Black Clouds over Canada

VERY BLACK CLOUDS ARE REPLACING “SUNNY DAYS”.

 This last month we have been presented with our worst fears about the so called “sunny days” government of Canada.

 We understood that sunny days and sunny ways meant that we had elected a government that was willing to listen to us and work with us and for us.   That concept was refreshing and even a little encouraging despite some inherent reservations.

 Yes, we saw a balanced cabinet, yes we saw an initial change in the atmosphere in the House when it convened to pass some immediate tax relief for the upper “middle class” – really how many Canadians are actually in the “middle class” bracket?   For those on CPP and OAS or those struggling to make $40,00 per year it was a completely meaningless exercise.

 But what has happened since then to give Canadians the idea that we are important, that we matter, that indeed we even count as far as this federal government is concerned?

 Well, there has been consultation on election reform held assiduously around the country and with thousands of people making presentations to the special committee.  Since the conservatives have been insisting on a referendum first (not sure on what as the vast majority of Canadians want a change) and now the NDP are going to support that, so maybe there is little chance of there being any development by 2019. Good tactics by the Cons so they can say: “See he didn’t keep this huge promise!”   How does maneuvering like this serve the Canadian people?

 TPP consultations were held to supposedly allow Canadians to express their views, but in fact the committee was presented to 95% by corporate sponsors with a smattering of individual views expressed so a foregone conclusion was reached in a flawed process.

 The aboriginal people of Canada were promised much for education, housing and health but is the money flowing or are consultations still preventing that from happening?

 The cracks are therefore beginning to appear.

 Questions in November and December of 2015 by yours truly about the Bank of Canada and the construction of the Infrastructure Bank were brushed off or simply ignored.

Then we have the CETA, a dodo bird like investment agreement, revived by the creation of a European court of unknown jurisprudence to replace corporately controlled tribunals and signed in Belgium with still some reservations within Europe and some huge hurdles to be passed there; but here in Canada our Government will gladly give the “farm” away to Europe. Our provinces will go along with it because they are being bribed by the federal government with compensation for losses.  Will these compensations be annual or one time and who is going to pay for them?   It is unclear but either way it is a sellout of our country and surrender of our sovereignty to international corporate whims and profits.  Sunny days?  Right!  

 Did you vote for this?

 How many Canadians are aware that we have our own public bank, the Bank of Canada designed and mandated to finance infrastructure (and more)?  A bank used between 1935 and 1974 to finance the period of the greatest growth and prosperity in Canada’s history?   A period of low inflation and low national debt?  It is generally thought that Trudeau senior was responsible for the change from the BOC to international bank loans, but in fact it was the then governor of the BOC, one Gerald Bouey, who agreed to the BIS demands and agreements. At that time our National debt was a mere $22 billion owed basically to ourselves through our own bank.  Today that debt is over $1 trillion and growing with a tail of compounding interest rates that are in fact the largest payment any federal government has to make every year.

 Trudeau junior, instead of reinstating the Bank of Canada as our primary source of finance, along with his corporate Minister of Finance is going to create a new privately owned bank. The Infrastructure Bank of Canada.  The necessity for this bank does not exist, but the need to surrender our commons or rapidly diminishing resources to the corporate world apparently does.  The result is that investors in this new bank will expect a profit worthy of their investment which means a 7-9% interest, most likely compounding at that. The only way this interest can be paid is to surrender the ownership of the infrastructures created or repaired to the Infrastructure Bank which will charge for the use either by tolls, usage fees or entry fees.  Thus the commons such as roads, bridges, water, sewage, garbage collection and recycling will then be owned by corporate interests through the new bank. One wonders how this will work when and if CETA comes into effect and Europeans can compete with the Infrastructure Bank for the right to provide those services.  Can you imagine the court claims?

 In comparison, the Bank of Canada charges a minimal rate without any ownership claims and when their expenses have been paid it returns a dividend to the government, or at least it used to when it was being used to carry out the mandate created by the Bank of Canada Act of 1935.

 We can blame Stephen Harper for his desire to destroy Canada expressed in 2006 or Justin Trudeau for the continuation of that path , or we can blame ourselves for allowing them to do what their corporate masters tell them to do.

 Who benefits from turning Canada into a corporation controlled state?   You can be sure that the answer is not the people of Canada, or at least not those who are part of the so called 99%.

 If this is what you want for your children and grandchildren, then you will be happy. 

