Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Hey! #FIPA supporters! Just who do you think you are?

Hey! FIPA supporters! Just who do you think you are?

No, really, who are you to tell the rest of Canadians that it's perhaps perfectly ok for provincial laws (which is where the majority of resource laws exist) to be overridden by FIPAs, international law, and international unelected arbitrators?

Once again, here is the example of the effects of NAFTA, it doesn't matter how you interpret the laws because this is what plays out in reality:
A panel of international arbitrators ruled 2-1, with the Canadian appointee dissenting, that research-spending rules imposed by Newfoundland’s oil regulator in 2004 were “performance requirements” forbidden by NAFTA.
The decision, which was first reported on the New York-based website Investment Arbitration Reporter, has not been publicly released. The results were confirmed by an Exxon source.
The case is a win for oil companies in their tug-of-war over revenues with the government of Newfoundland and Labrador, which reached a high point under combative former premier Danny Williams.
But it also illustrates how Ottawa always ends up with the bill when provinces violate the terms of trade agreements that they didn’t sign. In 2010, the federal government paid out $130-million to AbitibiBowater Inc. after Newfoundland expropriated the company’s timber and water rights. Several other current NAFTA challenges involve provincial policies.
So let me just spell out what is happening here: Every citizen in Canada through their taxes is directly paying Exxon because of research-spending rules implemented by Newfoundland's oil regular in 2004. First, why would any Canadian support paying corporations directly for decisions which may not have even been made by them and their province? This gives Canadians no ability to decide the future for themselves. No, instead, I (in Alberta) am obligated to pay Exxon due to a decision made by a province on the other side of the country. Second, when exactly did "international law" override provincial law when it comes to our resources? Isn't that what all of the anger about the NEP was about? National law, telling Alberta what to do?

I'll make this real simple for you, FIPA supporters. Either you support trade laws like this, or you support democracy and Canadian tradition. You can't support both. You either support corporations overriding and challenging our laws directly without the ability for the citizens to have recourse (oh, but yes.. *maybe* the results of this proceeding will be public.. oh wow), or you support your democracy. I can tell you this: if you think your opinion and desire for profit should overrule my right to a fair and transparent democracy we're probably not going to be friends. Just who do you think you are?

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Richard Fantin is a self-taught software developer who has mostly throughout his career focused on financial applications and high frequency trading. He currently works for CenturyLink

Nazayh Zanidean is a Project Coordinator for a mid-sized construction contractor in Calgary, Alberta. He enjoys writing as a hobby on topics that include foreign policy, international human rights, security and systemic media bias.

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