OH CANADA, WHERE ART THOU?

 

 Every day in our House of Commons, MPs stand and spout the word “democracy” over and over and occasionally – very rarely actuality – “sovereignty”.

There is no doubt in my mind that none of them have the first idea what either word means, but they are buzz words that seem to imply that they are working for Canadians.

This simply is not the case.

Sovereignty: (Canadian Oxford dictionary)

“the absolute and independent authority of a community, nation etc.,”

If we had sovereignty really, then why would all our political representatives have to swear allegiance to the Queen of England rather than to the people of Canada who elect and pay them?  Why would we have to abide by so-called Trade Agreements and surrender our environmental protection and laws to international corporate profits?

 

Democracy: (Canadian Oxford dictionary)

“a form of government in which the power resides in the people and is exercised by them either directly or by means of elected representatives”

The claims are made that we elect politicians to represent us, but actually, most Canadians will tell you that they vote for the party, not the person, and even worse they vote for who they want to be the most powerful person in Canada.  We all hope, in vain it turns out, that that person will actually work for Canada and Canadians.   They do not.  The two parties which have ruled Canada since it began are almost interchangeable today, and the fact remains that party politics require that all MPs vote with their party leader, not on behalf of their constituents, their hearts or their heads. What we have had over the years are two parties which respond to the national and international corporations and banks and we would be better described as a corpocracy, not as a parliamentary democracy

So much for democracy.  

                                                                           *

 

Stephen Harper announced in 2006 that we would not recognize Canada when he was through with it, and proceeded to make parliament completely dysfunctional.   Corporate welfare and investment deals were his things.  He made a point of announcing major decisions overseas, usually on a Friday night; committees of the House of Commons were routinely disrupted by his minions, with the most classic being by John Baird, a Minister and therefore not eligible to sit on any committee, on June 4th 2010

His budget implementation omnibus bill of 2012 gutting or repealing some 70 Acts, simply to make life easier for his corporate friends and donors was an action as contemptuous of the Canadian people as was the behavior that caused his to be the first government in the history of Westminster style parliaments to be defeated on the grounds of contempt of parliament.  To prove the contempt point he promptly accused the opposition of causing an election the Canadian people did not want over an already defeated budget.   There are many of us who thought that any member of that government should be barred from standing in the following election, but the people of Canada bought into his lies and gave him that final right to destroy Canada without opposition interference.

Democracy?   Not on your life.   Dictatorship? Absolutely.

 

Justin Trudeau came in with a fanfare and promise of “sunny days” which most of us thought were for us, but naturally, we were wrong again.  Those sunny days were for the corporations at home and more particularly from abroad, which would reap the benefits of a continued surrender of sovereignty through investment deals disguised as Free Trade Agreements.   Both CETA and TPP (or whatever the new name is) give foreign ‘enterprises’ or ‘entities’ the same rights as Canadians are supposed to have under the Charter of Rights and freedoms, and yes this was confirmed in writing by the current Minister of Trade.

From CETA under definitions:

person means a natural person or an enterprise;

person of a Party means a national or an enterprise of a Party;

This means that Daimler-Benz or Fiat, for example, under CETA have the same rights in Canada as do you and I.  Well, that is, if you know how to obtain those rights which you can be sure they do.

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Now we have a federal government which has deliberately created a real rift between British Columbia and Alberta over a pipeline which can in fact not be used for exporting bitumen by boat to anywhere except the USA.

You may ask: “What?  How is this possible?”

NAFTA.

Article 605 of that agreement states that we can increase the percentage of production of any natural resource, but particularly petroleum products, to either the USA or Mexico, but we cannot later reduce that percentage to either country.   Since we only have one customer for the bitumen from Alberta as, according to Rachel Notley the Alberta Premiere, the USA takes 100% of our bitumen production so it follows therefore that all those proposed supertankers from Burnaby BC must head for an American port and not as claimed to another country or customer.

What happens if they try and go anywhere else?  Then the USA will take us to a NAFTA tribunal and it will cost Canada billions.  In an attempt then to give Alberta a few extra bucks the Canadian people will have to pay through the nose. That is described as being good for Canada.  I find it hard to agree with that.

As long as we have two interchangeable political parties in Canada which simply switch the colour of the ruling party every now and then we are doomed to sink further into the abyss both financially and morally.

Thus my question:  Oh Canada where art thou?

