TPP meeting postponed after Canada fails to agree

International media blames Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for the meeting’s sudden cancellation

Efforts to reach an agreement this weekend on a Pacific Rim trade pact appeared to collapse Friday when persistent concerns over the deal, including Canada’s, forced the abrupt cancellation of a scheduled leaders’ meeting.

Some international media quickly blamed Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for the meeting’s sudden cancellation.

The heads of the 11 countries that have been negotiating a revised Trans-Pacific Partnership had planned to meet on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation leaders’ summit in Danang, Vietnam.

Trudeau did not go to the conference room at the scheduled time to meet the other TPP leaders.

However, the Prime Minister’s Office insisted that Canada was not the only country to raise concerns. A spokeswoman said Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the meeting’s chair, cancelled the event after a 50-minute face-to-face discussion with Trudeau.

A report in Australia’s Sydney Morning Herald said Trudeau “sabotaged” the talks at the last minute by failing to show up for the meeting. The New Zealand Herald reported that Trudeau’s ”no-show” had delayed TPP talks indefinitely. Canada’s foreign affairs minister said Ottawa is still at the TPP negotiating table and it doesn’t want to rush on such a complex deal.

“I’m not going to speculate on what other countries might say,” Chrystia Freeland said when asked about the allegations that Canada is holding up the TPP.

She also suggested Canada wasn’t the only one to blame for Friday’s cancellation.

“There are a few countries who continue to have some important issues that they would like to be addressed,” Freeland said.

RELATED: Pro-Western think tank urges support for Trans Pacific Partnership

Freeland refused to share details on Canada’s concerns over the TPP, saying it was International Trade Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne’s file. She added that he wasn’t available to speak to reporters Friday because he was back at the TPP bargaining table with other trade ministers.

Canada’s resistance to the new TPP does not come out entirely of the blue.

Over the past week as talk of some kind of deal grew louder, senior officials and Trudeau alike have talked about wanting to roll back concessions made during the broader TPP talks when the United States was still involved. In particular, they point to a need for stronger protections for Canadian culture, supply management and intellectual property.

At the same time, Canada has been pushing to add new elements to the revised TPP, including provisions for gender, environment and labour.

Heading into the APEC summit, some countries had expected an agreement.

The 11 remaining TPP countries have been working to revive the deal, which was abandoned earlier this year by U.S. President Donald Trump.

Earlier this week, Trudeau said wasn’t going to be pressured into committing to an agreement “at all costs” and that it would have to address the best interests of Canadians.

A senior government official says Japan has been one of the countries applying pressure on Canada to come to an agreement on an updated TPP.

Trudeau’s lengthy bilateral discussion with Abe started before the meeting’s cancellation.

It appeared to get off to a chilly start.

After they greeted each other inside their meeting room, Trudeau and Abe stood side by side and smiled for the news cameras. But they only clasped hands after someone in the room said: “Shake hands please.”

Canada and Japan, the two largest economies at the TPP talks, appeared to have different expectations ahead of Friday’s scheduled negotiations.

Late Thursday, Trudeau’s Liberal government flatly denied media reports quoting Japan’s economy minister saying that a “deal in principle” had been reached on the TPP.

International Trade Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne quickly disputed it.

“Despite reports, there is no agreement in principle on TPP,” Champagne tweeted late Thursday.

Champagne and Freeland were in the room for Friday’s Trudeau-Abe meeting.

“We are still negotiating — this is a very, very complex negotiation,” Freeland said.

“This is already a very, very fast process considering how complicated the agreement is and the fundamental change with the U.S. withdrawing makes to the geometry of that agreement.”

Follow @AndyBlatchford on Twitter

Andy Blatchford, The Canadian Press

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

‘Each step is a prayer’: Ojibwe man will walk from Hope to Vancouver Island for Indigenous healing, reconciliation

James Taylor departs Sept. 20, returns to Saanich in five days for sacred fire

COLUMN: We don’t need an election. But it’s 2020, so we’ll probably get one anyways.

There are only selfish reasons for the NDP to trigger an election this fall

Say ‘Hi’ to the mountains (and rain): The smoke is gone from the Fraser Valley, for now

Saturday’s Fraser Valley air quality forecast at ‘moderate risk,’ but morning showers leave skies clear

Machine pistol among 14 firearms seized from Alaska man at Abbotsford border crossing

Corey Scott Kettering faces charges of smuggling and prohibited firearm possession

CHARTS: Beyond Metro Vancouver, COVID-19 cases in B.C. haven’t increased much recently

COVID-19 case counts outside of Metro Vancouver have been level since July

3 new deaths due to COVID-19 in B.C., 139 new cases

B.C. confirms 40 ‘historic cases,’ as well

Ferry riders say lower fares are what’s most needed to improve service

Provincial government announces findings of public engagement process

Air quality advisory ends for the Lower Mainland

It had been in effect since Sept. 8

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dies at 87

The court’s second female justice, died Friday at her home in Washington

Emaciated grizzly found dead on central B.C. coast as low salmon count sparks concern

Grizzly was found on Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw territory in Smith Inlet, 60K north of Port Hardy

VIDEO: B.C. to launch mouth-rinse COVID-19 test for kids

Test involves swishing and gargling saline in mouth and no deep-nasal swab

Young Canadians have curtailed vaping during pandemic, survey finds

The survey funded by Heart & Stroke also found the decrease in vaping frequency is most notable in British Columbia and Ontario

B.C. teachers file Labour Relations Board application over COVID-19 classroom concerns

The application comes as B.C.’s second week of the new school year comes to a close

70-year-old punched in the head in dispute over disability parking space in Nanaimo

Senior’s turban knocked off in incident at mall parking lot

Most Read