OTTAWA—The federal government has confirmed that it intends to sign the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal at a meeting next week in New Zealand.
But that doesn’t mean the Liberal government will ultimately ratify the 12-country treaty, International Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland said Monday.
“Just as it is too soon to endorse the TPP, it is also too soon to close the door,” Freeland wrote in an open letter posted on her department’s website.
“Signing does not equal ratifying…. Signing is simply a technical step in the process, allowing the TPP text to be tabled in Parliament for consideration and debate before any final decision is made.”
Only a majority vote in the House of Commons would ensure Canada’s ratification of the deal, she added. She has also requested a thorough, transparent study of the agreement by parliamentary committee.
In recent weeks, Freeland has conducted public consultations on the wide-ranging accord.
She said she’s heard both opposition and support for the deal.
“It is clear that many feel the TPP presents significant opportunities, while others have concerns,” Freeland wrote.
“Many Canadians still have not made up their minds and many more still have questions.”
The minister has already indicated the massive accord, which includes major economies such as the United States and Japan, cannot be renegotiated.
Freeland said each country has up to two years to consider ratification before making a final decision. She pointed out that by signing the deal Canada will keep its status as a potential full partner in the agreement.
Trade ministers from the TPP’s partner countries have been invited to sign the deal on Feb. 4 in Auckland.
The former Conservative government announced an
agreement-in-principle on the pact in October during the federal
In a recent interview with The Canadian Press, Freeland said Canada must remain deeply connected to the global economy, particularly since the country boasts just the 11th-biggest economy in the world.
“We are strongly in favour of free trade,” she said. “Having said that, we’re not the government that negotiated the TPP.”