I blog about environmental and social justice issues because I am very concerned about the health of the interdependent web of life of which we are a part.

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Thursday, October 25, 2012

Speaking of Undemocratic

I went to a talk by Maude Barlow (among others) in Kamloops last night.  One of the items in her speech caught my attention:   the impacts of the Canada-China Foreign Investment Protection Protection and Promotion Agreement   on the citizens of Canada.  And it's not just the left that is wondering why there's no public scrutiny and discussion on the impacts of this deal.

In one week’s time, unless something strange happens, a far-reaching Canada-China investment agreement will take effect. It’s one of the most important commercial agreements Canada has signed since NAFTA. But whereas NAFTA could be terminated on six months’ notice, this deal locks in the signatories for a minimum of 15 years.It’s tantamount, you might say, to a commercial bill of rights for China in this country – an economic meshing on our part with the authoritarian Asian giant, giving it potentially considerable weight in the pace and scale of our resource development.
The problem is, few know much about the deal. It’s being rammed through the parliamentary system without scrutiny, foisted on the business community, the opposition parties and the country with hardly a word of debate or a vote. Our role is to accept it on faith – to take the government’s word for it. But how are we to know if the pluses outweigh the negatives without public examination? This agreement didn’t even make it into one of those democracy-shredding omnibus bills the Conservatives have become so fond of.    
 Lawrence Martin and Maude Barlow aren't the only people worried about this deal.  Gus Van Harten is urging the premier of BC  to stop this deal.
 I wrote to Premier Clark by email on Oct. 10, 2012 urging her to take action to stop the federal government from ratifying the Canada-China Investment Treaty (aka FIPA) on or about Oct. 31, as planned, until the treaty's constitutional and other implications could be assessed properly and resolved.  Under the Canadian constitution, the federal government is incapable of unilaterally implementing international treaty obligations in areas that fall within provincial jurisdiction. Nor is it acceptable for the federal government to use its treaty-making powers to do an end run around the federal-provincial division of powers or in a way that diminishes Canadian federalism and democracy.      http://thetyee.ca/Opinion/2012/10/24/BC-FIPA-Response/
Andrew Nikiforuk, the author of The energy of Slaves reviewed in my previous post, says:

Appallingly, the treaty would give Sinopec, one of the big Chinese backers of the Northern Gateway pipeline, the right to sue the government of British Columbia if it blocks the project. Sinopec could also demand that only Chinese labour and materials be used on the pipeline. Moreover the treaty gives Chinese state owned companies "the right to full protection and security from public opposition."The agreement, like all bad deals, comes wrapped in totalitarian paper. The deal does not require provincial consent. It comes without any risk-benefit analysis. And it can be ratified into law without parliamentary debate.  http://thetyee.ca/Opinion/2012/10/11/Chairman-Harper/

I'd suggest we all contact Terry Lake and Christy Clark asking that they seek an injunction to stop this deal from passing as the federal government seems to be implementing a treaty obligation that trespasses on provincial jurisdictions.   If you're worried about the pipelines proposed by Kinder Morgan and Enbridge, please write!    If you're worrid about democracy, please write!

Moreover, please write to the Conservative members of the federal committee demanding that Parliament seek a debate and vote in the House of Commons before this deal becomes law on November 1, 2012 .  That's NEXT week, for Pete's sakes! 

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