If we must retain the party system and obtain any form of democracry then we must have a minority government with a large number of small party or independent MPs holding the balance of power who can and will represent their people and will force amendments to bad bills, support good bills and really hold the government of Canada to account on behalf of the Canadian people.   Could we do this?    Yes, if the people want it we can.   Canadian apathy, however, will stop any change.

I left the UK in1967 and came to Canada to have and raise my family.  There are now four generations of Canadian Arneys on Vancouver Island, and I fear for their future, especially if BC remains part of a Canada which is becoming increasingly hostile to this province.

Where do we go from here?  It’s up to us, not those puppets of big money currently bragging that they listen to us when they do not.

 

Jeremy

Pipelines, Albertan tar and NAFTA

Premiere Rachel Notley of Alberta.

13th January 2018

 I was cruising CPAC the other day and I came across your address to the Economic Club of Canada from 21 November 2017 concerning amongst other things the need for pipelines from the Alberta tar sands to tidewater.

 You said and I quote:

 “…..we need to be able to sell that energy from that energy industry to more than just one client.

Right now, all our energy infrastructure is built for export to the United States.  They are a monopoly buyer.”

 I will not argue with that at all, but there is a catch to what you are saying.

 I am referring to NAFTA, and in particular Article 605 which I quote below:

 

NAFTA

Article 605: Other Export Measures

Subject to Annex 605, a Party may adopt or maintain a restriction otherwise justified under Articles XI:2(a) or XX(g), (i) or (j) of the GATT with respect to the export of an energy or basic petrochemical good to the territory of another Party, only if:

  1. a)the restriction does not reduce the proportion of the total export shipments of the specific energy or basic petrochemical good made available to that other Party relative to the total supply of that good of the Party maintaining the restriction as compared to the proportion prevailing in the most recent 36month period for which data are available prior to the imposition of the measure, or in such other representative period on which the Parties may agree;

 

From this, it is clear from what you are saying that we are exporting 100% of the bitumen from the Alberta tar sands to the US and we cannot reduce that percentage without the approval of the US.  As long as that Article of NAFTA, or indeed NAFTA itself, remain in effect there is no way that even a “barrel” of tar can be shipped anywhere except to the United States, which in essence owns 100% of your tar.

It is also clear that you are suggesting that the disputed Kinder Morgan pipeline to Burnaby is to transport that diluted tar intended for export by super oil tankers to, amongst others, China.

Clearly, Minister Freeland, to whom I have written numerous times on this very Article 605 with absolutely no response, chooses to ignore this important NAFTA  article even if it must be clear to her that we have a serious problem.

What both of you are suggesting is that a claim in front of a quasi-legal trade tribunal is of no importance to you as the people of Canada will be happy to pay the millions in lost profit which the US importers of this Canadian tar will claim against us as soon as you ship so much as one kilogram of tar somewhere else.

Perhaps you have a way around this?

If so I would be very pleased to hear it.

What I personally hope is that President Trump does actually go ahead and cancel NAFTA and you can then at least contemplate exporting your tar elsewhere in the world and, I would suggest, through a port in Alaska.

Incidentally the concept that supertankers do not get into trouble, never accepted by the coastal people here in BC, is under a black cloud of smoke right now as there is one on fire in the China Seas after a collision, and there is no way that any spill of diluted bitumen in either the Vancouver Harbour, Georgia Strait or the Strait of Juna Fuca can be cleaned up any more than was that mess in Michigan. 

It is unfortunate that in your desire to make things better again for Alberta, you should choose to trample over British Columbians in the same way our original settlers did to the then long-time inhabitants of what we now call Canada. 

Strange how history repeats itself isn’t it Ms Notley?

Jeremy Arney

 

Ps,

We are a long way from this and getting further away each day

 

When the Landscape is Quiet Again.

Governor Arthur A. Link, October 11th, 1973.

We do not want to halt progress; we do not plan to be selfish and say North Dakota will not share its energy resources. We simply want to ensure the most efficient and environmentally sound method of utilizing our precious coal and water resources for the benefit of the broadest number of people possible.

And when we are through with that and the landscape is quiet again, when the draglines, the blasting rigs, the power shovels and the huge gondolas cease to rip and roar and when the last bulldozer has pushed the spoil pile into place and the last patch of barren earth has been seeded to grass or grain, let those who follow and repopulate the land be able to say, our grandparents did their job well. The land is as good and in some cases, better than before.

Only if they can say this, will we be worthy of the rich heritage of our land and its resources.”

NAFTA renegotiations a joke? Maybe…

It really is time to get serious with what our ex-Trade Minister and now Foreign Minister has and is still doing about our investment agreements, misnamed Free Trade Agreements.

