Demonstrating against the Canada-China FIPPA in Vancouver in June 2013.
Photo Credit: Jonathan Hayward CP/CBC

China-Canada trade support dropping in Canada

ListenTrade with China is losing support across Canada, according to an annual online survey conducted for the Asia-Pacific Foundation.

The annual poll has been going on for 10 years. This 2014 version, conducted at the end of February and beginning of March, heard from 3,487 Canadians, and the number of those who believed Asia should be Canada’s top foreign policy priority dropped by 14 points to 37 per cent.

Yuen Pau Woo, president of the Asia Pacific Foundation explained the drop, in a CBC interview, saying, “We fear or we are hesitant about things we don’t know and don’t understand.”

It may be, however, that the current framework for trade with China is what Canadians are getting to know, and do understand.  The Canada-China FIPPA, that’s a foreign investment promotion and protection agreement, will have far-reaching consequences for Canadians if it is ratified.

Canadian lawyer, Gus Van Harten has written a book on the ramifications of investor-state arbitration clauses, and he cautions Canadians to be aware before we find ourselves living under one of these agreements.

Investor-state arbitration panels remove the transparency most Canadians assume as part of the rule of law in this country, and if Canada is judged to interfering in the company’s right to make a profit, hefty fines are levied, again without transparency.  It leaves Canadians voters and politicians with very little say concerning the use of our resources.

The Conservative federal government of Canada claims the Canada-China FIPA is necessary to move ahead with increased trade to our second-largest trading partner.  But the government has not yet moved to ratify the agreement, while China has.

The Hupacaseth First Nation of Vancouver Island has been fighting the agreement on behalf of their community.  Last June, a Federal court denied the bid by the Hupacasath to block ratification of the investment treaty with China.  On June 10th, this week, the Hupacasath appeal was heard

Carmel Kilkenny spoke with Brenda Sayers, Portfolio holder for the Canada-China FIPPA court challenge, to hear how it went:

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