Full debate in Parliament still wanted for China trade agreement

Dear editor,

This letter is in response to Conservative MP John Duncan’s explanation of FIPA.

Dear editor,

This letter is in response to Conservative MP John Duncan’s explanation of the Canada-China Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPA).

Mr. Duncan states that, “This treaty is designed to protect Canadian investors in China through stable, predictable rules and to protect them against discriminatory and arbitrary practices…” I have seen a great deal of information about FIPA prepared by reputable researchers and journalists.

Almost without exception they express concern that this agreement offers Chinese state-owned companies investing in Canada unprecedented rights and privileges, that it imperils Canada’s sovereignty over our resources, and that it could have serious financial implications for future Canadian governments if they are sued under its terms. Yet Mr. Duncan is telling us that its main purpose is to protect Canadian investors in China.

In addition, Mr. Duncan wrote: “What this agreement does NOT do is impair Canada’s ability to regulate and legislate in areas such as the environment, culture, safety, health and conservation.” However, those who have researched this agreement say that Chinese investors would be able to sue our government should their “expectations of profit” be reduced by actions taken in Canada. And according to Andrew Nikiforuk, writing about it in The Tyee on Oct. 11, the treaty gives Chinese state-owned companies “the right to full protection and security from public opposition.”

Apparently Mr. Duncan has a very different interpretation of this agreement than its critics have.

Mr. Duncan also wrote that, “It is Canada’s long-standing policy that all dispute resolutions should be open to the public and that the submissions made by the parties be available to the public.”

Yet Gus Van Harten, a professor at Osgood Hall Law School and a researcher into investor-state arbitration, wrote in an editorial about FIPA in The Star on Sept. 29, “Remarkably, the lawsuits can proceed behind closed doors. This shift to secrecy reverses a long-standing policy of the Canadian government.”

One has to wonder why Prof. Van Harten’s explanation is so different from Mr. Duncan’s.

Mr. Duncan also says that, “Every single treaty is now tabled in the house for 21 days to give the opposition an opportunity to debate the treaty.”

However, on Oct. 31, Postmedia news reporter Tobi Cohen quoted MP Thomas Mulcair, leader of the Opposition, as saying “the NDP has “tried every technique at our disposal” to convince the Conservatives that Parliament ought to examine the deal before it’s approved.

The NDP has sought to delay its ratification so that it can be studied by a Commons committee, and on Tuesday the Opposition requested a “take note” debate in the House of Commons, both of which were denied. Now at the “11th hour,” the NDP asked for an emergency debate but that too was denied by House Speaker Andrew Scheer.

Green Party MP Elizabeth May had also asked for an emergency debate on the agreement on Oct. 26 and was denied. So whether the opposition has really had an opportunity to debate the treaty is, well, debatable.

Mr. Duncan compares this treaty to those signed with China by countries such as New Zealand and Germany. He fails to mention that a number of countries, including Australia, India and South Africa, have decided to no longer include investor-state arbitration in their trade agreements.

In any case, there have been so many questions raised about this agreement that the government should have independent investor-state experts and foreign investment experts study it at length so that Canadians can be fully informed about what is in it and what its implications are for Canada’s future.

Then there should be a full debate in Parliament as to whether or not it is in our best interests. Is that too much to ask of a democratic government?

Of course, with the Conservatives holding a majority of the seats in Parliament, the government could sign this agreement despite the concerns of so many Canadians.

Ellen Rainwalker,

Cumberland

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson outlines the province’s three-year budget in Victoria, April 20, 2021. (B.C. government video)
B.C. deficit to grow by $19 billion for COVID-19 recovery spending

Pandemic-year deficit $5 billion lower than forecast

Co-ordinator/founder David Clarke, right, is pictured with members of Comox Valley Street Outreach during Monday’s rig dig. Scott Stanfield photo
Comox Valley group aims to stop overdose deaths, reduce stigma

As the overdose crisis worsens throughout B.C., a local advocacy group is… Continue reading

London Drugs now taking COVID-19 bookings. Screenshot, London Drugs
Courtenay London Drugs now taking COVID-19 bookings

A number of locations in Western Canada selected to give vaccine

A wildfire has started near Gold River, and B.C. Wildfire Service crews are on scene. Photo courtesy Coastal Fire Centre
Wildfire burning in remote area near Gold River

Coastal Fire Centre investigating cause, but confirms it is human-caused

Volunteers paint the famous Denman Island Graffiti Fence with messages for Earth Week. Photo by Danni Crenna
Denman Island celebrates Earth Week

The Denman Island Climate Action Network (DICAN) has kicked off Earth Week… Continue reading

FILE – NDP Leader John Horgan, right, and local candidate Mike Farnworth greet one another with an elbow bump during a campaign stop in Coquitlam, B.C., on Friday, September 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. won’t be using random individual road stops to enforce travel rules: Safety Minister

Minister Mike Farnworth says travel checks only being considered at major highway junctions, ferry ports

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The following is a list of restaurants offering take-out and patio dining. ADOBE STOCK IMAGE
List of Comox Valley restaurants offering take-out, patio dining options

Restaurants in the Comox Valley continue to adapt to government-imposed restrictions in… Continue reading

A man pauses at a coffin after carrying it during a memorial march to remember victims of overdose deaths in Vancouver. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. announces historic half-billion-dollar funding for overdose crisis, mental health

Of it, $152 million will be used to address the opioid crisis and see the creation of 195 new substance use treatment beds

Children’s backpacks and shoes are seen at a CEFA (Core Education and Fine Arts) Early Learning daycare franchise, in Langley, B.C., on Tuesday May 29, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. budget to expand $10-a-day child care, but misses the mark on ‘truly universal’ system

$111 million will be used to fund 3,750 new $10-a-day spaces though 75 additional ChildCareBC universal prototype sites over the next three years.

Mak Parhar speaks at an anti-mask rally outside the Vancouver Art Gallery on Sunday, Nov. 1, 2020. Parhar was arrested on Nov. 2 and charged with allegedly violating the Quarantine Act after returning from a Flat Earth conference held in Geenville, South Carolina on Oct. 24. (Flat Earth Focker/YouTube.com screenshot)
Judge tosses lawsuit of B.C. COVID-denier who broke quarantine after Flat Earth conference

Mak Parhar accused gov, police of trespass, malfeasance, extortion, terrorism, kidnapping and fraud

Ambulance paramedic in full protective gear works outside Lion’s Gate Hospital, March 23, 2020. Hospitals are seeing record numbers of COVID-19 patients more than a year into the pandemic. (The Canadian Press)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate declines, 849 cases Tuesday

Up to 456 people now in hospital, 148 in intensive care

Christy Clark, who was premier from 2011 to 2017, is the first of several present and past politicians to appear this month before the Cullen Commission, which is investigating the causes and impact of B.C.’s money-laundering problem over the past decade. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)
Christy Clark says she first learned of money-laundering spike in 2015

The former B.C. premier testified Tuesday she was concerned the problem was ‘apparently at an all-time high’

Most Read