First Nations challenge Canada-China investment deal

Aug. 12, 2013 at 6:27 PM
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OTTAWA, Aug. 12 (UPI) -- Canada's First Nations is challenging the government's investment treaty with China, saying tribal leaders were not consulted on the deal.

The challenge was filed in federal court by the Hupacasath First Nation in British Columbia and contends the federal government is required to consult First Nations under Section 35 of the Constitution Act, which protects the rights of aboriginal peoples in Canada, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. reported.

Brenda Sayers, a member of the Hupacasath First Nations, said if the treaty is ratified, Chinese investors would have control over major assets such as coal on its 573,284-acre territory.

"We are saying that the federal government failed to consult," Sayers said.

However, lawyers for the federal government say the consultation law does not apply in this case.

"The [Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement] contains the exceptions found in our other treaties that preserve policy flexibility for certain sectors and activities, including rights or preferences provided to aboriginal peoples," International Trade Minister spokesman Ed Fast said.

"Furthermore, the Canada-China FIPA, like Canada's other FIPAs, provides a policy carve-out for government measures concerning rights or preferences provided to aboriginal peoples," said Rudy Husny, spokesman for the minister of international trade.

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