Lawrence Martin writes in The Globe and Mail that Canada will soon sign a trade agreement which the Harper government has kept completely under wraps. And unlike NAFTA -- which can be cancelled on six months' notice -- this deal can only be renegotiated after fifteen years. The deal may be good for Canada. The problem is we simply don't know if it's good or bad.
The government's secrecy, however, suggests that we're being flim-flammed. Gus Van Harten, of Osgoode Hall, believes he smells a rat:
One of the protestations is that national treatment clauses heavily favour Beijing. The Chinese have far more domestic barriers and restraints to trade than does Canada. Investors in China are required in many instances to use local suppliers and labour. Not so investors in Canada.
Another major sore point is the dispute settlement process. Unlike most other investment pacts, this one allows for settlements behind closed doors. As incredible as it sounds, Prof. Van Harten says, Chinese asset owners in Canada “will be able, at their option, to challenge Canadian legislative, executive or judicial decisions outside of the Canadian legal system and Canadian courts.
The first piece of legislation the Harper government passed was the "Accountability Act." It then ignored its own legislation. And, ever since, it has been operating behind closed doors. Socrates proclaimed that the unexamined life was not worth living. Surely, the unexamined treaty is not worth signing.