Canadian Decisions Will Have To Be OK With China? Is This Democracy?

It’s bad enough that the two most significant trade agreements since NAFTA, the Canada-European Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) and the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, are being negotiated behind closed doors and without public scrutiny. But almost unbelievably, while these two agreements are in negotiations, an even more significant trade agreement is actually about to go into effect. This is the Canada-China investment treaty. This agreement will lock us into a future where any decisions our municipalities, provinces, or the federal government make will have to be cleared with the Chinese state. Otherwise they can sue us for damages in secret tribunals outside of the Canadian court system. This will be the case for the next 31 years.

If we needed another sign that our democracy is in serious decline this is surely it. When one man, Stephen Harper, without any discussion with Canadians, Parliamentarians, or even his own caucus, can lock us into an agreement that allows a foreign non-democratic state to challenge the laws and decisions that we as a society make, surely our democracy is in peril. One of the key requirements of a functioning democracy is an informed public. It is no secret that this is not how Mr. Harper operates, but what is perhaps more alarming is the complete lack of coverage by our much celebrated free media. In decades past this would have been front page news every single day until the government agreed to have an open public debate. Of course every Prime Minister knew that they would never get away with sneaking something like this through, so it would have been opened up to debate as a matter of course, as NAFTA was. That was when we had a functioning democracy.