No 1588 Posted by fw, February 6, 2016
Imagine my surprise when, on February 2, 2016, I received an email letter from the government’s TPP Division in response to my feedback of January 15, 2016. In my feedback, titled, So far not so good, I shared my disappointment as a user of the TPP Division’s email input process. Among other negatives, I raised this concern:
“…email-only input from ordinary Canadians appears to be given scant attention — it is unlikely, therefore, to have much if any influence on decision making.”
My letter to the government was based on a January 14 post: Is Minister Freeland undervaluing TPP input from “ordinary citizens”?
Before sharing the government’s reply, let me clarify what I think would be a reasonable government response to citizen input on the TPP. In a February 1, 2016 post, I wrote:
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.
In re-reading this passage, I would also welcome the intermittent publication of selected samples of citizen feedback, both for and against the TPP.
Turning to the government’s February 2, 2016 letter to me —
February 2, 2016
Dear Mr. White,
Thank you for taking the time to write and sharing your views. Since November 4, 2015, we have received a large amount of correspondence regarding the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement. We are doing our best to answer all correspondence promptly.
The Government has undertaken a broad process of consultations on the outcomes of the TPP, and all contributions are welcomed for a constructive dialogue.
Since coming into office, the Minister for International Trade together with Cabinet colleagues, including the Minister of Agriculture, Minister of Innovation, Minister of Health, and the Minister of Employment are actively consulting with a broad range of Canadians, including businesses, farmers, unions, civil society, provinces and territories representatives, academics, offering an opportunity to provide their views on the TPP and Canada’s participation in it.
We encourage you to visit the TPP webpage on the Global Affairs Canada website for additional information and the latest updates as the consultations progress.
Thank you, again, for taking the time to write and share your views.
Trans-Pacific Partnership Division // Direction du Partenariat transpacifique
Global Affairs Canada // Affaires mondiales Canada
As I said in my subtitle to this post, elation quickly collapsed to disappointment when I read this perfunctory letter. Ironically, it reinforces the concerns I raised in my January 14 piece — that Minister Freeland was undervaluing TPP input from “ordinary citizens”?
Note the conspicuous absence of reference to citizens’ email input from the list of those with whom government officials are “actively consulting” – “a broad range of Canadians, including businesses, farmers, unions, civil society, provinces and territories representatives, academics, offering an opportunity to provide their views on the TPP and Canada’s participation in it.”
To conclude, as Scott Vrooman so aptly put it in yesterday’s post:
It remains to be seen if the Liberals pro-trade stance means pro-TPP, but for now they’ll listen to Canadians, so that Canadians feel listened to. Because when we believe that our feelings have been felt, we’ll think our thoughts have been thought and believed, even if listening isn’t hearing and seeing isn’t believing and the Liberals are going to do whatever they can get away with.
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