Abbotsford MP Ed Fast believes the trade deal he spent years helping negotiate may still become a reality, despite the bluster from both American presidential candidates.
As Canada’s trade minister between 2011 and the Conservatives’ defeat last November, Fast was a key player in talks over the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which aims to set trade rules among a dozen Pacific Rim countries.
The deal was finally signed this February by Fast’s Liberal successor and 11 other trade ministers. But it must still be ratified by the various countries and both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have come out against the deal. If the U.S. fails to sign the agreement, it wouldn’t come into effect.
Canada’s government also has yet to ratify the agreement, and the Liberal government has embarked on a “consultative process.”
Despite the words from Clinton and Trump, Fast said he’s confident the years of negotiations won’t be wasted.
Fast, who said the deal “sets the rules for trade in the Asian Pacific Region for the 21st Century,” predicted that the next American president will look more favourably upon the deal once he or she doesn’t have to worry about winning votes for four more years.
Fast noted that both Bill Clinton and Barack Obama had called for the rewriting of the North American Free Trade Agreement, but that both later became boosters of trade deals. Obama, he noted, was one of the TPP’s biggest proponents.
“Political realities hit the real world of promoting one’s national interest,” Fast said. “Once the smoke clears, saner heads will prevail.” But Fast was also sharply critical of the current government for not ratifying the deal yet. He said Justin Trudeau seems to be watching for what happens south of the border, rather than leading on the issue.
“Justin Trudeau is allowing Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton to establish Canadian trade policy.”
He said the deal had already been “consulted to death.”