3 Canadian Coast Guard communication centres closing in B.C.

The federal government is moving ahead with plans to close three Canadian Coast Guard communications centres on the West Coast.

According to union spokesperson Scott Hodge, staff received notices last week confirming the closures.

The Tofino centre, which is actually located in nearby Ucluelet, will close April 21. Vancouver’s — at 555 West Hastings Street — will cease operations May 6 and the Comox centre will shut down sometime in early 2016.

The closures are part of a plan announced in 2012 to reorganize Coast Guard operations, including the controversial closure of the Kitsilano Coast Guard Station.

Altogether 10 communication centres will be shut down across Canada, leaving a total of 12 nationwide.

Consolidated operations

The marine communication centres are responsible for listening for distress calls and guiding ships, much like air traffic controllers at airports.

On the West Coast the communications operations will be consolidated at upgraded centres in Victoria and Prince Rupert.

Tories defend Kits Coast Guard closure
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Coast guard spokesperson Michele Boriel said the upgraded centres will enhance operational effectiveness.

“Equipment will be more reliable, service disruptions will be reduced, and coverage will remain exactly as it is today because the network of radio and radar towers across Canada will not change.

Boriel notes in the 1990’s new technology allowed the coast guard to reduce the number of communications centres from 44 to 22 nationally.

‘Blind spots’ concern union

Nevertheless, Unifor Local 2182 spokesperson Scott Hodge said he’s worried about what this means for monitoring Burrard Inlet.

“In Vancouver for instance, the traffic centre is located on the harbour. They have radar coverage in most of the harbour. There are blind spots in the radar, but when you view out the window you can see the entire harbour,” he said.

“Once the centres move to Victoria, that’ll be lost.”

Staff at the Comox and Vancouver centre will be transferred to Victoria, while staff at the Tofino centre will be transferred to Prince Rupert.

Hodge is also concerned about the noise in the larger centres.

“You have people talking all the time. If you can imagine a 911 centre in a party line, and what that would be like trying to listen for adult conversation going on for the one person in trouble,” he said.

Mulcair: Anti-Terrorism Bill’s Wording Makes It Easier For Government To Spy On Foes

OTTAWA – Information-sharing measures in proposed anti-terrorism legislation are so broadly worded they would allow the government to spy on its political foes, NDP Leader Tom Mulcair says.

Mulcair took exception Tuesday to the bill’s mention of interference with infrastructure or economic stability as activity that undermines the security of Canada.

The wording is sufficiently vague to permit a Canadian Security Intelligence Service investigation of anyone who challenges the Conservatives’ social, economic or environmental policies, the Opposition leader said during the daily question period.

“What’s to stop this bill from being used to spy on the government’s political enemies?”

Prime Minister Stephen Harper dismissed the suggestion, telling the House of Commons the NDP had entered the realm of conspiracy theory. “That’s what we’ve come to expect from the black helicopter fleet over there.”

The bill introduced late last month would give CSIS power to disrupt suspected terror plots, thwart financial transactions and covertly interfere with radical websites.

The legislation would also relax the sharing of information about activity that undermines the security of Canada — “a new and astonishingly broad concept,” law professors Craig Forcese and Kent Roach wrote in an analysis published Tuesday.

It comes close to authorizing a “total information awareness”” approach to security and in that sense “we consider it a radical departure from conventional understandings of privacy,” say the authors.

Even as it erodes privacy, the bill fails to learn from the lessons of two federal commissions of inquiry that documented the effects of uncontrolled information-sharing on Arab-Canadians, including Ottawa’s Maher Arar, who were imprisoned and tortured in Syria, the national security experts say.

Government claims that existing watchdogs will provide a check against these powers are not convincing, Forcese and Roach conclude.

The bill says activity that undermines Canadian security does not include lawful advocacy, protest, dissent and artistic expression.

Still, some environmentalists wonder if the new legislation will authorize CSIS to step up surveillance of activists.

Green party Leader Elizabeth May noted some demonstrations are not lawful but also do not involve violence–for instance a rally to block an oil pipeline.

“Will non-violent, peaceful activities be exempted from this act?” she asked Tuesday in the House.

Harper said the bill was “designed to deal with the promotion and actual execution of terrorist activities, and not other lawful activities.”