Right from the start, Ms. Freeland ignored all requests and pleas not to sign on with the TPP, or CETA with their crippling investor-state profits protection clauses.  She ignored all those and went ahead and signed both of them with those clauses in place.

Now she, not the International Trade Minister, is negotiating the revamping of NAFTA, which is an offshoot of the infamous FTA between a had been actor and a drunk.   This is where the investor-state clause came into play and has in effect greatly limited our ability to make and uphold the laws in Canada which will serve Canada and the Canadian people rather than foreign (and now domestic) corporations and their perceived profit losses if they run afoul of our laws.

 From the Toronto Star:

As reported by TONDA MACCHARLESOttawa Bureau reporter

Wed., Aug. 16, 2017

“Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland told reporters Wednesday, “We believe that just as good fences make good neighbours, a good dispute settlement mechanism makes good trading partners.”

 It is comments like this that make me realise we have someone negotiating for us who has no idea what the difference is between a Trade Agreement and an Investment Agreement.   Chapter 11 of NAFTA is nothing to do with trade but everything to do with investments and perceived profit loss from those investments which run contrary to Canadian laws. 

 Further down in the article there is this about the $205 million paid out by Canadian taxpayers so far:

“….and most of that came when a panel awarded $130 million in damages in one case: AbitibiBowater’s $500 million claim against the Newfoundland government which expropriated its water and timber rights and hydroelectric assets in the province after the company closed its last mill in that province and laid off 800 workers…..”

I added the bold and explain why:

It should be pointed out that those water and timber rights were granted to Abitibi in early 1900 provided that they had a working mill employing Canadians. When that mill was closed and the Canadians were laid off their claim on those water and timber rights ended. How can you expropriate something which returns to you by default anyway? This claim by Abitibi was not presented before a NAFTA tribunal because Stephen Harper quietly paid them $130 million of our money to “go away”. That this was one of his first acts and that it exceeded the total cost of the “sponsorship” scandal (which, with the connivance of the RCMP, allowed him into power) by some 15 million dollars is an indication of the contempt Harper had for Canada and Canadians.

This is all very pathetic, but bear in mind that there is a claim for $250 million from a Canadian Company – yes you read that correctly – Lone Pine Power of Calgary, Alberta (incorporated in Delaware, USA) had their proposal to drill and frack the St Lawrence River in Quebec turned down because a proper environmental study had not been conducted by Quebec or the Federal Government.

This information is readily available on the Government of Canadian Website:

http://www.international.gc.ca/trade-agreements-accords-commerciaux/topics-domaines/disp-diff/gov.aspx?lang=eng

We can also expect a claim from Enbridge (also incorporated in Delaware) for the rejection of the Northern Gateway Pipeline, and most likely Kinder Morgan if BC stands by its citizens and the courts overrule Trudeau and refuse to allow this monstrosity to be constructed.

Chapter 19 of NAFTA is to do with dumping etc., and this is where we are constantly under attack for our softwood lumber.   I do not understand this at all.  If the Americans want to pay more for our lumber let them, and if they do not want to pay our price do not supply them.  Can it be simpler than that?    American protectionism is at play here again and the fact is that they do not have enough home-grown lumber to supply their own needs so they would be forced to get the extra from somewhere. Insisting on Canadian producers charging more through countervailing duties makes little sense to me.

Since I wrote the above I found a House of Commons Trade Committee hearing at which Ms. Freeland appeared before the NAFTA negotiations started this summer and frankly I was more puzzled, annoyed and concerned than ever.  The Trade Minister was nowhere to be seen so he is, I suppose, just male window dressing to her Cruella De Vil. 

The Liberal and Conservative MPs offered questions that were pure pablum, (it did not seem to matter that she waffled so much and didn’t answer those pablumatic questions anyway) leaving it to Tracey Ramsay of the NDP to ask about the investor dispute mechanism to which the reply was just as it is in CETA; that is to say nothing changes. There was some talk of there being a European court to deal with CETA disputes, so an undefined but new European court with no clear jurisprudence or base of operation would have decided on Canadian law?  Yeah right, Freeland, Right!   As it reads now same old same old tribunal of corporate lawyers with no actual court of any kind of law in sight to decide on the value of our laws against perecived corporate profit loss.

After a question about Quebec electricity charges and supply to New England states and New York was neatly sidestepped  Ms. Ramsay asked about the percentages of energy production not being able to be reduced even in an emergency.

