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.”