Stop the Canada-China FIPA (at least until we’ve given it some thought)

This evening, the federal government will vote on an NDP motion to demand that Canada not ratify an agreement called the Canada-China FIPA. The Green Party wants your help, today, to put this agreement on hold until we’ve had an actual public discussion about it.

“On September 9th,” Elizabeth May told her mailing list, “Prime Minister Stephen Harper signed an agreement with China, the Canada-China Foreign Investment Protection and Promotion Agreement (FIPA). The agreement was kept from the Canadian public and Parliament until September 26th, when it was quietly made public, tabled in the House of Commons. No press release. No technical briefing…

“This treaty would give China the unacceptable power to secretly challenge Canadian laws that infringe on its business interests, and Prime Minister Harper planned to ratify it without any public consultation, meaningful debate, or vote in the House.”

This could have happened months ago, if not for widespread public opposition to the agreement, which has given many MPs, including a number of Conservative backbenchers, cause to reconsider giving so much power to a foreign nation.

“We suspect that it is precisely this massive public outcry,” May says, “that has succeeded in forcing Prime Minister Harper to reconsider ratifying this treaty for the time being.”

The Conservatives and Liberals have pledged to vote against the NDP motion. The Liberals, however, have proposed a compromise motion that could, according to May, “represent a starting point for real dialogue and consultation on the Canada-China FIPA across party lines.”

What can you do? You can call or write to your MP, asking them to vote in favour of a motion to prevent ratification without public consultation. You can sign an online petition via the Green Party website, or sign a similar petition from the good people at Leadnow. You can also take a minute to email your friends and encourage them to get involved.

Let’s make it happen, guys. The agreement itself and the process behind it are both prime examples of Stephen Harper’s notable contempt for public opinion and democratic diligence. Let your government know how you feel about that, and stay tuned for the results.

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