Ottawa might not ratify the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal which is due to be signed at a meeting in New Zealand next week, Canada's International Trade Minister said in an open letter to Canadians on Monday, according to dpa.
While Canada intends to sign the treaty alongside the other 11 Pacific Rim countries, including the United States and Japan, this does not mean it will ultimately be adopted, Chrystia Freeland wrote in the letter published on the government website.
"Signing does not equal ratifying," Freeland wrote. "Only a majority vote in our Parliament can allow the Agreement to take force.
Signing is simply a technical step in the process, allowing the TPP text to be tabled in Parliament for consideration and debate before any final decision is made."
Freeland and her parliamentary secretary David Lametti have criss-crossed the country conducting public consultations on the free trade agreement.
The deal was announced by the previous Conservative government of Stephen Harper on October 5, in the middle of the election campaign.
Since then it has come under criticism not only from a coalition of trade unions, farmers' groups, and the Council of Canadians, a prominent social justice NGO, but also from the likes of former BlackBerry mogul Jim Balsillie.
Trade ministers from the TPP's partner countries have been invited to formally sign the deal in Auckland on February 4.
Freeland said each country has up to two years to consider ratification before making a final decision, but the deal cannot be renegotiated. It will come into effect if at least six countries, including the United States and Japan, ratify it.