Opposition on attack as Liberals capitalize on trade agreement

The Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal has been finalized in Atlanta after years of negotiations, delays and an all night bartering session.

Details were still emerging about the proposed trade at the time of writing.

A final draft of the test is still in the works and has not been released.

At first glance, Canada appears to have protected its supply management sectors, offering slight access to its dairy (3.25 percent), eggs (2.3 percent), chicken (2.1 percent), turkey (two percent) and hatching egg (1.5 percent) markets over five years.

Agriculture Canada said $4.3 billion will be made available to supply managed producers over 15 years for income and quota value support. An investment of $450,000 will also be made in processors.

Dairy Farmers of Canada appeared relieved.

“No negative impact and supply management will be preserved for the next generation,” it said in a tweet.

DFC president Wally Smith said in a news release that dairy producers obviously would have preferred that no additional market access be conceded.

“However, we recognize that our government fought hard against other countries’ demands and have lessened the burden by announcing mitigation measures and what seems to be a fair compensation package to minimize the impact on Canadian dairy farmers and make up for cutting growth in the domestic market,” Smith said.

Meanwhile, new market access and tariff reductions, notably on beef, pork, canola, wheat, barley and wine, were triggering high praise from agricultural exporters, who were worried Canada, and 90 percent of its farmers, could be left behind.

Still, ratification of the deal is far from assured.

With his party lagging in the polls, NDP leader Tom Muclair moved over the weekend to make the TPP a wedge issue on the campaign trail.

The posturing continued Oct. 5 at a campaign stop in Sarnia, Ont.

“If Mr. (prime minister Stephen) Harper’s secret deal does not protect supply management in its entirety, if it does not protect our manufacturing sector, if it does not protect your ability to buy your pharmaceuticals and your prescription drugs at a decent price, the NDP will not feel bound by Mr. Harper’s secret deal,” Mulcair told supporters.

He said Harper must release the complete text of the deal before Oct. 19.

For his part, a visibly elated Harper said Oct. 5 that the finalized TPP agreement was a “tremendous deal.”

“This deal is, without any doubt whatsoever, in the best interests of the Canadian economy,” Harper told a news conference.

Ten years from now, if Canada is not part of the TPP, those looking back will consider that omission a “terrible error,” he predicted.

He said the news out of Atlanta was the new “gold standard for global trade agreements.”

Meanwhile, Liberal leader Justin Trudeau, who over the weekend promised to take a long, hard look at the proposed TPP deal, said the Liberals would not ratify the TPP without proper parliamentary debate and consultation with Canadians.

“We know that trade is important for jobs, good-paying jobs, and for economic growth,” Trudeau said during a stop in Waterloo, Ont.

He said the deal must be seriously considered, given several of Canada’s largest trading partners are involved in the TPP.

With two weeks to go on the federal election campaign, which continues to be a tight race despite NDP support tapering, the TPP deal is likely to remain an election issue.

Unifor, the union that represents most of Canada’s auto workers, has pledged to give the Conservative leader a rough ride over the TPP, arguing the deal will cost the sector 20,000 jobs in Canada, mainly in the vote rich region of southern Ontario.

And, despite the sigh of relief from Dairy Farmers of Canada, it remains to be seen whether the reduced access and proposed compensation will be enough to subdue the concerns of Canadian dairy, poultry and egg farmers, who just days ago were protesting on Parliament Hill.

Kelsey Johnson is a reporter with iPolitics, www.ipolitics.ca.

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