If you do not want this then look to the Canadian Action Party which has steadfastly stood not only for the return of the Bank of Canada as our source of finance, the protection of our commons and our environment but also for the people of Canada. 

We have no corporate ties and are only answerable to you.

 

Join us at http://www.actionparty.ca and have you say in the future of Canada.

 

Jeremy Arney

 

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Canada’s Fall economic update, or how to follow Alice through the looking glass

Fall economic Update by Minister of Finance for Canada in the Canadian House of Commons 1st November 2016

 At approximately 1524 in the update the Minister of Finance announced this, and I quote from Hansard:

“Our communities need to keep people and goods moving. Our most vulnerable citizens need housing. Our kids need and deserve clean air and clean water. Our country needs long-term economic growth.

To solve these challenges, we need to think even bigger. We need reliable partners. Canada’s pension funds and institutional investors around the world have world-leading expertise and they are eager to make big, long-term investments in Canada.

I am happy to announce that the Government of Canada is establishing a new Canada infrastructure bank, through which at least $35 billion will flow to help us undertake transformative projects that might not otherwise get built. This bank will allow us to create thousands of jobs, get more projects built, and attract $4 to $5 in private capital for every tax dollar invested. That is progress.”

Then at 1525 or so this:

“Decades from now, when my kids tell the story of when their dad was finance minister, I want them to be able to look back and see our government’s first year in office as the year Canada began on the path towards a new, modern economy. We are well on our way”.

Now I am a simple man, not a lawyer, not a financial expert nor an economist; I have worked hard all my life to provide for my families and sometimes even myself. I simply cannot understand how anyone who claims to listen to the Canadian people, who claims to have the best interests of Canadians uppermost in his mind, and is looking to get the approval of his own children, can be so blind to the economic reality facing him.  He is privatising the entire infrastructure of Canada, from the federal, provincial and indeed to the municipal level.  The profits will not come to Canada for the benefit of Canadians but will go instead into off shore bank accounts.

 IS THIS WHAT YOU VOTED FOR?

 This bank, as he so blatantly stated, will be a private bank, owned and financed by corporate interests and the pension funds.  These investors will expect a profit in the neighbourhood of 7% – 9% or they will not invest.  Who will be paying this profit?  Why the Canadian people of course, or lets correct that, it will be the middle and lower earning Canadians, as the top earners are the ones who will be investing in this bank for profit and no doubt will find loop holes and write-offs to eliminate their share of taxes which would otherwise help to pay for this gross mismanagement of Canada’s wealth.

There is another aspect to this and that is CETA should it ever actually become a reality, because this bank could in fact stop profits from European banks which might like to invest directly in some of our projects, or make loans to our municipal or provincial governments. Not being able to do so at profit will give them the opportunity to take Canada to a European court of doubtful jurisprudence which will then dictate our laws to us and of course fine us. Wonder how much money the Minister has allowed for that and where he will get it from.

 Canada is in the enviable position of owning its own bank already, a public bank called the Bank of Canada which was responsible for financing the greatest period of growth and prosperity Canada has ever know, from 1935 to 1974.  Look at the history of financing our part in WW2, having the largest merchant navy in the world, the St Lawrence Seaway, CPP, healthcare, what used to be called Unemployment Insurance, Trans Canada highway, railways, roads, bridges, hospitals, schools – the list is almost endless and after all that and with minimal inflation we had a national debt in 1974  of just $22 billion basically owed to ourselves!

 Today, according to the World National debt clock, our national debt is over $1 trillion and rising fast.  

 What does the Finance Minister have to say about using the Bank of Canada?  I quote from part of a letter sent to me by one of his staff in reply to my letter concerning the refusal of this government to use of the Bank of Canada, and querying how the infrastructure bank mentioned in one of the leaders’ debates in 2015 would be financed:

 “It is sometimes suggested that the Government of Canada should fund part or all of its debt by borrowing from then Bank of Canada, rather than by borrowing in private sector markets. The Government does not support this approach, as it would require the Bank to create new domestic currency, which does not create any additional wealth.

In fact, the experience of many nations has demonstrated that relying on domestic currency creation to finance government expenditures results in excessive inflation.

While some inflation is desirable to ensure price stability, too much inflation can adversely affect economic growth.  Furthermore, excessive spending and domestic currency creation often lead to a misallocation of scarce resources.”