Keith Stewart, an energy campaigner for environmental group Greenpeace Canada, has difficulty accepting government assurances–particularly given the recent leak of an RCMP intelligence assessment entitled Criminal Threats to the Canadian Petroleum Industry.

The January 2014 assessment, initially obtained by Montreal’s La Presse newspaper, says those within the movement willing to “go beyond peaceful actions primarily employ direct action tactics, such as civil disobedience, unlawful protests, break-and-entry, vandalism and sabotage.”

The bill strengthens CSIS powers without an accompanying increase in oversight–a recipe for misuse, Stewart said. He also worries about where the fruits of investigations will end up.

“I don’t want tax dollars paying for Canadian spies to conduct what would otherwise be illegal surveillance on environmental groups and then passing this on to the oil industry.”

Follow @JimBronskill on Twitter

Federal budget cuts $100 million from fisheries and oceans over three years

OTTAWA – The Harper government took another axe to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans in Thursday’s budget.

The department will have to cut spending by $33 million a year starting in 2015-16 – the year the government vows to balance the budget.

But the federal Conservatives, who first cut Fisheries spending in the 2012 budget and watered down habitat protection legislation, tried to make amends with critics by increasing funding for habitat protection.

The money, more than $10 million over two years, will be aimed at local organizations who will presumably fill gaps left by the departure of Fisheries habitat officers since last year’s cuts.

Watershed Watch Salmon Society executive director Craig Orr said the $10 million boost could be helpful, but he added he would need to see more details.

And Orr is concerned about the additional budget cuts to DFO since they come before the federal government has responded to the Cohen Commission inquiry into loss of salmon stocks in B.C. The inquiry report cites “concern” over earlier staff cuts in DFO’s Pacific Region habitat management program.

“It seems to me with these big cuts, the federal government is ignoring the public interest in wild salmon,” said Orr.

The latest austerity measures start with a modest $4-million cut for this coming year and $5 million in 2014-15, then soar to $33 million annually for 2015-16 and subsequent years.

But the measures will target Ottawa headquarters and will be relatively painless to the regions, documents suggest. Bureaucrats are to target “administrative overhead,” reduce“duplication,” and improve decision-making.

“Organizational changes required to generate these savings will not impact front line staff or services to Canadians.”

The department has about 11,000 employees and an annual budget of just under $1.9 billion. The vast majority of its spending and staff are outside Ottawa.

Two measures in the budget appear to respond to criticism of cuts in 2012 of roughly one-third of habitat staff in B.C. and across the country.

Ottawa will contribute $10 million over two years across Canada for “partnerships” with local groups on fisheries and habitat conservation measures.

The Vancouver-based Pacific Salmon Foundation will see its funding increase from about $300,000 a year to $1 million as a result of changes in how the government allocates revenue from the sale of the conservation “stamps” fishermen have to purchase when they acquire licenses.

“This will allow the Foundation to fund additional projects to improve Pacific salmon habitat, in partnership with communities, first nations and non-profit organizations,” according to the budget.

Ottawa is sparing the aquaculture sector from austerity measures, extending for another year a program launched in 2008 aimed at enhancing “regulatory certainty” and “improving the conditions for a sustainable aquaculture sector.” The price tag for the renewal is $57.5 million over five years starting in 2013-14.

Mary Ellen Walling, executive director of the BC Salmon Farmers Association, welcomed the funding earmarked for aquaculture.

She noted the aquaculture sector has been working for some time to get in place a regulatory framework as there is essentially none now.

The only mention of aquaculture in federal legislation is in the Bank Act, she said.

Salmon farmers in B.C. work under a one-year licences, yet it takes two years to grow a crop, added Walling.

“For us to see some investment specifically to enhance regulatory certainty, I think is really quite good news for the whole sector,” she said.

The government also budgeted $33.1 million in the 2013-14 to extend programs on both coasts aimed at covering the cost of “integrating first nations fishing enterprises” into commercial fisheries.

The program was first announced on the West Coast in 2007, when the government proposed the establishment of a $175-million, five-year fund aimed at ending long-standing tensions between aboriginal and commercial fisheries on the West Coast.

