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Council of Canadians opposes Premier Notley’s endorsement of Canada-China FTA talks, tar sands exports to China

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley shows her support for the 1.1 million barrel per day Energy East tar sands pipeline, March 2016.

The Council of Canadians is opposed to a Canada-China Free Trade Agreement given it would be detrimental to people and the environment in both Canada and China.

The Calgary Herald reports, “As Premier Rachel Notley heads east on her first Asian trade mission, Alberta’s NDP government is backing free trade talks between Canada and China. [Notley’s press secretary, Cheryl] Oates said the NDP government also backs the federal Liberal government in reviewing restrictions on state-owned-enterprises investing in the oilsands.”

The article adds, “Wenran Jiang, director of the Canada-China Energy and Investment Forum, [and a former special adviser to the Alberta Department of Energy]… noted that the NDP, in opposition, had raised concerns about Chinese investment and opposed CNOOC’s takeover of Nexen … [but that] Notley had shown pragmatism through actions such as her government’s support for the expansion of Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline to Vancouver, which will significantly increase Alberta’s energy exports to China.”

Chinese state-owned CNOOC Ltd. purchased the Canadian oil and gas giant Nexen Inc. for $15.1 billion in February 2013. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau approved the 890,000 barrel per day Trans Mountain pipeline in November 2016.

The Calgary Herald then highlights, “A Canada-China free trade deal would likely face strong opposition on the left, potentially a problem for a social democratic government. The Council of Canadians advocacy group has warned that an agreement with China would weaken Canadian environmental standards, hurt indigenous rights and lead to the expansion of the oilsands. ‘The point of any free trade agreement should be to better the lives of people in both countries, not to grant rights to corporations and push fossil fuels’, the organization said in a petition campaign against a free trade agreement.”

The Globe and Mail has reported, “China wants to forge a historic free-trade deal with Canada, but a senior Chinese official said this will require Canadian concessions on investment restrictions [notably in the oil and gas sector] and a commitment to build an energy pipeline to the coast.”

In September 2016, CTV reported, “[Former Conservative prime minister Brian] Mulroney says that growing trade between Canada and China depends on Trudeau approving the Energy East Pipeline. Mulroney [says] Trudeau ‘could have a nation building exercise that would then allow him to service the Chinese and others more beneficially for Canada’, if Energy East and other pipelines are built.”

The Council of Canadians stands with the more than 50 Indigenous nations signed the Treaty Alliance Against Tar Sands Expansion that vows to block all proposed pipeline, tanker and rail projects that impact First Nations land and water.

We also support the concern argued by the Hupacasath First Nation that the Canadian government failed to consult First Nations before signing the Canada-China Foreign Investment Protection and Promotion Agreement (FIPA) in 2012. On this front, we see the Trudeau government following in the footsteps of the Harper government by not setting up an appropriate consultation process with First Nations on the Canada-China FTA.

The Globe and Mail has also reported, “A Nanos Research survey … found 88 per cent are uncomfortable or somewhat uncomfortable with the prospect of a free-trade deal that would allow Chinese state-owned corporations to buy high-tech Canadian firms and lift restrictions barring these enterprises from investing in Alberta’s oil sands.”

Exploratory talks toward a Canada-China FTA began on February 20 in Beijing and a second round is set to take place this month.