This weeks column for 24Hrs Vancouver: Who’s Harper working for?

Is the China-Canada investment agreement a sell-out for Canada?

When an agreement is conducted with so much secrecy and lack of consultation with Canadians that Rick Mercer dedicates an entire rant to the subject, you know something is up. Two years ago, Prime Minister Stephen Harper and then-president Hu Jintao quietly witnessed the signing of the Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement so many Canadians are up in arms about this week.

China went onto ratify the agreement not long thereafter, however Canada did not. Two years after the initial signing, a quiet press release issued on Friday afternoon dictated the deal was ratified, eliciting outrage from the public and politicians alike.

Let me make something clear. The many criticisms and concerns of this particular FIPA are not based on anti-business or anti-trade rhetoric, nor are they xenophobia – all tiresome accusations used by those in favour of this deal. In fact, even members of Harper’s own government expressed concerns over this agreement.

This particular FIPA stands out from the many others Canada has with trade and investment partners around the world for a few reasons.

It holds Canada legally bound for up to 31 years, not only with the current government, but subsequent ones as well.

Read Brent Stafford’s column here.

Green Party Leader Elizabeth May stated: “Unlike NAFTA, with an exit clause of six-months’ notice, this agreement cannot be exited for the first 15 years. After 15 years, either country can exit on one-year’s notice, but any existing investments are further protected for another 15 years.”

And here’s where the “sell-out” begins. Any exit by Canada from this FIPA would rely on the Chinese government’s agreement, which is highly unlikely. Canada holds a wealth of investment and business opportunities for China both in resource and technology sectors.

The deal is said to be largely one-sided and offers little protection to Canadian investors in China. Here in Canada, it opens the door for legal actions from Chinese and state-owned investors against federal, provincial or municipal policies or actions that might interfere or impede with their business. The implications are staggering and open the door to large liabilities for Canadian taxpayers…

Read the rest of this week’s column, comment and vote at

September sun is calling…

The ongoing teachers dispute, the Mt. Polley, Imperial Mines debacle, and now the ratification of the Canada China FIPA… September has been anything but boring when it comes to politics near and far.

In the days and weeks to come, I’ll be blogging with more regularity, and on a variety of issues. There’s so much to write about, so much for us all to think about.

But for this weekend, the sun is warm and everything is bathed in that low light only September brings, turning everything into gold with its touch.  Soon enough we’ll have fall rains, and I don’t intend to waste a bit of this weather!I’m g

“Well, the sun’s not so hot in the sky today
And you know I can see summertime slipping on away
A few more geese are gone, a few more leaves turning red
But the grass is as soft as a feather in a featherbed
So I’ll be king and you’ll be queen
Our kingdom’s gonna be this little patch of green
Won’t you lie down here right now
In this September grass
Won’t you lie down with me now
September grass.”
–  James Taylor

Canada signs initiative with China to “promote high level military exchanges”

While everyone is up in arms over the story of a Chinese reporter being denied the right to ask questions of Harper following some sort of shoving incident, perhaps what is a far more important story of Sino-Canadian relations has gone by the wayside.

As reported in the Chinese newspaper People’s Daily Online , Chinese defence minister Chang Wanquan  and Canadian Defence Minister Rob Nicholson held talks on Thursday and signed an initiative following their meetings.

Chang said military relations between China and Canada have maintained a sound momentum of development, as evidenced by frequent contacts between military leaders of the two sides, and their smooth and close coordination on global and regional issues.

Meanwhile, continuous progress has been made in bilateral military cooperation, such as in military training, international peace-keeping, defense education and mutual visits by warships, he said.

Chang also said China is ready to work with Canada to enhance their military ties by promoting high-level exchanges, strengthening strategic mutual trust, deepening pragmatic exchanges and cooperation, and reinforcing multilateral coordination.

Nicolson said he is glad to see the two militaries have engaged in positive interactions. He said, as Canada and China share common interests in many issues, militaries of the two countries need to promote dialogue and deepen cooperation in a bid to push their relations forward continuously.

After the meeting, Chang and Nicolson signed an initiative, under which the two countries agreed to promote high-level military exchanges and establish a defence coordination dialogue mechanism. Also on Thursday, Chang held talks with Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird. 

This comes following  two events of note earlier this year:  the keynote speech given by Ambassador Zhang Junsai at a luncheon in Calgary hosted by Alberta Oil Magazine( May 30th, 2013) , and the historic visit and meetings of Peter Mackay with  Chinese defense minister Chang Wanquan a few days later in Beijing. ( June 2nd, 2013)

At the luncheon hosted by Alberta Oil Magazine in May, Amabassador Zhang Junsai offered several insights into both China’s investment and resource strategy, as well as how they view Canada’s resources.

The speech, is a compelling read regardless of the forum in which it was presented. Here is an excerpt, but I suggest you read the entire speech :


No.5, People should have more objective and square perceptions of Chinese investments in Canada.

The debate about the Nexen deal last year left me with the impression that the public opinion environment for Chinese investments in Canada are yet favorable.

I wish to stress two facts regarding the Chinese investments.

The first one is that China is a market economy, and China’s state-owned enterprises, such as CNOOC, are independent market players, whose investments in Canada’s energy sector, just like in other countries, are sheer market-driven decisions.

While investing here, they have made due contribution to local employment, community development and fulfilled their social responsibilities.

In fact, China-Canada energy cooperation can’t go fast without the SOEs, because almost all the big energy companies in China are SOEs, and those with clear strength in capital and technologies are also SOEs.

This is determined by China’s system.

The second one is that the Chinese investors did not come to Canada to grab this country’s wealth of resources.

The major motive driving them here is to optimize the portfolio of their overseas investments and learn the best technology and management know-hows, just like everyone else.

Some of you may have contacts or even cooperation with Chinese companies and I believe most of them have left you with nice impression.

Of course, the responsibility to improve public image depends mainly on the good practices and effective PR by the Chinese investors.

I still hope that you can help explain to the Canadian people with your own experience that what China wants in its energy cooperation with Canada is nothing but a win-win scenario.

In conclusion, I wish the energy cooperation between China and Canada continue to score better and more achievements in the future so as to inject more positive energy to this important partnership between our two great countries. And again, I congratulate you all for your great performance which has made you so outstanding. Thank you.

Is this latest meeting that has not been largely reported by media outlets yet, cause for concern? Ultimately, time will tell, but it shows yet another example of Harpers turnabout on his attitude and relationship with the Chinese government, and Sino-Canadian policies.

“I very much look forward to the ratification and implementation of the Canada-China FIPA…” ~ Unelected premier Christy Clark, during the Canada-China Investment Summit

Breaking news folks, and don’t forget you read it here first.

Read and weep my fellow loyal British Columbians…. read and behold why Christy Clark is ignoring the emails of thousands of concerned Canadians.

She’s been in support for some time. The jokes on us, apparently.

Thank you to J for this tell all letter.