With only 9 days to go before the Harper Conservatives can legally ratify the Canada-China Investment Treaty, the Green Party of Canada wants to emphasize the fact that ratification without proper consultations with provincial governments is contrary to the Constitution.
That was the point of view of a Special Committee on the Multilateral Agreement on Investment created by the British Columbia Legislature in 1998. Its December 29th report stated that:
- “It must be emphasized that provincial governments are not simply another set of ‘stakeholders’ to be consulted by the federal government en route to treaty signature and implementation. Under the Canadian constitution, the federal government is incapable of unilaterally implementing international treaty obligations in areas that fall within provincial jurisdiction. Nor is it acceptable for the federal government to use its treaty-making powers to do an end run around the federal-provincial division of powers or in a way that diminishes Canadian federalism and democracy.
- “How is it that the federal government can expose provincial measures to binding international arbitration without the province’s consent? […] Who will pay if a provincial measure is found to violate the federal government’s treaty obligations?”
- “In the committee’s view, if the federal government fails to gain the express consent of the Legislative Assembly, then the Province must vigorously defend its authority on behalf of all British Columbians.”
“These are exactly the kind of issues the Green Party of Canada has been raising since the Conservatives quietly tabled the Treaty on September 26th. We are the only party in Ottawa opposed to the Treaty. Our online petition against ratification has been signed by 22,637 citizens,” said Elizabeth May, Green Party of Canada Leader and MP for Saanich-Gulf Islands.
“The Treaty pays lip service to provincial authority by stating that provincial and
territorial representatives were ‘updated’ on the progress of the negotiations with China and ‘did not express any opposition to the Agreement.’ What kind of Federal government is Harper’s? An ‘update’ does not meet the federal obligations under the Constitution,” added the Green Leader.
“The provinces should be very worried of having Harper signing this without their consent. We have attempted to reach premiers across Canada. We now have 9 days to prevent Harper’s Conservatives’ attack on our democracy,” concluded May.