Chinese companies press for right to sue Canada

China’s companies are turning up the pressure to ratify the Canada China Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPA), and we hope that Conservatives will push back.

The Canada-China FIPA is reckless. FIPA would let China’s companies sue Canada for unlimited damages if our governments make decisions that put Canada’s interests first.

Canada has signed many FIPA’s in recent years — but only with small countries where we expected most investment would be going out, not in. China is soon to be the biggest economy in the world. China’s state owned companies have countless billions to buy out Canadian resource companies for their own national interest. Why make Canada vulnerable to that kind of risk?

The Canada-China FIPA is secretive. These lawsuits would be decided by unaccountable arbitrators in secret tribunals outside of Canada’s court system. Both the Canadian and Chinese governments can keep the public in the dark about the facts and arguments of cases that may undermine our democracy and economy.

There’s only one guarantee: once the case is settled, we will find out how many millions (or billions) of taxpayer dollars we’ll have to hand over to foreign corporations.

Many Canadians have never heard of this FIPA because there’s been almost no public debate and no serious study of the risk. In our home life, we would never agree to having someone sign a deal like this on our behalf without serious study and debate.  

The Canada-China FIPA is binding. Our experience with NAFTA has shown us that bigger countries have the advantage in this unfair system. Canada has lost every case brought against us by a US company, costing us millions of taxpayer dollars.

India and Australia are both moving away from investor state arbitration because they’re tired of being sued by foreign companies. They are saying “yes” to trade and “no” to secretive lawsuits.

What if FIPA turns out to be a disaster? Unlike NAFTA, which we can leave with six months notice, this Canada China FIPA would lock us in for 31 years.

Canada should say yes to trade, and no to secretive lawsuits. The public needs to understand the risks. We need to come to an agreement that doesn’t sacrifice our democratic control or put our economy at risk.

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