Stop FIPA

At any moment, Prime Minister Harper could pass the most significant international investors’ deal of a generation.

Most Canadians have never heard of FIPA, the Canada-China Foreign Investment Protection Agreement, because Prime Minister Harper tried to sneak it through without a single vote or debate in Parliament.1 2

This deal would allow China’s massive companies to sue Canadian governments in secret tribunals if we make decisions that put Canadian interests ahead of their corporate profits – restricting Canadians from making democratic decisions about our economy, environment and energy.3

It gets worse: If Prime Minister Harper approves this international investors’ deal it would bind us for at least 31 years.

The Canada-China FIPA could be approved any day now unless we work together to stop it. If enough of us raise our voices now, we can create a massive public outcry to stop this devastating deal in its tracks.

Send your message now to Prime Minister Harper, your MP, and opposition leaders: Stop the Canada-China FIPA!

If FIPA passes, China’s companies can take over Canadian resources and then sue Canadian governments in secret, if the government does anything that threatens the company’s profits

The secretive tribunals operate outside Canada’s legal system – and they already have a track record of systematically ruling against the interests of Canadians.4 Under this system, Canada has already been sued more than any industrialized country in the world.5 6

FIPA would give unaccountable arbitrators the power to award billions in damages to foreign corporations, creating a chilling effect and making it far less likely that our governments would be willing to pass improved environmental standards or slow down the export of cheap, unprocessed resources.7 8 9

Canadians, including many Conservative MPs, overwhelmingly oppose this reckless deal. Let’s build a massive public outcry now, and make sure our federal and provincial leaders do everything in their power to stop FIPA for good. We need to start over with a national conversation that brings Canadians together at all levels to make responsible choices about the wisest long-term stewardship of our natural resources.

Background

In fall 2012, Prime Minister Harper quietly announced that he wanted to pass the biggest international investors’ deal in a generation, without a single vote in Parliament. Together, the Leadnow.ca community raised the alarm about the danger of FIPA’s secret investor-state courts. We united hundreds of thousands of Canadians, making national news, and divided Harper’s caucus forcing him to pause and think twice about ratifying this secretive and binding investor deal.

How do the secret tribunals in FIPA undermine our democracy?

Investor-state lawsuits undermine our democratic control. Right now, an American company called Lone Pine Resources is using a similar measure in NAFTA to sue Canada for $250 million dollars. Why? They are suing because Quebec placed a temporary hold on gas fracking to study the controversial practice’s impacts on health and environment.10

Similarly, if BC tries to regulate or block Enbridge’s Northern Gateway Pipeline, Sinopec, another of China’s state-owned oil company with investments in Canada’s natural resource infrastructure, may be able to sue for damages, and we may never even hear about it the case or the details of the results.11 12

What are other countries doing?

Other countries like India, South Africa and Australia are moving away from this kind of investment deal. Last year Australia rejected investor-state arbitration due to concerns that it would “constrain the ability of Australian governments to make laws on social, environmental and economic matters”.13 14

Can our provinces and territories stand up against FIPA?

We live in a democratic federation, and our provinces should have to consent to any major federal decision that would undermine their authority. Our provinces and territories can defend their constitutional powers from FIPA.15 16 If our premiers and provincial leaders act now to defend our rights, they can help stop Harper from locking us into FIPA for 31 years.

Has there ever been broad provincial consultation on an investment deal like FIPA?

Yes, our provinces have defended our rights before. In the 1990s, the B.C. government played a leadership role in the successful fight against the Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI). The B.C. government established a special committee to examine, inquire into and make recommendations respecting all aspects of the MAI. The committee considered key issues – implications of the agreement for Canada and British Columbia, how to represent the interests of British Columbians with respect to the agreement, and the most effective means of increasing British Columbians’ awareness and knowledge of the issues arising out of the agreement. It held 8 days of expert witness hearings, followed by public hearings in 8 cities. An educational video was produced and shown through various television outlets, and released to other media.

The committee recommended that:

“When negotiating the MAI or any future investment treaty, the federal government must ensure that the agreement does not apply to matters within provincial jurisdiction, including local government measures, without the express consent of the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia … If the federal government fails to provide for such consent, then the provincial government should explore all means, including legal action, to defend vigorously its own jurisdictional rights and those of local governments to represent the interests of British Columbians.”17

How are First Nations helping to lead the fight against FIPA?

Under Canada’s constitution, the Government of Canada has a duty to consult First Nations before entering into any deal that affects their Aboriginal Title, Rights, and Treaty Rights.

