In a few days, Prime Minister Stephen Harper aims to commit Canada to the most sweeping trade deal in a generation without a single debate or vote.
If the Canada-China Foreign Investment Agreement passes, it will accelerate the pace of China’s massive companies buying-out Canada’s natural resource companies. The 31-year-long agreement will make it possible for China’s companies to challenge Canadian job creation and environmental laws with billion-dollar lawsuits that would cost taxpayers dearly.
Under the agreement, China’s companies can sue Canadian governments in secret tribunals outside the Canadian court system if those governments do anything that would limit the companies’ profits in Canada.
Right now, Belgium is facing a $3-billion suit from one of China’s companies because of a similar foreign investor agreement. China is a powerful country both militarily and financially and some see such agreements as a step toward a quiet, backdoor takeover of Canada.
This deal changes Canada’s long-standing policy of ensuring public disclosure and transparency in arbitrations. This deal could have negative effects on the ability of Canadian governments to set policies in the public interest. It also fails to achieve full reciprocity for Canadian investors.
We can only hope that Yukon’s elected-by-vote-splitting MP will drop his present objective to make it lawful for grown men to beat each other up in public for “sport,” and get on to urgent world concerns like questioning his government on the Chinese trade pact and highlighting China’s continuing failure to recognize world standards for human rights and their abhorrent treatment of Tibetan Buddhists.
Why would Prime Minister Harper lock us into this secretive and extreme deal? Perhaps he’s gambling that possible short-terms gains could aid the economy under his watch, but at a great price.
Canadians have a right to have a say in the decisions that will shape our lives. I urge the PM and all involved to postpone ratification of this agreement until a full study on this deal is conducted. There will always be markets for Canada’s resources and they do not need to be reserved under such an agreement with a foreign country. Contact your MP and PM.