This is the e-mail I sent to my MP this week about the imminent #FIPA (or #FIPPA) trade pact the government plans to pass by November 1. I have adapted some of the text from a form letter provided by the Council of Canadians.
Subject: Please push for debate on Canada-China corporate rights pact (FIPA)
I am opposed to the Canada-China Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPA). These investment agreements are nothing but corporate rights pacts that put public policy at risk from costly, secretive lawsuits. They undermine democracy. And the particular interests of parties to this deal stand to gravely extend the corporate extraction industry’s environmental harms too.
At the very least, Parliament should have the opportunity to debate and make changes to the treaty, or to eventually reject it if MPs determine it is not in Canada’s best interests.
Australia has discontinued the practice of including investor protection dispute mechanisms in trade deals like this; that is an approach Canada should consider. (Ideally, I would like to see a plebiscite mechanism implemented to debate and publicly ratify deals like this, but Canada at present is far from an ideal democracy.)
I look forward to your response and thank you for your hard work on behalf of our riding.
The #FIPA deal compromises Canadian democracy and resource sovereignty, and is arguably unconstitutional. Yet it has received very little media attention, will commit Canada to at least fifteen years, and stands to pass entirely without debate in little over a week. As Elizabeth May writes:
the House has been debating C-42, the Canada-Panama trade agreement since last spring (total volume of trade $213 million.) and we had six days debate in the House and 6 days in Committee before passing C-23, the Canada-Jordan trade agreement (volume of trade $90 million.) This sweeping deal with China is not due for a single hour of debate before passage (trade volume $64 billion.)
If you are concerned – alarmed – about this trade treaty, write to your MP to demand the Opposition make it a debate topic on Opposition Day. There’s also a petition you can sign – as nearly 50,000 Canadians already have done.
Trade deals like this clearly show what Chris Hedges calls “the hollowness of electoral politics”: the neoliberal governments of the (over)developed world today act less to serve and protect the public interest than to facilitate the extractions and exploitations of multinational corporations, the imperial powers that have colonized us. We need to look as closely at trade treaties as we look at formal legislation, as more and more machinations of ruling power retreat into their Byzantine shadows.