Transparency My Ass

On December 2nd CBC’s Evan Solomon presented Ryerson Professor, and lawyer, Pam Palmater arguing against the First Nations Financial Transparency Act.  Arguing for so-called “transparency” was Aaron Wudrick of the small, parsimonious, right-wing lobby group, the  Canadian Taxpayers Federation. If you can wait out a compulsory 90 seconds of commercials forced upon you by CBC Player you can listen to the powerful Palmater dissect and consume Aaron the Unready here. It’s worth the corporation-enforced wait.

I will not précis the whole issue but will only say that the Harper CPC can only get away with this egregious harassment of First Nations because of the abysmally ignorant state of Canadians on everything to do with our First Nations. Government “logic” succeeds only because of the typical Canuck couch potato’s massively wrong assumptions and deep, unconscious prejudice about our indigenous people. “Settler” mentality creates big holes in public awareness for the government offence to run through.

Via huge omnibus bills the Harper Conservatives have passed (undebated) a boatload of needle-in-haystack legislation designed to totally destroy the power of our First Nations to stay united and fight pipelines and other attacks on our shared and fragile biosphere.

Professor Palmater maintained, in a talk to Idle No More – Alberta, that:

“It’s time to come up with a plan to let Canadians know that we (i.e. First Nations – ed.) are their only hope of saving the land and waters and animals and plants in this country.”

Continue reading “Transparency My Ass”

Revisiting Our Oily Assumptions

David Suzuki’s insightful piece says that rail vs pipeline is the wrong question.

He focuses on real, simple, economic questions and asks rather, “Why?” or, at least, “Why Now.”

He includes links to support his point and allow the reader to read more if he/she wishes.

He stays away from the issue of dishonouring our promises made to our First Nations and the poisoning of their water, air, soil and people because, I assume, the arguments he makes stand strongly on their own.

Winning the political battle will not be easy without the involvement and courageous resistance of our First Nations, however, as FN lawyer, Pamela Palmater has argued strongly. I have summarized her position, and the full-blown attempt by Stephen Harper to wipe out their culture, here.

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