Red flags

Send to a friend

Send this article to a friend.

How can you say you own a house if you essentially need permission from foreign shareholders before you can decide what colour to paint your kitchen?

That’s a wild oversimplification of a critical flaw that critics say exists with the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between Canada and Europe. (The part of CETA that’s probably best known in this province is the multimillion-dollar fund that the Dunderdale government agreed to in exchange for dropping requirements that fish caught off this province be processed here before shipment.)

The concern in other places is that the agreement would force signatory countries to protect the rights of foreign investors.

Here’s how the Wall Street Journal describes problems with what’s known as the investor state dispute settlement process: “ISDS would allow foreign investors from either side to challenge potentially unfair treatment by their investment’s host government. Crucially, these challenges would take place in special tribunals that lie, to varying extents, outside the country’s own legal system.”

In practice, the concern is that investors from a foreign country inside the trade agreement could take action if they have an investment in a country trying to bring in new environmental standards, simply because more stringent standards might reduce the potential value of their investment.

In other words, the rights of investors would trump a country’s ability to make its own laws, and would be heard outside a country’s legal system.

That’s created a big hiccup in Germany, which is hinting it will not go ahead with CETA if the ISDS rules are adopted, and has suspended talks with the United States, in part because of a similar issue in that negotiation.

All 28 EU nations have to agree in order for CETA to go ahead.

There are already some cases creating concern, especially for the Germans.

The German government is being sued by a Swedish power company over Germany’s decision to phase out nuclear power, a case that could cost the Germans billions.

And why shouldn’t a government, representing its citizens, not be allowed to ban the export of its waters, the damming of potentially profitable rivers or damaging mining practices?

Closer to home, a similar suit, using North American Free Trade Agreement rules, has an American company, Lone Pine Resources, suing the federal government for $250 million as a result of stricter fracking regulations.

And, in another NAFTA-related case that people in this province will certainly remember, the federal government forked over $130 million for the expropriation of AbitibiBowater assets by the government of Newfoundland and Labrador.

It is a legitimate concern: governments are supposed to make decisions based on the needs and desires of their citizens. The rights of Canadian voters are supposed to come first, rather than the protection of foreign investors to earn the best possible profits from Canadian resources.

In other words, if you don’t like the colour of our kitchen, you don’t have to come in the house. But don’t think you have a right to order up the colours from afar.

Organizations: Wall Street Journal, EU, Lone Pine Resources

Geographic location: Canada, Europe, Germany United States

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

Thanks for voting!

Top of page



Recent comments

  • David E.H. Smith
    July 29, 2014 - 20:34

    WELL, YOU SHOULD HAVE KNOWN". - U.S. President George H.W. Bush reneging on the arrangements between corporate America & corporate Canada; NAFTA. TRANS PACIFIC PARTNERSHIP (TPP), C-CITreaty, CETAgreement, et al, NEXT? ...One of the things that the 95% - 99% of Canadians who make up the grassroots of Canada & who can not afford to be shareholders of corporate Canada in the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), etc., & the other non shareholding citizens of the potential signatories of the TPP, such as Australia, might consider remembering is a remark by former U.S. president George H.W. Bush regarding the arrangements between corporate America & corporate Canada in the NAFTAgreement, & that is: "Well, you should have known". Did he mean that the Canadian politicians, &/or, the members of corporate Canada that Bush was dealing with should have asked him (Bush) if all of the relevant contingencies had been discussed, understood & agreed upon, including dispute mechanisms & escrow accounts, funded by corporate Canada & corporate America, set up to cover the costs of adjudicating any dispute resolutions and to pay for any punitive penalties, &/or, damages prior to finalizing any deals, arrangements, treaties, agreements, et al. Or, did President Bush mean that the aforementioned Canadians representatives did do their due diligence & it was the Canadian representatives who should have told the aforementioned 95% - 99% of the grassroots Canadians that the above due diligence procedures were in place, but, the grassroots Canadians have to pay the costs of procedures & penalties because they, the grassroots Canadians, had not thought to inquire that the procedures were in fact "in place", & thereby, ensure that the aforementioned procedures, etc. would ensure that the either, corporate Canada, or, corporate America would pay for both; the penalties & the procedures. Or, should the grassroots of Canada have known that corporate America had no intention of honoring parts of the treaty right from the start, but the US- Canada Agreement (NAFTA) was quickly ratified with suggestions that any deficiencies, or, “forget-me-nots”, etc. to the agreement would be amicably settled on a on going basis? Therefore, when it comes to any present arrangement, treaty, &/or, agreement that may have anything to do with corporate American, such as; the TPPartnership, law enforcement, etc., we now know better, but, now, do not ask, or, insist that the enforceable procedures, penalties, escrow funding from corporates Canada & corporate America, et al, be agreed upon by the grassroots Canada in a series of plebiscites prior to proceeding any further? And, if corporate Canada fails to provide the plebiscites, et al, when will the grassroots be enabled to sue both of the corporate Canada's escrow accounts which corporate Canada will have to set aside the funds for the grassroots legal funds as a prerequisite (ie. to investigate & prosecute... ...For the FULL ARTICLE, see; Google: "WELL, YOU SHOULD HAVE KNOWN"; David E.H. Smith" & Facebook; "David Smith, Sidney, BC" to the access List of RECENT ARTICLES & CORRESPONDENCES by DEHS. Also see; "CHINA to PROTECT Most Vulnerable (95% -99%) Aboriginal, ACTIVIST Canadians from Bullying "DEATH-POTS"; Deal to SUPERSEDE corporate Canada's INSIDER TRADING pending TRADE DEALS; Paves way to SUE corporate Canada, corporate TPP signatories for The WAD ACCORD's COMPENSATION?".

