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The Commons: Fear of a red planet


 

The Scene. And so the fate of the nation seems to be found in the fine print of the Canada-China Foreign Investment Partnership Agreement. In there is either our bountiful prosperity or certain doom.

“Mr. Speaker, under the Prime Minister’s new Canada-China investment agreement, the Chinese state would have the right to buy up new oil leases and expand operations in Canada,” Thomas Mulcair announced this afternoon, leaning in then for emphasis, “as if it were a Canadian company. Any effort to limit ownership by China could be challenged, under the law.”

Great amounts of our democracy have lately been devoted to the affairs of China. And on this FIPA there are demands for still more debate.

“Let us be clear,” Mr. Mulcair ventured. “The Prime Minister is exposing Canada to a scenario in which the Government of China could sue us if the Government of Alberta refuses to sell off its natural resources.”

Now the NDP leader turned to directly face and stare down the sitting Prime Minister.

“Is this how Conservatives stand up for Canada?” Mr. Mulcair begged.

Mr. Harper begged to differ. Which is to say he disagreed fully and entirely.

“Mr. Speaker, that is just completely and utterly wrong,” he sighed. “Under this particular agreement, the government’s powers and prerogatives under the Investment Canada Act are protected. We will continue to evaluate whether investments are in the net benefit and best interests of this country.”

The Prime Minister proceeded to explain. “At the same time, Canadians who are allowed to make investments in China would have a framework: the rule of law that would protect them in that way,” he said. “They would be able to promote Canadian interests and promote the job creation for Canadians in China. It is very important that we have these rights. The Chinese have long had rule of law protection in this country. We need the same thing in China.”

Across the way, Mr. Mulcair and Nathan Cullen muttered to themselves, apparently unimpressed with the Prime Minister’s version of events.

That might’ve been that for the day except that, this being Thursday, it was Elizabeth May’s turn to ask the final question of the afternoon.

“Mr. Speaker, now that the Canada-China investment treaty can be legally ratified as soon as tomorrow, I wish to make one more plea to the Prime Minister to reconsider,” she offered from the furthest corner.

“He should examine the Australia experience,” she explained. “That country has a much larger volume of trade between Australia and China, in fact, six times as much. There is $60 billion in Chinese investment in Australia, and $7 billion in Australian investments in China. Why do I mention it? Because the Australians did an independent risk/benefit analysis of this kind of investment treaty, and decided the risks outweigh the benefits to their sovereignty and to their economy.”

True to her word, Ms. May concluded not with a question, but with a plea. “Please do not ratify,” she begged.

Mr. Harper decided to stand and take this one. “Once again, Mr. Speaker, as we have known for some 20 years now, Canada has been trying to secure protection for job-creating Canadian investments in the Chinese marketplace. This is something that those who create jobs in this country have long wanted,” Mr. Harper explained. “We have been pleased that we have been able to take this step forward and I notice there has been universal good reception to this agreement from those who are creating jobs for Canadians. Obviously, this government is going to move ahead and make sure that we are able to access that important market and build jobs throughout this country.”

May the soothing song of jobs vanquish all nightmares.

The Stats. Foreign investment, seven questions. Ethics, five questions. Prisons and Service Canada, four questions. Fisheries, three questions. The budget, the Navigable Waters Protection Act, pharmaceuticals and infrastructure, two questions each. The economy, Ukraine, aboriginal affairs, national security, financial literacy, immigration, veterans and crime, one question each.

Stephen Harper, seven responses. Diane Finley, Denis Lebel and Pierre Poilievre, four responses each. Gail Shea, three responses. Christian Paradis, Candice Bergen, Ted Menzies and Colin Carrie, two responses each. Shelly Glover, Joe Oliver, Robert Goguen, Julian Fantino, Kerry-Lynne Findlay, Bernard Valcourt, Jason Kenney, Steven Blaney and Paul Calandra, one response each.


 

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