Canada's Strict New Anti-Corruption Rules Might Lead To Yet More Corporate Sovereignty Lawsuits Against It
Recently, we wrote about the extraordinary free trade agreement between Canada and China that places itself above the Canadian constitution. Here's another development where Canada can serve as a warning to the rest of the world about the dangers of giving too much power to corporations in free trade agreements, as reported by the The Globe and Mail: Canada risks being hit with a World Trade Organization challenge and NAFTA investor lawsuits over its threat to bar some companies from selling to the government for up to 10 years, warns a report commissioned by the Canadian Council of Chief Executives (CCCE) and delivered to federal officials.
And a number of foreign multinationals are already exploring possible trade action, according to an industry source, who declined to be named. The problem is that Canada has introduced new anti-corruption rules: Under the newly revised federal regime, companies seeking to bid on federal contracts must certify that neither they nor their affiliates have been charged with a long list of criminal offences anywhere in the world, including bribery and fraud, dating back 10 years. Apparently, the inclusion of affiliates is much stricter than anti-corruption laws elsewhere, and that might open up Canada to claims that it is unreasonable for Canadian subsidiaries of foreign companies to be held responsible for the actions of other affiliates over which they have no control. No lawsuits have yet been filed, so it's too early to say how serious this threat is. But it certainly emphasizes how signing up to corporate sovereignty chapters in free trade agreements -- in this case, the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement -- increases the risk that companies will use them in unexpected ways to attack governments when they introduce new policies, however praiseworthy those may be.
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