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Harper government sneaks through Canada-China FIPA despite ongoing court challenge

The Harper government today announced it has ratified the controversial Canada-China Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPA), despite the fact that a legal challenge from the Hupacasath First Nation is still before the courts. The deal, which China has already ratified, will go into effect on October 1 and lock Canada into the sweeping agreement for at least 31 years.

“This is a truly sad day for Canada,” says Brenda Sayers, representative of Hupacasath First Nation. “Hupacasath First Nation is deeply disappointed that the Federal Government would ratify the Canada-China FIPA while the case is still before the Federal Court of Appeal and the decision is under reserve. This decision is an injustice and an affront to our time honored judicial heritage and shows no respect for the judicial process. The people of Canada should be alarmed that our constitutional rights have been stolen from our hands.”

“A decision from the Court of Appeal was expected any day,” adds Hupacasath Chief Steven Tatoosh. “Now, that democratic right has been squashed. By not allowing due process to take place the federal government has breached it duty to consult First Nations under Section 35 of the Constitution of Canada.”

“This is a terrible development. Once again, the Harper government is flagrantly ignoring the court system, and giving Chinese corporations and state-owned enterprises the right to sue us over our public and environmental protections,” said Maude Barlow, national chairperson of the Council of Canadians. “Canadians should be deeply angry that the Harper government has not listened to them, and has gone ahead with this corporate gift.”

“Today Prime Minister Harper showed his disrespect for the legal process, citizen voices and First Nations rights and title by ratifying this secretive and extreme investor deal before the courts have finished reviewing the case,” said Jamie Biggar, Executive Director of Leadnow.ca. “Tomorrow there will be a new wave of people working to hold this government accountable at the ballot box in 2015.”

The Canada-China FIPA was signed on September 9, 2012 but its ratification in Canada has been delayed by widespread public outcry about the unbalanced deal, which would lock Canada in for 31 years and allow Chinese corporations to directly sue the Canadian government for measures that interfere with its profits. On January 18, 2013 the Hupacasath First Nation of British Columbia initiated a court challenge on the constitutionality of the deal. The initial court ruling was in favour of the government, but the Federal Court of Appeal heard arguments on the Hupacasath appeal on June 10, 2014 and has not yet rendered its decision.