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Trade deal with China more than worrisome.

by David McLaren

I am a veteran of the free trade battles of the 1980s and I’ve got the political scars to prove it. NAFTA’s been in effect for some 18 years now, but I still don’t know whether it’s a good deal. I do know that of the 16 trade disputes we launched under NAFTA, we’ve lost every one. US companies, however, have won most of theirs and they’ve taken home $170 million of our money in compensation.

So when I look at the deal our PM signed with China in September, I worry. And you should too.

If China doesn’t like something we do to protect our environment or our health, it will sue us … not in open court, but in secret arbitration.

Need an example?

Let’s say a Chinese company wants to set up a huge windfarm in Grey and Bruce Counties and they meet all our governments’ existing criteria.

The Canada-China Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPA for short) is likely to be in effect before Christmas, and it’s a bad deal for Canada.

You and your municipality don’t like where the windmills are going, or their numbers, or how the company does business. (China, by the way, is a major manufacturer of wind turbines now, and under this agreement, it has no obligation to use turbines we build, or to hire locally.)

So your municipality passes a bylaw that blocks construction. The Chinese consider that to be an action disallowed by the Agreement. The company sues Canada under the Agreement’s dispute arbitration provisions.

You lose. Canada and maybe even your municipality are on the hook for millions of dollars in compensation and the company gets to go ahead and put up its turbines anyway.

It’s called the Canada-China Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPA for short) and it will be in effect before Christmas. Ask your MP about it. But don’t be conned; it’s a bad deal.

© David McLaren, November 2012


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About David McLaren

David McLaren has worked for government, the private sector, arts groups, environmental groups and First Nations in communications and policy analysis. He is an award-winning writer living at Neyaashiinigamiing (Cape Croker) on the Bruce Peninsula in Ontario, who finds himself in Toronto temporarily.


© Copyright 2012 David McLaren, All rights Reserved. Written For:

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