The money was to be used by Ottawa to create “one fishery” in B.C. by buying licenses of commercial fishers seeking to leave the business. Those licenses could be passed on to first nations businesses, as well as establish “enhanced catch monitoring” and “strengthen enforcement efforts.”

A similar program has been ongoing in Atlantic Canada. Federal officials were unable to say how the $33.1 million in new money was to be divided between the two coasts.

poneil@postmedia.com

Twitter.com/poneilinottawa

© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun

Read more: http://www.vancouversun.com/news/Federal+budget+cuts+million+from+fisheries+oceans+over+three+years/8133846/story.html#ixzz2OHTwgVQr

Bureaucrats told Stephen Harper’s government environmental reforms would be ‘very controversial,’ records reveal

Author
MIKE DE SOUZA
OTTAWA – Federal bureaucrats told the Harper government before it overhauled environmental protection laws last year that its reforms would be “very controversial,” reveal newly released internal records.

The briefing notes, marked “secret” but released to Postmedia News through access-to-information legislation, suggested that the government could work together with the oil and gas industry to promote the reforms, which are now the target of the Idle No More protests that accuse the government of neglecting the rights of First Nations.

The records include a list of suggested messages for Environment Minister Peter Kent’s parliamentary secretary, Michelle Rempel, to use in a Feb. 2, 2012 meeting with oilsands company Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. (CNRL), in order to gain its support. At that time, a parliamentary committee was also reviewing environmental laws in order to make recommendations to the government.

“Resource development is certainly among the major industrial sectors that are top-of-mind as we consider the modernization of our regulatory system,” Rempel was asked to say during the meeting with Bill Clapperton, vice-president of stakeholder and environmental affairs with CNRL, according to the records.

“The reforms, when introduced, may be very controversial. I hope we can count on your support.”

Kent said Tuesday people will eventually see evidence that the changes will improve environmental protection.

“Human nature does not easily accommodate any change or the prospect of change,” Kent told Postmedia News. “When change does happen, there are often very legitimate concerns that develop until in the fullness of time, the changes that are made, fulfil the commitment and the promise of those who made the changes.”

CNRL declined comment.

NDP deputy leader and environment critic Megan Leslie said she was angry after reviewing the briefing material. She said it suggests Rempel was giving a company privileged information about a review done by a parliamentary committee before its report was tabled in the House of Commons.

Leslie said it also shows that Idle No More protesters are correct about highlighting inadequate consultations with First Nations. “The final (parliamentary) report basically said exactly what the Conservatives wanted it to say in preparation for the total gutting of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act.”

The records are the latest in a series of internal documents demonstrating the government’s co-operation with industry in delivering the reforms that eliminated environmental reviews for nearly 3,000 projects last summer.

Liberal environment critic Kirsty Duncan also highlighted recent Idle No More protests, adding that she was troubled to learn Rempel was “trolling” for oil industry support before the government introduced its reforms, while environmental and First Nations groups were left in the dark.

“I don’t think it comes as a surprise,” Duncan said. “The government has an agenda to gut environmental assessment and fast-track development.”

The revelations in the latest documents coincided with questions Tuesday from Green Party Leader Elizabeth May, who bluntly asked whether the government was considering merging Environment Canada with Natural Resources Canada. The claim was immediately dismissed by Prime Minister Stephen Harper in the House of Commons, and again later by Kent, who noted that his department had important responsibilities and laws to oversee.

“Environment Canada is going nowhere,” Kent said.

© Copyright (c) Postmedia News

Read more: http://www.canada.com/Bureaucrats+told+Stephen+Harper+government+environmental+reforms+would+very+controversial+records/7889843/story.html#ixzz2Jn9Wm65w

Ottawa may try emotional tack for pipeline support

By Jeffrey Jones

CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) – Ottawa may try to tug at Canadians’ emotions as a way to build public support for building pipelines to ship growing crude production to the West, East and South, the federal natural resources minister said on Friday.

The International Energy Agency’s new forecast of booming U.S. light oil production has only added urgency to the need to build pipelines so Western Canadian crude can get to new markets, such as Asia and Eastern Canada, as the United States edges closer to self-sufficiency over the next 15 years, Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver said.

But many Canadians, enamored with their country’s natural beauty, remain wary of the environmental impacts of such proposed projects as Enbridge Inc’s Northern Gateway pipeline to the Pacific Coast from Alberta and new pipeline capacity to Montreal and points east, Oliver said.

