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Giving foreign corporations more power than our own citizens wrong

January 17, 2013 · 5:45 PM
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Dear editor,

Re: Brendon Johnson's comments (record, Jan. 9) on the China-Canada Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPA).

He claims the existing Canadian laws are still in effect even under this FIPA, and that "any Chinese ... activity in Canada must be subject to Canadian regulations." Upon further study of the agreement, however, you will notice that it grants China Inc., and other such companies "enclave legal status" with ISDS (Investor-State Dispute Settlement) mechanisms.

ISDS has become more frequent in its use, and because of it Canada ranks sixth on the list of defendants, with over $200 million in awards or settlements that we have already paid or are still on the hook for.

The result of enclave legal status being that any Chinese corporation in Canada has a higher legal standing than every Canadian citizen in Canada, which includes disputing decisions made by provinces, national boards, and so on.

For example, suppose the National Energy Board approves of the Northern Gateway pipeline's extension into British Columbia, but the province doesn't. A Chinese company, such as Synopec, can then sue the province of BC, under the Canada-China FIPA.

Can you or I do that? Or any other Canadian company, for that matter? No, we can't.

Not only that, in court the case is resolved by three lawyers: one appointed by the Canadian company, one appointed by China Inc., and a third approved by both appointed by the World Bank.

There is no limit to the amount of damages rewarded. This means that for all cases, there are three arbitrators/lawyers, with only one from Canada, for a case that is strictly Canadian.

Furthermore, the federal government can cause a case to be either completely public or, conversely, completely private, which means that there could be some lawsuits and no one would know they ever happened.

To give any foreign body more power in your country than your own citizens have, as this and indeed every other FIPA does, is, in and of itself, unconstitutional, and any constitution that says otherwise is not a constitution for the people.

Johnson states that "foreign investment, monitored carefully, can be healthy for an economy", implying that under this FIPA Chinese investors are monitored carefully. However, upon a closer look at the document, it is seen that foreign investments are not, in fact, monitored carefully.

The investment section of the agreement, once again, gives more power to any Chinese investor or company in Canada than it gives to any regular Canadian citizen.

FIPA and every other (such agreement) should be adjusted until they give less power to any foreign entity than to the current citizens.

Caleb Draper,

Courtenay

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