Small B.C. First Nation Challenging Canada-China Free Trade Agreement

By Moore, Dene | The Canadian Press, June 5, 2013 | Go to article overview

Small B.C. First Nation Challenging Canada-China Free Trade Agreement


Moore, Dene, The Canadian Press


Small B.C. band challenges Chinese trade deal

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VANCOUVER - Members of a small British Columbia aboriginal band are in a federal court room in Vancouver this week, as their 300-member community tries to stop the federal government from passing a free trade deal with China.

The Hupacasath First Nation has launched a court challenge to the Canada-China Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement, arguing that it infringes on aboriginal rights.

"It's something all Canadians should be paying attention to," said Brenda Sayers, the organizer of the band's campaign against the deal. "We're looking at this as not being just a First Nations concern, but for all people of Canada."

Critics of the Canada-China agreement fear the deal will give foreign corporations leverage over Canadian regulatory and resource decisions, allowing Chinese corporations to seek arbitration or even sue Canada for decisions that negatively affect their access to Canadian resources.

The Hupacasath are arguing in court that the federal government has failed to consult with First Nations on the deal that affects their rights and title.

Even provinces could lose their decision-making ability on resource development, Sayers said.

The band has the support of groups such as the Chiefs of Ontario, the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, the Council of Canadians, the Canadian Auto Workers and ForestEthics.

The Hucapasath have crowd-sourced more than $160,000 to pay the legal bill, with donations from 3,000 people to an online campaign organized by the non-profit activist group LeadNow.

About 150 people gathered at a rally Wednesday outside the federal court, which has set aside three days for a hearing. …

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