From NAFTA

Article 605: Other Export Measures

Subject to Annex 605, a Party may adopt or maintain a restriction otherwise justified under Articles XI:2(a) or XX(g), (i) or (j) of the GATT with respect to the export of an energy or basic petrochemical good to the territory of another Party, only if:

 

  1. the restriction does not reduce the proportion of the total export shipments of the specific energy or basic petrochemical good made available to that other Party relative to the total supply of that good of the Party maintaining the restriction as compared to the proportion prevailing in the most recent 36month period for which data are available prior to the imposition of the measure, or in such other representative period on which the Parties may agree;

So the real answer to that Quebec Hydro question should have been clear.  Not only can the supply not be lessened, but lack of payment for that hydro cannot be the reason for stopping the supply.  Ask BC, they have not been paid by California for about 20 years but are stuck with the supply, and the people of BC are paying for this.

Once again here is Freeland wanting to keep this when for nearly two years she has not been able to come to an agreement about our softwood dispute, so I can be forgiven if I state that I do not trust her at all, anyway why is she in charge of this not Champagne our actual trade minister?   Maybe it’s to keep her hatred of Russia under control…….

Since consultation have been held about NAFTA with Universities, think tanks, Chambers of Commerce and Labour and Corporations it is clear to whom Freeland feels responsible. “We are listening to Canadians” is the Liberal war cry and I know I have written to her about 19 times now and have not received any response at all.   It is abundantly clear to me that the Canadian people do not figure in her mind at all, and whatever the international corporations want she will do her very best to give them at our expense.

 “Sunny Days” Trudeau supports her completely and as we have learned those sunny days and sunny ways never did apply to those Canadians who voted for him but do to international corporations which so far do not vote.    Wonder when that will change?

Jeremy

Mr. Michael Marsh:

    I guess the argument is that democracy is not just about majorities; it’s about minorities. It’s about blending minorities to make political decisions, and that’s quite difficult if the minorities are not represented.

For the minorities read Canadian people……

On Open letter to PM TRudeau

Open letter to Prime Minister Trudeau

 

Well Prime Minister I watched your presentation of your summer cabinet changes and I must say I was disappointed.

 

Obviously, there is lots of talk and no action with your Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women Inquiry and so your previous Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs needs help.    She needs money, real mental health doctors and some action by the RCMP, none of which she is getting.  To give her the help of Jane Philpott, who was unable to get Health Canada to abandon their ties with big pharma’s profits and help Canadian people will only muddy the waters so to speak.   Action not words PM.  Does the new relationship with our First Nations, Inuit and Metis mean nothing to you?  Perhaps they are just empty words just like 2015 will be the last FPTP election.

 

Do you really imagine that the new Minister of Health will be able to handle Health Canada?  No minister has yet, so to throw another woman under that particular bus is rather a waste of talent.

 

The veterans need more than a sympathetic ear, they also need action.   Re-opening a few offices has achieved nothing as the suicides continue because there are no professionals who understand what these men and women have gone through to supposedly protect our/their country from perceived harm.   They have been indoctrinated by the forces and now need a means of recovering and a way to lead a life with meaning instead of having nightmares over what they have been asked to endure.   We are well aware that Stephen Harper wanted to shirk any responsibility towards them and we do not see any change with your administration.

 

These changes you have made are superficial at best and the real culprits are still practicing complete disregard toward Canadians and their needs.

 

Your Minister of Finance is determined to sacrifice Canada’s commons and sovereignty by giving them away through an asinine Canadian Infrastructure Bank owned and operated by international banks, corporations and investors, while the Bank of Canada already owned by Canadians and mandated to do this work anyway remains as a simple inflation watchdog.  Crazy?  Yes.

 

Your Minster of Fisheries and Oceans, along with the Minister of Resources and Minister of Environment  continue to approve LNG plans such as the one that has been abandoned by Petronas as a bad business case, and what about the hundreds of illegally built dams in BC? or the mad dream of the Howe Sound Woodfibre LNG project when the tankers are too big for the Sound and will interfere with ferry traffic vital to the Island and coastal communities; a dam (Cite C) which is now even less needed than when Petronas was a possibility, and which was condemned by the BC Utilities Commission as unnecessary and unsafe before being silenced and made impotent  by Christy Clark; fish farms continue to poison our wild salmon, and the KM pipe line twinning project is facing opposition from First Nations and the new BC government; yet all is well in your mind and the minds of those Ministers.   Most people in BC simply laugh at your suggestion that dilbit spills in the ocean will be cleaned up in a world class fashion as we are aware that is impossible. 

