I attended the TPP Town Hall Meeting in Toronto yesterday. It was held at the University of Toronto campus. The three panelists included Professor Michael Geist of the University of the Ottawa, Jerry Dias (Unifor National President) and Daniel Shwanen (Vice President of Research at the C.D. Howe Institute). Minister of Trade Chrystia Freeland was also present.
It was a boisterous and at times raucous affair. It was exhilarating to see democracy in action and see ordinary Canadians voice their opinions.
I only stayed for about 2 hours. During the time I was there, I would estimate that about 50 people came up to the microphones and expressed their views. Not one person supported the TPP.
One speaker recited some poetry. Another speaker broke out into song. She had a very beautiful voice and sang very well. There was a young girl there with the word “NO” painted on her forehead. A fiery ninety three year old woman voiced her opposition to the TPP with great energy and passion.
The three panelist and Ms. Freeland made a brief five minute speech at beginning of the event. Micheal Geist and Jerry Dias opposed the TPP.
David Shwanen was there to defend the TPP. He spoke of modest economic gains from ratifying the TPP. I was waiting for him to quote some actual numbers. He instead said that the economic gains would be equal to the middle class tax cut that the Liberal government included in the last budget. It was a very clever ploy on his part as this would have required research to get a figure.
I did the research today and came up with some numbers. According to the Department of Finance website, the fiscal cost of reducing personal income tax to 20.5% from 22% is estimated to be $3.4 billion for 2016-17.
The claim by David Shwanen greatly exaggerates the economic gains from the TPP.
A study by Tufts University shows that there will be an additional $5 billion worth of economic activity in Canada for a ten year period if TPP is ratified. If you subtract the proposed $2.87 billion subsidy to the dairy industry, that is a net gain of $2.13 billion. This translates to an average gain of $213 million for the Canadian economy on an annual basis.
The other thing to bear in mind is that the economic benefits of the TPP will lead to greater income inequality. In other words, the wealthy will gain more of the benefits from the TPP. The study by Tufts University shows that the TPP will lead to greater income inequality in Canada.
There are other studies that predict higher GDP growth but these studies are greatly flawed because they assume full employment and ignore the effects of unequal income distribution.
I actually spoke at one of the microphones and I talked about the TPP and income inequality. I was very nervous as I don’t usually speak at public events. I managed to get across all my points and was a little more relaxed once I completed my presentation. Click here to read text of what I said during my presentation.
I truly hope that Ms. Freeland does not treat these public consultations as a public relations exercise and actually listens to what Canadians have to say about the TPP and reject the TPP.