The ISDS (Investor State Dispute Settlement) provisions in the TPP will allow corporations to sue our government for policy decisions or regulations that cut into their corporate investments or profits. ISDS courts  won’t employ independent judges. Instead, highly paid corporate lawyers would go back and forth between representing corporations one day and sitting in judgment the next. Maybe that makes sense in an arbitration between two corporations, but not in cases between corporations and governments. If you’re a lawyer looking to maintain or attract high paying corporate clients, there is a great incentive to rule in favor of corporations.1

This information about the ISDS was taken from an article written by Elizabeth Warren. Elizabeth Warren is the United States Senator for Massachusetts. She has been a law professor at Harvard University for 20 years.  Time Magazine has twice included her in America’s 100 most influential people list.

ISDS is part of the NAFTA deal. Under the NAFTA ISDS framework, Canada has lost or settled six claims paying a total of $170 million in damages, while Mexico has lost five cases and paid out $204 million. The U.S.,meanwhile, has won 11 cases and has never lost a NAFTA investor state case.2 Foreign investors are now seeking over $6 billion from the Canadian government in new cases. The Canadian government also has to spend millions of dollars on lawyers to argue their cases.

Another concern with ISDS is that it will have a “chilling effect” on public policy and regulation. The risk of investment treaty litigation can deter governments from acting in the public interest.

TPP will increase the exposure of Canada to ISDS lawsuits as more industries and more countries are covered by the TPP. It is still possible to renegotiate NAFTA. It will be much easier to renegotiate NAFTA as there are only three countries involved. It will be much more difficult to renegotiate TPP if it is ratified as there are twelve countries involved.

ISDS is just one serious concern about the TPP. Read my other blog entries about other problems with the TPP.

  1. The Trans-Pacific Partnership clause everyone should oppose. Washington Post.
  2. NAFTA’s Chapter 11 makes Canada most sued country under Free Trade Tribunals. Huffington Post.
  3. NAFTA Chapter 11 Investor State Disputes. Canadian Center for Policy Alternatives.

My presentation at the TPP Town Hall in Toronto

This is the presentation I made at the TPP Town Hall in Toronto on June 16, 2016:

Five Canadians have the same wealth as the bottom 30% of population (11 million). This is according to a report published by Oxfam in January of 2016.

Currently, the top 1% of Canadians receive 12% of all taxable income. The top 1% of Canadians received  7% of all taxable income in early 1980’s.

The real GDP growth per person grew by 50% from 1981 to 2011 but the real median hourly wage rose by just 10%.

The previous two statistics were taken from a speech given by Andrew Jackson at Trent University on April 2015.

Income inequality is a problem in Canada. Ms. Freeland, you yourself have said income inequality is a problem. In your interview with the LA Times in 2015, you said:

“We campaigned very much on a middle class prosperity agenda and we are very open about the fact that income inequality has been increasing and we have to do something about it”.

Income inequality will increase with the TPP according to study by Tufts University.

The same study shows that Canada will lose 58,000 jobs in a ten year period.

Joseph Steiglitz won the Nobel Prize in Economics. According to a Toronto Star article published  in April of 2016, he said he spoke with you at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. He told you to not to ratify the TPP.

Professor Steiglitz has said that the TPP will benefit big businesses at the expense of working people driving down the bargaining power of workers and their wages.

Please listen to Joseph Steiglitz and don’t ratify the TPP.


TPP will undermine Canadian workers

There are provisions included in the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) which will allow certain categories of workers to cross borders on a temporary basis without going through the usual immigration process.

The categories of workers include professionals and technicians and specialists.

Professionals and technicians can be hired by any Canadian employer (as long as not included in exclusion list).

Specialist designation only applies to intra-corporate transferees.

That means that Canadian corporations can bring in an unlimited number of professionals and technicians into Canada  A variety of lower skill occupations are included in Canada’s temporary entry commitments in the TPP, such as mechanics, carpenters, and other construction tradespeople.

Canada is not allowed to use labour certification tests or quotas to limit the inflow of foreign workers in any category:

Canadian companies will bring in these foreign temporary workers even if Canadian workers with proper qualifications are available to be hired and where the local unemployment rate is very high.

Companies will also be able bring in an unlimited number of specialists. In the TPP, Canada defines a specialist as:

an employee possessing specialized knowledge of the company’s products or services and their application in international markets, or an advanced level of expertise or knowledge of the company’s processes and procedures.

This definition is, in practice, extremely vague which means any worker may legitimately qualify as specialists.

It also means that the Canadian government will not be able to pass any labor policies to correct these problems while the trade agreement is in effect. It will be very difficult to change terms of the TPP as it will require complicated negotiations by all twelve countries included in the trade agreement.

It is true that similar labor mobility clauses already exist within NAFTA. However, Canadians working in certain industries and job classifications should be concerned that additional job titles have been added to list of occupations that can enter Canada under the TPP.

Each country has a slightly different list. To see lists for each country, read original text of TPP Chapter 12.