 

Let us not forget the Minister of Foreign Affairs and her hatred of Russia combined with her love for investment agreements disguised as free trade agreements, which have and will continue to cost the Canadian taxpayer dearly.   She has yet to explain to me how we can export a raw material to Asia when both FTA and NAFTA clearly state that we can increase our supply but not decrease our percentage of that supply to the USA.   Is that in her mandate with the NAFTA negotiations?  Of course not!

 

What Canada desperately needs is a government that listens to the Canadian people and not solely to big corporate interests and as each day goes by it is more and more obvious that we do not have such a government.  What we have instead is a totally dysfunctional Parliament in which lies are more common than the truth and the people of Canada are treated with arrogance and contempt. 

 

Clearly “Sunny days and sunny ways” was never intended for us as Canadians but was intended for the profit seekers among your friends.

 

In this year, when 4 provinces celebrate their creation of Canada 150 years ago, the rest of us are feeling more and more ignored and abandoned.

 

Is it too late to realise that you are more and more like the emperor with no clothes every day Prime Minister?

 

Jeremy Arney

What kind of a crock are we being sold now?

19th October 2015,    

The New Prime Minster of Canada, Justin Trudeau:

Welcome back Canada!   Sunny days and sunny ways! We will enter a new partnership with First Nations, Inuit and Metis, we will consult with and listen to the Canadian people. No more first past the post elections.

 

                                                                          BUT

 2017:

The next election will be first past the post.  

Our First Nations, Inuit and Metis are still waiting, mostly in third world conditions or worse with youth suicide increasing, and education and health issues such as clean drinking water almost nonexistent.  The one sitting I watched on CPAC of the new Commission into the murdered, missing aboriginal women seems to be stuck in repeating what has already been said, and what is needed is action not talk.

The Prime Minister holds town hall meetings around the country and answers questions the way he thinks is meaningful and valuable, but are all total BS.  If he or his Ministers actually listened to Canadians, there would already be preparations for the next election to be some sort of PR; there would not be an absolutely unnecessary and destructive Infrastructure Bank of Canada; BC would not be planned to be the cesspool of Canada where environmental protection is abandoned for corporate profit; there would be real efforts made to merge into new energy and keep oil and bitumen in the ground.

The Foreign Minister would actually try and get on with other countries not support US war efforts, we are Canadian not Americans and we can and should stand by our own standards.  It is time to give love and peace a go, and leave other countries to decide their own ways, hopefully more sunny than ours.

Fisheries and Oceans would actually protect all our shores and seas, lakes and rivers instead of simply bowing to corporate pressure to allow such things as the Quesnell Lake being now a direct tailings pond for the Mount Polley Mine, drilling off the Maritimes for a product we should be getting away from not endangering our east coast, and the fish farms in the Salish Sea which are killing the wild salmon. Worse yet approving a LNG project in BC which has now been abandoned as inpractical because their daming all moving water has been found out, and a Cite C dam being built for that project!

Preparations should already be under way to make the now privately owned wheat board prepare rail cars for the summer crop, good luck with that one !   We no longer have a national railroad which if history serves me well was a prime reason BC joined with Canada! 

We have nothing left to sell now as international corporations have been given the right to everything so we have to mortgage our children’s futures to the needs of international corporate profit, and of course the obvious eventual benefit of those giving the country away.

And yet here we were being sold the idea that 2017 is the glorious 150th year since confederation.  What are we celebrating again?  Oh yes 4  provinces Quebec, Ontario, Nova Scotia and New Bruswick, got together to create Canada as a confederation (or seperate tax base) and eventually other provinces or territories were created and added to that.   As far as I am concerned BC didn’t join until 1871 so it’s a bit premature for us, and I am more convinced every day that we should be looking at 2021 as the year we separate BC from a country which plainly does not value us as a partner in our own environment..

I did not come to Canada with the idea of starting and raising a Canadian family only to hand them over into the clutches of those corporate buzzards which were destroying the UK when I left it.   Granted that under the reign of the BC Liberal Party (Teaparty/Libertarians) almost all our many commons were given away to corporate profit and our crown jewel (BC Hydro) had been made bankrupt, but we can rescue that situation here in BC, as long as big brother is no longer big brother but a trading partner.

