Citizen Action Monitor

My letter to 4 MPs requesting help in having Canada’s trade minister explain how citizens’ TPP input will be used

Trade Minister Freeland says she has received “feedback from thousands of Canadians” about the TPP.

No 1584 Posted by fw, February 1, 2016

Today I sent an email, copied below, to four members of parliament, including Elizabeth May and Thomas Mulcair, asking for their help “in having trade minister Freeland explain how the voluminous citizen comments and questions received to date on the TPP will be used in helping Parliament to fully evaluate the merits of the TPP.”

My request was sent in response to an Open Letter to Canadians on the Trans-Pacific Partnership from the Honourable Chrystia Freeland, Minister of International Trade. I was particularly intrigued by the minister’s phrasing in this sentence:

“After attending public town halls, participating in over 70 meetings and round tables, and receiving feedback from thousands of Canadians who have written to me, it is clear that many feel the TPP presents significant opportunities, while others have concerns.”

Perhaps I am reading too much into four words in the above passage and highlighted here – “many feel the TPP presents significant opportunities, while others have concerns”. To me, this phrasing indicates a pro-TPP bias. On the one hand, the noun ‘many’ implies a large number, and the adjective ‘significant’ attaches a high level of importance to TPP ‘opportunities’. In contrast, the word ‘others’, implies an indeterminate but smaller number than ‘many’, and notice the absence of an adjective to indicate the level of citizens’ ‘concerns.’

Is the minister actually telling us that many more Canadians support TPP than oppose it?

In the next paragraph, Minister Freeland writes:

“…our consultations with the provinces, municipal officials, students, labour leaders and members, business representatives, academic experts, and others are just the beginning of the examination needed to fully understand the TPP’s impact.”

The word ‘citizens’ is noticeably absent from this passage.

Here’s my letter sent today to four MPs

Dear Sir/Madam,

I would appreciate your help in having trade minister Freeland explain how the voluminous citizen comments and questions received to date on the TPP will be used in helping Parliament to fully evaluate the merits of the TPP.

You may know that, as part of the consultation process on the TPP, trade minister Freeland issued an open invitation to citizens to send their input, using the link TPP-PTP.consultations@international.gc.ca on the Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada web page.

In her January 25 Open Letter to Canadians on the Trans-Pacific Partnership , Minister Freeland wrote:

“After attending public town halls, participating in over 70 meetings and round tables, and receiving feedback from thousands of Canadians who have written to me, it is clear that many feel the TPP presents significant opportunities, while others have concerns.”

I am one of the thousands of Canadians who have responded to the challenge. To date, I have submitted 11 comments and questions regarding my TPP concerns and constructive suggestions on how to improve the public feedback process. The only response I get is an automatically generated notification:

“All emails received are read and classified according to their subject matter. Please note a response will be provided when necessary…”

While I appreciate that it is unrealistic to expect a personal response to each question or concern raised, I will be disappointed if nothing is done with the thousands of letters and emails from citizens who felt that the issue was important enough to write.  As part of an open and transparent process, it would be enlightening to know how many citizens were generally in favour of the TPP and how many were opposed; what were the general categories of concerns raised, and how did they rank, in terms of numbers who raised them.

Surely the volume of correspondence received deserves to be analyzed and included as part of the consultation process? After all, it is ordinary Canadians who will be most affected by the consequences of the TPP, while others may or may not profit.

If you agree, I would ask you to raise this question in whatever way you deem appropriate.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Respectfully, etc.

 

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This entry was posted on February 1, 2016 by in information counterpower, political action and tagged , .
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