This is list for Mexico. These are job titles that are not included in NAFTA:

Civil Engineering Technologists and Technicians
Mechanical Engineering Technologists and Technicians
Industrial Engineering Technologists and Technicians
Construction Inspectors and Estimators
Engineering Inspectors, Testers and Regulatory Officers
Contractors and Supervisors in the following:
 Electrical Trades and Telecommunications Occupations
 Heavy Construction Equipment Crews
 Other Construction Trades
 Installers, repairers, and servicers
Electrical and Electronics Engineering Technologists and Technicians
Industrial Instrument Technicians and Mechanics
Computer and Information Systems Technicians

The specialist designation also exist in NAFTA but the wording describing specialization is much more stringent.

Canada has not made any temporary entry commitments for professionals or technicians from the United States. That means no additional job classifications have been added to labor mobility agreement Canada has with United States under NAFTA.

In addition, Canada has not made any temporary entry commitments for professionals or technicians from New Zealand, Singapore, or Vietnam.

All indented text is quotation from original document of chapter 12 of the TPP which deals with this topic.

Further information cited in this blog comes from study done by the Canadian Center for Policy Alternatives.

This is just one of many serious concerns about the TPP. Read my other blog entries about other concerns.


TPP Town Hall Meeting in Toronto

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.


Economics, Politics, TPP

Mr Trudeau, please don’t ratify the TPP!

On February 4, 2016, Canada signed the TPP. The Trans-Pacific Partnership is a trade agreement among twelve countries. The twelve countries are Canada, United States, Australia, New Zealand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Japan, Singapore, Brunei, Peru, Chile, Mexico.

Signing the TPP is not legally binding. It still has to be passed into law by our Parliament, and the government has promised to hold more public consultations and a full Parliamentary debate on the TPP before deciding if we ratify it and lock ourselves in.

We must tell our government to not ratify the deal.

The deal was negotiated in secrecy. The only way the public found out about the deal was through Wikileaks.

There was a study done by Tufts University which shows that Canada will lose 58,000 jobs.1 The same study shows that there will be an additional $5 billion worth of economic activity over a ten year period. 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.

There is an estimated $7 billion to be recovered from tax havens. If the Canadian government just recovers 3% of taxes that are not being paid because of tax havens, that amount could be used to create green jobs and be equivalent to the $213 million gain from the TPP.

Money can be recovered from tax havens. According to figures from the Canada Revenue Agency acquired by Senator Percy E. Downe through access to information laws, a 2005 investment of $30 million in the CRA yielded a fiscal impact of $2.5 billion up to 2009.2

Investing in green jobs is a great idea. According to United Nations study of the renewable energy sector in Germany, twice as many jobs are created in solar and wind than in the oil and natural gas sector with same amount of investment.3 In 2014, direct employment in the clean energy sector in Canada – which encompasses hydro power, as well as wind, solar and biomass – was 23,700 people. That compares with 22,340 directly employed in the oilsands.4

The TPP will hurt access for millions of people to affordable medicines. The TPP will give pharmaceutical companies longer monopolies over brand name drugs. Companies will be able to charge higher prices for longer periods of time. It will make it much harder for generic companies to produce cheaper drugs that are vital to people’s health. Doctors Without Borders depend on affordable generic medicines to treat life threatening diseases. Doctors Without Borders opposes the TPP in its current form.

The TPP will constrain government’s abilities to regulate their financial institutions and allow financial firms to challenge financial stability measures. Governments will not be able to impose regulations on risky financial products such as derivatives or hedge funds or ban risky new financial products and services if other TPP countries permit them.5 Remember the 2008 financial crisis. It could happen again if banks and financial firms continue to derive profits from risky financial products.

There is a misconception that Canada escaped the ravages of the 2008 financial crisis because we have a good financial regulatory system. I admit I was under this erroneous impression until I read a report issued by the Canadian Center for Policy Alternatives. According to the report, Canadian banks received the following financial support during the financial crisis:6

  • CIBC received $21 billion (150% of value of company)
  • BMO received $17 billion (118% of value of company)
  • Scotiabank received $25 billion (100% of value of company)
  • TD received $26 billion (69% of value of company)

If Canada ratifies the TPP, it will add greater risk to a financial system which is already on shaky grounds.

I have only discussed some of the serious concerns with the TPP. There are many more aspects of this deal that are very bad for Canada. To find out more about these other problems, read the factsheet published by the Council of Canadians.

Sign Doctors Without Borders petition or sign petition to reject the TPP. Share these links with your friends. Let your MP know that you are opposed to the TPP being ratified.


  1. TPP’s economic impact will be fewer jobs, greater inequality, new study says. Huffington Post Canada.
  2. Senator wants new Canada Revenue Agency head to rein in overseas tax cheats. Postmedia News.
  3. Global Green Growth Volume 1. United Nations Industrial Development Organization. p. 154
  4. Clean energy provides more jobs than oilsands, report says. CBC News.
  5. Why Canada must reject the TPP. Green Party of Canada.
  6. The big banks’ big secret. Canadian Center for Policy Alternatives.