First and foremost, the TPP likely needs to be killed dead. Wikileaks has been revealing details of the secret TPP from time to time since at least 2013. There are many very serious threats to the people of Canada and the other eleven countries who signed the deal this October. (See list below for just some threats). These threats are enabled by the extraordinary power given to foreign corporations (mostly in the U.S.) by the deal’s Investor-State Dispute Settlement Agreements (ISDS Agreements) to sue nations for expected future profits if their legislatures enact laws or operate public institutions that are deemed to affect their profits. Canada has first hand experience of these lawsuits since it has been involved with the U.S. and later Mexico in NAFTA. This legal, but immoral, right to sue has cost Canada and Mexico, but not the U.S., millions in lawsuits. The TPP is incredibly more pervasive and involves 12, not just 3 countries. More and more Canadian businesses and institutions, such as small farmers and the CBC are directly under attack from the TPP – a much larger group than under NAFTA, which at least had some provisions to protect our water and our farms. It is very likely that Canadians ourselves, and likely even most MP’s, will not see the details of this deal.
The argument that Canada is better in than out of this deal sounds powerful, but deceives us. This deal will provide very few Canadians with good, stable jobs that offer a package of benefits. NAFTA at least protected our auto industry but other U.S. firms no longer had to manufacture or do research here in order to sell in Canada. Shortly after the free trade deal with the U.S. in 1987 Caterpillar closed its plant in Brampton, Ontario and fired 90% of its workers. Ten per cent went to North Carolina with Caterpillar’s manufacturing. Bye bye. Trade deals that began in 1987 between Canada and the U.S. and expanded to include Mexico in 1994 have not preserved quality manufacturing jobs. Canada’s manufacturing as a per cent of GDP, and the good jobs with benefits that go with it, has fallen from 24% in the 1960’s to about 10% in 2015. As for Canada’s pathetic decline in research and development this article in the Tyee is worth reading. With the TPP the victims in the 12 TPP countries will be the general population. The winners will be those highly placed in the foreign corporations who conjured up this deal in secret. The poor in all twelve countries will become destitute, except for a small fraction of educated English speakers who will form a small lower-middle class.
In years past, Canadians and others aware of this grave corporate threat took to the tear-gassed streets and successfully defeated monster trade deals like the MAI. The ‘better in than out” choice is a false one. Rather, all 12 countries should present this deal accurately to their electors; then its defeat would be certain.
Some issues with the TPP:
Investor-State Dispute Settlements, as mentioned above, allow foreign corporations to sue countries and cities for billions of “lost future profits” if they enact legislation to protect health care, the environment, jobs, wages and democracy and these actions affect their “sacred” right to profits forever.
Temporary Foreign Workers: Foreign corporations that procure TFW’s probably will be able to sue for lost income if Canada cuts numbers of TFW’s permitted to work here. This is already being done in a case about McDonalds. And Canadian Seafarers are threatened and fighting back. TFW’s are themselves abused and are already being inappropriately used to prevent Canadians from making a just wage.
BGH: American milk and meats use Bovine Growth Hormone (BGH), suspected of being associated with cancer. We probably will be exposed to this?
Food Safety: Canadian standards on food safety will likely be further weakened by the TPP.
Labeling: Will Canadian products still be identified in supermarkets? I doubt it.
Bank Deregulation: Will banking regulations be weakened?
Privacy: Canadian privacy, already blown away by C-51, will be further jeopardized by this agreement, which will force internet service providers to track our activity.
Job Losses: Canadian jobs will likely be lost in large numbers to workers from countries with lower wages, labour standards and non-existent unionization.
2. Bill C-51
Clayton Ruby, a distinguished lawyer and activist who has been practising law since 1969, believes Bill C-51 should be completely thrown out and rewritten. It is a catch-all list of vague but serious offenses that can be gratuitously applied to acts that are really quite innocent. It permits dirty tricks. It can turn an innocent article or speech, by abuse of its ill-defined powers, into an “act of terrorism.” Justin Trudeau cannot invent a system of oversight to guard against abuses possible with such a plethora of vague possibilities that have not been properly classified. This article gives some excellent examples of how irretrievably defective this bill is. It must be rewritten into something that can be easily and clearly reviewed by whomever are given the responsibility of oversight.
3. Truly Proportional Representation; Not PR-lite!
There are only two types of proportional representation currently used that are truly proportional: Party List Proportional Representation and Mixed Member Proportional Representation. Tom Mulcair has suggested one of them: Mixed Member Proportional Representation, used by Germany and New Zealand. Party List Proportional Representation is used by over eighty countries worldwide. See my post on PR here.Justin Trudeau should confer with his counterparts in parliament and pick one of the above systems. There are various minor ways in which different countries have modified the two choices. The Canadian people must be educated about the importance of replacing our FPTP system with whichever system will ultimately be selected. This is the job of parliament. The committee that looks into selecting PLPR or MMPR (MMP) should be composed mostly of members from the parties that proposed this reform: the NDP, the Liberals and Elizabeth May.
