by Glyn Moody

Filed Under:
canada, secrecy, tpp, trade agreements, transparency

As All Its Big Trade Agreements Grind To An Awkward Halt, Canada Aims To Make TPP Even More Secretive

from the frightened-of-sunlight dept

Techdirt has commented many times on the unduly secretive nature of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) talks. Despite earlier claims that everything would definitely be wrapped up last year, things are still dragging on, with the next round of negotiations taking place in Canada. Although it seems hardly possible, the government there apparently wants to make the meeting even less transparent than its predecessors, as this post on the Council of Canadians reports:

The only information that has been publicly released is a one-sentence notice posted June 24 on the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development website stating that "Negotiators, subject matter experts and other officials will meet in Ottawa, Canada, from July 3-12. No ministerial meeting is being scheduled on the margin of the officials meeting in Ottawa."

New Zealand law professor Jane Kelsey has attended many of the rounds as a registered stakeholder, and, when that process ended without any explanation, as an observer. She describes Canada's secrecy as "unprecedented.”

"There can only be one reason for withholding the details: to shut down the remaining minimal access we have to negotiators, a number of whom are happy to meet with us," Kelsey says. "When governments are so afraid of informed public debate, they clearly do not believe they can sell the merits of what they are negotiating."
We can only assume Canada is worried that the public might learn either that the talks are in trouble, or that really bad deals are being cut in a desperate attempt to sew things up. A fascinating article in the Canadian title Maclean's offers some insight into why the Canadian politicians are so keen to keep everything under wraps:
"Everyone is indulging in a charade where [the TPP] negotiations are going forward. It’s the biggest game in town, but I’m not convinced TPP will see the light of day," says Lawrence Herman, a Toronto-based trade lawyer formerly with Cassels Brock.

The situation is not much more clear with Canada’s agreement-in-principle reached with Europe last October. Officials say CETA is taking longer than anticipated to render into legal text, but observers believe the deal has run into substantive roadblocks.

Also perplexing is why Canada has not ratified the foreign investment protection agreement with China, called FIPA, when the two sides signed the treaty almost two years ago.
Putting those facts together, and you have an embarrassing inability of the Canadian government to close any of its high-profile trade agreements, which it has set such great store by. Clearly, the last thing it wants is any leak that might make achieving that even harder for TPP. Of course, if such a total lock-down on the talks is necessary to have even a slim hope of concluding them, that suggests support for the agreement among the TPP nations is extremely precarious. If it weren't, TPP could stand a little public scrutiny of the kind that the Canadians are doing their utmost to avoid.

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Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. icon
    fogbugzd (profile), Jul 1st, 2014 @ 11:01pm

    The backers of the trade agreements should learn from their failures in this round. Allowing governments and third party "stakeholders" to be involved in the negotiations causes far too many problems. In the future the major corporations should work out the details among themselves. Then have fast track approval put the agreements into effect. Governments and citizens can see the contents after the agreements are ratified and become law. This would cut out the arguing and angst and give about the same results as the current system.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    zub, Jul 2nd, 2014 @ 2:33am


    Clicked "Insightful", but "Sad" would have been more appropriate.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. icon
    ECA (profile), Jul 2nd, 2014 @ 2:41am

    I can see...

    I can see only 2 things happening..
    Once this is FINALLY released...
    1)it will be a clean and BASIC trade agreement..And the USA corps and other around the world, only added STUFF/CRAp to piss off people and get a good trade agreement.
    2) TONS of money will be spent, and HAS already been spent negotiating this..And if you understand MONEY..you have PAID for this for years..TONS of politicians and CORPS will get a BIG PAY OFF.
    AND you and I have paid for all of this...a penny at a time.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. icon
    That One Guy (profile), Jul 2nd, 2014 @ 2:52am


    Ah, but not nearly as much room in there for some 'campaign contributions', and a politician that's not getting bought-off is an unhappy politician, so getting that fast track approval might be a little tricky.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 2nd, 2014 @ 3:07am

    Maybe the Canadian government is having a brain freeze.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    The Protect Us From Trade Game, Jul 2nd, 2014 @ 4:20am

    Our Canadian politicians want more trade, as long as it's one way, out of Canada.

    Other countries may be the same.

    Difficult to negotiate, if everyone at the table is only there to negotiate concessions from others.

    Until the miracle occurs and someone makes a concession, expect continuous stalling comma by comma.

    If a miracle is achieved, expect a roomful of rooster crowing for the cameras.

    Once the cameras are off, our Canadian politicians will then institute twelve-inch thick binders of rules and procedures to hinder incoming trade as much as possible. Other countries might do the same.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 2nd, 2014 @ 5:12am

    Re: I can see...

