Fight for left-leaning seats could cost Canada ‘single best trade opportunity’

The federal Liberals’ reluctance to show that they want to move forward on the Trans-Pacific Partnership could be due to competition for votes in certain Ontario, Quebec and B.C. ridings in 2019, according to a trade expert with the Canada West Foundation.

It’s difficult to get an answer on why Canada has not been more aggressive in pushing to get the deal signed, says Carlo Dade, who’s also a senior fellow with the University of Ottawa.

The best explanation, he says in the interview below, is the Liberals are concerned about hanging on to seats in left-leaning ridings.

“This government’s more concerned about progressive trade than it is about trade. It’s more concerned about votes in Ontario and Quebec than votes in the West,” he says.

Carlo Dade at the Canadian Beef Industry Conference

“It’s not a conversation they’re addressing to the average Canadian…it’s a conversation they’re having with certain parts of Quebec and Ontario,” he continues. “The fight for votes in parts of B.C., Quebec and Ontario, it’s going to cost us. It’s going to cost us the single best opportunity we’ve had.”

Dade was one of the authors of a report released back in June that showed all 11 remaining countries still stand to benefit from ratifying the TPP, even though the U.S. has withdrawn. The terms written in the 5,500+ page agreement are better than anything Canada could have negotiated bilaterally, particularly when it comes to market access in Japan and Vietnam, he says.

“The Americans essentially did all the hard work, and just as it comes time to cash in, they’re getting up from the table, throwing the cards down and pushing the chips across the table to us. It just doesn’t get any better than this,” he says.

Canada remains engaged in the negotiations with the 11 remaining countries, including a meeting in Australia last week. However, Dade says the recent language being used by Canadian trade officials reminds him of the messaging that preceded failed bilateral negotiations with Korea.

Dade shared his research findings during the foreign trade meeting at the Canadian Beef Industry Conference in Calgary. The meeting also included a phone briefing by trade officials with Global Affairs Canada, which Dade references in our conversation — listen here:


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Kelvin Heppner

Kelvin Heppner is a field editor for Real Agriculture based near Altona, Manitoba. Prior to joining Real Ag he spent more than 10 years working in radio. He farms with his father near Rosenfeld, MB and is on Twitter at @realag_kelvin

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One Comment

Terry Baker

When it comes to trade and particularly Western Canadian industry and Ag, could the problem be that Gov’t is largely run by lawyers and professional politicians with limited business experience? It is unfortunate that in order for most businesspeople and risk takers, you have to take a major pay cut to run for office, never mind the personal toll the media and Monday morning quarterbacks inflict. T’was ever thus. TB

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