Having already devoted major efforts to explaining the economic reasons for such developments with statistics and forecasts, it is time to communicate “at an emotive level”, he told a Calgary business audience.

“I think we have to realize that this is a huge challenge, because if we don’t get people on side, if we don’t get the social license, politics often follows opinion,” he said. “We could well get a positive regulatory conclusion from the joint panel that’s looking at Northern Gateway, but if the population is not on side there’s a big problem.”

He described shifting public opinion as the biggest challenge facing the need to build energy infrastructure in Canada.

Oliver decried some environmental groups that he said will oppose any and all energy developments out of hand. They would not be the target of such communications.

He has already delved into the emotive. At the start of the Northern Gateway hearings early this year, he issued a statement blasting “environmental and other radical groups” who only want to block Canada’s aims at diversifying energy trade.

A new campaign aimed at Canadians across the country would be somewhat less provocative, Oliver suggested.

“There’s a history in the country of resource development being part of the lives of Canadians and the prosperity of Canadians, and I think if we can make people understand how resources are so integral to Canadian history, that’s something a lot of people in this country feel proud about,” he said.

The joint review panel hearing the Northern Gateway application faces deadline of the end of 2013 to issue a decision on the project, which would move 550,000 barrels of Alberta crude a day to the West Coast. From there it could be shipped across the Pacific on tankers.

Environmental and many aboriginal groups staunchly oppose it. Enbridge and TransCanada Corp have also proposed projects to move oil to Eastern Canada, though opposition to those concepts is building as well.

Oliver denied that he was becoming less supportive of Northern Gateway, saying he had never promoted a specific project, just the need to move oil to the coast.

(Editing by M.D. Golan)

© Thomson Reuters 2012 All rights reserved.

Prime Minister Harper did NOT ratify FIPA today

Author
William Carroll
Big news: Prime Minister Harper did NOT ratify FIPA today as expected, which means that the fight goes on to stop this terrible deal.

This is encouraging, and we have huge momentum. But we have to keep building, because he may simply have delayed for a few days to regroup. Now that it’s been 21 days since FIPA was tabled, he can ratify it at any time without notice. But the fact that he didn’t do it today shows how rattled he and his caucus must be by the massive upwelling of grassroots opposition from every corner of Canada.

Two weeks ago most Canadians had never heard of this terrible deal, and it seemed inevitable that Harper would ratify it today.

But thanks to you, it’s been an incredible week. Along with our partners at SumOfUs.org, we’ve been working literally around the clock — holding press conferences, delivering your 70,000+ signatures to Parliament, purchasing hundreds of radio ads crowdfunded by over 3,000 of you, building call tools that thousands of you used today to call key Conservative MPs, and more. We’ve heard from dozens of incredible organizers rallying their communities on the ground against this deal from coast to coast to coast.

We’re going to be working on next steps all weekend, so stay tuned for a key update soon. But we wanted to share this encouraging news immediately, and we’ll be back in touch with you early next week with next steps to keep on fighting FIPA.

In the meantime, if you’re on facebook, you can join us at SumOfUs and Leadnow to get more frequent updates.

Thanks for all that you do,

Matthew, Emma, Jamie and Taren on behalf of Leadnow.ca and SumOfUs.org

P.S. We still need to engage as many Canadians as possible on this issue – please click here to share our latest campaign image on facebook.

Leadnow.ca is an independent community that brings Canadians together to hold government accountable, deepen our democracy and take action for the common good.

OPEN LETTER TO PRIME MINISTER HARPER

Author
Clayton Ruby, C.M.
Please sign and share:

http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/281/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=11824

Original letter from Clayton Ruby, C.M.
Board Chair, ForestEthics Advocacy
B.A., LL.B, LL.M., LL.D. (honoris causa)

We’re getting through to Conservative MPs who could help us secure
debate on the Canada China Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection
Act (FIPA). Now we’re taking our request to the top—to Prime Minister
Harper.

Stand with me, fellow Canadians, and sign my Open Letter to Harper.
Together, we demand that he preserve Canadian rights and sovereignty
and protect Canada’s prosperity.