    3) Granting of corporate sovereignty results in skirmishes between corporate armies across the globe as they fight over the last remains of societies everywhere.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 2nd, 2014 @ 5:20am

    Re: I can see...

    4) Sovereign Corporations receive seats on the UN security counsel and proclaim they have sovereign immunity everywhere on the planet and surrounding solar system.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    DogBreath, Jul 2nd, 2014 @ 9:58am


    In the future the major corporations should work out the details among themselves. Then have fast track approval put the agreements into effect. Governments and citizens can see the contents after the agreements are ratified and become law. This would cut out the arguing and angst and give about the same results as the current system.

    And on that day, the Ferengi Alliance (Earth Division) was born.

    Time to invest in plastic surgery stocks, specifically earlobe enlargement.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    Wow, Jul 2nd, 2014 @ 7:09pm


    and you just so very conveniently forgot all about democracy in so many of those countries? What if the trade agreements disadvantage the middle class majority and make the rich wealthier?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    David E.H. Smith, Jul 2nd, 2014 @ 7:56pm


    Financial & Human Rights News;

    SECRET TPPartnership, C-CITreaty & CETA TRIBUNALS are INSIDER TRADING; corp. Canada fears China may Blow "Arrangements" between Can. Lobbyists' Clients & Parties' Executives (W.A.D. Accord*)? NON Shareholders HAVE TO PAY the arranged PENALTIES. Non SHAREHOLDERS, Native & Non Native, are WHINING CAMP FOLLOWERS?

    (CAN) - Prime Minister Stephen Harper's attempts to maintain the secrecy
    provisions in the Canada - European Union CETA, the Canada - China
    Investment Treaty (C-CIT; FIPPA) & the Trans Pacific Partnership,
    et al,may be unraveling by way of the Canadian Senate, which is being
    threatened with being abolished, et al.

    There are several reasons for the secrecy ("omerta") of the
    dispute resolution tribunals. They are:
    1) To Protect the parties to the treaty, &/or, agreement, ie. corporate
    sponsors, from having to reveal to the non shareholding tax payers
    the existing arrangements that it has with its own government. For
    instance, the Canadian W.A.D. Accord suggests that corporate Canada's
    lobbyists pay considerations to the executives of the political
    parties for two main reasons:
    A) to promote corporate Canada's agenda with governing party(ies) by:
    i) reducing its taxes & thus, the "net increase" in taxes for non shareholders
    ii) increase its funding for "economic development" which
    covers the cost of, among other things, the present & future
    advocacy, ie. lobbying & the cost of the considerations that
    corporate Canada pays out, etc. It may be regrettable that given the
    source of the accessed "economic development" funds, ie.
    those 95% - 99% of Canadians who are non shareholding tax payers
    there is a great deal of room for discretionary spending & its
    B) to protect corporate Canada's agenda by paying the other (non governing)
    political parties considerations in order to limit the scope of the
    "opposition" to manageable issues that can be compromised
    in order that "opposing" parties can claim victories (at
    least a limited victory) for their constituents. Under this
    arrangement both, the politicians & the lobbyists' clients are
    protected from scrutiny by the role of the parties' executives.
    2) To Protect the parties to the treaty, &/or, agreement, ie. corporate
    sponsor from having to reveal to the each others' corporate sponsors
    their existing arrangements that it has with its own government &
    thus, each counties' corporate sponsors are not obliged to share the
    benefits & considerations (& future considerations) that they
    receive from their respective governments ie. their non shareholding
    taxpayers. Often the benefits are shared as an inducement to conduct
    business together in the more convenient jurisdictions.
    3) To Protect the parties to one treaty, &/or, agreement (referred to
    as the "original" treaty/agreement) from having to reveal
    to third parties the nature, &/or, details of their "original"
    arrangements to other third parties who may want to enter into a
    treaty, &/or, agreement with either of the parties to the
    "original" agreement/treaty.That is to say, that acquiring
    & having privileged information of an outsiders treaties, &/or,
    agreements will cause contention as the third party will undoubtedly
    insist upon more favorable terms & conditions to a new
    treaty/agreement than the original treaty/agreement. For example;
    "You did this with them, so I insist upon more, or, I'll deal
    with them, or, others". The European Union is particularly
    interested in preventing the Canada - European Union CETA from
    becoming divisive whereby individual EU member countries may be
    enticed, &/or, coerced into making preferential, but, "very
    secretive" side deals with corporate Canada, et al.

