New Clothes for the Emperors

The Works Progress Administration in Ohio presents The Federal Theatre for Youth in "The emperor's new clothes" LCCN98517057

Brad Wall, Premier of Saskatchewan, in his 2017 budget, appears to be in the process of selling what seems, to an unapologetic sixties leftist like me, every remaining good thing in that province to private corporations.

Naomi Klein’s prescient book, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, would shed some keen insight on this, unfortunately worldwide, trend. And the seismic shift in Saskatchewan, and possibly soon in Ontario, has happened on our watch!

As for Canada, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, more hurt than help here, appears keen not only to leave all of Harper’s anti-democratic buckshot legislation, squirrelled away in over a dozen omnibus bills, in place, but more than that, to contribute his own pro-corporate slavish sauce to the mix. At this very moment Trudeau’s trying to figure out how to slyly dress his cabinet to keep the alt-right from going with someone like Kevin O’Leary.

The clothes of the Emperor (the proper name for any Prime Minister or Premier with a majority) are all but gone, and so many of his promises are in tatters, but he cuts a dashing figure in boxing trunks, doesn’t he?

Pierre must be spinning, and, simultaneously shrugging, in his grave.

Our AFN and the Dakota Example

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Love – Zaagidwin: The eagle that represents love because he has the strength to carry all the teachings. The eagle has the ability to fly highest and closest to the creator and also has the sight to see all the ways of being from great distances. The Eagle’s teaching of love can be found in the core of all teachings, therefore an eagle feather is considered the highest honour and a sacred gift.

An Ojibway elder I met during the early Idle no More protests said that Canada’s opposition to the rape of our environment would be enabled through the First Nations and International Law that protects their powerful communal rights. But many laws have been squirrelled into a dozen omnibus bills by our previous Conservative government. They have been left scattered there by Justin Trudeau, who increasingly appears to be an agent of darkness with a phoney aura of light. These laws and amendments have smoothed the path for foreign and domestic developers by removing strong environmental laws that slowed down projects. They also foster the removal of sacred communal rights Continue reading “Our AFN and the Dakota Example”

Two More Things, Ms. May, SVP

Two more things:
1. I neglected to add that this coalition or merger of Greens, New Democrats and Liberals should move to enact Proportional Representation as soon as possible after election. I’m tired of holding my nose and voting for the candidate with the best chance of preventing a Harper “majority”

2. Parliament is a better place for having your quick brilliance and civil, but fearless, tongue.

Open Letter To Justin Trudeau: “L’heure est venue, si t’as compris.”

Justin Trudeau writes, in a contribution-soliciting email that I received today:

It’s time to turn the page on seven years of Conservative policies that have left too many Canadians behind. Together, we can build a strong middle class and grow our economy so that everyone can share in Canada’s prosperity.

It is well-known by now that growth as we know it is unsustainable. I hope you will speak honestly with Canadians about this reality when the time (hopefully) comes for you, Tom Mulcair and Elizabeth May to be the next government. You have a powerful team there. I hope change comes before it’s too late.

I’m sure you realize that it is irresponsible to grow our economy at all costs. We need to make this limitation clear to all classes of Canadians and come up with a plan that conserves the things without which life itself is unsustainable: our air, soil water and our interconnected biodiversity – the disrespected, often invisible, things upon which all life depends.

I am very concerned that we will not make it to the next election without Harper having signed secretly-negotiated trade agreements that will limit our ability to protect our environment and our health. Even NAFTA needs to be amended to remove the restrictive parts of its Chapter 11, which give American and Mexican corporations the right to sue Canada for lost future profits if we bring in a law to protect our environment, for example, and that law has a negative impact on their revenues. In one classic NAFTA case in 1997, Canada had determined that a gasoline additive made by Ethyl Corporation was a potential carcinogen. This chemical, MMT, was banned in the United States. It was only used in Canada! Canada removed MMT from our gasoline. Ethyl Corporation was entitled under NAFTA’s Chapter 11 to sue for “future profits” – $251 million dollars. Canada, faced with a very expensive lawsuit that we might lose, settled out of court. Canadian taxpayers paid millions to the American corporation and permitted the additive to be used. This is just one example.

No one in Parliament looks ahead seven generations when making a decision as our native peoples used to do.

By the time the next election rolls around the destructive laws contained in huge un-debatable omnibus bills that attack our native peoples on numerous fronts may be un fait accompli. Our First Nations’ genuine rights to treaty and unceded lands (disrespected by us settlers for centuries) may be our collective last defence against pipelines and the permanent, polluting destruction wreaked by  largely foreign resource extraction corporations, whose “moccasins” have never walked our forests. In fact, corporations, though they don’t even have feet, and are, unlike us humans, immortal, have – and this must change – all the rights of a human being and then some! These powerful, ruinous rights, called “Legal Personality” or “Corporate Personhood,” must be quickly taken away. I hope you, Tom and Elizabeth will make this a priority.

It is a sad reflection on Canadian stewardship when millions of hectares of land, water and trees are surrendered to foreign corporations. The profits from these destructive activities don’t even stay in Canada; they are spirited out by means of transfer pricing, a sinister tool by which corporations avoid paying taxes owed to the country whose resources they are exploiting.

If, by sheer good fortune, the powerful, hugely punitive trade deals like CETA and the TPP agreement have failed to be passed before the 2015 election, I call on you to defend the rights of our native peoples and all Canadians to a clean environment. Please do not subject us to trade agreements that are even more powerfully punitive than NAFTA.

Look around. Smell the tobacco and the sweetgrass.

As Félix Leclerc put it, in an admittedly different, but nonetheless patriotic, musical context:

l’heure est venue, si t’as compris