This treaty must not be enacted without proper public debate and
discourse. Help me gather 30,000 signatures on this letter, which I
will deliver to Harper on or before November 1st—the day the treaty
will become law if we don’t speak up now.

_____________________
OPEN LETTER TO PRIME MINISTER HARPER

November 1, 2012

Prime Minister Stephen Harper,

It is my privilege to deliver to you this letter signed by tens of
thousands of Canadian citizens. All of them are deeply concerned about
the direction in which this country is headed under your leadership.
It is not just the proposed sale of Nexen to CNOOC that is hugely
problematic but even more so, the passage of the Canada China Foreign
Investment Promotion and Protection Act (FIPA).

The signatories to this letter find FIPA unacceptable on a number of fronts:

1. It undermines Canada’s democracy and sovereignty and takes away our
right to make decisions or enact laws that protect our natural
resources and environment.
2. It allows Chinese corporate interests (both private and
state-owned) to sue us behind closed doors for limiting their right to
profit from investments they have made in our natural resources.
3. It exposes Canadian taxpayers to hundreds of millions of dollars in
damages—made payable to Chinese investors–without their knowledge.
4. It has been tabled quietly in the House of Commons without so much
as a press release. There has been no parliamentary debate or vote and
no public scrutiny.

With the foregoing in mind, I demand that you suspend passage of this
Act immediately and allow Canada’s citizens and their elected
representatives to review and debate this pact in full.

I await your response,

Comedy or Trajedy: Peter Kent Environment Minister

Author
New Internationalis
Could it really be true? A prestigious climate change conference not only sponsored by arch-polluters Shell, but also featuring Canadian Environment Minister Peter Kent, notorious cheerleader for the tar sands, as a keynote speaker?

See this item from the New Internationalist:

http://www.newint.org/blog/2012/10/16/tar-sands-chatham-house/

Deal with China triggers public concern, lawyer’s warning

Public concern appears to be mounting over a Canada-China investment agreement that was quietly signed in September and, despite almost no discussion in Parliament, could take effect as early as next Thursday.

The critics include MPs speaking out this week in the House of Commons and ordinary citizens flooding their MPs’ offices with many thousands of email messages.

The controversy comes as polls show growing concern about Chinese investment in Canada. One poll, a Nanos Research survey this week, found Canadians consider China this country’s greatest national security threat, even higher than Iran.

And concern in B.C. about China was even higher, where 24 per cent of respondents named China as the top threat compared to 17 per cent who named Iran.

Opponents of the Canada-China investment deal warn that Canadian taxpayers could be exposed to billions of dollars in potential damages if Chinese firms claim they were wronged by government actions in Canada.

The most provocative charge is that Chinese companies invested heavily in Enbridge Inc.’s proposed $6.5-billion Northern Gateway pipeline project could receive a huge payoff if the B.C. government blocked the megaproject.

The B.C. government was urged this week by a Toronto law professor to seek a court injunction preventing ratification of the investment deal, which would protect Chinese investors in Canada and Canadian investors in China for a minimum of 15 years.

“The B.C. government must take legal action if it is to defend its constitutional position from potential irreparable harm due to the ratification of the Canada-China treaty,” Osgoode Hall professor Gus Van Harten wrote in a letter to Premier Christy Clark. “If ratified, the treaty will change fundamentally the position of provincial legislative, executive and judicial powers in relation to any Chinese-owned asset in the country.”

The federal government argues the concern is overblown. The deal will enhance protection for Canadian investors in China and, in the words of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, “create jobs and economic growth in Canada.”

There are also complaints that Parliament is not getting enough time to debate the treaty, which will be locked in for a minimum 15 years once enacted, sometime after Nov. 1.

The truth, as usual, is somewhere between those two positions.

On the economic front, Harper’s promise of jobs and growth isn’t backed up by his government’s preliminary analysis, which says the economic effects in Canada will likely be “minimal.”

That same analysis, however, supports the argument of the government and some trade experts that the deal won’t have much effect for Canada and, because Chinese officials will still be able to make life difficult for investors there, only of modest benefit to Canadian firms.

Federal officials note Canada has a relatively open regime that treats foreigners the same as Canadian investors. China has a famously complex and corruption-prone system that is an enormous challenge for Canadian firms.

