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Council chapters take FIPA fight to the streets

[[{“type”:”media”,”view_mode”:”media_large”,”fid”:”1846″,”attributes”:{“class”:”media-image size-medium wp-image-17828 alignright”,”typeof”:”foaf:Image”,”style”:””,”width”:”240″,”height”:”180″,”title”:”fippa0010″,”alt”:””}}]]The push back against Harper’s extraordinary corporate rights deal with China (the Foreign Investment Protection and Promotion Agreement, or FIPA) continued this week with Council of Canadians chapters in B.C. and Ontario taking it directly to the Harper government and opposition MPs.

On Monday, members of the Guelph, Ontario chapter “gathered in front of [Liberal] Guelph MP Frank Valeriote’s Cork Street constituency office to warn of the perceived dangers to Canadian sovereignty and democracy if the agreement goes ahead,” reports the Guelph Mercury, with a great picture. “The group was lending it support to opposition members in the House of Commons that have called for debate on the agreement.”

Richard Chaloner, a member of the chapter, “said the agreement is worrisome because it will give Chinese corporations investing in Canada certain powers, including the right go before a trade tribunal if it feels its right to make a profit is interfered with,” writes the Mercury. “The Council of Canadians fears labour laws and environmental protection laws could come under attack if they are perceived as obstacles to profit taking.”

That same day in Nanaimo, B.C., members of the Mid-Island-Nanaimo Council of Canadians chapter presented to Nanaimo city council on the FIPA. According to chapter member June Ross, the group asked the City to send letters to B.C. Premier Christy Clark:

1. Expressung the City of Nanaimo’s deep concern over the proposed Canada-China FIPA; and

2. Requesting the Government of Canada not to ratify this agreement, in the interest of ensuring that the power over Canadian laws remains in Canadian hands.

June says that “Although Council would not do a motion that made a ‘political statement’ per se, they did pass a motion to write a letter asking for consultation, and advice as to the affects on municipalities, before this Treaty is passed.”

Big ups to June, Lynn Burrows, Shelley Serebin and the other chapter members for taking this creative initiative! Not that they stopped there. Two days later, on November 7, the chapter joined concerned citizens from Qualicum Beach to protest the FIPA outside Conservative MP James Lunney’s constituency office (see photo).

There is still time to take action like this in your own community. If you have the opportunity to approach your municipal councillor over the next few days, why not give it a try? The Harper government has not yet sent diplomatic notice to the Chinese government announcing the ratification of the FIPA. In fact, Harper may wait until a November 11 deadline for comments on the FIPA environmental assessment before moving ahead. He may wait even longer — it’s hard to tell, and everything is still in play.

The Council of Canadians will be submitting brief comments about the environmental assessment tomorrow afternoon. We believe it is insufficient and needs to be completely re-written given the public opposition to the FIPA, the changing nature of Canada-China investment flows, and recent investor-state case law showing a direct threat to environmental policy from these unreasonable corporate rights treaties.

Finally, if you haven’t seen it yet, check out Rick Mercer’s Two-Minute Rant on Harper secrecy and the China FIPA. More soon…