In a strongly worded opinion piece focusing on the federal Liberal caucus meeting in Kelowna in two weeks, the Canada West Foundation says a number of Western MPs, including Kelowna-Lake Country’s Stephen Fuhr, have been silent on what it calls an important international trade agreement that will determine this region’s future.
And it’s urging the Liberal MPs, especially those from B.C, to speak up in support of the deal.
The piece, written by the foundation’s trade and investment director Carlo Dade, says despite the U.S.’s withdrawal, the Trans Pacific Partnership is alive and well and needs the Liberal government’s attention as it will help regions like the Okanagan “catch up with the Australians and surge past the Americans” when it comes to trade with Asia.
Calling the TPP the “most important trade development to date,” and given that a trade agreement with China would likely take close to a decade to conclude, Dade said the TPP is the only opportunity for the foreseeable future. And he is calling on Canada to ratify the deal.
“Rather than killing the TPP, (U.S.) President (Donald) Trump’s withdrawal has strengthened the resolve of the remaining countries,” writes Dade.
“It has also made the agreement better for Canada. Economic modelling in a Canada West Foundation report shows that Canada does better in a TPP without the U.S. in the agreement with huge tariff and other advantages over American exporters in timber, wine, seafood, fruits and vegetables and business services – all important to the Central Okanagan, B.C. and the West.”
He says the advantages would continue for as long as it takes the Americans to catch up in signing trade agreements in Asia.
“Given the Trump administration’s record so far, this is a window that is open but needs to be seized as soon as possible.”
So he is urging Western Liberal MPs to “step up” and urge the federal government to commit to ratifying the TPP during their caucus meeting in Kelowna Sept. 5 to 7.
“In the West, we are watching and hoping,” writes Dade.
He says simply announcing 18 months of consultations on the TPP is not good enough.
The Canada West Foundation is a Calgary-based think tank that focuses on issues affecting Western provinces as well as issues of national significance.
Founded in 1970, the foundation has been linked in the past with the former Reform Party of Canada, which became the Canadian Alliance in 2000. In 2003, the Canadian Alliance merged with the Progressive Conservative Party to form the current Conservative Party of Canada.
Reform Party stalwarts were influential in the Conservative Party, particularly under former prime minister Stephen Harper, a founding member of the Reform Party. It was under Harper’s Conservative government that Canada joined the TPP negotiations.