There is so much inherently wrong with these two paragraphs, but I will simply ask how can anyone really understand the logic of turning a publicly owned bank from a mandated money supplier (Bank of Canada Act 1935) and even a dividend payer to the Minister of Finance, into a simple and toothless inflation watchdog?  The logic of this is beyond me and all I can think is that the current politicians, none of whom support the mandated use of the Bank of Canada, have somehow listened to the siren calls of the big international banks and investors, and believe their call over the needs of their constituents and indeed Canada.

 The fight to stop COMER from  taking the Bank of Canada, the Finance Minister and Government of Canada to court to force them to return to using the Bank of Canada continues, with appeal after appeal from the government in spite of overwhelming evidence that they are wrong.   How can they be right when we are heading further and further into an abyss since we stopped using the Bank of Canada.

 Now we know for sure that this Liberal Government is actually as bad as or even worse than the previous Harper regime, and although they claim to listen to the people of Canada, they do not.

 At least we knew that Harper wanted to destroy Canada as he said would in 2006, but this government is racing to out Harper Harper.

 Shame on them all, and shame on us for not fighting them tooth and nail. 

 Unlike the Minister’s wealthy children looking back in pride at their daddy’s perfidy, our children, grand children and great grand children will ask us the question: “Where were you when Canada was sold?”

 

Jeremy Arney

 

 

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CETA, Bill C-30, smoke and mirrors?

 

Bill C-30 – an act of destruction concerning Canada’s Sovereignty

In the first reading of the first part of this Bill there are so many contradictions, discrepancies or even sections that no longer apply that I have to wonder just who wrote this Bill and if it has been seen by the Attorney General of Canada who is supposed to vet all Bills.  I started this as a serious attempt to present a brief to both the House and Senate committees when they get ready to look at this but:

 Just as a few examples we find:

 Under the Bill Summary:

 (a) the Export and Import Permits Act to, among other things,

(i) authorize the Minister designated for the purposes of that Act to issue export permits for goods added to the Export Control List and subject to origin quotas in a country or territory to which the Agreement applies,

(ii) authorize that Minister, with respect to goods subject to origin quotas in another country that are added to the Export Control List for certain purposes, to determine the quantities of goods subject to such quotas and to issue export allocations for such goods, and

(iii) require that Minister to issue an export permit to any person who has been issued such an export allocation;

 

So if indeed this is a Free Trade agreement why are there quotas, export and import permits, and export control lists. Either it is free trade or it is not and these indicate that this is not a free trade agreement at all.

 

Interpretation consistent with Agreement

3 For greater certainty, this Act and any federal law that implements a provision of the Agreement or fulfils an obligation of the Government of Canada under the Agreement is to be interpreted in a manner consistent with the Agreement.

Does anyone else see that this means we now have to manufacture our laws (and presumably regulations to those laws) to conform to this “trade” agreement?

Non-application of Act and Agreement to water

4 For greater certainty, nothing in this Act or the Agreement, except Chapters Twenty-Two and Twenty-Four of the Agreement, applies to natural surface or ground water in liquid, gaseous or solid state.

Well that would be a relief if only we knew what Chapters 22 and 24 are now.  Does this mean that Nestles for instance can no longer draw free water from the Hope Lake in BC and export it?

Construction

5 For greater certainty, nothing in this Act, by specific mention or omission, is to be construed to affect in any manner the right of Parliament to enact legislation to implement any provision of the Agreement or fulfil any of the obligations of the Government of Canada under the Agreement.

Would I be correct in assuming that all the European countries are offering similarly vague construction?  “For greater certainty, by specific mention or omission,” seems to offer nothing about anything, or maybe anything about nothing.   Did this really pass the legal sniff test?

 

 

Purpose

Purpose

7 The purpose of this Act is to implement the Agreement, the objectives of which, as elaborated more specifically through its provisions, are to

(a) establish a free trade area in accordance with the Agreement;

Tariffs, quotas, limitations of quantities, subsidiary payments to compensate for lost home markets (on an annual basis or just a onetime payment?) paid for by taxpayers in all the countries or just in Canada?  This is “free” trade?

(b) promote, through the expansion of reciprocal trade, the harmonious development of the economic relations between Canada and the European Union in order to create opportunities for economic development;

This is what it is all about, hidden away in a small subsection. Corporate profit disguised as “free” trade.

(c) promote conditions of fair competition affecting trade between Canada and the European Union;

So why all the tariffs and quotas?  Just let trade happen naturally.   Where do all our GMO grain products fit in this as generally Europeans do not like GMO produce?

(d) substantially increase investment opportunities in Canada and the European Union, while preserving the right of each of the parties to the Agreement to regulate to achieve legitimate policy goals;

Yeah, right!

