The Green Party of Canada is speaking out against investor-state agreements as part of its 2015 election campaign.
Foreign Investor Protection Agreements, such as a 31-year deal with China signed in 2012 and the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership with Pacific Rim countries, threaten Canada’s ability to govern itself, said Elizabeth May, party leader.
May, along with members such as Paul Manly, Nanaimo-Ladysmith candidate and party international trade critic, made a stop in Nanaimo Tuesday, and unveiled an action plan to combat such agreements.
— Karl Yu (@KarlYuBulletin) September 8, 2015
“We’re now in a situation where Beijing can bring arbitration cases in the tens and hundreds of millions of dollars against Canada, if something done by a municipality, a province, a territory, or First Nation’s government, or a court decision, interferes with the expectation of profit of an investor from [China] operating in Canada, said May.
There must be legislation demanding transparency, she said.
“The [China] deal with Canada has no trade provisions,” said May. “It’s all about investment. We need to make sure that any complaints from Beijing to Canada be made public immediately, even diplomatic communiques short of an arbitration suit.”
There need to be protocols that ensure future Canadian governments defend the country’s sovereignty and the right to pass its own laws. If the Fisheries Act is strengthened and environmental assessment is brought back, Canada may face challenges from China, May said.
“We need to know that the other potential leaders understand that we will fight these agreements and if we lose an arbitration, every step be kept public and we be prepared to write a cheque to Beijing rather than allow [it] to dictate to a democracy, what laws we’re allowed to pass,” May said.
Manly said the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement with Europe, which is being ratified, has similar provisions.
“It also has provisions in it that allow for … blocking our municipal governments, our regional districts from being able to use local businesses for procurement, that’s a direct attack on our own economic sovereignty, our ability to make decisions locally,” said Manly.
May said he Greens aren’t against foreign trade, however.
“Trade is an important part of our economy. We’ve seen a trade deficit growing … and it concerns us,” said May. “We’re concerned to ensure that Canadian products manufactured here are exportable with fair trade that ensures that we’re not facing tariff barriers.”