Canada-Korea Economic Growth and Prosperity Act (Bill C-41)

Ted Hsu: Mr. Speaker, I wanted to ask my hon. colleague from the Green Party about her party’s very strong opposition to investor state dispute resolution provisions.

I talked to some experts in my own riding of Kingston and the Islands from Queen’s University, lawyers who specialize in dealing with some of these disputes and in writing treaties, to try to understand this issue. They seemed to uniformly emphasize that Canadian businesses need that protection in other countries, and that on the whole, Canada probably gains from these agreements.

The other thing they emphasized is that if we look at all the damages Canada has had to pay so far, if we take out the AbitibiBowater settlement, which reflects the value of assets that were seized, expropriated, by the Newfoundland and Labrador government, and add them up, it comes to only about $20 million so far. We have to put that in the context of $600 billion worth of foreign investment in Canada. It is one thirty-thousandth. If we put that in context, what I have gotten from the experts I talked to in Kingston is that it is very small compared to the amount of investment in Canada.

I want to ask my hon. colleague if she could comment on that and explain her party’s opposition.

Elizabeth May: Mr. Speaker, the Green Party’s strong opposition is drawn from empirical data and extensive experience, including advice from international lawyers, particularly Canada’s leading arbitration lawyer in this area, and the only one who is not personally benefiting from participating in these investor state disputes, Prof. Gus Van Harten, at Osgoode Hall Law School.

His view is buttressed by an EU think tank study called “Profiting from Injustice”, which examines the hundreds of investor state agreement disputes around the world and finds a very distinct pattern. The smaller economic power almost invariably loses, whether it is an investor corporation from the smaller power versus a larger government or, reversing it, a larger government investor suing a smaller country.

The reality is that no U.S. company suing in the U.S. under Chapter 11 of NAFTA has ever won, and the U.S. private sector companies suing Canada have almost always won.