Published in Windspeaker & Raven’s Eye newspapers | March 2013 | Circulation: 145,000
Environmental, labour and democracy activists have thrown their weight behind a lawsuit by Hupacasath First Nation, which hopes to halt a major Canada-China trade pact through the courts.
According to band councillor Brenda Sayers, the B.C. lawsuit “reached a milestone” on Feb. 13 with affidavits of support submitted by the Union of BC Indian Chiefs, the Chiefs of Ontario, and several other bands.
At issue: the Canada-China Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPA). Critics fear the deal–being hammered out confidentially–would allow corporations of either country to sue a government over environmental, health or Aboriginal legislation, and potentially constrain Indigenous rights or treaties.
“This insidious agreement was negotiated behind closed doors, in secret,” said Stewart Phillip, president of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs. “This is a serious issue of major concern to First Nations people across this country; clearly it violates and undermines treaties across this country.
“It represents a very real and genuine threat to the interests of First Nations here in British Columbia… You cannot buy, sell or barter what you do not own. The Government of Canada, the provinces and the corporations do not hold title to the lands and resources comprising this country and province. That falls within the purview of the Indigenous peoples of this country.”
For Ben West, Tar Sands Campaigner with the group Forest Ethics Advocacy, the Canada-China deal seems tailor-made to lock in the Conservative government’s support for controversial pipelines from Alberta’s oil sands. That is because the deal would be binding for 31-years and penalties imposed for breaching it.