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NDP calls for hearings on AbitibiBowater “pay off”

The NDP today called on the Harper government to hold hearings into the $130 million “payout” to Abitibi Bowater — Canada’s largest ever settlement under NAFTA’s investor-state regime.

“Barely six months after Abitibi Bowater filed its notice, the Harper government caved and Canadians are now on the hook for $130 million of their hard earned money,” said NDP International trade critic Peter Julian (Burnaby-New Westminster) in a statement today. “This record settlement under NAFTA sets a dangerous precedent and Parliament needs to look at its ramifications.”

The statement was accompanied by a motion to the International Trade Committee (CIIT) to start hearings into the Abitibi Bowater deal and into the impact of this settlement on future decisions taken in the public interest.

The Council of Canadians fully supports the NDP motion for hearings. On August 27, we called for “a public airing of the terms of the Abitibi Bowater settlement, which would then inform possible constitutional issues.” One of those issues is whether the company is being compensated for water and land rights it cannot legally own under Canada’s constitution, which does not recognize the right to private property.