Delaney Windigo Column

The Canadian government recently ratified a controversial 31-year trade deal with China.  The Foreign Investment Protection Agreement (FIPA) is supposed to protect the rights of foreign investors. However, some critics believe the deal benefits China more than it does Canada.

Canada is locked into the agreement for three decades and considering that could have major implications in the future, there was minimal debate in the House of Commons.

Those who oppose the deal say FIPA was shrouded in secrecy. The official announcement of its ratification was on a Friday afternoon- an old public relations trick to try and bury a major news story, in the hope that it is forgotten about by the Monday news cycle.

There are several areas of concern in regards to this trade deal.

Chinese investors will have the right to launch lawsuits against Canada. This could happen in the event that any Canadian laws are passed that threaten the profits of Chinese investors.

This includes laws that deal with environmental protection. It is additionally troubling that these lawsuits could be settled without being made public.

Consequently, some critics believe that this gives China power over Canadian laws.

This trade deal did not go unchallenged by some First Nations.

The Hupacasath First Nation, a small community in British Columbia, launched court action against the federal government.

The band argued that the federal government failed in its duty to consult.

Hupacasath First Nation also referred to Section 35 of the Constitution.

The Hupacasath First Nation felt that this was a matter that could potentially affect all First Nations when it comes to potential development in their traditional territory.

The court challenge was made possible through a crowd funding campaign, where the band managed to receive enough donations to hire a lawyer for the court case.

However, a federal court judge dismissed the application on the grounds that FIPA will not impact their self-government rights.

That court ruling has since been appealed and the First Nation awaits a decision.

This is an issue that should have national resonance amongst First Nations.

FIPA does not address Section 35 of the Constitution. This could impact First Nations when Chinese investment includes development or natural resource extraction on traditional territories.

First Nations rights were completely ignored when Canada signed the international trade agreement with China.

Some have even gone so far to say that with little debate and a lack of public consultation the ratification of the trade agreement was undemocratic.

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