China FIPA deal draws protests

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      As early as Friday (November 2), the federal government may ratify an investment treaty with China amid an atmosphere of rising anxiety over the growing power of the Asian economic giant.

      Canada has foreign investment promotion and protection agreements (FIPAs) in force with 24 countries. It has concluded negotiations with China and seven others, and is continuing to negotiate with 12 more nations. But it’s the pact with China that’s caused a stir on Parliament Hill and elsewhere.

      Speaking as the Opposition critic for international trade, Vancouver Kingsway NDP MP Don Davies referenced the North American Free Trade Agreement between Canada, the U.S., and Mexico to underscore the magnitude of the China deal.

      “This is the first time that we’ve signed a FIPA, I would say, since NAFTA with an economy of this size,” Davies told the Straight in a phone interview. “China is the second-largest economy in the world.”

      With Chinese state corporations pursuing an aggressive investment strategy in Canada’s energy sector, particularly in the Alberta oil patch, there are mounting concerns that the deal could enable the building and expansion of oil and gas pipelines in B.C. geared towards Asian markets and away from the U.S. That’s because it contains provisions much like those in Chapter 11 of NAFTA that allow foreign corporations to sue host governments and claim monetary damages.

      “The overall effect will be that before we pass laws, you’ll find governments—municipally, provincially, and federally—looking over their shoulders,” lone Green MP Elizabeth May told the Straight by phone.

      For Maude Barlow, national chair of the Council of Canadians, FIPAs are the offspring of NAFTA’s Chapter 11. “This is an extension, from our perspective, of our concerns over the foreign investment protection agreements in general, because they give corporations the right to sue governments, and they lock in the current standards of environment or health or safety protections,” Barlow told the Straight in a phone interview.

      In Vancouver, the agreement has fired up local environmental activists including those who picketed the constituency office of B.C. premier Christy Clark on October 30. A. J. Klein and her fellow protesters want Clark to seek a court injunction to stop the China accord.

      “It’s an expansion of corporate power, along with natural-resource extraction,” Klein told the Straight by phone.

      Paul Evans, a professor at UBC’s Institute of Asian Research, noted that the unease over the agreement can partly be attributed to the nature of China’s economy, where state-owned enterprises are major players, which is different from that of western capitalist countries.

      “That’s their form of capitalism,” Evans stressed in a phone interview with the Straight.

      The UBC academic also emphasized that the deal is a reflection of new-world realities. “The United States remains our principal investment and trading partner, but in looking into the future, diversification is not an option but a necessity,” Evans said. “And that’s really changed the game.”

      Opposition parties in the House of Commons have demanded further study but to no avail. On October 30, advocacy groups Leadnow and SumOfUs delivered a petition with 60,000 signatures opposing the deal to Parliament Hill.

      Minister of International Trade Ed Fast didn’t grant the Straight an interview before deadline.



      Capitalism Rocks

      Oct 31, 2012 at 5:14pm

      Why the hell not? It's capitalism, their investment is as good as American's.


      Oct 31, 2012 at 5:41pm

      Why not - because they will cheat us blind.

      Robert Privett

      Oct 31, 2012 at 5:59pm

      No one in their right mind would sign a contract that says 'you'll be punished for helping yourself.'

      Justin Flontek

      Oct 31, 2012 at 7:05pm

      No to harpo! No to FIPA!

      Politicians who support the FIPA, or other treaties, that attack our sovereignty (like the TPP), are traitors.

      Ed Seamans

      Oct 31, 2012 at 7:18pm

      Mr. Harper will you please listen to 89% of CANADIANS and not ratify the China Deal. If not I hope people will remember next ELECTION time.I know I will remember. We should be holding on to these Co.s to keep Canadians working and not selling CANADA. Lets put CANADA first.

      Gordon Gekko

      Oct 31, 2012 at 8:07pm

      These look like the same people that buy a lot of products that are made in China like the all the electronic nonsense gadgets Apple makes. Don't support the country you are protesting against...... These Chinese shuffling bottle collectors in kids clothing I see in the Skytrain every day just make me laugh...


      Oct 31, 2012 at 8:46pm

      To all Canadians watching the final agony concerning the disastrous Canadian Foreign Promotion and Protection Agreement with China: IMMEDIATELY offer your input to Canadian government re your evaluation of its environmental impact through this link:

      The continuation of the Canada we know, as opposed to our becoming a 2nd-class petro-nation DEPENDS ON WHAT YOU AND I DO REGARDING THIS VERY BAD AGREEMENT.

      Arley Laroque

      Oct 31, 2012 at 8:55pm

      Wake up people,do we not see what is going on,This is not in the papers other wise people would be all over this,this is the most ridiculous idea i have ever heard. This country is in everything for itself,when there is disaster in the world ,never fear China is here,they never offer any assistance,they are cheap,cheap,cheap.Quit buying there cheap shit already,and quit doing business with them,they are not our allies and we should not trust them to be,Harper should be put in jail for this for treason along with that Canadian sailor who sold secrets to the Russions,what is this proud Country coming to that made all the difference in my opinion in the second world war,we need a leader who can bring back that country,not a pussy like Harper.

      Trent McGurvey

      Nov 1, 2012 at 12:36am

      This FIPA agreement, and especially, the deceitful way it has been introduced into the parliamentary process is an insult to Canadians and an outrage to the principals of democracy and transparency. China's "dirty footprint" is not wanted in Canada. Human rights abuse and environmental devastation taken to the "nth" degree. It's more than just "us versus China", or "us versus political arrogance". It's us wanting to save and protect what's left of the planet before it's irreparably destroyed. Big Money, Big Industry, Big Politics and Big Media are all compromised and all must be held accountable.


      Nov 1, 2012 at 1:42am

      When Japan bought up everything from NY skyscrappers to the famed Pebble Beach Golf Course in the 80s, Americans everywhere feared that the Japanese were "taking over the World." Fast forward fifteen years and a couple of real estate crashes later, it's the Americans laughing all the way to the bank and the poor Japanese foreign investors holding the bag. Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Not 1 in 100 will understand this, but I'll try anyway. The assets that these "foreigners" are buying are situated on Canadian sovereign soil. If Canada's relationship with [China/India/Fill in the blank] ever goes south, the Canadian government can simply seize the assets and reneg on the deal. The U.S. does this all the time with governments it can't reach a deal with, such as when it seized all Iraqi assets in the U.S. prior to the Iraqi war. In the meantime, the Canadian companies and the Canadian people will have already received payment for the assets that were "sold" to the foreign investors, meaning if the assets are ever seized by Canada, Canadians will essentially have been paid twice. Furthermore, the foreign investors will have pumped untold billions in additional capital into their newly purchased asset to build it out, meaning that those assets will be worth even more in the future if they return to Canada. No doubt this post will garner a massive number of negative ratings as few will comprehend it.