Tag Archives: #FIPA

Open letter to Canada Trade Agreement Secretariat, about the FIPA Canada-China trade deal

Dear Canada Trade Agreement Secretariat,
I am writing to state my strenuous opposition to the FIPA Canada-China trade deal, and my just as strenuous opposition to the undemocratic manner in which it has been negotiated, with neither meaningful public consultation nor meaningful parliamentary debate.
FIPA represents a reckless compromise to Canada’s resource sovereignty, environmental protections, and even our very democracy. It must at least be subjected to meaningful analysis and debate, and not be forced as an inordinate political, economic, and ecological burden on our children and grandchildren.

Send your own message to Canada’s Trade Agreement Secretariat via this link.

For the facts about FIPA, the @leadnowca and @sum_of_us campaigns have produced a website, and this fact sheet (click for full-size printable PDF):

Flash fiction, science fiction, and the shape of things to come

I’m pleased to see that one of my flash fiction tweets for the CBC “Tweets from 2112” contest made the adjudicators’ all-stars list in the Environment category.

I don’t have anywhere near the time I’d like to devote to writing fiction and poetry, so I’m not above hyping either flash fiction generally (see Jeff Noon for an exemplar of the form) or this particular honourable mention, especially since the event was run by Canadian SF luminary Robert J. Sawyer, with adjudicators from SF Canada.

“Tweets from 2112” was organized as a contest, but took shape as an absorbing (=distracting) literary experiment in collective speculative fiction. I submitted several flash fiction tweets to it, but the one chosen for the all-stars list is the one I’m happiest with as a self-contained narrative…and as a flash back from the kind of future I can’t help imagining as most plausible.

Here are the others I wrote, reports from possible futures all contingent on the particular present (as Frederic Jameson theorizes what SF does).

These other submissions are maybe more satirical than science-fictional; as the contest developed, I couldn’t resist leveraging the contest tag, once it was trending, to do some consciousness-raising too, in this case about the urgent issue of #FIPA, the secretive, $64 billion, 31-year trade deal between Canada and China, which stands to get Royal Assent anytime now without so much as a single minute of debate in Parliament – despite the repeated questions of opposition MPs and several citizen petitions, the biggest of which now has over 70,000 signatures. FIPA is basically a trade treaty that commits Canada to exporting more climate change in the coming decades. As David Suzuki explains it:

Why would anyone want to sell out our interests, democratic processes and future like this? And why would we put up with it? On the first question, Gus Van Harten, an international investment law professor at Osgoode Hall Law School [and an outspoken critic of FIPA], told Desmog Blog we must consider the possibility that government and industry know that changes in attitudes about fossil fuel extraction “may lead to new regulations on the oil patch, in that, climate can’t just be wished away forever, and that governments might take steps to regulate the oil patch in ways that investors wouldn’t like.” He continues, “If you bring in a lot of Chinese investments, and you sign the Canada investment deal, you kind of get the Chinese investors to do your dirty work for you.”
In other words, as the world recognizes the already extreme and increasing consequences of global warming and shifts from wastefully burning fossil fuels to conservation and renewable energy, tar sands bitumen may soon become uneconomical. The goal is to dig it up, sell it and burn it as quickly as possible while there’s still money to be made. It’s cynical and suicidal, but it’s the kind of thinking that is increasingly common among those who see the economy as the highest priority — over human health and the air, water, soil and biodiverse ecosystems that keep us alive.

FIPA thus points to a compromised, colonized future for Canada’s energy industry, a dire, costly future for the nation’s democracy and resource sovereignty, and a further diminishment of Canada’s standing in the international community. It is not the Canada I would leave to the next generation, whose survival, never mind prosperity, deals like FIPA squander and endanger.

Which is why I find it hard to imagine a world in 2112 that isn’t fundamentally post-apocalyptic, finally laid waste by corporate greed that now seems bent on its own ultimate collapse, on the cannibalizing of its own institutions, before we can collectively imagine a different future, another world. These are dangerous, precipitous days, on the cusp or arguably even already past the tipping point of globalized climate catastrophe. In this context, science fiction has important consciousness-raising work to do, in ringing the alarm now sounded far and wide by the genre’s present preoccupations with (zombie) apocalypse and post-apocalypse.

Which brings me to a short hypothesis about science fiction’s projecting power. Setting aside, for the moment, the critical consensus (following Jameson) that science fiction is best understood as a literature of commentary on the present, not the future, what nevertheless can we see of the genre’s power to project if not predict the shape of things to come?

Take “cyberpunk” for example. As the most popular science fiction of thirty years ago, this subgenre might reasonably be said to have projected an accurate image of today’s globalized, corporate-ruled, digitally networked, and simulacrum-haunted world.

Now take “post-apocalypse” for another example: it’s arguably, at present, the most popular subgenre of science fiction today. What might post-apocalypse, the most popular science fiction of today, project about our world thirty years from now?

We need to heed these reports from our possible futures, lest we find ourselves doomed to produce them.

Work Cited
Suzuki, David. “China deal and budget sacrifice democracy to short-term goals.” David Suzuki Foundation 25 Oct. 2012.

Open letter to my MP about #FIPA, the un-debated Canada-China trade deal

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)

Dear [MP],
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.

– [YT]

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.