The BC Union of Indian Chiefs has written an open letter to Prime Minister Harper condemning the Canada-China FIPA. They begin their letter: “On behalf the Union of BC Indian Chiefs, we are writing to firmly express, advise and direct the Government of Canada to reject the Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement with China as the Government of Canada has breached its fiduciary duty to consult First Nations on our respective constitutionally-enshrined and judicially-recognized Aboriginal Title, Rights and Treaty Rights.”18

The Chiefs of Ontario have also written to both Prime Minister Harper and China’s Ambassador to Canada advising that the Canada-China FIPA investment deal violates First Nation Treaty rights and international law, and should be postponed indefinitely, pending nation-to-nation discussions between Canada and First Nations.19 20

The Hupacasath First Nation have even taken the Federal Government to court over FIPA, supported by over $380,000 crowd-funded by the Leadnow community and allies. By challenging FIPA in court, the Hupacasath First Nation are buying time that we can use to rally Canadians to stop this bad deal for good, and we are deeply grateful for their leadership on behalf of all Canadians.21 For more information about the legal challenge, and to donate to support it, see http://www.leadnow.ca/fipa-legal

Sources:

  1. Tories quietly table Canada-China investment treaty (Globe and Mail)
    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/tories-quietly-table-canada-china-investment-treaty/article4573635/
  2. Battle over CNOOC’s proposed Nexen Takeover Heats Up In Ottawa (Financial Post)
    http://business.financialpost.com/2012/09/17/battle-over-cnoocs-proposed-nexen-takeover-heats-up-in-ottawa/
  3. Canada-China Investment Deal Allows for Confidential Lawsuits Against Canada (Toronto Star)
    http://www.thestar.com/opinion/editorialopinion/article/1264290–canada-china-investment-deal-allows-for-confidential-lawsuits-against-canada
  4. Chinese Companies Can Sue BC for Changing Course on Northern Gateway, says Policy Expert
    http://www.vancouverobserver.com/sustainability/chinese-companies-can-sue-bc-changing-course-northern-gateway-says-policy-expert
  5. Chairman Harper and the Chinese Sell-Out (The Tyee)
    http://thetyee.ca/Opinion/2012/10/11/Chairman-Harper/print.html
  6. Trading our way to more jobs and prosperity (Government of Australia)
    http://www.dfat.gov.au/publications/trade/trading-our-way-to-more-jobs-and-prosperity.html#investor-state
  7. Tories quietly table Canada-China investment treaty (Globe and Mail)
    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/tories-quietly-table-canada-china-investment-treaty/article4573635/
  8. Chinese Companies Can Sue BC for Changing Course on Northern Gateway, says Policy Expert
    http://www.vancouverobserver.com/sustainability/chinese-companies-can-sue-bc-changing-course-northern-gateway-says-policy-expert
  9. Chairman Harper and the Chinese Sell-Out (The Tyee)
    http://thetyee.ca/Opinion/2012/10/11/Chairman-Harper/print.html
  10. Multiple Countries Rejecting Investor State Dispute Settlement (Janet M Eaton, PhD)
    http://www.sierraclub.ca/en/main-page/multiple-countries-rejecting-investor-state-dispute-settlement
  11. Chinese Companies Can Sue BC for Changing Course on Northern Gateway, says Policy Expert
    http://www.vancouverobserver.com/sustainability/chinese-companies-can-sue-bc-changing-course-northern-gateway-says-policy-expert
  12. Chairman Harper and the Chinese Sell-Out (The Tyee)
    http://thetyee.ca/Opinion/2012/10/11/Chairman-Harper/print.html
  13. Trading our way to more jobs and prosperity (Government of Australia)
    http://www.dfat.gov.au/publications/trade/trading-our-way-to-more-jobs-and-prosperity.html#investor-state
  14. Multiple Countries Rejecting Investor State Dispute Settlement (Janet M Eaton, PhD)
    http://www.sierraclub.ca/en/main-page/multiple-countries-rejecting-investor-state-dispute-settlement
  15. Tories quietly table Canada-China investment treaty (Globe and Mail)
    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/tories-quietly-table-canada-china-investment-treaty/article4573635/
  16. Battle over CNOOC’s proposed Nexen Takeover Heats Up In Ottawa (Financial Post)
    http://business.financialpost.com/2012/09/17/battle-over-cnoocs-proposed-nexen-takeover-heats-up-in-ottawa/
  17. Open Letter: Canada – China Agreement Abrogates Rights of Indigenous People (Union of BC Indian Chiefs)
    http://www.ubcic.bc.ca/News_Releases/UBCICNews10311201.html
  18. Open Letter: Canada – China Agreement Abrogates Rights of Indigenous People (Union of BC Indian Chiefs)
    http://www.ubcic.bc.ca/News_Releases/UBCICNews10311201.html
  19. China Canada FIPA – Chiefs of Ontario Letter to PM Harper
    http://www.scribd.com/doc/112459570/
  20. China Canada FIPA – Chiefs of Ontario Letter to China’s Ambassador
    http://www.scribd.com/doc/112459565/
  21. Ottawa extends it review of CNOOC’s nexen bid (The Globe and Mail)
    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/industry-news/energy-and-resources/ottawa-extends-its-review-of-cnoocs-nexen-bid/article4604093/

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