WikiLeaks reveals CBC and Canada Post may be sold under TPP agreement

WikiLeaks reveals CBC and Canada Post may be sold under TPP agreement

by: Obert Madondo | Published July 30, 2015, by The Canadian Progressive

The CBC Ottawa Broadcast Centre and head office of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation on Sparks Street in Ottawa. Photo: OBERT MADONDO/The Canadian Progressive
The CBC Ottawa Broadcast Centre and head office of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation on Sparks Street in Ottawa. A confidential letter published by WikiLeaks on Wednesday reveal that the Crown Corporation could be sold under the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement. Photo: OBERT MADONDO/The Canadian Progressive

A secret letter leaked by WikiLeaks on Wednesday reveals that the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) and Canada Post could be sold under the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, being negotiated by Canada and 11 other countries this week in Maui, Hawaii.

The confidential letter, titled, “State-Owned Enterprises (SOE) Issues for Ministerial Guidance” (PDF), reveals the perils Canada’s key Crown Corporations now face under the Harper government’s burgeoning privatization and trade agenda.

The leaked document was prepared for a TPP Ministerial Meeting held in Singapore in December, 2013. According to the whistle-blowing website, the document “indicates a wide-ranging privatisation and globalisation strategy” whose main aim is to undermine state-owned enterprises (SOEs) – publicly owned corporations whose mandate is to deliver the public good with no or minimal commercial considerations. That will change under the TPP.

“Even an SOE that exists to fulfil a public function neglected by the market or which is a natural monopoly would nevertheless be forced to act ‘on the basis of commercial considerations’,” said WikiLeaks in a press release introducing the leak. “Foreign companies would be given standing to sue SOEs in domestic courts for perceived departures from the strictures of the TPP, and countries could even be sued by other TPP countries, or by private companies from those countries.”

Friends of Canadian Broadcasting says Harper’s “hidden agenda to damage public broadcasting” started in November, 2007, when he appointed Hubert Lacroix, a Montreal lawyer and Conservative Party supporter, as the President and CEO of the CBC. In 2014, Lacroix announced that the CBC would lay off between 1,000 and 1,500 employees by 2020. He also announced plans to shut down key in-house production of popular feature documentaries.

Meanwhile, since 2012, the Harper government has slashed the CBC’s budget by a quarter of a billion dollars. Garry Neil, the Council’s executive director, noted that, due to these cuts, the CBC is “already acting too commercially and straying from its essential public service mandate.”

Professor Jane Kelsey of the University of Auckland, who analyzed the leaked TPP document, found that the rules being pursued under the TPP “go beyond anything in the World Trade Organization (WTO) and Free Trade Agreements (FTAs).” She suggested that the document set out a number of obligations, including the requirement by state-owned enterprises to act on the basis of “commercial considerations”, while abandoning their role of providing the public good.

“It looks like SOEs are not allowed to get government support or noncommercial assistance,” said Kelsey. “That kind of support is often essential for SOEs that provide public functions that are not profitable or are even loss-making.”

Kelsey may as well have been referring to Canada in general and Canada Post in particular. The Crown Corporation is on the fast-track to privatization through its ongoing five-year “restructuring plan”, which has already resulted in job cuts, higher mail prices, and the phasing out of home delivery in numerous communities around the country. The draconian restructuring exercise will rob 1.17 million Canadian households of door-to-door delivery in 2015, according to the CBC News.

A memo obtained by Blackblock’s Reporter through an access to information request last year reveals that Harper commissioned a confidential study into the privatization of Canada Post.

“There have been other successful privatizations of national post services,” the memo said, according to Blackblock’s Reporter. “To privatize something, one has to show investors they will actually get a return.”

Then there is the Canadian Wheat Board, privatized by the government in 2012. The CWB is now owned by G3 Global Grain Group, a Winnipeg-based partnership between U.S. agribusiness giant Bunge Ltd and Saudi Arabia’s SALIC Canada Limited. According to the CBC News, SALIC Canada Limited is “a subsidiary of Riyadh-based Saudi Agricultural and Livestock Investment Company, Saudi Arabia’s main agriculture investment vehicle.”

“The TPP erects a ‘one size fits all’ economic system designed to advantage the largest transnational corporations. In this leak we see the radical effects the TPP will have, not only on developing countries, but on states very close to the centre of the Western system,” said WikiLeaks’ founder and editor, Julian Assange. “If we are to restructure our societies into an ultra-neoliberal legal and economic bloc that will last for the next 50 years then this should be said openly and debated.”

If it’s signed, the TPP will become the world’s largest economic trade agreement, encompassing more than 40 per cent of the world’s GDP. The 12 parties to the TPP are: United States, Canada, Chile, Australia, Peru, Mexico, Vietnam, Malaysia, New Zealand, Japan, and Singapore. The WikiLeaks document indicates that “developing countries such as Vietnam, which employs a large number of SOEs as part of its economic infrastructure, would be affected most.”

With the 2015 federal election around the corner, Canadians may as well consider voting to save the CBC and Canada Post.


