Canada begins formal participation in the Trans Pacific Partnership negotiations next week in Auckland, New Zealand. The TPP remains shrouded in secrecy (Peter Clark has published a detailed must-read guide that provides a complete assessment of the talks to date based on leaks and media reports), but it appears that some individuals and organizations may have privileged access to the text or other negotiation information. The Department of Foreign Affairs is creating a secret insider “Consulting Group” that will be granted access to secret and confidential information regarding the negotiations. A source this week provided a copy of the non-disclosure agreement that DFAIT is requiring members of the consulting group to sign, a copy of which is posted below.
The creation of an insider group is reminiscent of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Negotiations, where DFAIT spent months trying to pull together an ACTA insider group, only to drop the plan after the publication of the initial composition of the group (I obtained the information via an Access to Information request).
A TPP insider group raises a host of concerns including questions about who has privileged access, whether civil society groups will also have access and be invited to join, and the extent of behind-the-scenes consultations with industry groups. While DFAIT may seek to justify the creation of an insider group based on the need for expert advice, the lack of transparency with the TPP is now exacerbated by a two-tier approach to TPP information with a select, secret group gaining insider access to information. DFAIT should immediately disclose who has been invited to join the insider group, why it is has established a two-tier approach, and how it intends to ensure that all Canadians have access to the latest TPP developments.
The NDA is posted below: that will be granted access to secret and confidential information regarding the negotiations. A source this week provided a copy of the non-disclosure agreement that DFAIT is requiring members of the consulting group to sign, a copy of which is posted below.