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Canada’s new trade minister says it’s 'not my job' to sell Canadians on TPP

Canada’s new trade minister is not looking to sell Canadians on the benefits of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade alliance.

Speaking to BNN’s Kristina Partsinevelos on Wednesday evening in Ottawa, Chrystia Freeland said it is “not my job to persuade anybody that TPP is good… that’s not my job right now.”

“We’re not the government that negotiated this deal,” Freeland continued, “It is an incredibly difficult deal. It’s 6,000 pages and as far as we are concerned, this deal really became available for Canadians to review – Canadian stakeholders – yesterday [Tuesday Dec 1]. That’s when the text became available on our website, because that’s when the French language translation became available.”

In one of his final acts as Prime Minister in early October, Stephen Harper made Canada a founding member of the 12-country trading block designed to reduce tariffs between members. The agreement between countries in the Asia-Pacific region has significant implications for the North American auto industry and trade of agricultural products such as meat, milk and grains.

Nearly 18,000 categories of goods were included in the complex plan to reduce trade barriers across a region that represents about 40 percent of the global economy.

At the time, Harper said it would be a “terrible error” if Canada failed to ratify the agreement and Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government has been facing mounting pressure to get on board with TPP since taking office in early November. Following his first meeting with Canada’s new Prime Minister in mid-November, U.S. President Barack Obama made it clear he still expects Ottawa’s approval.

“We are both soon to be signatories to the TPP agreement,” Obama said on Nov. 19 while seated directly next to Trudeau. “I know Justin has to agree with what’s happened, but we think that after that process has taken place, Canada, the United States and other countries that are here can establish the high-standards agreement that protects labour, protects the environment, protects the high value-added goods and services that we both excel in.”

Trudeau has previous pledged to “evaluate” the agreement signed by the previous Conservative government in the days following his Oct 19th electoral victory. In late October, he reportedly agreed to “promote” TPP with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe following a 15-minute telephone call between the two leaders, though he has said little about his government’s deliberations since.

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