    • Too long
      July 30, 2014 - 07:46

      Did anyone bother to read this long winded rant?

  • David E.H. Smith
    July 29, 2014 - 20:31

    SECRET TPPartnership, CETA & C-CIT TRIBUNALS are INSIDER TRADING; corp. Canada fears China may Blow "Arrangements" between Can. Lobbyists' Clients & Parties' Executives (W.A.D. Accord*)? NON Shareholders HAVE TO PAY the arranged PENALTIES. Repatriating off-shore; profits, goods & services contracts, financing, etc. and co-manufacturing still not on the table? LINE UP to "PRE" IPOs SHOrtens. What the TREATY of VERSAILLES was to the 20th century PALES in COMPARISON to the TPP, CETA, C-CIT, NAFTA, et al, in the 21st. (CAN) - Prime Minister Stephen Harper's attempts to maintain the secrecy provisions in the Trans Pacific Partnership, the Canada - China Investment Treaty (C-CIT; FIPPA) & the Canada - European Union CETA may be unravelling by way of the threatened Canadian Senate, et al. There are several reasons for the secrecy ("omerta") of the dispute resolution tribunals. 1) To Protect the parties to the treaty, &/or, agreement, ie. corporate sponsors, from having to reveal to the non shareholding tax payers the existing arrangements that it has with its own government. For instance, the Canadian W.A.D. Accord suggests that corporate Canada's lobbyists pay considerations to the executives of the political parties for two main reasons: A) to promote corporate Canada's agenda with governing party(ies) by: i) reducing its taxes & thus, the "net increase" in taxes for non shareholders & ii) increase its funding for "economic development" which covers the cost of, among other things, the present & future advocacy, ie. lobbying & the cost of the considerations that corporate Canada pays out, etc. It may be regrettable that given the source of the accessed "economic development" funds, ie. those 95% - 99% of Canadians who are non shareholding tax payers there is a great deal of room for discretionary spending & its abuse and to protect corporate Canada's agenda by paying the other (non governing) political parties considerations in order to limit the scope of the "opposition" to manageable issues that can be compromised in order that "opposing" parties can claim victories (at least a limited victory) for their constituents. Under this arrangement both, the politicians & the lobbyists' clients are protected from scrutiny by the role of the parties' executives. 2) To Protect the parties to the treaty, &/or, agreement, ie. corporate sponsor from having to reveal to the each others' corporate sponsors their existing arrangements that it has with its own government & thus, each counties' corporate sponsors are not obliged to share the benefits & considerations (& future considerations) that they receive from their respective governments ie. their non shareholding taxpayers. Often the benefits are shared as an inducement to conduct business together in the more convenient jurisdictions. 3) To Protect the parties to one treaty, &/or, agreement (referred to as the "original" treaty/agreement) from having to reveal to third parties the nature, &/or, details of their "original" arrangements to other third parties who may want to enter into a treaty, &/or, agreement with either of the parties to the "original" agreement/treaty. That is to say, that acquiring & having privileged information of an outsiders treaties, &/or, agreements will cause contention as the third party will undoubtedly insist upon more favorable terms & conditions to a new treaty/agreement than the original treaty/agreement. For example; "You did this with them, so I insist upon more, or, I'll deal with them, or, others". The European Union is particularly interested in preventing the Canada - European Union CETA from becoming divisive whereby individual EU member countries may be enticed, &/or, coerced into making preferential, but, "very secretive" side deals with corporate Canada, et al. By preventing the non shareholding taxpayers from learning about the aforementioned reasons for the tribunals' secrecy whereby the non shareholding taxpayers pay for the increase in the value of the shareholders' stocks & dividends is insider trading & stock manipulation. Therefore, corporate Canada, AFN & their traditional media outlets have more than just a vested interest in the continuation of the most vulnerable Canadians (95% - 99% of Native & non Native Canadians) deprivation of the information such as the comprehensive version of The W.A.D. Accord and the comprehensive versions of the Canada - China Investment Treaty, the Canada - European Union CET Agreement, et al, that include the mechanisms, procedures, practices