OTTAWA — It’s the biggest free trade deal Canadians never heard of.
A new poll suggests three in four Canadians have no idea that Canada is one of 12 countries immersed in negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
The poll was conducted by Environics Research Group for Trade Justice Network, an umbrella group dedicated to challenging the secretive process by which international trade deals are generally negotiated.
Fully 75 per cent of respondents said they had never heard of the TPP before being asked about it by the pollster.
The telephone poll of 1,002 Canadians was conducted June 3-12 and is considered accurate within plus or minus 3.2 percentage points, 19 times in 20.
The 12 countries involved in negotiations include the United States, Mexico, Australia, Japan, Chile, Vietnam and Singapore; they represent a market of almost 800 million people and a combined gross domestic product of more than $25 trillion.
The federal government maintains the TPP would enhance trade in the Asia-Pacific region, providing greater economic opportunity for Canadians.
In a statement, Trade Justice Network spokesman Martin O’Hanlon called it “deeply disturbing” that so few Canadians are aware of the partnership talks.
The network maintains the secret negotiations are being conducted with the guidance of multinational corporations and with no input from labour leaders, environmentalists or even MPs.
“It’s frightening that this can happen in a democracy,” O’Hanlon said.