Harper Commits Canadians to Penury & Servitude
By Ann-Marie de Veer
Saturday 20 September 2014
On Saturday 8 September 2012 at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting in Vladivostok, Russia, the Canadian Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, and his Minister of International Trade, Ed Last, signed a foreign investment agreement with China, the Canada China Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPA). The agreement, fundamentally flawed for its lack of respect for, and protection of, national sovereignty and the environment, also committed its people to 31 years of penury and servitude. However, given the public furore that ensued and the justifiable concerns raised at the time, it was not immediately ratified. As Diane Francis of the Financial Post said of the agreement:
- Ottawa capitulated to China on everything. The deal, using a hockey metaphor, allows only a select few to play on Team Canada on a small patch of ice in China and to be fouled, without remedies or referees. By contrast, Team China can play anywhere on Canadian ice, can appeal referee calls it dislikes and negotiate compensation for damages while in the penalty box behind closed doors.
- The terms agreed to by Ottawa are unprecedented and would be laughed out of Britain, Brussels, Canberra or Washington. Beijing has negotiated a heads-I-win-tails-Canada-loses deal.
Francis's initial rhetorical response was both apt and understandable but more importantly, she continued to detail the issues involved:
- The Agreement gives China Inc. “enclave legal status.” Once allowed inside the country, Chinese companies have more power than Canadian companies. They can take any dispute with governments or courts outside the Canadian legal system to an arbitration process under its Article 4 and 22. These arbitrations, unlike those in NAFTA, are conducted in secret, have no limits on damages awarded and are adjudicated by three arbitrators/lawyers — one appointed by the Canadian authority being sued, one by China Inc., and a third from the World Bank approved by both. In other words, Chinese companies are allowed the privilege of having their disputes with Canadian authorities settled in secret by three individuals, two from outside Canada.
- Ottawa’s inept negotiators gave up a requirement for transparency as part of this arbitration dispute- settlement mechanism. The agreement allows the Canadian federal government to withhold documents if it wishes to. This is contrary to all other international treaties involving such dispute mechanisms.
- The agreement opens wide a “Trojan Horse” loophole. Chinese investors or companies already in Canada can contest all government or court decisions and can also bypass Investment Canada. Once in, they can buy anything they wish without foreign investment review. This means Chinese entities already here will be able to act as proxies for those not yet approved to come in, which means an open-ended access to control over anything and everything without scrutiny. All Chinese companies have one beneficial owner: Beijing’s military dictatorship.
- The agreement allows China Inc. to contest and bypass or be compensated regarding compliance with Canadian standards, requirements to use Canadian labour or materials or suppliers. China Inc. can challenge or be compensated if they disagree with the scale and timing of resource projects.
- The agreement appears to be unconstitutional because its Article 4 allows China to bypass and contest provincial, territorial, First Nations, municipal or successive federal government decisions on resource and commercial management. The provincial governments must collectively challenge this treaty before the Supreme Court.An example would be that if the National Energy Board approves the Northern Gateway Pipeline through B.C., but B.C. restricts or rejects the deal, Sinopec (big China Inc. appendage) can sue under this treaty. The matter would then be resolved behind closed doors in arbitration by two lawyers from outside Canada.
- Canada has done what no other country has and agreed to lock itself in for 31 years. NAFTA has a six-month exit clause.
- The most egregious aspect of this agreement is that it’s based on the wrong template of deals signed with the U.S. and other countries that provide Canadians with reciprocal rule of law, market access and transparency. China provides none of the reciprocal privileges and can remain as protectionist, corrupt and discriminatory as it now is. This un-level playing field is enshrined in Articles 22, 4 and Annex D34 of the agreement, according to international treaty expert Gus Van Harten with Osgoode Hall.
That Canada had signed up to, using a Chinese colloquialism with which it is familiar, an Unequal Treaty (不平等条约) was blatantly obvious and so its ratification laid dormant for two years amid concerns over its impact on national sovereignty and the environment until last Friday afternoon, 12 September 2014, when it was quietly ratified by the Harper regime.
Naturally, the media reacted swiftly to the news while those who opposed the agreement quickly sought to mount a challenge. Nonetheless, short of a stay by the Supreme Court, its passing looks like a fait accompli.
So, what has been going on here?
On the subject of the Chinese: the notion that Beijing are exacting revenge on a former member of the British Empire for its imposition of Unequal Treaties during the 19th and 20th Centuries is patently false. The Chinese are pragmatic, business is business, and whatever rhetoric is floating around at any given time is usually for domestic consumption. Further, their Free Trade and Foreign Investment Agreements with other first world nations have predominately been based on mutual respect and benefit.
Not so in this case.
The truth, in fact, is worryingly much more simple: when both parties began negotiations on FIPA back in 2008 the Chinese government soon discovered that Harper, Fast and the rest of the Canadian regime were nothing more than Useful Idiots (有用的废物) and could easily be exploited. Thus, the Chinese government took full advantage of their woeful incompetence as anyone else would in a similar position.
The result was the Canada China Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement.
Nonetheless, Harper's recent ratification of the FIPA is primarily designed to fulfil three purposes, namely:
- 1. In a forthcoming visit to Beijing, scheduled for November this year, Harper plans to personally hand over the ratified FIPA agreement to Xi Jinping, the Chinese President. If he were to arrive empty handed it would be a major embarrassment and a serious loss-of-face.
- 2. The Canadian federal election is scheduled for October next year and Harper knows that he needs to resolve as many controversial issues as possible long before then. He also knows that the electorate, in general, has a very short term memory and so this issue is likely to be forgotten by then.
- 3. In the event that Harper, and his regime, fail to get re-elected in October 2015 then the FIPA agreement will have provided sufficient revolving doors within the Canadian business community for him and his trusted lieutenants to pass through as they seek an alternative to public office.
That Harper, and his regime, who have woefully deceived the Canadian people and subverted its democracy, are both incompetent and pathological liars is not in question. What is in question is whether the Canadian Supreme Court will strike down this Unfair Treaty and save the people from the poverty and enslavement that will ensue.
- Neither competence nor integrity is an asset in office as honesty and ability frustrates the objectives of the self-serving ruling class.