NDP MP Don Davies speaks to the media after caucus at Parliament Hill
Credits: ANDRE FORGET/QMI AGENCY
OTTAWA -- Opponents of the Conservative government's trade agreement with the People's Republic of China will have a chance to vote against it in the House of Commons on Monday.
A motion from NDP MP Don Davies, the Official Opposition's International Trade Critic, would tell the Chinese government Canada will not ratify what it calls the "critically flawed" Canada-China Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement, or FIPA.
FIPA was signed by Prime Minister Stephen Harper at an APEC summit in Russia, and tabled in Parliament last September. But when he introduced his motion in Parliament on Thursday, Davies told the House the agreement in its present form "will do serious damage to Canada". The NDP objects to the agreement's "lack of transparency and openness" and worries it will expose Canadians to undue legal troubles.
When he tabled FIPA, the Prime Minister said in a statement "This agreement with China -- the world's second largest economy -- will provide stronger protection for Canadians investing in China, and create jobs and economic growth in Canada." But the NDP says the agreement will give state-owned Chinese businesses access to Canadian resources and markets without ensuring reciprocal access to Chinese markets for Canadian firms. The dippers also fret about Canadian taxpayers being faced with "multi-billion dollar lawsuits by Chinese corporations" and object to the secrecy surrounding the agreement.
Not only would its arbitration mechanism let panels hold secret hearings, "outside the view of public or media - a violation of Canada's open court traditions," according to Davies. But as he told the House last week, the agreement "was passed by the Conservatives with no consultation with provinces, First Nations, trade experts, business, labour or the public. Outside of this one day called for by the New Democrats, there has not been a single minute of democratic debate after 18 years of negotiation. Once ratified, this FIPA will lock Canada into these damaging terms for a minimum of 31 years."
Green Party leader Elizabeth May, who registered her opposition to the agreement the day after it was tabled last fall, already signalled she would vote in favour of the NDP motion on Monday.
Opposition to the agreement is also ramping up online. The left-leaning website leadnow.ca has been running an online petition urging Canadians to register their opposition to the agreement. As of Sunday morning the website claimed over 33,000 Canadians had done so.
But the Liberals, despite introducing their own unsuccessful motion last week calling for public hearings across Canada on the agreement, will likely vote with the Conservatives against the NDP motion.
- With files from David Akin.