Toronto – September 22, 2014 – Late on a Friday afternoon, while Parliament was not sitting, Con boss Harper quietly announced that his government had ratified the Canada-China Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPA). Most Canadians have no idea what FIPA is. It was secretly negotiated between the two countries, there has been no public debate, nor has there been any debate in Parliament.
FIPA is an agreement that protects Chinese investment in Canada from laws and regulations passed by governments in Canada, whether they are municipal, provincial or federal. It allows for Chinese investors to sue Canada for unlimited damages if our governments make decisions that put Canadian interests first.
If Chinese investors did sue our governments, the lawsuit would not take place in Canadian courts but would be conducted by unaccountable arbitrators in secretive tribunals held outside of Canada’s courts. There is no requirement for the Canadian government to inform the public that a Chinese investor has launched a lawsuit until an award has been issued by the secretive tribunal. If the Canadian government settled the issue by paying out public money before an award had been issued by the tribunal, there is no requirement to disclose the settlement to the public.
FIPA also overrides existing treaty obligations to Canada’s First Nations. China could force the Canadian government to grant access to Aboriginal lands. It gives Chinese investors general right of access to the Canadian economy but not vice versa.
Canada is locked into the agreement for 31 years and unlike other trade agreements such as NAFTA, which allows parties to the agreement the ability to opt out of the agreement with six months notice, the Canadian government would have to give 15 years notice to get out of FIPA.