Vancouver Island North MP’s explanation of trade deal ‘naive prattle’

Dear editor,

Regarding the letter by MP John Duncan, it has to be said that this is naive prattle, at best.

Dear editor,

Regarding the letter by MP John Duncan (Record, Nov. 16) MP explains FIPA agreement), it has to be said that this is naive prattle, at best.

People much smarter than our MP (and indeed than our prime minister) have analyzed the terms of the Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPA) and found it desperately wanting in advantages to Canada and dangerously open to interference in our economy and sovereignty by China.

One of these critics is Gus Van Harten, an associate professor at Osgoode Hall Law School, who has urged Premier Christy Clark to take legal action to delay the Canada-China FIPA:

“There is a strong case that the federal government must obtain provincial consent before ratifying the treaty. The treaty clearly impacts on provincial authority over natural resources, land and property rights, and other matters. It applies to any legislation, regulation, or court decision that affects Chinese-owned assets, with limited exceptions. There is a real possibility that, over the lifespan of the treaty, Canada will face billion dollar-plus awards, due to provincial decisions, that are not reviewable by any Canadian court.”

But Christy Clark has already stated, at the Canada-China Investment Summit held in Vancouver last month, “I very much look forward to the ratification and implementation of the China-Canada FIPA so that two-way investment between our countries can be mutually beneficial for generations to come.”

The entire letter can be read at http://lailayuile.files.wordpress.com/2012/10/christysellout.jpg.

Citizens of B.C. who have written to the premier, exhorting her to beware of the dangers of this agreement, may not realize that their concerns have already been dismissed and that the FIPA is coming at us like the HST did (under the radar).

If it’s unconstitutional for the Government of Canada to ratify this agreement without approval of the provinces, it appears that B.C. has already, quietly, rolled over.

Describing the deal as a “31-year ball and chain” on Canada (http://thetyee.ca/News/2012/10/19/Chinese-Trade-Deal/), Van Harten elaborates on the intentions of China to exploit Canada’s mineral and petroleum resources and the inability of Canadian governments to protect our country from international arbitration and an influx of foreign workers.

It would allow Chinese companies to challenge our democratically evolved regulations (those that still exist after the gutting of environmental protections) through arbitrations that would happen privately — we would never know anything except how much it costs us to pay up, and maybe not even that.

The Conservative government line, to which Mr. Duncan has affixed his signature, is that the FIPA is “designed to protect Canadian investors in China … without diminishing Canadian governments’ ability to legislate for Canadian purposes.”

Even if this were true, why should a questionable advantage be handed to Canadian investors at the expense of our economy and sovereignty at home?

Mr. Duncan’s assertion that it is the government’s policy to table these treaties in the House of Commons to enable a 21-day period of debate is just more hogwash. They have been secretive, unresponsive to requests by Elizabeth May for an emergency debate on FIPA, avoiding consultation with First Nations and other Canadian citizens, and unwilling to discuss it in the House.

This is an extraordinarily bad deal for Canada, which our politicians seem unable to comprehend. It’s oddly appropriate that Stephen Harper has been bought off with two live teddy bears — a babe in the woods negotiating with the Chinese dragon, to give him every benefit of the doubt. His incompetence is breathtaking.

It really is time that every person who voted for this government started to think about the consequences of having elected the Conservatives. I hope everyone who voted for John Duncan or knows him personally will tell him we need him to stand up to Harper, cross the floor, and make his constituents heard.

In case that seems unlikely, they can e-mail the prime minister and premier directly at stephen.harper@parl.gc.ca and   premier@gov.bc.ca.

Anne Bauman,

Cumberland