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

Just Posted

Proposed new neighbourhood clears first municipal hurdle in Tofino

“We have a very urgent need for housing in this community.”

Tofino approves two pot shop permits

West Coast Cannabis Store at 1182 Pacific Rim Highway and Daylight Cannabis at 1-671 Industrial Way.

Ucluelet approves RVs as temporary housing solution for fish plant workers

“We are hoping for the best. Everybody has to support each other here.”

Ucluelet Chamber of Commerce champions unique staff housing solution

“It was a win-win situation for all of us.”

Tofino mayor cheers provincial government’s plastics survey

Mayors of Tofino, Victoria, Squamish and Rossland collaborate on letter.

VIDEO: B.C. woman meets biological mother, 38 years later

Mother never gave up hope of finding daughter, despite all the obstacles

B.C. VIEWS: Pipelines set to roll as federal politicians posture

Projects to drive B.C., Canadian economy in years ahead

Racist confrontation in Richmond parking lot caught on camera

Woman can be heard yelling racial slurs, swear words at woman in apparent parking dispute

Vancouver Island man dead after reported hit-and-run incident

Oceanside RCMP seek public’s help gathering information

B.C. Lions fall to 1-9 after 13-10 loss to Ticats

Lowly Leos have dropped six straight CFL contests

VIDEO: B.C. woman meets biological mother, 38 years later

Mother never gave up hope of finding daughter, despite all the obstacles

B.C. man who died after rescuing swimmer was known for helping others

Shaun Nugent described as a dad, a coach, a hero and ‘stand-up guy’ at celebration of life

B.C. RCMP plane chases fleeing helicopter as part of major cross-border drug bust

The helicopter eventually landed at a rural property near Chilliwack

Thousands cycle to conquer cancer

The 11th annual Ride to Conquer Cancer took place Saturday morning, Aug. 24 in Surrey, B.C.

Most Read