Hupacasath First Nation rallies in Ottawa against China-Canada FIPA deal

Photo by Ben Powless

BC's Hupacasath First Nation protested in Ottawa on Sunday to rally public support for its legal challenge against the ratification of FIPA, a controversial China-Canada investment deal. 

The Hupacasath, a 300-person First Nation based in Alberni Valley, stands between the 31-year Foreign Investment Protection and Promotion Act with China, which Prime Minister Stephen Harper signed while he was visiting Vladivostok in Russia last September. 

The deal is of particular relevance to British Columbians, as it could allow Chinese state-owned companies to sue Canada in the event that projects such as the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline fell through. It would also give Chinese investors control over major assets such as coal on its traditional territory.

“The fight isn't with China – it's with the federal government, which failed to consult with First Nations on the Canada-China FIPA as it should have according to section 35 of the Constitution,” said Hupacasath First Nations councillor Brenda Sayers said in an interview with Massoud Hayoun with the Vancouver Observer.

The Hupacasath argued in federal court in June that federal government failed to consult with Aboriginal groups prior to signing the agreement. The federal government lawyers, however, argue that consultation wasn't necessary for the agreement, as FIPA would preserve "flexibility" on certain issues such as aboriginal rights. 

Last October, citizens advocacy groups LeadNow and SumofUs delivered a 60,000-signature petition from Canadians opposing the deal, as well as the Chinese state-owned company CNOOC from buying Canadian energy giant Nexen. 

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