Monday, November 24, 2014

First Nation looking to halt Canada-China deal

VANCOUVER—A B.C. First Nation has asked the Federal Court to stop Canada from ratifying an investment treaty with China until it and other bands have been consulted.
In documents filed with the court in Vancouver, the Hupacasath First Nation said the Canada-China Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Act, or FIPPA, would gut its aboriginal right to resources subject to foreign investment.

Coun. Brenda Sayers said yesterday the band is seeking the injunction because Chinese investors ultimately would control major assets such as coal on its 232,000-hectare territory.
She said extraction of resources by foreign firms would strip negotiating powers for First Nations such as hers, which are involved in the treaty process.
“Some modern treaties negotiated with British Columbia and Canada address Canada’s obligation to consult prior to entering into international agreements which may affect treaty rights,” the notice of application says.
“The government proceeded without any input from First Nations, or Canadians for that matter, so this isn’t just a First Nations’ fight,” Sayers stressed.
“It just so happens that First Nations are one of the parties that can stop the FIPPA.
“The other party is the premiers of each province who have not stepped up to the plate,” she added.
The Conservative government has said FIPPA will benefit Canada by increasing trade and investment with China as its economy booms to the point of becoming the largest in the world.
Sayers said the deal is troubling because there’s been no formal debate in the House of Commons and Conservative MPs voted down a motion that would have allowed scrutiny by expert witnesses.
The Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, the Chiefs of Ontario, and the Serpentine River First Nation in Ontario also are supporting the injunction.

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