Canada has been successfully sued under NAFTA and other trade agreements by corporations more than any other nation. We are paying these companies to pollute our environment, then allow them to continue doing so through our own courts. The most recent one is the Trans Pacific Partnership, the TPP.
While the Trudeau Liberals have been mostly silent on this trade issue here’s some history: Ex-prime minister Harper signed the TPP, the largest trade deal ever, but we can still stop it, as it needs to be ratified by our parliament, and the governments of the other “partners” such as Japan, Chile, New Zealand, S.E. Asian countries and the U.S.
We must all realize that these trade agreements only benefit those transnational corporations. Workers lose because the agreements almost always favour management. Taxpayers lose as we often have to pay for infrastructure and/or subsidies to those foreign corporations, never mind the lawsuits. And our environment certainly loses, especially after Harper’s Conservatives weakened environmental regulations to fast track projects like pipelines, which most Canadians either oppose directly or want guarantees of strict safety measures to prevent oil spills. Harper has also targeted environmental NGOs for auditing, and generally harassed them with various scare tactics, which is why we started this site.
Harper’s economic plan for Canada rested primarily on selling our resources, much like third world countries have traditionally done. We avoided the heavy recession the Americans had after 2008, but that was mainly because of the high price of oil. Harper put most of our economic eggs in one basketcase. They said that with the lower Canadian dollar Ontario’s manufacturing will take up the slack. But that still has not happened, because for the last 8 years Canada has lost hundreds of thousands of manufacturing jobs. It will be some time before Ontario’s economy returns to the strength it had in the 1980s. If it ever does.
Canadians need to stop these trade deals. The only political parties here that would do that are the NDP or the Greens. The Greens have only one MP and are still a fringe party; and the NDP lost half its caucus in the October election, when their Quebec base fell out. The recently elected Liberals have a majority because Canadians wanted Harper gone. They know that, and will for the short-term at least follow public opinion. The opposition to this deal is not just auto-workers, environmentalists and dairy farmers. Many business people fear the control that new copyright rules might have on our economy. The previous owner of Blackberry, Jim Balsillie, came out strongly against the TPP on that issue alone.
The Democrats in the US seem timid to rile big business, even though the party often favour new energy solutions, and Obama has indicated he will veto the Keystone Pipeline. In Canada, we have an American owned company, Kinder Morgan, using the courts and NAFTA to silence protest against their pipeline from the tar sands, which will end up in Vancouver with serious implications of fouling the strait of Georgia.
The big trouble with corporations is that there is really no supervision of their actions, often including their own shareholders. Since the States gave companies the same rights as a “person” in the 1880s, large corporations have no one to account to unless they do not make a profit.
Often the “person” they act like is the neighbourhood crook. The “Robber Barons” of the 1900s were the impetus for Teddy Roosevelt to initiate the anti-trusts acts when he was president. His nephew FDR also brought in regulations to control the excesses of capitalism, particularly the financial sector. However, since the Reagan administration most of those rules have been thrown out with the bathwater. Clinton was perhaps the worst offender with his de-regulation of media, which has led to Americans getting far less real news of what their corporations are doing around the world and indeed in their own homeland.
Many of the issues that are destroying Earth’s wilderness, wildlife and environments everywhere can be fairly easily solved. But there’s little willpower by the 80 families who own half the world’s wealth. That can be remedied with much larger estate and inheritance taxes for the very rich worldwide, and banning of using offshore accounts in the Caribbean and elsewhere. Overpopulation is the real cause behind the constant expansion of capitalistic economies, and always has been from the first large-scale wars back in Mesopotamia. We became the most successful species because we liked sex so much. Battles for arable land and resources caused the Celts to be driven from much of Europe and for the Vikings to invade every part of Europe and Western Asia. Global free birth control, and education would go a long way to halting the trend; and heavily taxing religions which oppose birth control. The world cannot support 7 billion, let alone the 10 billion humans projected for 2030.
This is not just our planet. We share it with millions of other species, whom we have been killing off in droves. Including those animals our species have co-existed with over the last 2 million years. Wolves, elephants and tigers are three of those endangered species. But there are hundreds more. And we have not just recently been doing this either – we were exterminating other animals over 30,000 years ago too, when we wiped out the Neanderthals because they had bigger brains and were more peaceful. A recent Scientific American issue had an article by anthropologists suggesting that Homo Erectus terminated the super-large carnivores in Africa over 2 million years ago. 10,000 years ago we might have also killed off the mammoths, sabre-tooth cats and giant sloths.
The War on Terror is as phony as Beatlemania was, and as much propaganda as the Warren Commission, where Hoover fudged the FBI reports and lied to all. In fact, these propaganda wars are all being lost. We know the poor won the War on Poverty, because their standard of living has dropped considerably since 1968. The War on Drugs has devastated millions of lives and entire countries like Mexico and Columbia. The War on Terror so far has increased terrorists a hundredfold. Way to go, Yanks!
Our leaders spend much of their time getting us excited about these “Wars” so we don’t see the real issues of our time: global warming and overpopulation. At our peril. Capitalism may have given us improved technology in the past, but the basic essence of capitalism is constant growth. Something we now need to reverse, and quickly. It took 60 years for coal to surpass wood as our main energy source and another 60 for oil to surpass coal in use. If renewable resources take as long to implement then the world’s temperature will rise by more than two degrees, and Noah’s flood will look like a puddle in comparison.
We need action on these extremely urgent issues, not more trade deals, which will limit governments’ ability to slow global warming, have more, not less environmental and climate regulations, and have far less corporate control of our governments. The trade deals are designed not to work for the common good, which includes people, wildlife and this planet. They are designed to generate more profit for their wealthy shareholders, who compromise a tiny proportion of our population. Write to your local MPs and demand they reject the TPP, while we still have the chance to do so.