Opinion: Judging the TPP

What we do know is that the TPP will have tremendous impact on the Canadian economy – particularly here in Chilliwack.

So what do Thomas Mulcair and Donald Trump have in common?

Both rejected the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal before it was released.

To be fair, trade deals traditionally have a polarizing effect on people. So it’s not that surprising that the leader of the Canadian New Democratic Party and the bombastic presidential hopeful found reasons to hate the historic agreement.

What is disappointing is that they hated it so quickly.

The trade deal agreed to on Sunday had an eight-year gestation. It involves 12 Pacific Rim countries that comprise 40 per cent of the world economy.

Specific details have yet to be released. But what we do know is that the TPP will have tremendous impact on the Canadian economy – particularly here in Chilliwack.

The goal of the agreement is to ease trade restrictions between the participating countries, enhancing the movement of goods, and opening new markets that had previously been closed.

Canada, as an exporting nation, benefits when trade restrictions are removed.

However, there is a cost. And that is what worried dairy farmers and poultry producers here.

Both sectors are highly regulated under Canada’s supply management program. The program provides stability in an industry that might otherwise fall victim to the vagaries of an unrestricted free market. Countries wanting access to our market have traditionally cited our supply management system as an unfair impediment to trade.

Early rumours suggested supply management might be one a sacrifice Canada would have to make to join the TPP.

Fortunately, that does not seem to be the case. There will be some market share lost, says the BC Dairy Association. But the organization acknowledges it could have been mush worse – a sentiment echoed by the Dairy Farmers of Canada.

Still, there remains much to be learned about the trade deal. And Canadians will have the opportunity for that review. It must be ratified here and in the 11 other participating nations before it comes into effect.

All we can hope is that political leaders take the time to read the thing before pronouncing a verdict.