(e) eliminate barriers to trade in goods and services in order to contribute to the harmonious development and expansion of world and regional trade;

Here is the number two killer of sovereignty, services.  This is why all the provinces had to agree with CETA because services include provincial and municipal procurements. Any municipality which does not grant their water, sewage or even electrical or recycling services to an applicant private enterprise European company can cause Canada to be attacked by a tribunal.  Except that Walloon has vetoed the tribunal so why is it even mentioned so prominently in this Bill C-30, and even the Minister has promoted the concept of a European court deciding upon our laws. 

(f) provide adequate and effective protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights in the territory where the Agreement applies;

This will apply to any company purchased by European investors and then moved to Europe?  Under NAFTA we have seen so much of our intellectual property move south, now we can expect it to move east as well? Can we really trust this anymore?

(g) protect, enhance and enforce basic workers’ rights, strengthen cooperation on labour matters, and build on the respective international commitments of Canada and the European Union on labour matters;

Interesting idea as in Europe they have free transfer of workers from one country to another, here in Canada only basic labourers can move from one province to another.  So how will that work under CETA?  Any qualified professional from Europe can move freely among provinces but Canadians cannot?

(h) enhance and enforce environmental laws and regulations and strengthen cooperation between Canada and the European Union on environmental matters; and

(i) promote sustainable development.

So here we then proceed to the Tribunals already rejected by Walloon and therefore Belgium, yet we are still proceeding to add into an investment Bill this whole section about them.    How can we be expected to take this Bill C 30 seriously?

 I did however persevere for a while:

 

Tribunals, Arbitration Panels and Panels of Experts

Powers of Minister

11 (1) The Minister may

(a) propose the names of individuals to serve as members of the tribunals established under Section F of Chapter Eight of the Agreement; and

(b) propose the names of individuals to be included in the sub-lists referred to in paragraph 1 of Article 29.‍8 of the Agreement.

 Can there be any serious comment to make here?

Operation of Chapter Twenty-Nine

12 The Minister is to designate an agency, division or branch of the Government of Canada to facilitate the operation of Chapter Twenty-Nine of the Agreement.

Or here?

 

 

Expenses

Payment of expenses

.

13 The Government of Canada is to pay its appropriate share of the aggregate of

(a) the expenses incurred by tribunals established under the Agreement and the remuneration and expenses payable to members of those tribunals;

(b) the expenses incurred by arbitration panels and Panels of Experts established under the Agreement and the remuneration and expenses payable to those arbitrators, panellists on those Panels of Experts and mediators; and

(c) the expenses incurred by the CETA Joint Committee and the specialized committees, bilateral dialogues, working groups and other bodies established under the Agreement and the remuneration and expenses payable to representatives on the CETA Joint Committee and those specialized committees and to members of those bilateral dialogues, working groups and other bodies.

 

We know that this government is more anxious to spend money abroad than here at home but is it not taking it a bit far to expect us to take on the expenses of tribunals which will not happen?  Will we then be expected to pay the European court costs when they rule against us in disputes which is I suppose fair, or will we have to also pay a share of a dispute between let’s say France and Poland?  Absolutely opaque here.

 

Orders

Orders re Article 29.14 of Agreement

14 (1) The Governor in Council may, for the purpose of suspending obligations in accordance with Article 29.‍14 of the Agreement, by order, do any one or more of the following:

(a) suspend rights or privileges granted by Canada to the European Union and its member states or to goods, service suppliers, investors or investments of investors of the European Union and its member states under the Agreement or any federal law;

(b) modify or suspend the application of any federal law with respect to the European Union and its member states or to goods, service suppliers, investors or investments of investors of the European Union and its member states;

(c) extend the application of any federal law to the European Union and its member states or to goods, service suppliers, investors or investments of investors of the European Union and its member states;

(d) take any other measure that the Governor in Council considers necessary.

Now this is where we step through Alice’s looking glass.  If we can do all this, including imposing our federal laws on Europe, they can also do the same, so we have all the European countries imposing their individual laws on us and we are imposing our laws on them.  

This is supposed to be a serious bill and a serious agreement?

 

Then there is this curious introduction of another entity:

 

(3) Subsection 2(1) of the Act is amended by adding the following in alphabetical order:

 

EU country or other CETA beneficiary has the same meaning as in subsection 2(1) of the Customs Tariff; (pays de l’Union européenne ou autre bénéficiaire de l’AÉCG)

 

There is no explanation I could find of a CETA beneficiary, so I imagine this means the lawyers who will simply move from the tribunal positions to the proposed European court that will “try” the cases among us all.  I mean who or what else could it be?

