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We Stand Together: Challenging the Canada-China FIPA

From August 10 to 16, Brenda Sayers of Hupacasath First Nation will be touring Ontario and Quebec to rally support for the Hupacasath court case challenging the Canada-China Foreign Investment Protection Agreement (FIPA). The Council of Canadians is a key organizer of the tour alongside Idle No More, Leadnow, Common Frontiers and many others.

The FIPA became controversial as soon as it was announced last fall. Almost immediately, critics slammed the 31-year lifespan of the treaty and the unwillingness of the Harper government to give Parliament an honest chance to debate or make changes to the agreement before it was to be ratified. It hasn’t been ratified yet, and that probably has something to do with the Hupacasath legal case, which could be decided in September.

The FIPA will expose Canada to lawsuits from Chinese companies and investors who claim their profits have been lowered somehow by a government decision, including environmental legislation, resource conservation measures, or actions that fulfilled constitutional responsibilities with respect to First Nations. Canadian firms receive the same rights to challenge public policy in China. Like with NAFTA and other bilateral investment treaties, these lawsuits would be decided by paid arbitrators in closed-door hearings outside of Canada’s legal system.

Canada is the sixth most sued country in the world under this corporate rights regime, with the latest cases being a challenge to Quebec’s temporary moratorium on shale gas extraction (fracking) in the St. Lawrence Valley, and Ely Lilly’s $500-million claim against the way Canadian courts handle patent disputes. So it is not a question of if Chinese and Canadian firms, in particular energy and mining companies, will make use of these new corporate rights. It’s a question of when and how expensive they will be for the Canadian and Chinese public.

I wrote a bit about the Hupacasath First Nation’s legal arguments shortly after the early June hearings in federal court. Radio-Canada International also covered the case here, and you can hear Brenda describe it in this video clip. At the time, hundreds of people rallied outside the court in support of the legal challenge. Brenda’s tour to Ontario and Quebec is an opportunity to bring the case and the broader issue of what’s wrong with the FIPA to a new audience.

TOUR STOPS (will be revised so check back)


Saturday, August 10, 2-5pm
Public Event @ L’Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM)

R-M110, Pavillon des Sciences de la gestion (R)


Sunday, August 11, 1-3pm
Rally on Parliament Hill


Wednesday, August 14, 7-9pm

Public event @ Peterborough Public Library

345 Aylmer St. North


Thursday, August 15, 7-9pm
Public Event @ Volunteer Hamilton

267 King Street East


Friday, August 16, 7-9pm
Public Event @ Cecil Community Centre

58 Cecil Street (at Spadina Avenue)