The Harper government hopes that concluding the TPP deal will be its October Surprise. Constitutional convention dictates that, in an election campaign, the sitting government becomes a caretaker government. But this government is contemptuous of all constitutional conventions. Scott Sinclair writes:
This would not be the first time this government has run roughshod over constitutional convention. Prorogation of Parliament, contempt of Parliament, misleading Parliament, omnibus budget bills … the list of abuses is long.
But, more importantly, an election campaign is no place to consider the trade deal. Even if Barack Obama gets the version of the trade deal he wants, Congress will have to put it under the microscope:
Even if an agreement is hammered out in Atlanta, the president must give Congress 90 days’ notice before signing anything, and that only starts the legislative clock ticking. Congressional consideration would extend well into 2016, making the TPP a political football during the U.S. elections.
Which means that nothing is going to happen until well after the election is over. And there are a lot of things we should be concerned about in the proposed treaty:
At the last meeting, the U.S. secretly cut a side deal with Japan to allow Japanese and other automakers to sell cars and parts with high levels of Chinese content duty free in North America, undercutting the Canadian and Mexican industries. Economist Jim Stanford estimates this could cost the Canadian auto sector 24,600 jobs.
With energy and commodity prices in the gutter, many Canadians understand it is not a good time to be sacrificing well-paying jobs or weakening struggling manufacturers that are the main hope for reviving our stagnant economy.
These high-profile issues are just the tip of the iceberg. The TPP could mean major changes in matters ranging from access to medicines to the weakening of privacy protections. Unfortunately, there is no way these and other potential surprises buried in the massive text would be properly aired in the closing days of the campaign.
The Harperites, however, will not take any of these concerns into consideration. Another reason they must be tossed from office on October 19th.