Note: Instant Runoff, also known as Alternative Vote is NOT proportional representation! It will betray the continually frustrated supporters of the Greens and the NDP- the very people that gave the Liberals a majority despite receiving less than 40% of the popular vote.
Since 68% of Canadian voters elected to vote for a party that included electoral reform in its platform, parliament has total authority to pass legislation to enact it.
There must not be a referendum on this! It is time Canada moved confidently to a truly proportional system. Parliamentarians on October 19th were given a strong mandate to do this for us.
No need to re-invent the wheel. Beware of attempts to dilute, adulterate or corrupt this very important reform of our electoral system.
By the way, if the TPP with its ISDS agreements is ratified, our improved electoral system will mean nothing, since foreign corporations will hold us to ransom and voting will be a farce, because our leaders will be no more than puppets. That’s why killing the TPP is numero uno – the sine qua non.
4. Other Stuff
There are many other important tasks for what will be a truly busy four years. Ferreting out and removing the bad bits squirreled away in Stephen Harper’s many, huge, undebatable omnibus bills will be an unenviable task. And the Liberals must act to prevent existing infrastructure of public institutions like the CBC from being sold:
Harper reduced Canada’s protected lakes, rivers and waterways from 2.5 million to a mere 159 in Bill C-45.
Dozens of laws in over 10 Huge Harper omnibus bills have decimated the powers and rights of our indigenous peoples. What I call “buckshot legislation.”
CBC infrastructure must be preserved by immediately dismissing most of its current Board of directors, 80% of whom are Conservative Party contributors appointed by Harper. These party hacks plan to sell all CBC buildings!
5. Hopeful Congratulations to Justin Trudeau
All the above being said, I’ll admit I’m nervous about Mr. Trudeau’s recent cautious avoidance of the term Proportional Representation, his voting with Harper on C-51 and his unequivocal pro-trade stance. But he really seems to be setting out an ambitious agenda for the first half of his mandate. I have not been this hopeful for over a dozen years.
Congratulations, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. You have already changed the world’s perception of Canada for the better. You have slain Cerberus in grand style. You hold the future of my grandchildren in your hands. You can be greater than your father.
In 2011 the Harper minority government was defeated after they were found to be in contempt of parliament. They denied a contract had been signed (LIE) and kept on lying about the cost. They won a majority with a whopper of a lie. From rabble.ca:
On March 25, 2011 Harper’s government was brought down after a non-confidence vote and a finding that the Conservatives were in contempt of Parliament for refusing to disclose full information about the cost of the fighter jets, as well as the cost of their crime legislation.
Throughout the election campaign, Harper and his campaign insisted on figures between $14-16 billion. But, at the highest levels, they must have known it was false.
So they lied. Harper knew, and Harper lied. Harper lied before, during and after the election campaign that saw him win a majority government.
Harper has and will continue to lie about the virtues of the TPP. Here are key questions we must demand answers for, not from his or any CPC mouth, but from the publication of the actual document signed on October 5 or any other source known to be correct:
BGH: American milk and meats use Bovine Growth Hormone (BGH), suspected of being associated with cancer. Will we be exposed to this?
Food Safety: Will Cdn standards on food safety (already weakened by Harper cuts to Food inspector jobs) be further weakened by TPP?
Labeling: Will Canadian products still be identified in supermarkets?
Bank Deregulation: Will banking regulations be weakened?
Privacy: Will Canadian privacy, already blown away by C-51, be further jeopardized by this agreement?
Temporary Foreign Workers: Can foreign corporations that procure TFW’s sue for lost income if Canada cuts numbers of TFW’s? This is already being done in a case about McDonalds. And Canadian Seafarers are threatened and fighting back. TFW’s are themselves abused and are already being inappropriately used to keep Canadians making a just wage from working.
Job Losses: Will Canadian jobs be lost in large numbers to workers from countries with lower wages, labour standards, less unionization?
Investor-State Dispute Settlements: ISDSagreements allow foreign corporations to sue the ass off countries and cities that enact legislation to protect health care, the environment, jobs, wages and democracy.
Other Trade Deals: Trade deals (TPP, TIPP, CETA, TISA), written in secret by Corporation lawyers, all contain similar threats to democracy, environment, health and jobs. For example, this from the Independent (UK) on TTIP: Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.
This is my incomplete list. Please check out these questions and feel free to comment (PLEASE) or to add your own.
The TPP would be an impregnable legal fortress defending the unsustainable, planet-killing growth of unfettered capitalism. A vehicle for corporations to sue countries for enacting laws that protect the environment or the marginalized if these laws impact the sacred “God-given” rights of multinational corporations (MNC’s).