This is far as I could go into Bill C-30 without simply bursting out into laughter:

 

To those who wrote this Bill C-30 and those who are actively supporting it, you can certainly do much better, and we are paying you way too much money for you to allow or support such sloppy work.  The speed with which this was introduced to parliament after the October 30th signing  indicates that it was an out of date bill and certainly it appears to be that way.

 Finally, openness and transparency mean just that; so we should have the complete text of the signed agreement readily available with Bill C-30 so that references made to the agreement can be checked.   We should have the full text of the agreement available anyway, or now that the investor dispute part (the most important part of the agreement) has changed does it have to go through a multilateral legal re scrubbing?   If it does what on earth is Bill C30 doing in front of our parliament at this time anyway?

 

A second finally, can someone, anyone show me where our MPs of any stripe have been given the mandate to subject our laws and regulations to overseas courts, or tribunals controlled by foreign governments or corporations?  Or for that matter to impose our laws on foreign countries.   A majority in the House of Commons is just that; it is not a mandate to surrender our sovereignty.

 Jeremy Arney

 

 Ps. I suppose I should have read more, but this Bill is soo bad that it has to be re- written and I will go further then.  As Canadians we deserve a great deal more from our elected employees.

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My Submission to the ERRE House of Commons committee on Electoral Reform

Submission to the special ERRE Committee of the House of Commons.

I have been watching or reading the transcripts of as many of the hearings as I can and I have come to a rather alarming conclusion. The present discussions are about remixing the mix, not making the mix more people orientated and inclusive.

The first section of the mandate of the committee is to research ways to: and I quote

Effectiveness and legitimacy: that the proposed measure would increase public confidence among Canadians that their democratic will, as expressed by their votes, will be fairly translated and that the proposed measure reduces distortion and strengthens the link between voter intention and the election of representatives;

In all the watching and reading I have done it is clear that while STV has some advantages there is only one method of voting that will be inclusive if it is allowed to be.MMP with a secondary list for choice of party representatives will be, if allowed, inclusive of those parties registered with Elections Canada but so far not represented in the House of Commons. It matters not if those lists are open or closed if they exclude seventeen duly registered parties conforming to Elections Canada obligations, but not rich enough to compete with the current costs of a national election. By deliberate exclusion at Town Hall meetings, TV debates , local or national forums, these parties have had little chance of having their ideas heard by the general population.

While you are not here to discuss the conduct of the campaigns, you are to determine how the interests of the people are best served. When I asked Ms. May at her town hall in Sidney BC about this she suggested that any party with 5-10% of the vote should be allowed to have a list, which would exclude her party and the Bloq from having a list of representatives for the second choice and would in fact be very exclusive. We are heading into a new system and to take old figures into that system would be a rather backward step in my view.

My suggestion for your consideration is that any party that runs a candidate in a riding has the right to present a secondary list for the voters in that riding.

There is no doubt that the small registered parties have some very good ideas for Canada and Canadians and are not encumbered by donors needs and desires. To be blunt they represent their members and Canadians, not outside interests or lobbyists, and they should be included in the process of government not excluded as they are now

.By having the small parties submit lists the Canadian people would have the ability to choose for greater representation than the established party MPs are capable of providing under their current party discipline systems; new ideas and real representation can only be good for Canada.

I will be attending the 27th September meeting in Victoria BC, and if not invited to submit this proposal I will be in line to ask questions of you about this.

Thank you

Jeremy Arney

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TPP, CETA, TiSA yet again

26th September 2016

To the Right Honourable Justin Trudeau,

Prime Minister of Canada.

Concerning: CETA, TPP and TiSA.

I have written now nine times to your Minster of Trade concerning one or all of these investment agreements and have received no response from her at all, and am therefore writing directly to you. As a Canadian I am somewhat miffed by this lack of response and as the interim Leader of the Canadian Action Party I am disgusted by the discourtesy of a highly paid member of your Cabinet.

Over the years Canada has been an exporter of a huge variety of items, from wheat to beef and pork, all manner of natural resources and innovation. We did not need special agreements – we simply did it. Mulroney’s FTA and the offshoot NAFTA changed all that with respect to Mexico and the USA and made trade more about corporate profits and their protection. During Jean Chretien’s time trade boomed because it was done on a personal and direct basis, with him going overseas with Canadian business men/women in tow talking directly to overseas counterparts. Did it work? Oh yes it did, we had a healthy surplus in trade in 2006.

