B.C. First Nation takes legal action over Canada-China treaty

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A B.C. First Nation is taking legal action against the federal government over a major investment treaty with China that has sparked controversy.

The Hupacasath First Nation claims there was no consultation with indigenous groups about the Canada-China Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement.

“There’s a lot to the [investment] treaty that’s going to impact First Nations rights, especially treaty nations,” Hupacasath Coun. Brenda Sayers told the Straight.

“I really think that we have to take a look to analyze it and take a good look at its contents and how it’s going to affect us,” Sayers said.

The Port Alberni-based First Nation is seeking a declaration from Federal Court that Canada must consult with First Nations before the deal becomes binding.

It is also seeking an injunction to stop the treaty from being ratified until consultations are held, a lawyer representing the First Nation said.

The Hupacasath First Nation filed a notice of application in Vancouver court on January 18.

Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The treaty, signed by Canada and China in September, outlines legally binding rules for foreign investors doing business in each country.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has said the deal will provide protections for Canadian investors and help the economy grow.

Critics argue the treaty would give Chinese companies the ability to potentially sue Canada over government decisions that block controversial resource projects.

The Hupacasath First Nation, which has roughly 300 members, is hoping other groups will join its legal fight, Sayers said.

“This is really a court case for all citizens of Canada because it’s going to affect everyone negatively for a lot of different reasons, whether it’s to do with environmental, whether it’s to do with jobs, all kind of different areas. We’re all in this together.”

Comments (5) Add New Comment
CanadaXpat
This case should get thrown out. First nations and local governments have no legal standing when it comes to the central government negotiating international treaties. This is directly the purview of Ottawa and Parliament. The long drawn out consultation process prevents appropriate governance and has paralyzed local and provincial governments. Regardless, how one feels about the treaty, one should recognize that the distribution of constitutional powers puts this squarely in Ottawa's responsibility.
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Mr G
This latest move by the federal government is unconsituitional and violates section 35 of our own constituition. Also by trying to pass this, the federal government has ignored provincial powers over dominion over there own lands. Also, treaties are signed between two recognized sovereigyn nations in international law, which was done between the crown and first nations and they are internationally recognized agreements and predate harper's deal with china by a couple hundred years.....So they are unconstitional on two accounts on the areas of provincial powers within the confederation of canada and concerning first nations and their legally recognized rights and treaties...
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CanadaXpat
I would recommend that other readers of this article read section 35 for themselves. (See link from University of Manitoba) A negotiated investment agreement with China does not in any way contravene the rights of aboriginal people. If it were, then our free trade agreements with Chile, the EU, the United States and our previous 100 years of trade treaty talks would be considered un constitutional. As for asserting that first nations people enjoy the same sovereignty as a foreign state, that is another myth that has been perpetrated over the last 20 years. As of yet, relationships have been treated on a government to government relationship which has been successful at negotiating land claims as in BC with Haida Guai and the Tsawwassen treaty. Recognizing relevant separation of governmental powers within one sovereign power, in our case Canada, whereby we distinguish provincial, federal, aboriginal and municipal can not be confused with legally separate sovereign states. Legally you are certainly making an interesting argument but this case will not hold up in court.

http://www.edu.gov.mb.ca/k12/cur/socstud/foundation_gr6/blms/6-3-2c.pdf
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Darlene
How can we join them? Who do we contact?
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Darlene
Here is the link to unite with this BC First Nation in their legal battle to fight FIPA

http://www.westandtogether.ca/
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