used in the adjudications of the dispute resolution tribunal & its disbursement of its punitive awards. It may be regrettable that not all of the 95% - 99% most vulnerable, non shareholders are able, &/or, willing to move to a sovereign Quebec, or, other jurisdictions, in order to: 1) avoid the "unethical" & "inhumane" (see; The W.A.D. Accord), but, "legal" practices and 2) start getting the relevant & quantitative information regarding the above, et al. The issue of the secret tribunals raises some interesting questions about the relationship, ie. the"secret congress" between the lobbyists' clients & the executives of the political parties which the "congress" has absolutely no intention of answering. For instance; what do the above arrangements say about the 95% - 99% of Canadians who are non shareholding tax payers & the version of "democracy" that "they" are developing in Canada in the context of the growing "global" economy and what do the above arrangements say about the accelerating growth of the disparity of the wealth between the shareholders (1% - 5% of Canadians, et al) & the non shareholders (95% - 99% of Canadians), et al? What are you, the reader, learning about the Canada - China Investment Treaty that will help you to ascertain whether the Canada - European Union Agreement is better for you & the non shareholders, or, corporate Canada & its shareholders? What are some of the other questions that the non shareholders need to ask & who can answer, &/or, is willing to answer (as opposed to "respond" to) their questions that would make the non shareholders informed & consensual participants & direct beneficiaries of the C-CIT & the CETA? Have you & your family, friends & colleagues sent PM Harper & Mr. DAN HILTON (Executive Director of the Conservative Party), et al, your: "NOTIFICATION of Preexisting CHALLENGE to the TRANS PACIFIC PARTNERSHIP", "NOTIFICATION of Preexisting CHALLENGE to the CANADA - EUROPEAN UNION COMPREHENSIVE ECONOMIC & TRADE AGREEMENT" and "NOTIFICATION of Preexisting CHALLENGE to the CANADA – CHINA INVESTMENT TREATY", in order to enhance your opportunity to exculpate yourself from having to pay for: 1) the aforementioned Compensation that is embodied in The W.A.D. Accord & 2) the costs, penalties, punitive damages that will be derived from the C-CI Treaty, the CET Agreement, the Trans Pacific Partnership, et al? In conclusion, it may be regrettable that the C-CI Treaty & the CET Agreement has, so far, been successful at giving corporate Canada & its representatives the much higher degree of legitimacy to their aforementioned secrecy (assisted by way of the international cache) that it needs in order for them to later, & once again, claim (see; NAFTA) that they are doing/did "their best" to protect the non shareholders from the over zealousness of their foreign Treaty, Agreement, &/or, Partnership counterparts. Is it not easier & just prudent to discuss the preexisting arrangements & challenges to the Treaty, the Agreement, the Partnership, et al, prior to ratifying them in order to determine which is more egregious than the other (or, are both equally egregious) & thus, avoid any of the secret "dispute" resolutions & its "hefty" costs to the beleaguered, non shareholding taxpayers, et al? And, how much will the added costs of the C-CIT's, CETA's & TPP's infra structure, punitive penalties, etc. increase the erosion of the non shareholders health care, educational services, etc. in order to artificially increase the value of corporate Canada's shares & dividends while dramatically reducing the non shareholders' disposable income? How much has corporate Canada set aside to defend the CHALLENGES, et al, that corporate Canada & the non shareholders are anticipating? How far along are they in collecting this fund & how much more does corporate Canada & its shareholders need to set aside before the non shareholding taxpayers allow corporate Canada & its representatives to proceed? Similarly, due to a psychiatrist's previous linking of the deprivation of The WAD Accord information with the unconscionably high rates of despair, disenchantment, suicides, unemployment, poverty, etc., that are found in many communities across Canada,what are the various different ways that non shareholders can guarantee that corporate Canada & its shareholders have enough financial reserves set aside in order to pay for the CHALLENGES by the non shareholders and those who will be the new victims of the aforementioned deprivation of information? On the other hand, are there actually any non shareholding taxpayers who think that corporate Canada is anxious to explain to them, or, corporate China, or, corporate