national chairperson of the Council Canadians, and the report, “Major Complications: The TPP and Canadian Health Care,” by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA), are two of the most compelling Canadian arguments against the TPP.

The Trudeau government is unlikely to agree with Harper or anyone who disagrees with these environment-killing mega trade deals.

After shellacking Harper during the 2015 federal elections, the Trudeau Liberals became as enthusiastic backers of the TPP as the Conservatives. In February 2016, after years of secretive negotiations, Canada and 11 other countries signed the TPP deal in New Zealand, creating the world’s largest economic trade agreement, encompassing more than 40 per cent of the world’s GDP.

Shortly before Trump’s inauguration in January, International Trade Minister François-Philippe Champagne said “Canada would consider all its options with fellow TPP states, including whether a new deal can be salvaged without U.S. participation.” This week, trade ministers from Canada and other TPP countries met Chile to discuss the future of the TPP following the US’ withdrawal.

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Obert Madondo is an Ottawa-based progressive blogger, and the founder and editor of The Canadian Progressive. Follow him on Twitter: @Obiemad