Since the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) came into effect in 1994, Canada has already paid over $157,000,000 to US corporations as well as their Mexican counterparts who were given enhanced investor rights that allowed them to sue Canada to recover profits.
According to one report, Canada has sued other countries including the USA and lost over 10 times in matters regarding ‘expectation of profits’ from softwood lumber as well as the gold mining industry and cattle sales.
Other lawsuits that have negatively affected Canada’s finances include the ‘1997 Ethyl Corporation lawsuit for $250 million, S.D. Meyers Inc.1998 lawsuit for $20 million’, and many more. These corporations used the ‘expectation of profits’ clause to get more than their money’s worth based on the NAFTA agreement.
Despite these outstanding facts, the Harper government is seeking to make the Canadian people subject to more lawsuits – this time by the Chinese - by ratifying a punitive agreement known as FIPA. In addition to enabling easy lawsuits against Canada, the agreement also allows Chinese corporations to keep the whole matter secret. No arbitration or documents will be revealed to the taxpayers when it occurs, with only the award being revealed should the Chinese corporations agree.
Another cause for worry is the controversial way the Harper government has approached this matter.. The FIPA treaty was tabled very quietly in the House of Commons with scarcely a squeak of opposition. Additionally the Harper government does not encourage debate on the subject nor does it intend to debate or vote on the matter. This raises some disturbing questions. What kind of government makes such a dangerous deal without informing the general populace, many of whom, one might add, will be responsible for paying off the expenses incurred?
In addition to the heavy bias against Canada, it is important to note that the treaty will be binding for at ‘least 15 years’ with most experts stating that it will be applicable for 3 decades. This is a very long time to be paying for one moment of insanity.
With Canada being the sixth most sued country under the investor-state dispute settlement regime, you would think that the Harper conservative government would seek to avoid giving any more ammunition to additional corporations. It turns out that they have not learnt a single thing from the experiences, which have proven to be quite expensive for Canada.
Instead, the Harper government is seeking to ratify the China-Canada Investment Treaty that would give Chinese corporations the right to sue Canada should they feel that their ‘expectation of profits’ has been hurt by Canadian laws.
While Canada is set to allow itself to be crippled by the Chinese investors, countries like Australia, South Africa and India are slowly and sensibly moving away from these Agreements.