My submission re: Canada and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Negotiations

Feb 14, 2012   //   by Richard   //   IT  //  Comments Off on My submission re: Canada and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Negotiations

Yesterday I blogged encouraging you to take action and protect your online rights. One of the steps that I also took yesterday was to make a submission to the Canadian Government in relation to Canada’s interest in joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations. Please find below a copy of my submission. If you have any questions or comments, please do not hesitate to contact me or leave them below in the comment section.
 
All the best,
Richard
 
“The following is my submission in relation to the Trade Negotiations Consultations.
 
I understand that the Government of Canada (“Government”) has expressed Canada’s interest in joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership (“TPP”) negotiations. I further understand the Government has embarked on a public consultation process to allow Canadians an early opportunity to provide comments, input and advice.
 
I am a Canadian citizen, a self-employed Chartered Accountant and photographer who supports the Government’s desire to expand trade and enter into free trade agreements. By way of example, I think NAFTA had a positive impact on Canada, Mexico and the United States of America (“US”). However, before signing future agreements, I think it is critical that the Government carefully weighs the potential benefits against the costs to the Canadian people.
 
In this regard, from the various articles (such as those from Mr. Michael Geist and Mr. Peter Clark) and information and analysis of the TPP that I have read, I respectively suggest that the Government should not be joining the TPP negotiations, but should rather explore other alternatives.
 
I agree with Mr. Peter Clark who states in his article (http://www.ipolitics.ca/2012/01/10/peter-clark-is-the-trans-pacific-partnership-a-re-writing-of-nafta/) that the TPP is not a free trade agreement, but a “Preferential Trade Agreement built on discrimination against non-members”. Furthermore, there are numerous reasons why the Government should not become involved with the TPP, including:
 

  • the significant and unacceptable effects the TPP will have on Canadians with respect to intellectual property, access to public domain, digital locks and so forth (see below for additional comments on this point);
  • the fact that the US will not include Maritime Transport in the negotiations;
  • the buy American provisions and various small business and minority set-asides that will negate the effectiveness of the US government’s procurement commitment;
  • the US’ unwillingness to provide open access to its markets for dairy and sugar; and
  • New Zealand Trade Minister Tim Groser’s suggestion that there will be no re-opening of agreed issues and no delays to accommodate the newcomers (which is completely unacceptable).

 
Notwithstanding the above, if the Government does decide to join the TPP negotiations, I respectively encourage the Government not to agree with any TPP requirements which would take away, or diminish Canadians’ rights, and in particular, in relation to intellectual property, access to public domain, digital locks and other areas I have noted below. As I understand from an article from Michael Geist (http://www.michaelgeist.ca/content/view/6225/125/), there are significant changes that the Government will be required to agree to before they will be allowed to join the TPP. Therefore, I strongly urge the Government:
 

  • NOT to extend the current term of copyright protection from the current Canadian law of life of the author plus an additional 50 years;
  • NOT to implement the digital lock rules contemplated in Bill C-11, and certainly not increase penalties for circumvention and restrict the ability to create new digital lock exceptions. As an aside, I do not understand why the Government refuses to provide an exemption to the digital lock rules which would allow Canadians to copy material that they have purchased for their own personal use (i.e. for backup purposes);
  • NOT to implement new rights management rules that would lower the standard for violation and extend the scope of prohibited activities;
  • NOT to agree to the disclosure of personal information without strict privacy safeguards;
  • NOT to agree to any copyright criminalization requirements especially in cases that have no direct or indirect motivation of financial gain;
  • to agree to the requirement to provide copyright owners with an exclusive right to block “parallel trade” of copyrighted works. This is especially relevant considering that these issues were previously considered a number of years ago by the Supreme Court of Canada, which rejected attempts to use copyright to stop such activities;
  • NOT to reverse the changes found in Bill C-11 that distinguishes between commercial and non-commercial infringement;
  • NOT to implement new ISP liability provisions that would require a notice-and-takedown system contrary to the approach established under Bill C-11; and
  • NOT to implement or agree to anything similar to the previously proposed SOPA or PIPA in the US.

 
It would appear that the primary reason for Canada to enter into the TPP is to obtain free trade agreements with other countries, in particular those in the Asia-Pacific area. I would respectively suggest that it would be more beneficial if Canada were not to enter into the TPP negotiations, but rather consider other options, including entering into discussions with the Association of South East Asian Nations or join the talks scheduled to commence shortly between China, Korea and Japan, or entering into free trade negotiations directly with individual countries.
 
If you have any questions, or if I may be of further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact me.
 
Kind regards,
 
Richard D. Hamilton, CA”

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