Canada has already shown the way to prosperity and then abandoned it by using the Bank of Canada, and we can and should, when we separate, create our own Bank of BC – not the one previously created as a regular bank which was sold to HSBC –  but one owned by and designed to serve the people of BC in funding their municipal and provincial needs with a BC currency named by our longest time residents, and still return a dividend to BC.  As it is we have a monopoly called the BC Municipal Finance Authority which of course obtains funds through corporate banks and lenders at high interest rates.  We do not need to join the rest of Canada in the never-ending spiral of debt with compounding interest owed to international investors, banks etc., without any chance of ever paying it all off.   Sheer madness!

The more I think about it a sovereign country called British Columbia sounds pretty good to me right now.

Peace,

Jeremy

 

A vision turning into a nighmare

Just a few days ago, I was driving along Lochside into Sidney, BC and stopped at a shoreline watching area to enjoy the large fluffy white clouds and the strange shapes they were creating 0ver the San Juan Islands, and the mainland – Washington State USA at that point.  The sun was shining on them and their whiteness was exaggerated by that.   As the sun slowly sank over the western horizon these clouds lost their glint and started turning grey and dark.   Time to move.

 On my way home I was thinking about what I had just seen and I realized it was a sort of metaphor for Canada since the 1930s.

 In 1974 our world was rosy. We had a small national debt we owed to ourselves, we had been through 40 years of growth and prosperity (even after the end of WW2 which we paid for our share ourselves) with very little inflation and the world was looking good.  The sun was shining on Canada as in our white clouds over the San Juans and their magnificent shapes.

 However greedy and powerful men both here at home and internationally saw the potential of Canada and wanted a piece of the pie so to speak.  At the behest of the World Bank, the Bank of International Settlements was created to protect the interests and profits of the various privately owned central banks of countries around the world, and a series of agreements was created for this protection.  Basel 1, 11 and 111 are not international agreements between countries as most people thought or still think but are private banking agreements to which Gerald Bouey, then Governor of the Bank of Canada 1974,  signed our publicly owned bank into the first of those agreements.  He had no mandate to do so from either the government of Canada or the Canadian people, but I can only assume he was rewarded in the usual manner.   From that point on our national debt has spiraled out of control, no longer owed to ourselves but owned by international banks and investors.  

 In my metaphor the white clouds over the San Juans are losing their glow now

 Over the last 40+ years successive governments, most particularly of some form of conservatives, have signed Canada into multiple deals they call Free Trade deals, starting with the Canada/USA FTA and currently being crowned with the CETA with Europe.   This CETA is the first one that has been openly called an economic agreement, that’s what the “E” stands for, but it is the culmination of years of false Free Trade deals all of which have been designed to allow investors from overseas to claim damages from our Federal government through a corporate tribunal if ANYTHING we do stops them from making a perceived profit from dealings in Canada.  This anything includes laws, or regulations to protect either our environment or our workers and their jobs.  Not only that but Canadian corporations have discovered that if they incorporate in Delaware USA (cheapest place in North America) it allows them to take advantage of NAFTA.   $130 million donated to Abitibi Bowater by Stephen Harper in a perfectly defendable claim against Newfoundland & Labrador that he chose to ignore, and $250 currently being claimed by Lone Pine Power of Calgary.

 By now the white clouds of the metaphor have turned very grey and I leave and head home. 

 Canada meanwhile has been put into a box where our sovereignty is given to international corporations which now control our very country, not only through our monetary debt to them but through our so called “FREE TRADE DEALS” 

 Free?  I think not!

 The current version of a Liberal government is in fact a complete duplicate of the Stephen Harper regime intent on signing away more of our rights and indeed even wanting to take privatization further than even Libertarians could have dreamed about.  Our publicly owned Bank of Canada is to be replaced by a privately sponsored Infrastructure Bank of Canada which will have to give away control of anything in which it invests so we Canadians will have to pay user fees in order to satisfy the need for profit to those banks and investors as well as the compounding interest of our ever-increasing national debt.   Now our prime minister is looking to sell of our airports and sea ports to private operators so the cost of using them both will increase exponentially, and will of course be covered by more user fees.

 By now I am home and it is getting much darker with no sunset to light up the horizon and I am left wondering how “sunny days and sunny ways” had disappeared so soon and left us with a dictator who could exchange masks with Stephen Harper (as shown in that cartoon a few months ago), and no-one would notice the difference.

 It really is time for a peaceful revolt not only for Canada but also in BC where we are desperately in need of a legislature not controlled by the mining, development, housing and oil and gas interests.

 Unfortunately, I didn’t sleep very well that night, thinking of my children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.

 

Jeremy

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.