Canada is about to move one step closer to being a resource colony for China. While Canada has sought a trade agreement with China for several years, Prime Minister Stephen Harper has finally discarded many critical Canadian voices and agreed to a wonderful deal for the world’s most populated nation1.
Ever since the incredible debates and controversies in this country around NAFTA, I’ve admittedly not played particularly close attention when I hear news blips about a new Canada-Chile, Canada-Jordan, or Canada-“we won’t ban your asbestos” country free-trade agreements. But here’s why the Canada-China Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Act, or FIPA, is worth learning and doing something about2:
- Chinese companies can sue Canada outside of Canadian courts and behind closed doors (this secrecy is unprecedented by our government)3.
- These secret tribunals run by three arbitrators, could award billions in damages to these foreign corporations for enacting laws that protect our energy security, environment, jobs or public health. Why? Loss of protected profits in FIPA.
- Chinese backers of Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline and tanker project would have the right to sue the government of British Columbia if it tried to block the project. In turn, the Chinese national company could also demand that only Chinese labour and materials be used, and that it be protected from any public opposition4.
- Once enacted, we’re stuck with the deal for 31 years, no matter what the opposition (note that NAFTA can be terminated on 6 months notice)5.
There has been no national public debate, no debate in the House of Commons, no committee review, no negotiations or consultations with the provincial governments, no transparency. Why? We can only speculate that it’s because the deal is such a bad one for Canadians.
How much does Harper want Chinese investment? Apparently so much so, that he’s willing to sell off our democracy and rights over our natural resources.
What can you do?
Contact your Member of Parliament and let them know you’re concerned about this Canada-China trade deal. Demand that the November 1st, deadline be delayed until we have transparency and democratic debate about the deal in Canada.
Sign the petition by the non-profit organization LeadNow against the trade deal (over 36,500 signatures and counting).
Visit Green Party Leader and MP Elizabeth May’s website that also has a petition and backgrounder.
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