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Clayton Ruby and Tzeporah Berman Challenge Harper to Delay Controversial Canada-China FIPA
Toronto & Vancouver, October 30, 2012 – At a press teleconference today, ForestEthics Advocacy challenged Prime Minister Harper to delay enacting one of the most controversial and binding investment agreements that Canada has ever considered signing, the Canada-China Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Act (FIPA.) Thousands of Canadians have expressed concern over the lack of debate around the potential impacts of this agreement.
“The Canada-China investment agreement threatens the very fabric of Canadian democracy,” stated Tzeporah Berman. “Creating a deal that allows the Chinese government or corporate investors to sue Canadians because they don’t like the strong laws we put in place to protect our environment is not just absurd, it’s wrong. A deal like this makes one wonder whom Harper’s working for.”
This investment agreement differs from other similar agreements in that the complaints take place behind closed doors without ever having to be made public. A three-person arbitration panel (made up of a Canadian, Chinese and likely World Bank affiliated representative) would decide whether our new regulations or government decisions were “necessary” or “justifiable”.
“This secretive and unprecedented treaty is the next step in PM Harper’s plan to make it impossible to challenge his government’s agenda, an agenda ruled by foreign oil companies and investors. He’s prioritizing investors over citizens, and attempting to stun dissenting opinion. Canadians won’t stand for it,” said Clayton Ruby.
If passed, this investment agreement would cripple provincial power to determine how to proceed with projects like the highly unpopular Enbridge pipeline, which is funded in part by foreign investors who, under FIPA, would have the right to sue in a secret tribunal if British Columbia denied the pipeline based on environmental risk.
ForestEthics Advocacy is also challenging the Prime Minister to accept all financial responsibility for any future lawsuits by foreign investors against provincial and local governments that result from this investment agreement. Harper paid the $130 million NAFTA penalty on Newfoundland’s behalf when former Premier Danny Williams expropriated Abitibi Bowater’s assets. At the time Harper said that if something like this happened againarising from a provincial decision, the federal government wouldn’t pay. Given the potential implications and financial liabilities, the provinces (and tax payers) should be made fully aware of the potential consequences of the Canada China trade treaty.
Details on FIPA:
- FIPA will open up Canadian governments to lawsuits by Chinese corporate interests if the decisions those governments make (e.g protecting local labour, the environment, health and safety) are perceived by the corporation to limit their right to profit from investments in Canada;
- These complaints would happen in secret, unaccountable tribunals run by three-person arbitrators – not in Canadian courts or Canadian legislatures;
- Unlike other major investment agreements like NAFTA, FIPA locks Canada into a 31-year binding agreement for existing investments.
- Under the Act, if a province or Federal government refuses to pay millions or billions in lawsuits determined secretly by a foreign arbitration panel, provincial assets could be seized (e.g. BC or Quebec Hydro).
- There has been no public scrutiny, parliamentary debate, or provincial approval of this binding treaty.
To download a copy of the Ottawa Citizen ad, visit http://forestethics.org/news/ad-china-canada-fipa-trade-agreement.
Founded in April 2012, ForestEthics Advocacy is a non-profit society devoted to public engagement, outreach and environmental advocacy - including political advocacy. We secure large-scale protection of endangered forests and wild places and transform environmentally destructive resource-extraction industries. For more information, visit www.ForestEthicsAdvocacy.org