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Harper again rejects debate on China investment treaty, but public pressure is having an impact

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The Conservative majority on trade committee defeated a motion yesterday from NDP trade critic Don Davies which would have forced the committee to study the Canada-China investment treaty (FIPA) before it’s allowed to become law, as early as November 1. In typical fashion, the committee went in-camera for the vote so that Harper’s abuse of democracy went unrecorded. They do this quite often.

“It boggles my mind that the government would want to move forward with that [treaty] without a debate, without a vote and without a study,” said Davies Thursday afternoon. Davies also complained about receiving “thousands upon thousands of emails” against the China treaty forwarded to him from the office of Conservative MP Bev Shipley, who is also on the trade committee.

The little prank proves how much public concern there is out there about giving excessive rights to companies investing in Canada. If you haven’t yet sent a letter to MPs demanding that they tear up or at least debate the FIPA with China, you can do it right here.

Green Party leader Elizabeth May, meanwhile, continues her fight against the FIPA in the House of Commons, even if she only has 60 seconds to do so. She rose on Tuesday to explain that she has been briefed by government trade officials on the treaty, and that:

It confirms that Chinese state-owned enterprises would have the right to complain and charge for damages for decisions in Canada by municipal, provincial, territorial or federal governments. It confirms this treaty will apply till 2027 for a minimum, and potentially till 2042, and China can complain of anything it feels is arbitrary.

News articles and commentary today acknowledge there is a lot of public unease about the China treaty. Despite Conservative debate-dodging at committee, we have to believe we can at least delay ratification of the FIPA. It will be the best opportunity we’ve had in years, since the Multilateral Agreement on Investment was defeated in 1998, to review Canada’s trade practice of including excessive corporate rights in investment treaties.

There’s no reason we should cancel one corporate rights pact with China and not the one Harper is including in his flagship Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement with the European Union. Shell, Total, BP all invest heavily in the tarsands, offshore drilling and pipelines. No corporations from any country should have a veto over Canadian resource, conservation or environmental policy.

Keep sending letters to the editor of your local papers about the China FIPA. Make the links with CETA and with the 18+ times Canada has been sued under the FIPA-like corporate rights in NAFTA’s Chapter 11

For more on the China investment treaty (FIPA or FIPPA), see our Action Alert here, which includes links to articles by Scott Sinclair (CCPA), Gus Van Harten (Osgoode Hall Law School) and others. Fore more on the Canada-EU trade deal (CETA), click here. For an up-to-date list of NAFTA lawsuits against Canada, Mexico and the United States, see the Public Citizen resource here.

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