EU, &/or, corporate trans Pacific nations, just how effective & lucrative their, corporate Canada's, secretive relationship between: 1) lobbyists' of corporate Canada & 2) the executives of the parties that are operating in Canada, has been & is continuing to be? And, finally, without: 1) a meaningful "democratic" forum in which the non shareholders can directly question the direct beneficiaries of the Treaty & the Agreement, ie. corporate Canada & its lobbyists, without the fear of recriminations, etc., 2) a predetermined list of circumstances whereby corporate Canada can & will terminate the Treaty & the Agreement without penalties, &/or, costs to the harmless non shareholding taxpayers & 3) et al, the ratification of the C-CI Treaty & the CET Agreement will eliminate for most Canadians the last remnants of "democratically" effecting the treaty/agreement by the non shareholding taxpayers & thus, corporate Canada, et al, will finally be able to give these arrangements the luster of legitimacy that they need that is based upon the logic that "It can't be another gilded cage that will cause another economic melt down like the "derivative type conspiracy"*** that is continuing to debilitate international finance, etc., because there are just too many vanguards of industry promoting the public financing of the C-CI Treaty & CET Agreement". Regarding the secrecy of the C-CI Treaty, CET Agreement & TP Partnership arrangements, they are not dissimilar to insider trading (fraud, stock manipulation, et al). In this situation the shareholders, who are on "the inside", use secret, &/or, privileged information to make money for themselves at the expense of the group that is on the "outside", ie. the non shareholding taxpayers, who are being deprived of the aforementioned information & thus, are being deprived of the opportunity to enjoy the direct benefits of the treaty/agreement. Similarly, some of the means to counter these arrangements are also not dissimilar to those counter measures that can remedy insider trading & pay punitive damages, etc. to the harmless non shareholders. And, while it is likely that the "coveted" Chinese investor**** may have enough of the insider information regarding the more "unethical", &/or, "inhumane" arrangements in the C-CI Treaty, et al, to navigate the mechanisms of the secret dispute resolution tribunal in his favor & at the peril of corporate Canada, et al, it may be regrettable that it is highly unlikely that the European Union & the nations of the Trans Pacific have been as fortunate regarding the CETA & TPP arrangements. This disparity between China's benefits from the C-CI Treaty & the benefits that the EU, et al, may derive from their CETA will continue to be dangerously contentious. And, finally, it may also be regrettable that there is yet another vulnerability that corporate Canada, especially its Alberta chapter, is particularly desperate to be kept secret for as long as possible and it only remains to be seen when it will be most advantageous to "leak" the secret & by which party. * C-CI Treaty; Canada - China Investment Treaty (FIPA) & CET Agreement; Comprehensive Economic & Trade Agreement (Canada-European Union) ** The W.A.D. Accord; Reference: For those who may not be familiar with The WAD Accord, &/or, its recent developments, The Accord can be accessed on line by way of the submission entitled: "Towards a More Informed Opinion regarding the Environmental Impact & Context of the NGP (Pipeline), et al", Researched & Submitted by D.E.H.S., July 24, 2012 to the Enbridge Co.'s NGP Joint Review Panel.. Contact: Ms. Colette Spagnuolo, Gateway Process Advisor, Northern Gateway Project, or, Google; "The W.A.D. ACCORD; David E.H. Smith" *** "derivative type conspiracy"; "The $58 Trillion Elephant in the Room" by Jesse Eisinger. Upstart Business Journal, October 15, 2008, 8:00am EDT. Re; the "industrialized credit derivatives" ********** For the more information that may lead the non shareholders, corporate China and corporate European Union & their shareholders & the non shareholders, et al, to a greater certainty regarding what corporate Canada may be sharing with you regarding the accessing of the aforementioned, information & Canadian natural resources, et al, see; Facebook; "David Smith, Sidney, BC" to access the List of RECENT ARTICLES, LETTERS & NOTIFICATIONS by DEHS. Then, Google; “The TITLE' from the facebook List above & David E.H. Smith".

  • Chantal
    July 29, 2014 - 07:58

    And it took a German conservative Chancellor to call attention to this assault on democratic values. Well done Angela. Let's hope the rest of Europe and Canadians are paying attention.