Then came the era of destruction when everything from parliament to sovereignty and the rule of law was under severe attack, and the dark era of investment agreements disguised as and called trade agreements took place. Every one of them had within it an investor state dispute mechanism which had nothing to do with trade at all, but everything to do with protecting the perceived profits of corporations from those other countries.

Has this process worked? Well, we now have a huge trade deficit and have been taken before a corporate dispute tribunal more than any other country in the world. The reality or legality of the claims is immaterial as shown in the case of Abitibi Bowater. They had water and timber rights granted in the early 1900s by Newfoundland and Labrador for as long as they had an operating mill there employing Canadians. When they closed their last mill in 2008 those timber and water rights were taken back by the province as the conditions for those rights were no longer being fulfilled. The Harper Government of the time did not let the NAFTA claim go to arbitration but instead simply and quietly paid Abitibi Bowater $130 million rather than fight such a ridiculous claim and by this action deliberately opened the floodgates.

Worse yet is the fact that Canadian based companies such as Lone Pine Power of Calgary saw the advantage of incorporation in Delaware USA and when their intention to frack and drill in the St Lawrence River was rejected by Quebec because, among other things, a proper environmental study had not been done, Lone Pine Power lodged a tribunal claim against Canada for $250 million for perceived lost profits

Where exactly does trade fit into this picture?

Your Minister is so excited that CETA – which she erroneously called “a gold plated trade deal” – is not dead as it should be but has been resuscitated by the creation of a new court to deal with perceived profit loss disputes. I have asked for details of this new court such as where it will be based, who will provide the judges and lawyers and under what jurisprudence and at what cost to Canada, because we always seem to end up paying for these things , and how it will affect our court system and will that new court overrule our Supreme Court. I have, as usual, received not one word in answer, nor can I find answers on the Ministry of Trade website.

Perhaps you can tell me.

My understanding is that the Germans are not too happy about this new CETA court and rightly ask the same questions as to how it will affect their court system. The American equivalent of CETA (TTIP) is apparently dead so why is your Trade Minster and indeed the Government of Canada pursuing CETA instead of a real “trade” agreement?

Both CETA, the TPP and TiSA are extensions of Stephen Harper’s desire to subjugate Canada to the profits of international corporations. The Harper government was mercifully rejected and an ungrateful nation will now reward him for his treasonous behaviour with millions of dollars instead of a gold watch as he has quit his MP job to become a lobbyist; not of the Federal government I trust, as that would be contrary to the Lobbying Act.

The question, Prime Minister, is why are you and your Trade Minister continuing with these Harper government perfidious investment agreements, and where exactly is your mandate to turn our ability to make laws and regulations to protect both Canada and Canadians from corporate greed into an inability to do so, thereby destroying any sovereignty left after Harper? I actually think you were granted a mandate to scrap them along with Bill C51.

I have to tell you also Prime Minister that sunny ways and sunny days have turned to very dark and turbulent skies on this file and I am very fearful for my children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. I did not come to Canada in 1967 to raise a Canadian branch of the family here in BC only to have them subjected to the greedy whims of some CEO somewhere in the world while their country, Canada, has its sovereignty given over to international corporate interests.

Canada is soo much better than that.

Jeremy Arney

Interim leader of the Canadian Action Party

 

cc by mail to:

Minister of Trade, Minister of Justice and Minister of Foreign Affairs.

 

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Voting reform in Canada?

In Canada we have been presented with an opportunity to bring some real democracy to our political scene, and it appears to me that we are going to pass on that opportunity.

We have a three party system here with a Quebec only based party and a fringe party – the Greens – making up the MP mix.

We have 22 registered political parties in Canada so how is it that only 5 parties are sharing the MPs?

The answer is as old as the hills really and that is power and money.

We call our system of government parliamentary democracy, which in essence means that we have a parliament that represents the people, but does it? Oh there are facts, figures and percentages quoted often to support the concept that it does, but how often does your MP manage to get anything done on a national level with which you approve or even give consent. I will not deny that on an individual problem they may be able to get help for you from the government,. But that largely depends on the MP and the party to which they belong. I remember when I approached Dr. Wallace who was for years a progressive conservative MP for Oak Bay about a problem he flatly told me there was nothing he could do because he was not a member of the government. That is a perfect example of lack of willingness by an MP to act democratically on any level simply because he was not a member of the government. Point here is that all our members of Parliament claim democracy for Canada when in fact we have probably never had such a state.

