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"Victory will never be found by taking the line of least resistance." Winston Churchill

If people no longer expect objectivity from their political and legal systems, then all justice will be reduced to a power struggle between conflicting and irreconcilable perspectives, a struggle in which the most dominant and pervasive bias will replace fair and impartial process as the character of justice. But if objectivity in law and politics is everywhere supplanted by conflict between subjective interests, then the side of economic privilege and established authority will always retain dominance. A society in which people no longer expect representatives of its major institutions even to attempt to render objectivity in their professional demeanours is a society whose major institutions are in a crisis of ethical legitimacy. In such a society, there is wide spread cynicism regarding the possibility of fair political process because it seems impossible that impartial, unbiased dispositions could exist to enact such processes.

Robert Nicholls

Language and Logic

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

In the next 24 hours, a vote in Parliament could stop FIPA

Breaking news from Ottawa:
 In the next 24 hours, a vote in Parliament could stop the secretive and extreme Canada-China investor deal, FIPA, for good.

If the Canada-China FIPA is ratified, this extreme and secretive deal would pave the way for a massive natural resource buyout, and allow China’s companies to sue Canadian governments in secret tribunals for unlimited damages, restricting Canadians from making democratic decisions about our economy, environment and energy.1

FIPA is the most sweeping trade deal in a generation, and experts thought Prime Minister Harper would sneak it through Parliament without a vote last November.2,3

Nobody expected your campaign to unite Canadians against FIPA. But, together, we put overwhelming pressure on Conservative MPs, divided their caucus, and the government had to shelve the deal while they try to repair the damage.4

Now, the NDP are holding a vote in Parliament that could stop FIPA. There are deep divisions inside the Conservative benches, and if we create a massive public outcry right now we have a chance to stop this terrible trade deal for good.

We only have 24 hours -- tell your MP and all the party leaders to VOTE TO STOP FIPA, then share this with everyone!

Canadians have a right to determine our future, but this investor deal will undermine our democratic rights and lock us into an inescapable path of foreign-ownership and resource extraction until at least 2040.

In December, Prime Minister Harper approved the takeover of Canadian oil company Nexen by China's state-owned giant, CNOOC. If FIPA passes, companies like CNOOC can take over Canadian resources and then sue Canadian governments in secret, if the government does anything that threatens the company’s profits.

Any Canadian law or government decision – even ones that protect Canada’s environment, create jobs and stop dangerous projects – could be fought in secret tribunals outside of our legal system. Arbitrators unaccountable to the Canadian public would have the power to award billions in damages to foreign corporations if we do anything that hurts corporate profits, like improve environmental standards or slow down the export of cheap, unprocessed resources.1,5,6
We need to act now. Tell your MP and party leaders: VOTE TO STOP the secretive and extreme Canada-China FIPA.

Additional Information
Our government has not been transparent and accountable to the public.
There has been no real debate in Parliament, no binding vote, and no reports on the risks. The government’s talking points about this FIPA have been dismantled for misleading the public by a Canadian international legal expert.7 China is just as important as the US, and there was a whole election fought over NAFTA. If this is such a good deal, why don’t they want us to hear about it?
Investor-state lawsuits undermine our democratic control.

The ability for corporations to sue foreign governments in private courts, called “investor-state arbitration,” is a controversial practice built into many trade deals like NAFTA that has cost Canada millions and over-ruled democratic decisions, but none impose the level of secrecy in the Canada-China FIPA.

These private courts have a track record of systematically ruling against the interests of Canadians.8 Under this system, Canada has already been sued more than any industrialized country in the world.9,10

Right now, an American company called Lone Pine Resources is using a similar measure in NAFTA to sue Canada for $250 million dollars. Why? They are suing because Quebec placed a temporary hold on gas fracking to study the controversial practice’s impacts on health and environment.11
Incredibly, if BC tries to regulate or block Enbridge’s Northern Gateway Pipeline, Sinopec, another Chinese state-owned oil company with investments in Canada’s natural resource infrastructure, may be able to sue for damages, and we may never even hear about it the case or the details of the results.5,6

Other countries are moving away from this runaway global system.
Other countries like India, South Africa and Australia are moving away from this kind of trade deal. Last year Australia rejected investor-state arbitration due to concerns that it would “constrain the ability of Australian governments to make laws on social, environmental and economic matters”.12,13

This deal threatens provincial and indigenous rights.
By allowing foreign corporations to sue Canadians governments for decisions made by any government - federal, provincial, or First Nation - this FIPA threatens the constitutional rights of provinces and First Nations.

In the 1990s, many provinces spoke out against the Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI), which had similar investor-state tribunals, joining a global groundswell that stopped the MAI in its tracks.14

The BC Union of Indian Chiefs has written an open letter to Prime Minister Harper condemning the Canada-China FIPA. They begin their letter: "On behalf the Union of BC Indian Chiefs, we are writing to firmly express, advise and direct the Government of Canada to reject the Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement with China as the Government of Canada has breached its fiduciary duty to consult First Nations on our respective constitutionally-enshrined and judicially-recognized Aboriginal Title, Rights and Treaty Rights."15

The Chiefs of Ontario have also written to both Prime Minister Harper and China's Ambassador to Canada advising that the Canada-China FIPA investment deal violates First Nation Treaty rights and international law, and should be postponed indefinitely, pending nation-to-nation discussions between Canada and First Nations.16,17

1. Canada-China Investment Deal Allows for Confidential Lawsuits Against Canada (Toronto Star)

2. Tories quietly table Canada-China investment treaty (Globe and Mail)

3. Battle over CNOOC’s proposed Nexen Takeover Heats Up In Ottawa (Financial Post)

4. Opposition, activists in last minute push for more scrutiny of Canada-China treaty (The Globe and Mail)

5. Chinese Companies Can Sue BC for Changing Course on Northern Gateway, says Policy Expert

6. Chairman Harper and the Chinese Sell-Out (The Tyee)

7. Taking apart Tories' Party Line on China-Canada Treaty (The Tyee)

8. China Investment Treaty: Expert Sounds Alarms in Letter to Harper Toronto-based authority urges PM to halt ratification, laying out numerous 'deep' concerns. The Tyee, October 16, 2012.

9. Canada has the 6th most investor-state cases against it in the world -- 17 cases against it to the end of 2011. UNCTAD publishes its annual review of investor-State dispute settlement cases, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development. February 2012.

10. If you include all notices of claims on the Government of Canada, Canada would have 34 cases against and be second in the world (US would rise to 16 cases). NAFTA - Chapter 11 - Investment. Cases Filed Against the Government of Canada: Notices of Intent Received and Current Arbitration, Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada.

11. Quebec’s St. Lawrence fracking ban challenged under NAFTA. The Globe and Mail, November 22, 2012.

12. Trading our way to more jobs and prosperity (Government of Australia)

13. Multiple Countries Rejecting Investor State Dispute Settlement (Janet M Eaton, PhD)

14. Special Committee on the Multilateral Agreement on Investment, First Report. Third Session, Thirty-sixth Parliament. December 29, 1998

15. Open Letter: Canada – China Agreement Abrogates Rights of Indigenous People (Union of BC Indian Chiefs)

16. China Canada FIPA - Chiefs of Ontario Letter to PM Harper

17. China Canada FIPA - Chiefs of Ontario Letter to China's Ambassador

Help raise the alarm
Thousands of us are urgently calling on our MPs to vote to stop the Canada-China investor deal and its unprecedented giveaway of natural resources to foreign control - but we urgently need to reach thousands more before the vote on Thursday, and to do that we need your help to spread the word far and wide.

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