|John Baird, PM Harper and Premier Wen Jiabao|
The deal, signed on Sept. 9 and quietly tabled late last month, is to be ratified, behind closed doors, within just 21 sitting days and without any public hearings. Legislators on the trade committee were briefed for just one hour by government officials last week, with no independent witnesses present. To any Taiwanese who has tracked the style of negotiations between President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration and China in the past four years, the situation described above will sound eerily familiar.
However, the deal in question is not the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) signed in 2010 after six months of negotiations, or the investment protection agreement inked on Aug. 9. It is the Foreign Investment and Protection Agreement (FIPA) between China and Canada, which critics say requires public scrutiny and risks putting Canada at a disadvantage.
The Conservative government of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, however, refuses to hold public hearings and seems intent on forging ahead with an agreement that even its supporters admit contains flaws.
My unsigned editorial, published today in the Taipei Times, continues here.