Commentary on International Trade and Investment Agreements (October 2012)

What is your opinion of Harper’s lack of transparency and openness around international trade and investment agreements?

I share your concern about the pattern of secrecy and control consistently practiced by Mr. Harper with respect to international trade and investment agreements.

The most recent Canada-China investment agreement is bypassing all Parliamentary debate altogether, and yet contains far-reaching provisions affecting Canadian access to the enormous Chinese market, as well as China’s access to ours.

Without transparency and openness, and the scrutiny of our democratic processes, we have no idea whether the agreement is in the national interest, namely, whether it strengthens employment and innovation in Canada, and respects the principle of reciprocity between China and Canada.

What little we do know about the agreement indicates that Beijing has the upper hand in such areas as requiring Canadian investors to use local Chinese suppliers and labour. There is no indication that the agreement addresses the growing concern about how easily Chinese investors in the Canadian energy and lumber sectors are able to justify the use of temporary Chinese workers over Canadian workers.

In my view, this is no way to conduct international negotiations and the Canada-China investment agreement should not come into force until a full and fair review of the provisions has taken place.