    By preventing the non shareholding taxpayers from learning about the
    aforementioned reasons for the tribunals' secrecy whereby the non
    shareholding taxpayers pay for the increase in the value of the
    shareholders' stocks & dividends is insider trading & stock

    Therefore, corporate Canada, AFN & their traditional media outlets have more
    than just a vested interest in the continuation of the most
    vulnerable Canadians (95% - 99% of Native & non Native Canadians)
    deprivation of the information such as the comprehensive version of
    The W.A.D. Accord and the comprehensive versions of the Canada -
    China Investment Treaty, the Canada - European Union CET Agreement,
    et al, that include the mechanisms, procedures, practices used in the
    adjudications of the dispute resolution tribunal & its
    disbursement of its punitive awards.

    And, while it may be regrettable that not all of the 95% - 99% most
    vulnerable, non shareholders are able, &/or, willing to move to a
    sovereign Quebec, or, other jurisdictions, in order to:
    1) avoid the "unethical" & "inhumane" (see; The
    W.A.D. Accord), but, "legal" practices
    2) start getting the relevant & quantitative information regarding
    the above, et al.

    The issue of the secret tribunals raises some interesting questions that
    the "secret congress" of the lobbyists' clients & the
    executives of the political parties have no intention of answering.
    For instance; what do the above arrangements say about the 95% - 99%
    of Canadians who are non shareholding tax payers & the version of
    "democracy" that they are developing in Canada in the
    context of the growing "global" economy
    what do the above arrangements say about the accelerating growth of the
    disparity of the wealth between the shareholders (1% - 5% of
    Canadians, et al) & the non shareholders (95% - 99% of
    Canadians), et al?

    What are you, the reader, learning about the Canada - China Investment
    Treaty that will help you to ascertain whether the Canada - European
    Union Agreement is better for you & perhaps, corporate Canada?

    What are some of the other questions that the non shareholders need to ask
    who can answer, &/or, is willing to answer (as opposed to "respond'
    to) their questions that would make them willing participants &
    direct beneficiaries of the C-CIT & the CETA?

    Have you & your family, friends & colleagues sent PM Harper &
    Mr. DAN HILTON (Executive Director of the Conservative Party) your:



    in order to enhance your opportunity to exculpate yourself from having
    to pay for:
    1) the aforementioned Compensation that is embodied in The W.A.D. Accord
    2) the costs, penalties, punitive damages that will be derived from the TPP, C-CITreaty
    & the CETAgreement?

    In conclusion, it may be regrettable that the TPP, the C-CITreaty & the
    CETAgreement has, so far, been successful at giving corporate Canada
    & its representatives the much higher degree of legitimacy to
    their aforementioned secrecy (assisted by way of the international
    cache) that it needs in order for them to later, & once again,
    claim (see; NAFTA) that they are doing/did "their best" to
    protect the non shareholders from the over zealousness of their
    foreign Treaty, &/or, Agreement counterparts.

    Is it not easier & just prudent to discuss the preexisting arrangements
    & challenges to the Treaty & the Agreement prior to ratifying
    them in order to determine which is more egregious than the other
    (or, are both equally egregious) & thus, avoid any of the secret
    "dispute" resolutions & its "hefty" costs to
    the beleaguered non shareholding taxpayers, et al? And, how much more
    will these costs further erode the non shareholding taxpayers health
    care (privatize), educational services, etc.?

    How much has corporate Canada set aside to defend the CHALLENGES, et al,
    that corporate Canada & the non shareholders are anticipating?
    How far along are they in collecting this fund & how much more
    does corporate Canada & its shareholders need to set aside before
    the non shareholding taxpayers allow corporate Canada & its
    representatives to proceed?

    Similarly, due to a psychiatrist's previous linking of the deprivation of
    information with the unconscionably high rates of despair,
    disenchantment, suicides, unemployment, poverty, etc., that are found
    in many communities across Canada, what are the various different
    ways that non shareholders can guarantee that corporate Canada &
    its shareholders have enough financial reserves set aside in order to
    pay for the CHALLENGES by the non shareholders and those who will be
    the new victims of the aforementioned deprivation of information?

    On the other hand, are there actually any non shareholding taxpayers who
    think that corporate Canada is actually anxious to explain to them, or, corporate China, or,
    corporate EU, just how effective their secretive relationship between:
    1) lobbyists' of corporate Canada
    2) the executives of the parties that are operating in Canada,
    has been & is continuing to be?

