China-Canada Trade Deal Bad For Yukon

WHITEHORSE – The Yukon Federation of Labour (YFL) is calling on MP Ryan Leef to stand up for Yukoners on the China‐Canada Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection (FIPA) agreement.

President Vikki Quocksister said today that the YFL has grave concerns about the agreement, and MP Leef needs to act on behalf of Yukon families and businesses.

“FIPA is not in the best interests of our communities, our territory, or our country,” Quocksister said. “It’s not only binding on our communities for the next 31 years, it also has the potential to change any local decisions we’ve made over the past 31 years and longer.

“Ryan Leef needs to stand up for our environment, our businesses, and our communities, and tell the Prime Minister that this deal needs to be properly debated in Parliament.”

Quocksister attended a labour leaders meeting last night with Gus Van Harten, an investment law expert from Osgoode Hall, to discuss specific concerns related to Yukon interests.

Van Harten made the case that Canada assumes all of the risks without receiving the access to markets that China will enjoy, while giving the power of arbitration over disagreements to a secret tribunal of international trade agreement lawyers – effectively giving Chinese companies greater powers under the law than local companies enjoy.

Quocksister said that Yukon families and businesses should be concerned about China’s ability to purchase Yukon business interests while bypassing Canada’s foreign investment review process, as well as  the ability to contest resource management decisions made at  provincial, territorial, First Nations, municipal or federal levels.

“FIPA could in fact make any consultations and existing agreement on Yukon land‐use policy completely irrelevant,” said Quocksister. “If and when there is a Peel land use plan in place, this agreement gives China the ability to challenge our local decision‐making process, giving outside arbitrators the ability to rule for and against.

“Forget the Peel land use plan, forget self‐governing agreements, and forget any municipal rules about staking. This agreement could change any and all decisions we’ve ever made in Yukon.”