“Canada has had a situation with the People’s Republic of China for some years where its investment has been virtually unrestricted here, but we have had more difficulty with our investment there,” Harper told the House of Commons this week in defending the treaty.

Senior Canadian officials told the House of Commons trade committee this month that foreign investment promotion and protection agreements – better known as FIPAs – are designed to favour developed countries seeking better access to countries with systems “less developed or (which) may be subject to political influence.”

“All we’re really doing is undertaking a legal obligation to do what we’re already doing,” said Ian Burney, the assistant deputy minister for trade policy.

The treaty’s imbalance in Canada’s favour is one reason why business groups – including the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, the Canadian Council of Chief Executives, the Vancouver-based Asia-Pacific Foundation of Canada, and the Canada-China Business Council – have endorsed it.

The Canada-China FIPA is aimed at protecting investors from expropriation and other costly state interventions. It is one of more than 200 struck by various nations around the world and Canada’s 24th such bilateral deal.

The China agreement is more limited in scope compared to other FIPAs in that it applies only to companies after the investment has been made. Thus the foreign investment review processes of both countries – including Canada’s current review of the proposed $15.1-billion Nexen takeover by the state-owned China National Offshore Oil Co. – will not be changed.

“In other words, if the Chinese screw you when you’re trying to set up a company you can’t invoke the treaty. Once you set up you can invoke the treaty,” according to trade lawyer Milos Barutciski.

The deal prohibits signatories from expropriating or nationalizing foreign assets “except for a public purpose, under domestic due procedures of law (and) in a non-discriminatory manner.” Fair compensation is also required.

The most controversial feature, and by far the most useful for foreign investors, is a provision allowing investors to seek arbitration if they feel their rights are violated. An arbitration panel would be made up of one expert from the investing country, one from the host country, and a third chosen by the first two arbiters from a country that has diplomatic relations with both countries.

A majority in the three-member panel can assess damages if they deem the complainant’s rights have been violated. The national government is responsible for covering the costs of those penalties, Barutciski said.

The award must be made public, as long as “confidential information” is not released, but the hearings can be held in private.

The agreement excludes sensitive sectors such as culture and military equipment. Environmental and health measures are also exempt as long as there’s no evidence they’re disguised attempts to discriminate against foreign firms.

Both Barutciski and Michael Hart, founder of Carleton University’s Centre for Trade Policy and Law, said Canada is a winner in a deal that won’t have a dramatic overall impact.

“Most criticisms of FIPAs is that they don’t really do much. They’re relatively innocuous agreements,” Hart said.

While Van Harten argues the Chinese could launch a potentially costly claim if the Northern Gateway project doesn’t proceed, Hart and Barutciski say that is unlikely.

Governments are allowed under the agreement to protect the environment and all Northern Gateway investors knew – or should have known – that the project faced numerous roadblocks, Barutciski said.

Pitman Potter, chairman of the Institute of Asian Research at the University of B.C.’s law faculty, said the deal brings “important” benefits to Canadian firms in China but “does not appear” to increase Canada’s obligations beyond what is already provided under international trade law, including World Trade Organization provisions. “Nonetheless, I should think a robust public process of consultation and debate would be useful,” he said.

The lack of public debate was a burning issue in the House of Commons this week as MPs complained that the public concern about the treaty isn’t being matched by MP scrutiny. NDP MP Don Davies and Green leader Elizabeth May said roughly 60,000 emails have been sent to each of their offices complaining about the deal.

Poneil@postmedia.com Twitter.com/poneilinottawa
© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun

Read more: http://www.vancouversun.com/Deal+with+China+triggers+public+concern+lawyer+warning/7450706/story.html#ixzz2AWoDVxCn

Petition: Canada-China Foreign Investment Protection Agreement

Author
Leadnow.ca
Canada-China Foreign Investment Protection Agreement

In two weeks, Prime Minister Harper could pass the most secretive and sweeping trade deal of a generation. Most Canadians have never heard of FIPA, the Canada-China Foreign Investment Protection Agreement, because Prime Minister Harper is trying to sneak it through without a single vote or debate in Parliament.

