Sept 2014 Update
On September 12, 2014 the Stephen Harper Government ratified the Canada-China Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPA). Below is an excerpt from a Press Release issued by the Green Party on September 15th, 2014.
"At no time since 1867 has the sovereignty of Canada been significantly undermined…" Elizabeth May.
(OTTAWA) – Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party of Canada and MP for Saanich-Gulf Islands, denounced Prime Minister Stephen Harper's unprecedented move to ratify the Canada-China Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPA). Ratification of the international accord by Cabinet was made without debate or public consultation.
“At no time since 1867 has the sovereignty of Canada been significantly undermined,” stated Green Party Leader, Elizabeth May. “This deal is one-sided and will never benefit Canadians. Stephen Harper has now committed this country and future governments to an agreement that has locked us in for a minimum of 31 years - more than a generation.”
Details of the agreement were kept secret from the Canadian public and Parliament until September 26th, 2012, when it was quietly made public and tabled in the House of Commons. The treaty was never subjected to study in any committee, other than one hour before the trade committee.
In a recent article in the Tyee entitled, Harper Gov't 'Conceded to China' under Pressure, associate professor at the Osgoode Hall Law School and an expert in investment treaties, Gus Van Harten, was quoted saying that "FIPA is practically a one-way deal in favour of China.”
Backgrounder: What is an Investor-State Agreement?
August 2014 Update
- Hupacasath Releases “Canada-China FIPA 101- What First Nations Need to Know”
- How Would The Canada-China FIPA Affect Enbridge's Northern Gateway?
- Canada-China FIPA 101: What First Nations Need To Know
October 2013 Update
The Hupacasath continue to stand as Canada’s last line of defense against ratification of the Canada-China Foreign Investment Protection and Promotion Agreement. Despite losing the initial court decision in the British Columbia Supreme Court, the tiny Hupacasath First Nation is prepared to continue its brave legal challenge to defend its rights, and those of all Canadians, but they can’t do it alone.
To pursue this to the next level – the Federal Court of Appeal, and eventually the Supreme Court of Canada – the Hupacasath need to know that Canadians stand behind them, and to know that a possible punitive financial award will not bankrupt their community.
June 2013 Update
Lawyers for the Hupacasath First Nation and Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade argued before a federal court judge on whether the government has a duty to consult First Nations before ratifying international treaties such as the Canada-China Investment Treaty (see article from rabble.ca). The Hapacasath's Memorandum can be found here.
May 2013 Update
Green supporters contributed $28,000 to the Hupacasath First Nation legal fight against the Canada-China Investment Treaty. This amount represents 20% of the $150,000 target. Read the Hupacasath First Nation sent to Green Party members.
November 2012 Update
On September 9th, Prime Minister Stephen Harper signed an agreement with China, the Canada-China Investment Treaty. The agreement was kept from the Canadian public and Parliament until September 26th, 2012, when it was quietly made public, tabled in the House of Commons. No press release. No technical briefing.
Harper's Conservatives can legally ratify the treaty (i.e. make it legally binding for the country) since November 2nd, 2012. Thanks to the Greens' campaign, ratification has not yet happened.
Red Carpet for China
So what is the Canada-China Investment Treaty? Simply put, it is the most significant investor-state agreement signed by Canada since NAFTA. Only this time our “partner” is the communist government in Beijing, an authoritarian regime with an appalling record on human rights –and it isn’t getting better. This deal requires that Chinese government-owned companies be treated exactly the same as Canadian companies operating in Canada. Once in force, it lasts a minimum of 15 years. If a future government wants to get out of it, a one year notice is required – and even once the treaty is cancelled, any existing Chinese operations in Canada are guaranteed another 15 years of the treaty’s benefits.
We at the Green Party of Canada believe there are many flaws in that agreement. And we think Canadians should know about them:
1. Open bar for Chinese state-owned enterprises
The Canada-China Investment Treaty means easier takeovers of Canadian assets, especially in the resource sector. In the context of the possible takeover of Nexen by the Chinese National Offshore Oil Company (CNOOC), it is crucial that we collectively pause to consider the wisdom of granting Chinese state-owned enterprises (SOEs) such an easy access to our natural resources.
2. The right for China to claim damages over Canadian laws
The Canada-China Investment Treaty allows Chinese companies (including state-owned enterprises) to sue the Government of Canada over decisions that can limit or reduce their expectation of profits. In treaty language, this is called “tantamount to expropriation.” China can claim damages against Canada for decisions at the municipal, provincial, territorial or federal level. Even decisions of our courts can give rise to damages. The damage claims start with six months of diplomatic negotiation. If that fails, damage claims move to arbitration – behind closed doors.
3. Secret hearings
The Canada-China Investment Treaty would allow Chinese investors to sue Canada outside of Canadian courts. Special arbitrators would take the decisions. These arbitrators, unlike judges, do not have secure tenures or set salaries. Their decision cannot be subject to judicial review. And the arbitrations are to be secret. Even the fact they are happening is to be secret.
4. Limit right to be heard
Only the federal government is allowed to take part in the arbitration process. Provincial governments or Canadian companies, even if their interests are affected, do not have the right to voice their concerns during the arbitration process.
5. China’s obsession for secrecy
The Canada-China Investment Agreement makes Chinese lawsuits secret . At any time, we will not know if we are being sued and who will decide the case. We will not know what our government is saying on our behalf. We will not know if Canada has been ordered to change government decisions. This is a complete U-turn for Canada who has always insisted on complete openness in investor-state arbitration, for example when signing the Canada-US-Mexico free trade deal.
6. Restrictions on our use of our own resources
The Canada-China Investment Treaty requires that if, in the future, Canada wants to conserve natural resources (fisheries, water, oil, uranium, forests -- everything is covered), and reduce Chinese access to these resources, we are only allowed to do so to the extent we limit our own use of those natural resources.
What the Greens have done
The day after the Canada-China Investment Treaty was made public on September 26th by the Conservatives, Green Party of Canada Leader Elizabeth May held a press conference to warn Canadians on the dangers of the treaty with China. The following day, Elizabeth wrote to the Speaker of the House of Commons demanding an emergency debate about the deal. The Speaker turned down May’s request, saying it did not meet the tests of an emergency.
We were the first (and for some time the only) party to raise the issue, demanding debate and alerting Canadians to the threat -- reduced sovereignty, reduced democracy, all for more Chinese ownership of Canada's resources.
We now call on Canadian citizens to also demand a democratic process for Canada’s ratification of the Canada-China Investment Treaty while we still have time.