Open Letter: Canada – China Agreement Abrogates Rights of Indigenous People

October 30, 2012
Prime Minister Stephen Harper
Office of the Prime Minister
80 Wellington Street
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A2

Sent Via FAX: (613) 941-6900

Prime Minister Harper:

On behalf the Union of BC Indian Chiefs, we are writing to firmly express, advise and direct the Government of Canada to reject the Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement with China as the Government of Canada has breached its fiduciary duty to consult First Nations on our respective constitutionally-enshrined and judicially-recognized Aboriginal Title, Rights and Treaty Rights.

Furthermore, as both Canada and China have adopted the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, both countries are bound by Article 19 which states: “States shall consult and cooperate in good faith with the indigenous peoples concerned…in order to obtain their free, prior and informed consent before adopting and implementing legislative or administrative measures that may affect them.”

As designed, we believe that through the ratification of this agreement, China will be granted protection and would thus greatly increase their investment in the development of the Alberta tarsands, pipelines, mining projects and possibly future offshore drilling projects, all at a great cost to our Aboriginal Title, Rights and Treaty Rights.

Specifically, the agreement provides far superior protection for Chinese investors’ interests than for our First Nations’ Aboriginal Title, Rights and Treaty Rights. The agreement prohibits the Government of Canada from offering special treatment to any Canadian investor that it does not offer Chinese investors. We believe the agreement would enable Chinese investors to challenge Canadian regulations, policies and/or legislation designed to protect the environment as well as current reconciliation negotiations, accommodation measures and treaty negotiations.

To recklessly disregard our Aboriginal Title, Rights and Treaty Rights is an affront. Our rights are human rights. The Government of Canada continuously champions the fundamental principles and values of human rights and democracy. Yet Canada repeatedly violates them when our rights are ignored.

This agreement will adversely impact our rights and territories, and we urge you to immediately cease and desist and to indefinitely postpone the signing of the Canada – China Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement.

Regards,

[Original signed]

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip
President

Chief Robert Chamberlin
Vice-President

Chief Marilyn Baptiste
Secretary-Treasurer


CC:
UBCIC Chiefs Council
BC First Nations and Tribal Councils
First Nations Summit
BC Assembly of First Nations
Assembly of First Nations
Members of Parliament of Canada
Members of the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia
Council of Canadians
Mr. Zhang Junsai, Ambassador of the People's Republic of China to Canada
Consulate General of the People’s Republic of China in Vancouver

UBCIC is a NGO in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.