Dear Conservatives,

We know that China’s companies are turning up the pressure to ratify the Canada China Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPA), and we’re hoping that you will push back at your convention this weekend.

The Canada-China FIPA is reckless.

FIPA would let China’s companies sue Canada for unlimited damages if our governments make decisions that put Canada’s interests first.

Canada has signed a lot of FIPA’s in recent years — but only with small countries where we were expecting that most of the investment would be going out, not in.

With China, we’re talking about the soon-to-be-biggest-economy in the world. China’s state owned companies have countless billions to buy out Canadian resource companies for their own national interest.  

Why make ourselves vulnerable to that kind of risk?

The Canada-China FIPA is secretive.

These lawsuits would be decided by unaccountable arbitrators in secret tribunals outside of Canada’s court system.

Both the Canadian and Chinese governments can keep the public in the dark about the facts and arguments of cases that may undermine our democracy and economy.

There’s only one guarantee: once the case is settled, we will find out how many millions (or billions) of taxpayer dollars we’ll have to hand over to foreign corporations.

Many Canadians have never heard of this FIPA because there’s been almost no public debate and no serious study of the risk.

In our home life, we’d never agree to having someone sign a deal like this on our behalf without some serious study and debate.  

The Canada-China FIPA is binding.

Our experience with NAFTA has shown us that bigger countries have the advantage in this unfair system. Canada has lost every case brought against us by a US company, costing us millions of taxpayer dolars.

India and Australia are both moving away from investor state arbitration because they’re tired of being sued by foreign companies. They are saying “yes” to trade and “no” to secretive lawsuits. 

So what if this FIPA turns out to be a disaster? We can just get out of it, right? No, we can’t.

Unlike NAFTA, which we can leave with six months notice, this FIPA would lock us in for 31 years.

We’re talking about an investor protection deal with the likely-to-be-super-power of the 21st century. What’s the rush?

Let’s say yes to trade, and no to secretive lawsuits. Let’s take our time to understand the risks. Let’s start over and come to an agreement that doesn’t sacrifice our democratic control or put our economy at risk.

Thanks for reading this.

Jamie Biggar, on behalf of the team

PS — If you want to read more about the Canada-China FIPA, these are some of the best articles out there:

Diane Frances describes herself as a “free enterpriser, a free trader, a small “c” conservative and an experienced business person” and she “believe[s] this agreement represents a naive, shocking lapse of judgement.”

Here’s her powerful article in the Financial Post: Canada-China trade deal is too one sided

Professor Gus Van Harten is a Canadian expert on international investment deals and arbitration processes with a global reputation. He is one of the handful of experts in the country who has absolutely no financial stakes in the Canada-China FIPA passing (many others work privately in the field would stand to benefit from the hefty legal and arbitration fees the new FIPA would generate).

Here’s Gus Van Harten’s original open letter to Prime Minister Harper: Expert sounds alarms in letter to Harper

Someone sent him the Prime Minister’s Office talking points for Conservative MPs and he took them apart line-by-line.

Here’s his point-by-point rebuttal in the Tyee: Taking apart the Tories’ Party Line on Canada-China Treaty

And here he is taking on the spin from major commentators who are missing the key points: Don’t be fooled by spin on the Canada-China treaty

Bonus — check out Terry Glavin’s searing article in the Ottawa Citizen: Canada-China Investment Protection Racket