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What is the Canadian Trans-Pacific Partnership?

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The Trans-Pacific Partnership is a proposal that aims to create a free trade zone between 12 nations, including Canada, that all border the Pacific Ocean. The Canadian government, under the leadership of the Conservative Party and Prime Minister Stephen Harper, negotiated Canadian entry into the partnership, although several groups in Canada strongly oppose the agreement. As of November 2015, the proposal has not been voted on or ratified by the Canadian parliament.

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The investor-state dispute settlement provision is another extremely controversial part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership amongst Canadians. This provision allows multinational corporations to sue national governments if they believe that national policies or legislation unfairly targets or discriminates against them. Trade unions in several sectors of the economy are concerned that the inclusion of low-income countries such as Vietnam and Malaysia in the partnership may undercut the Canadian labor market and lead to higher levels of job outsourcing.

Other segments of the Canadian population criticize the partnership negotiations for being too secretive and the government for refusing to take the will of the Canadian populace into account. The Canadian national legislature is studying the trade agreement and is expected to vote on the Trans-Pacific Partnership during the 2016 legislative session.

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