Harper’s Sellout Canada-China FIPA Deal Dismays Canadians
On Friday, Prime minister Stephen Harper announced that his government had ratified the sellout Canada-China FIPA trade deal. FIPA or Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement, effectively locks Canada for 31 years into a trade agreement that allows state-controlled Chinese corporations to sue the Canadian government for millions of dollars if they feel that our public and environmental protections interfere with their pursuit of Canadian resources and wealth.
The FIPA deal was signed in September, 2012, in Vladivostok, Russia. Harper and Chinese Premier Hu Jintao witnessed the signing. According to the Council of Canadians, FIPA’s ratification in Canada was delayed by “widespread public outcry” and legal action by the Hupacasath First Nation of British Columbia, who challenged the deal’s constitutionality in the courts.
As you would expect, progressive Canadian civil society organizations, activists, political parties and First Nations are dismayed by the ratification.
Green Party Leader Elizabeth May explains the quagmire Harper has plunged Canada into by ratifying FIPA: “The only way to exit the treaty would be through negotiations with China in which the government in Beijing agrees. Unilateral withdrawal would trigger a multi-billion dollar claim by the Peoples Republic of China against Canada, with damages open to collection in one hundred countries around the world.”
Here are a few initial reactions to the ratification by some of the most vocal opponents of FIPA:
Maude Barlow, national chairperson of the Council of Canadians:
This is a terrible development. Once again, the Harper government is flagrantly ignoring the court system, and giving Chinese corporations and state-owned enterprises the right to sue us over our public and environmental protections. Canadians should be deeply angry that the Harper government has not listened to them, and has gone ahead with this corporate gift.
Via press release issued by Council of Canadians, Brenda Sayers, a representative of Hupacasath First Nation, said:
This is a truly sad day for Canada. Hupacasath First Nation is deeply disappointed that the Federal Government would ratify the Canada-China FIPA while the case is still before the Federal Court of Appeal and the decision is under reserve. This decision is an injustice and an affront to our time honored judicial heritage and shows no respect for the judicial process. The people of Canada should be alarmed that our constitutional rights have been stolen from our hands.
Hupacasath First Nation Hupacasath Chief Steven Tatoosh added:
A decision from the Court of Appeal was expected any day. Now, that democratic right has been squashed. By not allowing due process to take place the federal government has breached it duty to consult First Nations under Section 35 of the Constitution of Canada.
LeadNow.ca has characterized the FIPA deal as a “move that threatens to lock our democracy into a binding investors’ deal for at least 31 years.” The organization, which has an ongoing “Stop FIPA” petition, is also concerned about Harper penchant for making crucial announcements during moments when Canadians aren’t paying attention:
By dumping the news on a Friday afternoon, he showed us that he knows this decision is politically toxic – FIPA is deeply unpopular with people across the country, including his own MPs, Conservative donors, and the swing voters he needs in the 2015 election.
While we work with partners to review the legal options, we want to make sure key voters know the Harper Conservatives ratified FIPA behind our backs, and set the stage to make them pay at the ballot box in the next election. Canadians deserve to know, and if Harper won’t tell them, we will…
By ratifying FIPA today, the Harper Conservatives have shown extraordinary disrespect for the rights of First Nations in Canada, and for the judicial branch of our government.
Ever since the signing of FIPA Elizabeth May “has been raising the alarm about the threat to our sovereignty, implicit in any such agreement.” In the House of Commons in April, 2013, May sided with the New Democrats and voted against FIPA.
In a statement issued by the Greens, May said of the ratification:
My fear is that the events of this summer, specifically the Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC) charging that China had hacked into the National Research Council database, created new pressures to repair the damaged relationship with Beijing in advance of Prime Minister Harper’s visit to China. Rewarding the Peoples’ Republic of China for hacking into our national research database is a double betrayal of our national interests.
Green Party Deputy Leader, Bruce Hyer, added:
Cabinet’s signing of this deal behind closed doors, instead of giving Parliament a say, is not just undemocratic in itself. It is also a profound attack of Canada’s sovereignty as a nation, and an erosion of the rights of all Canadians to make democratic decisions about our economy, environment, and energy. The Conservatives have now allowed for secret tribunals that will work to re-write our laws in order to protect Chinese interests.
The official opposition NDP voted against FIPA in the House of Commons in April, 2013. The party has had a “Stop FIPA Now” online petition for quite some time now. Reacting to the ratification, the New Democrats said the Conservatives had given China “control over investments in Canada” without the same advantage for Canadian companies operating in China.
NDP International Trade critic Don Davies said:
Instead of admitting their mistake and getting a deal that actually benefits Canadian companies, the Conservatives have locked Canada into a badly one-sided agreement for the next three decades. In effect, it will give China access to, and control over, some of Canada’s natural resources for the next 31 years, and subject Canadian taxpayers to enormous liabilities through investor lawsuits.
It’s important to point out that Justin Trudeau and the Liberals do support FIPA.
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