The massive Trans-Pacific Partnership puts corporations, not Canadians, first and the federal Liberal government should not sign it.

Representatives of the 12 countries involved in the TPP are gathering in New Zealand Feb. 4 to sign the far-reaching treaty.

The deal was reached in the dying days of the Harper Conservative government and during a federal election. The full text was only made public in November. The new government is still analyzing the 6,000-page text and has yet to carry out an economic impact assessment. So why the rush to sign?

“You or I would never sign a contract without reading the fine print,” said CUPE National President Mark Hancock. “But that’s exactly what the Liberals are about to do. It’s a serious mistake that will have consequences for decades to come.”

What we already know about the TPP is bad news.

The TPP gives new rights to the world’s richest corporations, while workers and the environment lose ground. The deal supports privatization, will drive down wages, and increases the cost of health care and education. A recent study shows Canada will lose at least 58,000 jobs in the first decade under the TPP.

Independent analysis confirms the TPP is not about helping Canadian exports – 97 per cent of our exports to TPP countries are already duty-free.

The TPP extends the length of patents on prescription drugs – a move that could cost our health care system up to $630 million a year, and is a major roadblock to a universal national prescription drug program. The TPP’s longer and stricter copyright protections could mean higher costs for schools, universities and libraries.

The TPP’s investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) system will let foreign corporations sue governments if a law or regulation interferes with their investments – and profits. Under these NAFTA-style rules, Canada is already the most-sued developed country.

“Governments, not corporations, should set our country’s laws and policies. The TPP stands in the way of immediate and bold action on climate change,” said CUPE National Secretary-Treasurer Charles Fleury.

The Harper government tried to buy its way around some of the deal’s consequences, promising billions in compensation for auto parts makers, as well as dairy, egg and chicken farmers. And the full social and economic costs of the TPP are only now being tallied.

“The TPP is a corporate rights deal. It rewrites laws and regulations in the interests of big business, at the expense of citizens and the environment,” said Hancock. “Canada should not sign this dangerous deal.”