The Hupacasath First Nation, having been rebuffed in court upon its first challenge to the Canada-China investment treaty known as FIPA, is seeking funds to appeal the ruling.
The British Columbia indigenous band, backed by the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) and a host of other groups, has raised more than $200,000 in an online appeal and is seeking to reach $300,000 by the end of the day on Friday, October 11.
Those opposed to the treaty are wary of the powers it could give to Chinese business. Since treaty making is a royal prerogative and Parliamentary debate is not required, the Hupacasath and other critics are calling it undemocratic.
Canada has 24 FIPAs—short for Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement—with countries including Russia, Argentina and the Czech Republic, according to CBC News. China and seven other countries are in the pipeline, with negotiations concluded, and negotiations are under way in 12 others, CBC News said.
The agreements are designed to facilitate foreign investment. What sets this one apart, said Gus Van Harten, an expert in international investment law and an associate professor at the Osgoode Hall Law School at York University, in an interview with CBC Radio’s The House, is that China already has many more assets in Canada than those other countries do.
Because of this, Canadian taxpayers “will assume ‘more of the risks and more of the constraints’ than their Chinese counterparts to the degree that Chinese investments in Canada outpace Canadian investments the other way,” CBC News said, quoting Van Harten.
The 300-member tribe took the Canadian government to court over the treaty in June, enlisting the help of West Coast Environmental Law, Lead Now and the Council of Canadians for backing. In August a judge threw out their case.
The First Nation has decided to appeal but cannot afford the legal fees. It must raise the balance by Friday, October 11.
“The Hupacasath are ready, but they can’t do it alone—especially now that the Harper Conservatives have asked the courts to force the Hupacasath to pay over $100,000 in costs for the government’s legal team and expert witnesses,” the First Nation said in its statement explaining its need for legal funds.
The Assembly of First Nations has also issued an appeal on behalf of the Hupacasath.
“On August 27, 2013, the Federal Court of Canada dismissed the application by the Hupacasath First Nation for a review of the Canada-China FIPA, an investment treaty that will affect Canada’s resources and environmental protection,” the AFN said in a statement on October 8. “The Hupacasath First Nation has agreed to appeal the judge’s ruling, and has raised $190,000 in under two weeks. They must raise an additional $110,000 for legal fees by Friday October 11th, 2013 to meet the appeal deadline.”
The Hupacasath have released a video explaining their stance regarding the treaty and alleging that it will give the Chinese more rights within Canada’s borders than Canadian businesses enjoy. The group also has a Facebook page. More on the treaty can be found here.