    And, finally, without:
    1) a meaningful forum in which to "further question" the Treaty
    & Agreement without the fear of recriminations, etc.,
    2) a predetermined list of circumstances whereby corporate Canada can
    terminate the Treaty & the Agreement without penalties, &/or,
    costs to the harmless non shareholding taxpayers
    3) et al,

    the ratification of the TPP, the C-CITreaty & the CETAgreement will eliminate
    for most Canadians the last remnants of "democratically"
    effecting the treaty/agreement by the non shareholding taxpayers
    thus, corporate Canada, et al, will finally be able to give these arrangements the
    luster of legitimacy that they need that is based upon the logic that
    "It can't be another gilded cage that will cause another
    economic melt down like the "derivative type conspiracy"**
    that is continuing to debilitate international finance, etc., because
    there are just too many vanguards of industry promoting the public
    financing of the TPP, the C-CITreaty & CETAgreement".

    The secrecy of the TPP, the C-CITreaty & CETAgreement arrangements are not
    dissimilar to insider trading, whereby the shareholders who are on
    "the inside" use secret, &/or, privileged information
    to make money for themselves at the expense of the group that is on
    the "outside", the non shareholding taxpayers, who are
    being deprived of the aforementioned information & thus, are
    being deprived of the opportunity to enjoy the direct benefits of the
    treaty/agreement. And, just as some of the means to counter these
    arrangements are also not dissimilar to those counter measures that
    can remedy insider trading & pay punitive damages, etc. to the
    harmless non shareholders. And, while it is likely that the "coveted"
    Chinese investor*** may have enough of the insider information
    regarding the more "unethical", &/or, "inhumane"
    arrangements in the C-CITreaty to navigate the mechanisms of the
    secret dispute resolution tribunal in his favor & at the peril of
    corporate Canada, it may be regrettable that it is highly unlikely
    that the European Union has been as fortunate regarding the CETA
    arrangements. This disparity between China's benefits from the
    C-CITreaty & the benefits that the EU may derive from their CETA
    will continue to be dangerously contentious.

    And, finally, it may also be regrettable that there is yet another
    vulnerability that corporate Canada, especially its Alberta chapter,
    is particularly desperate to be kept secret for as long as possible
    and it only remains to be seen when it will be most advantageous to
    "leak" the secret & by which party.

    * The W.A.D. Accord; Reference:

    For those who may not be familiar with The WAD Accord, &/or, its
    recent developments, The Accord can be accessed on line by way of the
    submission entitled:

    "Towards a More Informed Opinion regarding the Environmental Impact &
    Context of the NGP (Pipeline), et al", Researched &
    Submitted by D.E.H.S., July 24, 2012 to the Enbridge Co.'s NGP Joint
    Review Panel..

    Ms. Colette Spagnuolo,
    Process Advisor, Northern Gateway Project
    (22nd Floor, 160 Elgin St. Ottawa ON K1A 0H3)

    For the other information that may lead the non shareholders, corporate
    China and corporate European Union & their shareholders & the
    non shareholders, et al, to a greater certainty regarding what
    corporate Canada may be sharing with you regarding the accessing of
    the aforementioned, information & Canadian natural resources, et
    al, I can be contacted at:

    David E.H. Smith, 2173 Bradford Ave., Sidney, British Columbia, CANADA.
    V8L 2C8.,

    Non shareholders & the other potential participants in the TPP, the C-CITreaty
    CETAgreement can access more of the relevant articles that have been
    researched & posted on Facebook (& several online newspapers,
    et al) at:

    Facebook; "David Smith", Sidney, British Columbia.
    GOOGLE; "David E.H. Smith" to access RECENT ARTICLES, LETTERS &

    **"derivative type conspiracy"; "The $58 Trillion Elephant in the Room"
    by Jesse Eisinger. Upstart Business Journal, October 15, 2008, 8:00am EDT.
    Re; the "industrialized credit derivatives"

    ***the "coveted" Chinese investor; Who is the "coveted"
    Chinese investor who said:

    "It's not that we are racist when we are dealing with Canadians,
    it's just that we can't stand the way that you suck up to us."?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 2nd, 2014 @ 8:55pm

    Re: Re:

    how many of those countries are really a democracy anymore?

    and I mean true democracies, not oligopolies posing as democracies

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    anzablazer, Jul 3rd, 2014 @ 9:55am

    I’m sure not many people have heard of or know anything about the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) since Obama has tried to keep it from us. Although the TPP is being called a “free trade agreement”, it consists of 29 chapters, but only five chapters have anything to do with trade at all. The rest of it will destroy what is left of much of our freedoms.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. icon
    GEMont (profile), Jul 4th, 2014 @ 11:58am


    Dear David E.H. Smith,

    I think I love you.

    In a totally non-sexual manner of course.... :)

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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