The Canadian House of Commons voted 170-88 Monday against an NDP motion to stop the Canada-China FIPA.
The motion was tabled by Vancouver-Kingsway MP Don Davies, and asked the government not to ratify FIPA, a treaty that was signed last fall between Canada and China.
Davies said hopes to change the FIPA have “certainly diminished,” but said there is still time for the NDP and Canadian citizens to pressure the government not to ratify the agreement.
FIPA is designed to promote foreign investment on Canadian soil, and seeks to protect the interests of Chinese companies in Canada, while also helping Canadian companies that work in China.
Opponents of the FIPA treaty say it favours China’s interests, while leaving Canada’s natural resources vulnerable to being controlled by foreign interests. The FIPA treaty would allow Chinese companies to sue local governments for implementing environmental regulations that harm the profits of foreign investors on projects such as the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline.
"Worst of all possible worlds"
Green Party leader Elizabeth May described tonight’s result as “the worst of all possible worlds.”
She is concerned that Harper could now justify ratifying the agreement by saying “there’s been a debate in the House, and there’s been a vote.”
“The only hope we have now is with the Hupacasath First Nation,” said May, referring to an ongoing court case, in which the Hupacasath are challenging FIPA. Their case is that FIPA infringes on traditional aboriginal rights to resources without adequate consultation.
As the treaty has already been signed, Stephen Harper’s government has the option to ratify the agreement anytime they like, although they have had this option for five months and still have not done so. They have been holding out on signing it due of fierce public opposition last year. Defeating Davies’ motion may give them the confidence they need to move forward with FIPA.
Liberals side with Tories on FIPA
The Liberals, who sided with the Conservatives on the motion, do not support FIPA as it stands. They are in favour of having a FIPA, and they would prefer to work with the existing agreement rather than scrapping it and starting over.
The NDP are still hopeful that a drastically modified Canada-China FIPA could benefit Canadians, but the Greens oppose such agreements on principle. May defended this position by pointing to a recent case where Ecuador was asked to pay Occidental Petroleum $1.8 billion, after both parties accused each other of breaching their contract.
“We should be fighting tooth and nail against this whole class of treaty,” said May.