In their otherwise useful article, the Globe and Mail deceives by omission as usual. It has shed light on some of the details, but has left out the dangerous points I raise above.
Then there is the overall picture:
In essence the TPP, led principally by U.S. corporations, including the beneficiaries of its obscene war machine, is America’s latest attempt to isolate China, Europe and BRICS Nations. It ignores issues of environmental sustainability. By replacing publicly-funded institutions with more expensive private corporations it wages a class war against the middle class and the planet’s poor. It will take us back to poverty, sickness and, ultimately, serfdom.
Finally, I fear, this competition about power and scarcity will take us into a military WWIII.
The senate has just given President Obama the power to take America into the dreaded Trans-Pacific Partnership, described as “NAFTA on Steroids” because it probably includes provisions enabling Corporations to sue governments for laws they enact to protect the environment – as NAFTA’s Chapter 11 now does.
Congress is next to vote to give the President similar, draconian, totally undemocratic powers.
Please read up (if you need to) on the TPP and quickly sign Naomi Klein’s petition against it HERE!
“The days of the moneylender have arrived, and the days of the swaggering privateer; banker sits down with banker, and kings are their waiting boys.”
The above insight from the reflection of Thomas Cromwell on the new type of power in 16th C. Europe. Another surprise from the Booker Prize winning Hilary Mantel. I laughed out loud when I saw this on page 142 of Bring Up The Bodies. Cromwell is thinking that, despite his low birth and the repeated, jealous insults of the nobility in Henry’s court, he is the second most powerful man in England next to the king, and, perhaps, the most influential.
That from December, 1536.
Has the dominion of the banks over all types of planetary power, at its apex in this scary 21st Century, been growing ever since then?
Mantel won the Booker Prize for Wolf Hall, Volume I of her planned trilogy on the life and times of the powerful Cromwell. She won a second Booker for this one, Volume II, in 2012. Will her last in this series, due in 2015, win an incredible hat trick?
A long-time writer of immense taste, imagination and skill, her sprinkling of erudite LOL moments of pithy surprise throughout these works only compounds this reader’s delight.
T’was ever thus. When the Olympics end, there’ll be plenty of other circuses. Methinks, however, the bread will diminish…
By the way, feel free to substitute your own national mascot. Joe is mine.
Substitute Corporate Personhood (or the 85 richest men) for Rome.
Will Emperor Harper call an election if Canada continues to do well?? Probably not, he’s made such a dog’s breakfast out of the last couple of years. But I bet his pollsters are busy and his fraudsters are having their hearts shrunk …
Where to begin??? With the photo, I guess. The above “slightly macro” photo was taken in “Our Woods” (see categories) with my Tamron 90 mm macro lens on Oct. 15. 1/400 sec, f 6.3, ISO 100.
‘Nuff said there.
But… the bee made me think about endangered species and then about “just about everything else that ticks me off” resulting, from time to time, in petitioning, ranting, raving, using cuss words, reading, blogging, occasionally marching and chanting, even singing à la Bob Dillon or Pete Seeger.
I have recently learned through sumofus.org (and follow-up digging) how the chemical companies Bayer and Syngenta have recently launched a lawsuit against Europe for placing a moratorium on the use of their neonicotinoid pesticides because there is evidence that they are responsible for the decline in the bee population. The site, sumofus.org, has a petition we can sign against this lawsuit.
Stephen Harper, our Prime Dictator (er, Prime Minister), who rules with temporary absolute power in our backwater, soon to be blackwater, corporate colony named Canada, recently shut down our parliament for the third time. This time to avoid criticism for his Conservative Party’s corruption, mismanagement and election fraud (sound like Guatemala or El Salvador?). Shortly after reopening our lacklustre legislative body, he buggered off last week to Europe to be the co-star in a big splash photo-op: the signing of a memorandum of understanding on a new, huge, secret “Free” Trade deal with the European Community. It’s called CETA.
Now it seems to me, after watching Canada get it’s ass gratuitously sued by foreign corporations over and over again since 1997 under the NAFTA with the US and Mexico, that we do NOT want another secret trade deal that is officially with countries but unofficially with the corporations that control the political leaders. You know it. I know it. Why do we voters let it happen? (Insert cuss word of your choice) While your petitioning appetite is whetted, why not sign this one on the secret Trans Pacific Partnership Harper is anxious to sign up for.
Before we can say “Mike Duffy” Harper will have us tied up in so many politically-paralyzing trade deals that we will become a true colony of the worldwide super-wealthy
with no control over our water, our fish, our resources, our climate, our land… Serfs subject to a plenitude of corporate lawsuits if we even try to live sustainably. To be fair, we don’t yet really try to reduce our bloody footprints, so this may not be relevant. Continue reading “All Of The Below”