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Letters pouring in to papers about Canada-China investment treaty; Halloween protests planned for BC Conservative’s office

“In just a few days Prime Minister Stephen Harper could commit Canada to the most sweeping trade deal in a generation without a single debate or vote,” writes Susan Marrier of Thunder Bay in the Chronicle Journal. “The FIPA would tie our hands for 31 years, making it possible for China’s companies to challenge Canadian laws that create jobs, protect our environment and build healthy communities with billion-dollar lawsuits that would cost taxpayers dearly.”

Michelle Potts of Abbotsford asks in her letter to the Abbotsford Mission Times today, “Why is Prime Minister Stephen Harper making such a huge decision without any debate or vote? … The Canada-China FIPA does not seem like a good long term deal for Canada.”

“Belgium is now facing a $3-billion lawsuit from a Chinese company related to a similar foreign investment agreement,” Donald Raper tells Windsor Star readers today. “Canada has already spent hundreds of millions of dollars on penalties from lawsuits launched under NAFTA. It makes no sense to sign a bilateral agreement that will have little impact on job creation but would present a huge risk to the already beleaguered taxpayers of Canada.”

And these are just the tip of the iceberg.

Across Canada, people are speaking out in their local papers against the Canada-China Foreign Investment Protection and Promotion Agreement. They’re doing it with urgency, since Harper could make the pact legal (at least in Canada) as early as this Thursday, November 1. If you haven’t sent a letter to MPs demanding they tear up the investment treaty, you can do so here. A Leadnow and SumOfUs campaign against the FIPA has gathered more than 62,000 signatures.

Gus Van Harten, an expert on investment arbitration from Osgoode Law School, continues to be a vocal critic of the deal, writing in The Record yesterday that, “The treaty will not make us a colony of China. But it will be the biggest sacrifice of Canadian sovereignty since the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), perhaps since our independence. It will put us in a position of economic dependence for 31 years, on five weeks’ notice to Canadians.”

Green Party leader Elizabeth May tried and failed again yesterday to get an emergency debate on the FIPA from the House of Commons. NDP trade critic Don Davies wrote to Trade Minister Ed Fast, also yesterday, urging him to postpone the ratification of the treaty “until it can be properly scrutinized and shown to be in the interest of all Canadians.”

According to a letter interim Liberal leader Bob Rae is sending out, Joyce Murray, Liberal critic for the Asia-Pacific Gateway, “has put forward a motion in the House of Commons that would require the government to send all treaties to committee for a comprehensive public review and debate once it is tabled in the House of Commons.

“We do not want future treaties to be ratified without public scrutiny, like the Canada-China investment agreement,” says Rae.

A little bit more exciting is a plan by B.C. activists to haunt Chilliwack-Fraser Canyon MP Mark Strahl on October 31, with the theme: “You think Halloween is scary? Check out what the Harper Government is doing-it’s terrifying!” Organizers of the action are focused on tarsands development, Harper’s gutting of environmental rules, and the China investment treaty.

“This isn’t anything really new,” said Sheila Muxlow of the group PIPE UP in an interview with the Chilliwack Times. “Harper has been a major architect of [these type of trade agreements]. Canada has benefitted in numerous ways in low-income countries where our corporations are able to challenge local human rights and environmental organizations.

“In this case, China is set to come out on top,” she says.

“That FIPA would be pushed to ratification by the Harper government without the input, permission, or even the knowledge of the Canadian public is irrefutably undemocratic,” says Sayre Schultz of Verdun in yet another letter to the editor of the Montreal Gazette.

Send a letter to the editor of your paper today, and send a letter to your MP and Prime Minister Harper saying you oppose this and other FIPAs.