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Mr Miller responded to comments I made in the press recently regarding the impact of the Trans-Pacific Parternship trade talks on Bruce Grey farmers; however, he seems to have misread or misheard what I said. For example, I did not say free trade was against Canadian interests. We in the NDP believe trade with other countries is very much in our interest. However, I did ask our MP whether the TPP would hurt some of our farmers in Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound.

Mr Miller's answer is an emphatic: "Trust us."

Hmmm ... I seem to remember promises of Senate reform and getting Duffy, Wallin and Brazeau instead. And veterans coming home wounded only to be snubbed by a Cabinet Minister. I remember commitments to bring well-paying jobs to communities outside Alberta. And I see a 'Universal' Child Care Benefit glad-handed out before the election only to be taxed into a pittance after.

If our government won't tell us what they're doing, we are forced to rely on news reports and economic analysis. According to those, some from other countries, Canada will have to give up supply management to get a deal. There seems very little doubt about that.

Unfortunately, one of the consequences of all the secrecy and uncertainty is some of our neighbours (principally beef and hog farmers) are being pitted against others (principally dairy and poultry).

TPP is not just about protection for milk and eggs and dairy It's also about ...

  • Health care costs (since big pharmaceutical companies can hold on to their patents longer, drug prices are likely to go up)
  • Where your private information will be stored (the US insists such data be more accessible to corporations and other governments)
  • How much say corporations will have over environmental protection and our regulatory framework (quite a bit according to a leaked version of the Environment chapter).

These are some of the issues we know are being negotiated right now. The TPP, like the FIPA Mr Harper signed with China, and the CETA he signed with Europe, and the NAFTA that Mr Chretien refused to re-negotiate are the kinds of agreements that change the way we do things in this country – sometimes for the good of Canadians, sometimes for the bad. We often don't know which until long after the ink is dry on all the signatures.

The offensive part, for a democrat like myself, is that they are being negotiated in secret, without the people knowing what's on the table, what's being agreed to and without our input, or our approval. And that begs a very good question: Who rules, the people we elect to Ottawa to represent us, or the corporations who are driving the TPP and other trade deals?

This week is crunch time for the TPP. A deal is expected to be initialled before the election. So, Mr Miller, now I have two clear, unambiguous questions: "Will dairy, egg and poultry farmers be harmed by what your Government is negotiating?" and "Will you release the text of the agreement so we can all see what is protected and what is given away?"

David McLaren

Neyaashiinigmiing (Cape Croker)

David McLaren is the federal NDP candidate for the riding of Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound

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