Despite widespread controversy, the Harper government ratified the Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPA) with China on September 12. The agreement took effect on October 1 and, from here on out, the welfare of Canadian citizens will be disregarded in favour of the prosperity of Chinese investors.
This is not to say that foreign investors do not already influence Canadian industries; Canada has a number of other FIPA agreements, but none are comparable to this lopsided, non-reciprocal agreement made with China. By signing this contract, the Harper government has devalued our country for short-sighted economic benefit. What’s worse is that these highly controversial decisions were made without public consent.
The first problem with the agreement is that it locks Canada into a 31-year contact. Either party can withdraw only after the first 15 years, as long as one year’s notice is provided. However, any existing investments are preserved for another 15 years. Keep in mind that Canada’s participation in NAFTA can be terminated with six months notice.
Another horrific reality is that the contract’s parameters allow Chinese investors to challenge our provincial and municipal governments’ decisions. For example, if BC rejects or alters decisions regarding the Northern Gateway pipeline, and Chinese investors perceive these changes to have a negative impact on their investments, they could sue Canada.
Harper, the next time you completely screw us over, have the decency to send out a press release.
This means that Canada will have to choose between a hefty fine or the welfare of its citizens — a position the federal government has inflicted upon itself.
Canada has willingly given the reins to China in an exchange that is not mutual. Specifics of the agreement provide carve-outs, or exceptions, that each country has outlined to protect itself. Canadian carve-outs are specific and limited to existing entities, while China’s are extremely vague. This means that Chinese foreign investors could block Canadian influence more easily at even a municipal level, which makes the agreement exceptionally beneficial to China.
The situation becomes worse. Not only has the Harper government put foreign investors first by placing their needs above those of Canadian citizens, but the decision was made with very little debate. The treaty was quietly tabled by the House of Commons in October 2012, where it was signed by Stephen Harper without so much as a press release.
Unfortunately, the agreement was only subjected to a one-hour review before the trade committee. The opinions of Parliament were completely disregarded and the vote was contained within the Cabinet. Despite widespread opposition from the public, the NDP, the Greens, and even members of his own cabinet, the Harper government decided that nobody else’s opinion had any merit or value to the decision-making process.
We get it Stephen Harper — your horrible negotiation skills, along with your complete disregard for public opinion, clearly indicate how much you care about the citizens of your own country. Next time you completely screw us over, at least have the decency to send out a press release.