Secrecy the Standard as Canada Enters Trans Pacific Partnership Talks

Despite growing opposition in Canada, the Canadian government has begun formal participation in the Trans Pacific Partnership negotiations, aimed at establishing one of the world’s most ambitious trade agreements. As nearly a dozen countries – including the United States, Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Mexico and Vietnam – gathered in New Zealand last week for the 14th round of talks, skeptics here have already expressed doubts about the benefits of the proposed deal.

Canada has free-trade agreements with the United States, Mexico, Chile and Peru, leaving just six countries – currently representing less than 1 per cent of Canadian exports – as the net gain. Moreover, the price of entry may be high, since leaked documents suggest the deal might require a major overhaul of Canadian agriculture, investment, intellectual property and culture protection rules.

While the substance of the TPP is cause for concern, my weekly technology law column (Toronto Star version, homepage version) argues the more immediate issue is the lack of transparency associated with both the negotiations and Canada’s participation in them. The talks remain shrouded in secrecy, with a draft text that is confidential; public interest groups are largely banned from the venue where the negotiations are being held.

Moreover, the Canadian government has failed to engage openly with the public on the TPP. Foreign Affairs has created an insider “consulting group” that will be granted access to secret and confidential information regarding the negotiations (members of the group are required to sign a nondisclosure agreement). The department has not publicly disclosed the existence of the consulting group or indicated who might be granted privileged access to otherwise confidential information.

It continues a trend that started earlier this year when the government launched a public consultation on Canada’s potential participation in the TPP. The public consultation ran for six weeks, yet the government never revealed the results. The individual submissions were not posted online and no public report summarizing the responses was ever published.

Yet, according to documents obtained under the Access to Information Act, the government was overwhelmed with negative comments urging officials to resist entry into the TPP and the expected pressures for significant intellectual property reforms as part of the deal.

In addition to tens of thousands of form letters and emails criticizing the TPP, the government received hundreds of individual handcrafted responses that unanimously criticized the proposed agreement.

A review of more than 400 individual submissions did not identify a single instance of support for the agreement. Rather, these submissions typically expressed concern with the prospect of extending the term of copyright or adopting restrictive digital lock rules.

The documents also revealed that the Canadian business community was split on the agreement, with numerous companies and associations identifying concerns about the potential direction of the TPP. Leading telecommunications companies, including Bell, Rogers, Shaw and Telus, cautioned against changes to Internet provider liability rules; groups representing the blind warned against new restrictions to accessing digital materials; Oxfam Canada worried about the TPP’s impact on pharmaceutical pricing; and the Canadian Library Association expressed fears about a reversal of recent changes to copyright damages rules.

Canada spent months lobbying other governments for entry into the TPP, despite launching a public consultation that revealed serious discomfort with Canadian participation. Now, the government seems committed to keeping the public largely in the dark on where Canada stands on an agreement that could radically transform our economic policy.


  1. backwards
    back to the days when cement from spain was cheaper in montreal than the local goods.. glass from the philipines, etc.

    this treaty is designed to ‘golbaliaze’ the economy.. which mean a total disregard for any remaining environmental and pollution standards.

    which is what happened here with ‘gobal developers. trees, parks, urban planning…

    all going the way of the dodo.


  2. Democracy feels less democratic than ever.

  3. ChloeMorgan22 says:

    If you think Gloria`s story is incredible,, two weaks-ago my moms girlfriend recieved a check for $4633 just sitting there 10 hours a week from there apartment and their neighbor’s step-aunt`s neighbour has done this for eight months and worked and got paid more than $4633 part time from a labtop. applie the steps on this page… Great60.comCHECK IT OUT

  4. Harper does whatever the fuck he wants, again. I mean, still. Yawn.
    What’s new here? Canadians overwhelming show their disapproval for something that affects our future and Harper just ignores it and does whatever is puppeteers direct him to do.

    Same shit, different day.

  5. It’s at the point where politicians don’t even bother to pretend to be working for their constituents.
    They lie to get into office, then make deals to secure their future once out of office.

    Aren’t minutes required to be taken during ALL meetings? And since a politician is participating in these meetings on behalf of the Canadian people, shouldn’t those minutes be available to the public? The content of all meetings involving a representative of the public should made available after a reasonable period of time.

    When it is so obvious that government officials are ignoring the will of the people and acting in their own interests, there should be a way to force full disclosure while suspending further action on their part.

    I’m just completely fed up with government,

  6. fax
    Hello, this is a good article. Thanks. Google

  7. ChloeBrown22 says:

    If you think Jacob`s story is impressive…, five weeks ago my friends sister got paid $9120 putting in a 40 hours month from home and the’re buddy’s sister-in-law`s neighbour was doing this for 5 months and brought home more than $9120 in there spare time at there pc. use the steps at this site, Great60.comCHECK IT OUT

  8. Secrecy
    It’s fitting really, secrecy is our standard operating procedure, too. There’s p4p, jondo, janusVM, xerobank, advtor, freegate, an ever growing list of free and paid VPN’s, freenet, usenet, and that’s just windows, then you can get into Linux and get REAL security, where even M$ can’t see you. So, yeah, go ahead and “regulate” the Internet traffic that you CAN see, and arrest a few file traders that you CAN see, and let’s see how much faster you can get even more people to learn about keeping others’ noses out of their private business.