Canada, TPP and Maui

Canada needs to beef up its support for TPP

Divisions remain. For Canada, the negotiations on reforming supply management are difficult and divisive. Governments also need to address domestic complaints around transparency and that trade outsources jobs and trumps national sovereignty.Trade agreements were once conducted in privacy and quietly ratified with passing public attention. For Canada that era concluded during negotiation of the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement (1988). After rancorous but healthy public debate, an election determined its passage.

Multilateral trade negotiations came of age with the salmagundi of trade unionists and activists of every shade who descended on Seattle in 1999, stalling the launch of what is now the World Trade Organization’s Doha round.

Trade negotiations today are less about tariffs and more about harmonizing standards and setting rules around trade-distorting internal barriers.

Canada has a major stake in the Trans Pacific Partnership.

First, the TPP includes three of our top five trading partners – the U.S., Mexico and Japan. It complements the negotiated, but still-to-be-implemented, agreement with the European Union, our second-biggest market after the U.S.

Second, TPP positions our companies to take advantage of the economic opportunities in the rapidly growing Pacific region. Our trade commissioners should be matching Canadian capacities in food, resources and financial services – sectors where we already have Asian market share – to TPP partners’ needs.

Third, because the member nations collectively comprise 40 per cent of the world’s economy, we give ourselves positional “first advantage” by setting the standards for the negotiation of future trade deals.

The TPP is constructed to allow expansion. South Korea is interested and those non-TPP members of the Association of South East Asian nations (ASEAN) should come aboard. We should actively encourage China and India to join TPP.

Complaints about trade negotiations usually focus on secrecy, job loss, and specifics such as investor-state dispute settlement and patent protection.

All contracts, public and private, are traditionally negotiated behind closed doors so negotiators can test options. But once the deal is done, the agreement is publicized for open discussion, including hearings around parliamentary implementation. The U.S. Trade Representative is already sharing elements of the agreement with affected interests. We should do the same.

Trade is disruptive. It expands economic growth, creating more choice, with better prices for consumers. With a population of only 35 million, Canadian prosperity depends on freer access to world markets.

Our economy has grown in tandem with our ability to expand our trade in goods and services, especially in finding our niche within supply chains. Industries that governments have hitherto shielded from competition will have to step up and specialize.

Supply management now faces its Uber moment.

Uber, with its clever technology, creates more choice, with better prices, for its passengers. But it disrupts the traditional, regulated taxi business. Owners of taxi permits have seen their value plummet. Some cities have tried to ban Uber, but the new ride option is not going away. Our protected dairy and chicken industries face a similar dilemma. Blocking competition is not the answer.

The public policy challenge is determining the adjustment assistance. We provided it to grain farmers and vintners. Both have since expanded production internationally (although our wine still faces inter-provincial barriers). Like wine and wheat, our chicken and cheese should be premium brands, marketed internationally, especially to growing Asian appetites.

Governments and business need to better explain the link between jobs, wages and trade. Trade creates new, usually better paid jobs in competitive industries while obliging previously protected industries to up their game.

The purpose of investor-state dispute settlement is to defend Canadian investment and assets abroad. ISDS depoliticizes disputes, extending the rule of law by providing companies with remedies against confiscatory or discriminatory government action. We have also learned from the NAFTA experience. Criteria for triggering dispute settlements within TPP are more tightly defined and do not undermine legitimate government initiative.

Innovative medicine creates the drugs that cure diseases and ease pain. For governments, it is a balancing act between access to lower-priced generic drugs and incentivizing the innovators. The extension of patent protection for pharmaceutical manufacturers will mean generic drugs will take longer to get to market.

There continues to be majority support for trade agreements in Canada and in the U.S. But it needs nourishment. Education on trade should be included in the school curriculum. With all-party support, expanding trading opportunities should be Canada’s national forte.

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Canada, the UN and the UN Charter

Why Canada should move the UN into the limelight

Usually the Harper government does not miss an opportunity to mark significant anniversaries. To its credit, the Harper government has incorporated a strong historical component into the civic liturgy that aspirant citizens must learn.

In a country as young and diverse as Canada, celebrating our heritage moments are important in the development of shared national identity. Two world wars, involving valour and sacrifice, propelled Canada from colony to nation and thence to middle power. As the Second World War drew to a close, our diplomats – notably Lester Pearson, Escott Reid, Norman Robertson, Hume Wrong– laboured with fellow diplomats “to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war” as the preamble to the UN Charter would later state.

Canada had two objectives in San Francisco: first, acknowledgment that middle powers deserved differentiation in treatment. Second, recognition that competence or “functionalism,” rather than mere size, should weigh in representation to the specialized agencies dealing with food, health, refugees, education and culture, economics and social policy.

The Charter acknowledged both Canadian objectives.

While the big powers achieved permanent place on the Security Council, there would be no concert of great powers. The Security Council would include additional, temporary members selected regionally, thus giving positional opportunity to the middle powers. Membership in the General Assembly was based on one nation, one vote.

The Canadians’ work in San Francisco during the late spring and early summer of 1945 was not without diversion. In perhaps the funniest diary entry in his The Siren Years, Charles Ritchie records a visit to a ranch-cum-brothel in the company of unappreciative colleagues.

Canadian diplomacy developed a reputation in following years as the helpful fixer and a bridge between big and small, east and west, north and south. Canadian John Humphreys was instrumental in designing the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948). Canadians helped to broker the compromise admitting both Soviet bloc and post-colonial nations (1955). For his pivotal role in devising the peacekeeping formula resolving the Suez crisis, Mr. Pearson earned the Nobel Peace Prize (1957).

Peacekeeping has evolved but the blue berets still have a popular hold on the Canadian psyche because they reflect how we see ourselves, and want to be seen, internationally.

When the 1988 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to UN peacekeepers, more than 80,000 past and present members of the Canadian Armed Forces could share in the honour. On Ottawa’s Sussex Drive, the statueReconciliation – commemorates peacekeeping.

Sadly, we no longer share our expertise on peace operations. The doors to the Pearson Peacekeeping Centre were closed in 2013. Through 20 years of operation, it provided training for more than 18,000 peacekeepers from more than 150 countries.

Global peacekeeping operations are more active than ever before. More than 130,000 blue berets are engaged in 16 operations, mostly in Africa and the Middle East. The UN budget for peacekeeping is just over $7-billion, less than half of 1 per cent of world military expenditures. Canada ranks ninth in financial contributors but there are currently only 115 Canadians engaged in UN peacekeeping.

To mark Canada’s contribution to the UN Charter and the United Nations, the Harper government could do the following:

First, restore the bronze statue of Mr. Pearson and his Nobel Peace Prize to pride of place in our Foreign Ministry headquarters. At the same time, restore the Alfred Pellan paintingsCanada West, Canada East – to the front lobby. The gargantuan photograph of the Queen would not be out of place in Kim Jong-un’s Hermit Kingdom but it fails Walter Bagehot’s “dignified capacity” test of constitutional monarchy.

Second, Prime Minister Stephen Harper should break from electioneering and speak at September’s General Assembly about the role of middle powers and the enduring relevance of functionalism. He should announce that Canada will seek election to the Security Council in 2017 as the champion of middle powers.

Third, given Canadian experience, we should respond affirmatively to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon’s appeal for peacekeepers by reactivating the training programs of our peace and security operations.

The UN has never achieved the aspirations of its founders. It remains a work in progress and that progress depends on the collective will of its individual members. But its achievements far outweigh its shortcomings, especially in the work of its functional agencies. A part of Canadian heritage, the UN deserves our continued support and recognition.

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