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

Elizabeth May: Mr. Speaker, I would speak to my friend from Halifax West through you. I am very disappointed that the Liberal Party thinks that this treaty is better approved as is than put forward right now for a vote and defeated.

This treaty is a direct assault on Canadian sovereignty. It disproportionately protects the rights of state-owned enterprises of the People’s Republic of China. By its very nature, because of the larger economic investment flows into Canada from China than in the other direction, the treaty would disproportionately impact Canadian laws, Canadian regulations, and our own sovereignty. At the same time, I dispute what we have been hearing all day from the Conservative MPs, that we would be protecting Canadians operating within China, because under this treaty, there is a unique provision for six months of diplomatic pressure that can be applied by the People’s Republic of China before any dispute gets to the arbitration panel.

My prediction is that Canadian businesses will be sold out by their own government for fear of offending Beijing.

Geoff Regan: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the question from my hon. friend. When I think about the argument she makes about giving up our sovereignty, it seems to me that if we want to have multilateral agreements and processes for resolving disputes, or bilateral—where we have to have those and we do not have the multilateral ones in place—that we would have to surrender some level of sovereignty.

I think she would make that argument when it comes to environmental matters. Therefore, I do not see her reluctance to accept any surrender of sovereignty, to accept that the idea of having internationally approved arbitrators would surely be far better for Canadian investors in China than to have Chinese courts making those decisions. That is a reasonable way to function at the international level. I think she would agree that very often, in environmental matters, if we are going to succeed we have to surrender something. Was the Kyoto protocol not international governance? Was that not a surrender of some sovereignty? Is it not a better process to have some of those agreements than to have none? Is it not in Canada’s interest to have a framework internationally that is based on rules and not power? As China becomes more and more powerful we had better have some kinds of agreements to protect us, not just bilateral, as in this case, but multilateral international processes, to maintain that rule of law.