What we have had since our inception is a two or three party system of governance which is entirely partisan and self serving for those parties. From this we have developed a very finely tuned system of preserving that status quo.

Before we take a serious look at the voting itself, lets look at the process leading up to that vote.

The ability to have a candidate in every riding depends on the money available to a party to develop the machinery at every constituency level, and today that is only partly through individual donations from people and corporation. After each election EC refunds to five parties a large portion of their expenses thus giving them a huge bank account to run the next election. Is there some logic behind this? Of course not from the people of Canada’s point of view because they are paying for it, but from the parties who have developed this system of huge expenses and refunds it makes perfect sense that in essence the taxpayers should pay for their election expenses.

To illustrate what I mean, in 2011 there were 17 parties which had candidates in the election. Of these only 5 parties received a refund from Elections Canada to the total tune of $33,262,653.00.  (see table below from  EC website).

This money came from EC and who pays for EC? Yes that’s right you do. The remaining 12 parties received nothing and had all exhausted their finances and had to rebuild for 2015.

Then in the actual campaigns themselves at almost every town hall across the country “all candidates meetings” actually means the Cons,. Libs, NDP and Greens (and of course the Bloq in Quebec). For a smaller party to get on the stage is an extreme rarity. Even in 2015 when the conservative party candidate did not bother or was told not to to appear at town halls in Esquimalt BC a communist candidate who attended the meetings was totally refused entry to the stage or to even make a presentation to the attendees. The “rules” of participation are set by the holder of the town hall (ie a church or Chamber of Commerce) and are not governed by EC. There is only one way to change this and that involves the people of each riding to walk out of a meeting that does no offer every candidate the same opportunity to speak as would happen in a democracy, or in fact would be suggested by the “all candidates” designation. Problem is that these small parties have some very people oriented and good ideas and therefore must be excluded in order to protect those who only speak the party line.

Advertising is very expensive and here again the Broadcast Arbiter has stacked the deck to favour those major parties and give them the lions share of the advertising that CBC must carry free during an election. Small parties get on average 5 minutes each split between radio and TV, whereas those parties which can well afford to pay for their own get 80 – 100 minutes of free time. This is of course upside down and only further hinders democracy here in Canada.

What this all means is that some 17 registered political parties in Canada are largely excluded from the election process by design.

If this exclusion continues what difference does it make how the vote is conducted?

However that process is being looked at by both a special committee which is working hard and has done so to their credit all summer. Following a decade of completely dysfunctional committees this one has an opportunity to show Canadians that MPs can actually work together for Canadians. After much nonsense about a referendum from the Conservative party members of the committee they too have finally realised that this subject is important, and have started to actually take part rather than distract from the mandate at hand. Problem is that the whole subject is being conducted on the basis of there only being 3 parties, along with the Bloq and Greens, to be considered. In other words any proposal will simply remix the mix we presently have which is no longer functional as far a democracy is concerned.

For example STV allows for up to 5 candidates to be chosen for a larger constituency, so here in Canada each constituency would have an Lib, Con, NDP, Green and one other member of parliament- if that figure of 5 stands and that is not likely as it would open the door for a small party outside Quebec.. Now that sounds like stalemate to me, and anyone who knows chess knows that is not a great outcome.

MMP allows for party list to be chosen from as a secondary feature but that list would perhaps only be presented by a party with a 5-10% of the vote at the last election…so we are back to a list from 3 parties only as even the Greens did not manage 5% of the vote in 2015.

See how this is like a mathematical loop?

All we will get from this as it is playing out so far is a shuffling of the three party deck.

Seventeen small registered parties thought that sunny days and voting reform would help them to finally have some small level of representation in our Canadian House of Commons, to represent their members views and definitely bring new ideas to a stale establishment stuck in the mold of indifference to the people and acquiescence to the corporate lobbyists.

I fear that once again this chance at a new democracy will be sidelined in favour of partisan party politics and in defence of what those parties have.

I am still wondering why the Minister in charge of all this did not appear in Victoria as advertised but instead went to Saturna Island with a total population topping off at 350. Lack of venue? Maybe but we have a magnificent legislature building here in Victoria which is only used for about 7-10 days in any BC Liberals calendar year and I am sure that could have been a very good venue.

