I come to you with an urgent appeal on behalf of the Hupacasath First Nation in British Columbia. At any moment, Prime Minister Harper could ratify the Canada-China FIPA (Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement) – one of the most fundamentally anti-democratic, anti-worker, anti-environment and anti-Indigenous rights deals since NAFTA.
That’s the bad news. The good news is that the Hupacasath are trying to stop the FIPA from becoming law. There’s a chance they will succeed – but not without all of our help right now.
The Canada-China FIPA is an investment treaty that grants corporations from both countries incredible rights to challenge government policies – even environmental, public health or resource conservation measures – that interfere with corporate profits. Once ratified, the deal will be in place for a minimum of 15 years. Even if it is cancelled after that, the FIPA will remain in place for another 15 years!
At this very moment, a U.S. firm is using FIPA-like investor rights in NAFTA to sue Canada for a precautionary Quebec moratorium on the dangerous natural gas extraction method called fracking. It’s only a matter of time before China-based firms, which are invested more and more in Canadian resources such as natural gas, oil and mining, will use rights granted to them by the FIPA to undermine Canadian democracy.
As we’ve come to expect, the Harper government negotiated the FIPA in complete secrecy, with no public consultation or Parliamentary debate. It’s this very failure to consult that has made the deal vulnerable.
A UNIQUE OPPORTUNITY
The Hupacasath are uniquely positioned to challenge the FIPA. Unlike every opposition party and trade justice organization in the country, the Hupacasath possess the constitutional right to consultation, and the legal right to uphold it.
On January 18, the Hupacasath exercised this right by filing a Federal Court injunction to stop the ratification of the FIPA. The case has been expedited and is expected to be in court in late May or early June. The Hupacasath are a small First Nation in B.C. and court costs are mounting. They need $50,000 right now in order to keep the wheels of justice turning.
This is a unique opportunity. This small B.C. First Nation of less than 300 people are challenging this injustice not only on behalf of First Nations, but on behalf of all Canadians. They are valiantly defending what is left of our environmental protections and our economic sovereignty.
DONATIONS ARE URGENTLY NEEDED
There are only days left to raise the $50,000 needed for the legal injunction, and before the FIPA is ratified. The Council of Canadians has stood with the Hupacasath on this from the very beginning, and have teamed-up with our friends at Leadnow to raise these needed funds from the public.
Your contribution of $25, $50, $100 – or as generous as you can be – is the best way to help. We are matching dollar-for-dollar all donations up to a total of $5,000 given, and 100% of these funds will go directly to covering the Hupacasath’s legal costs.
What lies in the balance of this case is huge. Prime Minister Harper’s entire corporate trade and investment agenda will be put under the microscope. If this legal challenge is successful, it will not only be a major victory for First Nations’ rights, but for restoring Canada’s democracy. And it may very well be the end of the FIPA, and future deals like it.
As Hupacasath Councillor Brenda Sayers has said from the outset: “This is not just a First Nations fight – it’s Canada’s battle.”
They deserve our support. Let’s show it.
With hope and resolve,
National Chairperson, The Council of Canadians