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Obert Madondo is an Ottawa-based progressive blogger, and the founder and editor of The Canadian Progressive. Follow me on Twitter: @Obiemad


26 thoughts on “WikiLeaks reveals CBC and Canada Post may be sold under TPP agreement

  1. An enormous imposition of power through this deal. Some of the companies involved in the talks are big pharmas who will drive up drug costs, Monsanto the most despised company who will impose on our agricultural system, further poisoning our food, the excessive export of our natural resources and finally the abandonment of our own heritage and culture through the CBC. Wow, good deal eh? Oh and one more thing, worker wages in Canada have dropped 6% since Harper so dare I say we should continue to expect a downward trend. Act now, many sites like and are available outlets for you to protest via e-signature. Just type TPP in the search bar. It’s our job as Canadians to protest, after all, we are the most ethical and fantastic citizens in this world. Thanks for reading this post 🙂

    Oh, and by the way, our great Canadian dairy farmers do not supply us with milk full of puss and antibiotics like many of our foreign counterparts do. Think of our children, they deserve a long, healthy and happy life.

  2. First they came for the Canadian Wheat Board and I didn’t say anything because I wasn’t a farmer,Then they came for Canada Post and I didn’t say anything because I wasn’t a mailman. Then they came for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation but I didn’t say anything because I wasn’t a journalist. Now they’ve come for the Dairy Farmer and I didn’t say anything because I wasn’t a cow. Soon Then they will come for Canada’s Medicare system and I didn’t say anything because I wasn’t sick. You know how the rest of the story goes….

  3. Canada should be so fortunate to find anyone stupid enough to want to buy either.

    Also note that the dairy farmers are on the rampage today about TPP. Price of a gallon of milk in US is $3.65USD … in Canada, price of 3.78 litres (equivalent to one gallon) is $5.67CAD (about $7.00USD). Not a farmer myself, but as far as I know, cows are cows and give milk regardless of where they are milked (Canada or USA). Can’t think of any logical reason why cows in Canada would be significantly less productive than American cows … could it be that Canadians are paying too high a price for milk so our dairy farmers (not their cows) can be far less productive than their American competitors.

    On the whole, not sure if TPP positive or negative for Canadian economy (do recognize that the world is changing and has become a global economy), but absolutely certain that opposing TPP because somebody might be able to buy the CBC or Canada Post borders on the ludicrous.

    1. American farms are subsidised by their government, so can afford to charge less. Plus other costs may be different, fuel, feed, labour. Plus Americans use Bovine Growth Hormone which is not allowed in Canada.

  4. The federal government should have privatized CBC and Canada Post especially 40 years ago. They are both uncompetitive and economically unviable organizations save for massive government intervention to maintain the status quo. Canada Posts mail delivery has degenerated into glorified junk flyer delivery men (with great vacation, benefits and a defined benefits pension) all backstopped by Canadian taxpayers.

    1. Anthony,
      From its inception in 1867 Canada Post was never meant to be a money making proposition. It was set up as a public service to provide mail service for a growing country. When it was designated a Crown Corporation in 1981 this changed and the government expected to see a yearly profit. By and large Canada Post has delivered on that expectation, especially over the past 10 years when it has returned profits exceeding 100 million each year. (Save 2011 when they lost money from a dispute which saw them lock out all employees for two week, only to force them back to work via government legislation.)
      As for postal workers receiving vacations, benefits and pensions, what is your problem with that? You’d probably be happy to know that starting wages, all benefits and pensions were severely pared back in the contract enforced by the federal government in the Fall of 2011. No more defined pension plan…will that help you sleep at night? And best of all? None of the benefits past or present have been funded by the Canadian taxpayers. Canada Post might be controlled by the federal government, but it’s not funded by them. It pays its own way through the profit it brings in. This should have you jumping with joy.
      I don’t get people like you Anthony. Tossing generalizations around with no facts to back them up, and pointing the finger at working people who you figure might be getting more than what you consider to be their fair share. My view is that instead of trying to drag down those making a reasonable wage and benefits, we should be concentrating on getting the same for all working people. There’s something seriously wrong with a society where CEOs of major corporations are pulling in tens of millions (or more) in wages every year but whine like hell if the minimum wage goes up and they have to pay their employees a few cents more an hour.
      Just my opinion though. You have yours and I have mine. Although I happen to think mine is right and yours is wrong. : )

      1. The fact that Canada Post employees have adequate benefits and pension packages isn’t wrong. What is wrong is that those same benefits and pensions are not universally available for all Canadians.

  5. Where the CBC and Canada Post may end up? Remember the Canadian Wheat Board… It’s now owned by G3 Global Grain Group, a Winnipeg-based partnership between U.S. agribusiness giant Bunge Ltd and Saudi Arabia’s SALIC Canada Limited. SALIC Canada Limited is “a subsidiary of Riyadh-based Saudi Agricultural and Livestock Investment Company, Saudi Arabia’s main agriculture investment vehicle.”

    1. Absolutely, Kenneth Norsworthy. Harper and his government will be in charge until election day and so can sign the deal. In fact, Harper wants to sign the thing so that he can boast about signing another trade deal (the biggest) during the election. Trade deals are at the centre of the Conservatives’ propaganda. The problem is: the TPP is being discussed this week in Hawaii and there are disagreements. Which means it may not be signed immediately…

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