 

Jeremy Arney

 

Elections Canada Online | Total Paid Election Expenses and Reimbursements, by Registered Political Party – 2011 General Election

Total Paid Election Expenses and Reimbursements, by Registered Political Party – 2011 General Election

Registered political party Number of candidates Total paid election expenses ($) Authorized limit of election expenses ($) Reimbursement ($)
Animal Alliance Environment Voters Party of Canada 7 39,024 467,969 0
Bloc Québécois 75 5,344,678 5,373,818 2,669,961
Canadian Action Party 12 16,954 840,226 0
Christian Heritage Party of Canada 46 41,960 3,202,184 0
Communist Party of Canada 20 8,680 1,358,384 0
Conservative Party of Canada 307 19,457,420 20,955,089 9,728,710
First Peoples National Party of Canada 1 0 62,702 0
Green Party of Canada 304 1,924,478 20,764,345 962,239
Liberal Party of Canada 308 19,483,917 21,025,793 9,741,959
Libertarian Party of Canada 23 154 1,743,667 0
Marijuana Party 5 0 339,676 0
Marxist-Leninist Party of Canada 70 3,511 5,162,705 0
New Democratic Party 308 20,319,567 21,025,793 10,159,784
Pirate Party of Canada 10 1,207 757,193 0
Progressive Canadian Party 9 1,424 765,502 0
Rhinoceros Party 14 0 982,437 0
United Party of Canada 3 0 241,407 0
Western Block Party 4 0 333,955 0
TOTAL 1,526 66,642,974 105,402,845 33,262,653
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There must be something in the water in Ottawa

1st September 2016

Here we go into Alice’s looking glass again with Justin and Bill to my complete amazement, disgust and lack of approval. Seeking their god(s) approval I suppose and talking us further into the rabbit hole of debt.

The Infrastructure Bank of Asia?

We are going to invest in this?

Apart from the currency of choice how is this different from the IMF and their rapacious interest rates?

Canadian Infrastructure Bank?

We are going to create one of our own?

I saw no money set aside in the 2016 Budget for these two banks so by what sleight of hand will the money be created?

I have no problem with investing in Canada.

I have no problem with using the Bank of Canada to create money for that investment; but I do have an enormous problem with borrowing money from international banks and investors to create an unnecessary bank for our infrastructure, and borrowing money to invest in a foreign infrastructure bank, on which we will be paying compounding interest rates.

We knew that Harper’s Government, acting as if it was the Government of Canada, did not have a single economist among their ranks, and they only managed to come vaguely close to balancing the budget by selling Canada’s assets at bargain basement prices, and really had no clue how to finance anything. The fact that the Liberals promised to invest in Canada instead of selling it off originally indicated to me that they had some plan and at least one economist in their midst.

Oh boy was I wrong!

At the Canadian Action Party we believe this:

What is physically possible, desirable and morally right, we can make it financially possible through the Bank of Canada.”

With the exception of the Libertarians every other registered but unrepresented Canadian Political party also believes this, but those parties which have representation in the House of Commons believe that we should be increasing debt instead to international banks and investors, paying them compounding interest rates to boot. The payment of the interest on our national debt is the single largest payment Canada has to make year after year and still this government of ours wants to increase that debt and the increasing interest payments. There is no way to realistically leave our children any sort of future in this country if we continue with this height of absurdity.

Our grand fathers created and left us with the Bank of Canada, something some 70 cities and counties and 8 or so States in the USA want to replicate by having proposals for creating public banking on their November Ballots this year; and yet there is no political party represented in our House of Commons which can see the value of what we have and is actually still mandated to do what it did so well from 1935 – 1974 when out national debt was $22 billion owed to ourselves through the Bank of Canada. Today our national debt stands at over $1, trillion with compounding interest owed on that to international banks and investors.

http://www.nationaldebtclocks.org/debtclock/canada

Tell me this makes sense.

Tell me that the MPs of Canada have not been subdued, threatened or bribed in some way to accept this on behalf of their children.

Tell me that you agree with this increasing and absolutely unnecessary debt.

Tell me that you agree with these infrastructure banks when we already have our own Bank of Canada which can do all these things here at home much more efficiently and cheaply .

Tell me that you want these problems of national indebtedness to be passed on to your children.

But better than that tell me that you want the stooges in Ottawa to start using their heads instead of their fears and act on behalf of their employers…you…and engage the Bank of Canada again to exercise it’s mandate to finance Canada’s needs.

Whatever hopes I entertained that we would see change with Justin Trudeau and his Liberals and their sunny days and ways has evaporated like the dew on a summer morning.

Jeremy Arney

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