rabble blogs are the personal pages of some of Canada's most insightful progressive activists and commentators. All opinions belong to the writer; however, writers are expected to adhere to our guidelines. We welcome new bloggers -- contact us for details.

Greens demonstrate power of independent thought in politics

Please chip in to support rabble's election 2019 coverage. Support rabble.ca today for as little as $1 per month!

In a packed hall near the southern shore of Vancouver’s False Creek, Elizabeth May, the leader of the federal Green party, detailed what imperils our country and our world. During her speech at the Green party gala on November 16, she touched on the dire threat of climate change -- but it was her depiction of her fellow members of Parliament which might have counted as the most astounding and disillusioning.

In a message she repeated in front of a cheering crowd of 1,300 in Victoria on November 19, she pointed out that many of her colleagues -- NDP, Liberal, and Conservative -- are directed on how to vote on various pieces of legislation. And, in light of that, they simply don’t read much of the legislation which lands on their desks. They don’t have to, they reason -- and, as she suggests, if they did, they might be appalled by what they’re voting for. So they just avoid the trouble and refrain from reading it at all.

Consequently, the Canadian democratic tradition of responsible governance is in peril. Our politicians are not informing themselves about important pieces of legislation. And they’re letting things through which will benefit corporations while hurting many people -- all without their consultation.

This is where the pending ratification of the Canada-China Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPA) enters the picture. This FIPA, a treatise which enforces binding obligations in favour of foreign investors, will not be Canada’s first with another state, but it certainly ranks among the least transparent. It will also do far more to serve the interests of Chinese investors than Canadian citizens.

“Its main role is to protect Chinese-owned assets from legislatures, governments, and courts in Canada, and vice versa,” writes Gus Van Harten, a professor at Osgoode Hall Law School and author of Investment Treaty Arbitration and Public Law. “Because there is more Chinese investment in Canada than Canadian ownership in China, the treaty’s investor protection mechanism puts disproportionate risks and constraints on Canada.”

There’s far more to this proposed treaty than many of us currently know. And it’s time our leaders communicate this reality to the people. Fortunately, there are some leaders still willing to do just that. Elizabeth May was the first to ring the alarm on FIPA. After Stephen Harper signed the FIPA agreement on September 9 without broad consensus, May asked, 10 days later during question period, when the text of the treaty would be made public. A week later she held a press conference, raising the possibility that Canada would become a “resource colony” if FIPA went through. It was only on October 31 -- nearly two months after Harper’s first move -- when the leaders of the Liberal party and the NDP finally raised the issue during question period.

May’s example speaks to the power of independent thought when many of our elected officials have no real incentive to engage in such a thing themselves. The Green party -- federal, provincial, and municipal -- represents the interests of those engaged in clear and sustained analysis of the issues that will affect us all. In times like these, the people deserve representatives who embody these pivotal practices.

This article was originally co-written with Andrew Weaver for the Georgia Straight.

Check out my website: http://www.facebook.com/VanFalseCreek

You can follow me on Twitter at @dtseghay.

Thank you for reading this story…

More people are reading rabble.ca than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all, while striving to make it sustainable as well. Media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our main supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help. You are what keep us sustainable.

rabble.ca has staked its existence on you. We live or die on community support -- your support! We get hundreds of thousands of visitors and we believe in them. We believe in you. We believe people will put in what they can for the greater good. We call that sustainable.

So what is the easy answer for us? Depend on a community of visitors who care passionately about media that amplifies the voices of people struggling for change and justice. It really is that simple. When the people who visit rabble care enough to contribute a bit then it works for everyone.

And so we’re asking you if you could make a donation, right now, to help us carry forward on our mission. Make a donation today.


We welcome your comments! rabble.ca embraces a pro-human rights, pro-feminist, anti-racist, queer-positive, anti-imperialist and pro-labour stance, and encourages discussions which develop progressive thought. Our full comment policy can be found here. Learn more about Disqus on rabble.ca and your privacy here. Please keep in mind:


  • Tell the truth and avoid rumours.
  • Add context and background.
  • Report typos and logical fallacies.
  • Be respectful.
  • Respect copyright - link to articles.
  • Stay focused. Bring in-depth commentary to our discussion forum, babble.


  • Use oppressive/offensive language.
  • Libel or defame.
  • Bully or troll.
  • Post spam.
  • Engage trolls. Flag suspect activity instead.