This deal would pave the way for a massive natural resource buyout and allow foreign corporations to sue the Canadian government in secret tribunals, restricting Canadians from making democratic decisions about our economy, environment and energy.1

Most Canadians have never heard of FIPA, the Canada-China Foreign Investment Protection Agreement, because Prime Minister Harper is trying to sneak it through without a single vote or debate in Parliament.2,3

Canadians have a right to determine our future, but this agreement will undermine our democratic rights and lock us into an inescapable path of foreign-ownership and resource extraction until at least 2040.

The Canada-China FIPA is set for automatic approval on October 31st unless we get the word out now that the Harper Conservatives are trying bypass Parliament and sneak this deal by Canadians. That’s why we partnered with SumOfUs.org on this campaign – if enough of us raise our voices now, we can create a massive public outcry to stop this devastating deal in its tracks.

Send a message to Prime Minister Harper and your MP: Canada is not for sale, stop the Canada-China FIPA and the Nexen takeover. When 30,000 sign, we will deliver your messages to Ottawa.

Alongside this deal, the Harper government is trying to speed through the sale of Nexen, a major Canadian oil and gas company, to the Chinese National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC), one of China’s massive state-owned oil companies.4 The $15 billion-dollar Nexen takeover will open the floodgates to a wave of foreign buyouts of Canada’s natural resources.

If FIPA passes, a Chinese company can take over Canadian resources and then sue Canadian governments – provincial or federal – in secret, if the government does anything that threatens the company’s profits.

Any Canadian law or government decision – even ones that protect Canadian jobs, our environment, our economy and our families – could be fought in secret tribunals outside of our legal system. Arbitrators unaccountable to the Canadian public would have the power to award billions in damages to foreign corporations if we do anything that hurts corporate profits, like improve environmental standards or slow down the export of cheap, unprocessed resources.1,5,6

Time is running out. We have two weeks before FIPA is set to pass into law, and the Nexen takeover could be approved at any time. Canadians, including many Conservative MPs, oppose the Nexen takeover, and Prime Minister Harper has just asked for a 30 day extension to regroup. We need a massive public outcry now.
Additional Information

The ability for corporations to sue foreign governments in private courts, called “investor-state arbitration,” is a controversial practice built into many trade deals like NAFTA that has cost Canada millions and over-ruled democratic decisions, but none impose the level of secrecy in the Canada-China FIPA.

Incredibly, if BC tries to regulate or block Enbridge’s Northern Gateway Pipeline, Sinopec, another Chinese state-owned oil company with investments in Canada’s natural resource infrastructure, could sue the BC government for damages, and we may never even hear about it the case or its results.5,6

Other countries like India, South Africa and Australia are moving away from this kind of trade deal. Last year Australia rejected investor-state arbitration due to concerns that it would “constrain the ability of Australian governments to make laws on social, environmental and economic matters”.7,8

Why is Canada moving backwards?
Sources:

Canada-China Investment Deal Allows for Confidential Lawsuits Against Canada (Toronto Star)
http://www.thestar.com/opinion/editorialopinion/article/1264290–canada-china-investment-deal-allows-for-confidential-lawsuits-against-canada

Tories quietly table Canada-China investment treaty (Globe and Mail)
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/tories-quietly-table-canada-china-investment-treaty/article4573635/

Battle over CNOOC’s proposed Nexen Takeover Heats Up In Ottawa (Financial Post)
Battle over CNOOC’s proposed Nexen takeover heats up in Ottawa

Ottawa extends it review of CNOOC’s nexen bid (The Globe and Mail)
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/industry-news/energy-and-resources/ottawa-extends-its-review-of-cnoocs-nexen-bid/article4604093/

Chinese Companies Can Sue BC for Changing Course on Northern Gateway, says Policy Expert
http://www.vancouverobserver.com/sustainability/chinese-companies-can-sue-bc-changing-course-northern-gateway-says-policy-expert

Chairman Harper and the Chinese Sell-Out (The Tyee)
http://thetyee.ca/Opinion/2012/10/11/Chairman-Harper/print.html

Trading our way to more jobs and prosperity (Government of Australia)
http://www.dfat.gov.au/publications/trade/trading-our-way-to-more-jobs-and-prosperity.html#investor-state

Multiple Countries Rejecting Investor State Dispute Settlement (Janet M Eaton, PhD)
http://www.sierraclub.ca/en/main-page/multiple-countries-rejecting-investor-state-dispute-settlement