Opposition Motion – Canada-China Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement

On Thursday, April 18th, 2013 in Debate

Elizabeth May: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member for Vancouver Kingsway and his entire caucus for finally allowing this issue to come forward for debate. He will recall I raised it in the House before it was tabled for 21 days of non-debate but sitting before us, and I requested an emergency debate on the matter twice. Rather than detail the history of a lack of debate, let us get into this one.

The hon. member mentioned corporate lawsuits and I want to hang on the word “corporate” for a moment. In investor state agreements we never have lawsuits, really, let us admit. There is, as the member described, a hotel room somewhere where three $1,000-an-hour global arbitrators make decisions that binds governments and cannot be appealed. In the interests of a Canada-China investment treaty, we are not actually talking about corporations. We are talking the People’s Republic of China and state-owned enterprises. It means we will be sitting down, essentially, nation to nation and the People’s Republic of China will be in a very different situation than U.S. corporations under chapter 11 of NAFTA. China can link its investments and, in private, use diplomatic pressure to tell Canada that if we do not change our laws, it could pull all of its investments. This is a different feature and I want to ask the member to comment on that.

Don Davies: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for bringing up what I think is a very special consideration about this FIPA.

She is quite right. What we are talking about here are not just normal corporations as we understand them in the western legal tradition. We are talking about are state-owned enterprises. State-owned enterprises are organizations that provide different considerations. State-owned enterprises in China do not exist solely to make decisions in the best interests of their commercial interests. State-owned enterprises are also there to advance the interests of the Chinese state.

I am not saying that there is anything necessarily wrong with that, but what we must be careful about is allowing those kinds of state-owned enterprises to have key ownership of strategic resources in our country because they will not be acting in commercial interests, they will be acting to exploit those resources in the interests of a foreign state.

That is not good for Canada. It is not good for our resources. It is not good for our environment. New Democrats will stand up to make sure we have a better deal than that.

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