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TPP: Next up?

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The big win from the biggest trade deal yet, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, may be the end of thinking that more trade deals will save our economy (A Big Deal – Oct. 6). Even before the TPP, Canada had already concluded trade deals with more than three dozen countries. If all of those deals had delivered what was promised when they were signed, our economy should be soaring.

Without a bigger trade deal to chase, maybe the focus can shift to more realistic elements of building a sustainable economy for all Canadians.

Kathy Vandergrift, Ottawa

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Viewed from high above, the combination of the agreed (albeit not yet ratified) 12-nation TPP, and the ongoing negotiations for another huge deal, the TTIP (EU-U.S. transatlantic trade and investment), raises hope for the revival of a true multilateral trade deal replacing both.

The World Trade Organization was created in 1994 for just that. It faltered in negotiations for further trade liberalization – its Doha Round. That forced nations into bilateral treaties, later broader regional deals, the TPP currently the largest. The TTIP will also be a very big deal, perhaps modelled on Canada's trade deal with the EU and/or the TPP.

All informed trade experts agree that inclusive, multilateral deals through the WTO are superior to differing, inconsistent, often conflicting bilateral and regional ones. We may now hope that the WTO can be revived to create an efficient, harmonized, global trade regime.

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We can also take pride that Canada led the drive for the creation of the WTO in the first place.

Michael Robinson, Toronto

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Now that we will have even "freer" trade between nations, why are there provincial trade barriers within Canada? Why is it easier for the government to talk to others, than it is to bring our own provincial leaders together?

Carol Town, Hamilton

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TPP: Fans, foes

Predictably, The Globe and Mail has endorsed the TPP, a deal that is part of a rapidly accelerating "race to the bottom" for wages and environmental protections (Not a Perfect Deal. But on Balance, Good – Oct. 6).

Stephen Harper and The Globe are turning a blind eye to the skyrocketing rates of precarious employment and food-bank use that follow in the wake of globalization. As Noam Chomsky has observed, these deals aren't about trade. They are about investors' rights.

Rosemary Frei, Toronto

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Generations of Canadian retail food shoppers have been paying artificially inflated prices for a wide variety of dairy products due to protective tariffs and industry marketing boards.

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With the advent of the newly agreed Trans-Pacific Partnership, our benevolent government, financed by the same hapless taxpayers who have been paying inflated retail prices at the grocery store, will be compensating (bribing?) dairy farmers with $4.3-billion to "keep farmers 'whole' for losses from both the TPP and the earlier Canada European Union trade agreement."

Seems to me, it should be the average taxpayer who should be kept whole for our past and future "losses."

Ted Chivers, Victoria Harbour, Ont.

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The pharmaceutical industry in Canada has proven its skill in lobbying the Canadian government to enter into trade deals to slow the introduction of generic drugs to market.

The recent Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) with the EU prolonged patent protection for a few more years, preventing our ability to lower costs for drugs fighting the real killers on the planet: HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis.

While longer patents might help Canadian brand name drug manufacturers, the new TPP deal is CETA on steroids, further demonstrating how far the Harper government puts the concerns of Big Pharma over the concerns of the world's poor.

Anyone who has a clue about the reality of extended patent protection, as well as a conscience, is opposed to TPP's promises.

Those costs in Canada will be measured in the hundreds of millions of dollars. In poorer countries, they'll be measured in lives.

Alan Cassels, drug policy researcher, University of Victoria

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Physicians' battles

The Ontario Medical Association campaign via social media may reach more of the public than previous attempts to sway support for physicians in their battles with the Ontario government over compensation (Ontario Fee Fight Reveals Doctors' Sense Of Entitlement – Oct. 6).

But since long wait lists, a lack of family physicians, and mediocre, non-competitive service has been the norm in Ontario health care for years, at what point is there a "wave" that makes a dent on the government and convinces it to change its policy?

It's as if one Leafs fan left the Air Canada Centre at a time during a game. At what point would the game stop or the building crumble? Now that the line has been crossed and fees can be cut at the discretion of the single payer (government) without a contract with physicians, how much can it cut? There is no recognized floor. There is no reason for government to negotiate.

With doctors caught between a single payer, the College of Physicians and Surgeons – which has deemed withdrawal of service a dereliction of duty with potential loss of licence – and a global fee cap, the public is protected by the fact that as long as a cardiac surgeon makes more per hour than he could at Starbucks, a "patient" patient will get his surgery … if he survives long enough.

If he doesn't, well, that no longer makes headlines. With baby boomers now into their senior years, the future looks bleak.

Harry Birman, MD, Toronto

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A rocker's roll

Re Neil Young Says Political Leadership 'Trashed' Canada (Oct. 6): I just can't get past the overwhelming hypocrisy of Neil Young and his anti-oil sands, pro-environment campaigns.

Gwyn Morgan got it right: If you want to reduce consumption of fossil fuels, start with those who consume them, including globe-trotting activists like Messrs. Young and David Suzuki (Blame Fossil Fuel Users – Not Producers; Report on Business, Sept. 7).

Nick Pranger, Guelph, Ont.

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I share Neil Young's criticism of a political leadership that has been directly and indirectly responsible for diminishing our environment and neglecting good governance.

I also agree with David Suzuki's comments about how absurd it is that the environment was not an integral part of the economic debate in the campaign.

The economy and ecology are intimately related, but it is the economy that is a subset of ecology – not the other way around.

Mark Bessoudo, Toronto

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In some old spaghetti western, an overly chatty "working girl" asks a trail-weary cowboy how he likes it done.

He replies: "Without talking."

While I share Neil Young's concerns, that's generally the way I like my rock stars.

Farley Helfant, Toronto

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