Enbridge implications unclear

Come on-a my house, my house, I‘m gonna give you everything.

Come on-a my house, my house, I‘m gonna give you everything.

Only it’s not Rosemary Clooney singing, it’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper with his Canada-China Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Act (FIPPA).

Andrew Nikiforuk,  the   award winning   investigative journalist; Osgoode Law Professor Gus Van Harten, a  specialist in international investment law; and MP Elizabeth May, Green Party Leader, are among those who came out swinging against FIPPA. Critics say the new agreement will give Chinese national oil companies more power over our energy markets and even our politics than we have ourselves. It could also change the debate over the Northern Gateway pipeline. All Enbridge needs is an investor from China. Then, if the pipeline gets the nod, the Chinese backer could insist that only Chinese labour and materials be used on the project. The Chinese companies would have “the right to full protection and security from public opposition.” Canada couldn’t limit the corporations’ access to the resources they needed either. What’s scariest is the Chinese interests could sue in secret courts if the  BC  government tried to stop the pipeline. Both Premier Clark and opposition Leader Dix have threatened to do that.

Mr. Harper signed the 31-year treaty Sept. 9, and tabled it in the  House of Commons Sept. 26  with no press releases, technical briefings or debate. It is set for automatic approval Oct. 31. Ms. May tried unsuccessfully to get an emergency debate. Given the implications for B.C., it’s odd our provincial politicians aren’t howling. Canada has trade deals  with  other countries but Mr. Van Harten  says FIPPA undermines basic Canadian principles of public accountability and open courts, raises the stakes of Chinese takeovers in the resource sector,  and  will tie the hands of  elected governments for three decades.

What happened to “O Canada, we stand on guard for thee?”

Diana French is a freelance columnist for the Tribune. She is a former Tribune editor, retired teacher, historian, and book author.