The Great Canadian Sellout

Like those nail-biting episodes of 24 where the clock is ticking down and there is a heated race to head off disaster, the nation of Canada finds itself in such a scenario. The mass media has all but ignored or barely mentioned the looming Great Canadian Sellout to communist China courtesy of the Conservative Party of Canada.

Not content with being the party that sold Canada up the river with the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement in 1989 after which the U.S. trade representative Clayton Yeutter bluntly stated, “We’ve signed a stunning new trade pact with Canada. The Canadians don’t even know what they have signed. In twenty years they will be sucked into the U.S. economy,” they are now upping the ante and selling Canada out to China.

Clayton Yeutter was exactly right, as the U.S. government had no intentions of removing dumping and anti-subsidy laws, and this was made abundantly evident over the years with such things as softwood lumber, wheat exports, PEI potatoes and other Canadian exports. It wasn’t bad enough that the Harper Conservatives sold Canada out with softwood lumber and allowed the American timber conglomerate to essentially steal hundreds of millions of dollars from Canada, the federal Conservatives are now poised to sign away even more in an utterly one-sided trade deal with China. But wait it gets better! This deal with China, the Canada-China Investment Treaty, or FIPA, will not be discussed in the House of Commons or any committee, it will simply be ratified by default come November 1, 2012. Unfortunately for Canadians, the sunshine that is disclosure and accountability will not be allowed to disinfect this looming disaster.

What is the purpose of electing MPs and having a House of Commons if binding trade deals are constructed and negotiated behind closed doors and become binding with no public oversight? Why is this government the antithesis of its own election campaign slogans of accountability and transparency? If this deal is such a boon to Canada than prove it to Canadians via our democratic institutions – don’t conduct meetings in secret then proceed to ratify FIPA by default.

So what’s in this sweetheart deal for Chinese investors (most of whom are state controlled)? Like NAFTA there are clauses contained that allow for damages to be awarded via ‘expectation of profits’. In layman’s terms this essentially means Chinese state investors can sue Canada via a system outside of Canadian control for just about anything they deem detrimental to their profit taking. For example, this binding trade deal overrides any municipal, provincial or even federal law or regulation that in any way impedes profits for Chinese investors. Simply put, Canadian-made laws and regulations will be tossed out the window in favour of Chinese investors. And just for good measure, the arbitration method will be conducted behind closed doors in secret and only by the federal government!

Many Canadians are unaware that the sometimes-reviled National Energy Policy has been gutted in the advance of free trade. No longer can Canada try to establish Canadian pricing for oil that is manufactured, refined and sold in Canada. Canadians ceded that ability when the ruling Liberal Party signed onto NAFTA. Canada now has little to no control over supplies and pricing. During free trade negotiations the Mexican negotiators were smart enough to balk at the American proposal to write into law that Canada and Mexico must give them a full two-thirds of all of natural gas production. This is still in place today, and what this means is that even though Canada ships over two million barrels of oil a day south, the two-thirds rule guarantees that we cede our ability for national pricing. If Canada wanted to cut back on exports of natural gas or oil, we must also cut our own national consumption by an equal amount. A staggering thought in this age of dwindling supplies and record consumption. FIPA sadly takes this to the extreme.

FIPA also contains these clauses but takes them a step further covering ALL of Canada’s natural resources. Timber, copper, uranium, rare earth elements, water, and every other natural resource is potentially subject to this deal and if Canada ever wanted to reduce Chinese access to these resources, we MUST reduce our own access to our own resources by the same order. Talk about removing national determination…

FIPA also opens up more Canadian industries to Chinese state investors, and governmental oversight is extremely limited in ensuring any such takeover is in the best interests of Canadians. So say goodbye to Canadian energy and mining industries, as everything will be fair game under FIPA. The Chinese government is sitting on nearly $3 trillion in monetary reserves, so such a deal is an invitation to a buying frenzy.

NAFTA can be abrogated with six months notice, FIPA is one year. FIPA is also binding for a total of 31 years! Yes, for 31 years Canada will be bound by this secret trade treaty where Canadian laws will be tossed aside so Chinese state investors can profit at our expense.

Concerned Canadians need to act fast as the clock is most certainly ticking and the worst trade deal Canadian’s have ever seen is looming large. The choice is simple – a Canada for Canadians, or one for made for Chinese investors.

Contributed to the Federal Politics Journal by Roy Whyte.

Further reading:
www.international.gc.ca/trade-agreements-accords-commerciaux/agr-acc/fipa-apie/china-text-chine.aspx?lang=en&view=d
http://www.thetyee.ca/Documents/2012/10/14/Canada-China%20FIPA%20and%20Explanatory%20Memorandum%208532-411-46%28OCR%29.pdf
http://www.greenparty.ca/stop-the-sellout

Omnibus Budget Bills – A Real Problem Unless They’re Yours

The House of Commons is once again consumed by issues of the day and none are looming larger than the current Conservative omnibus budget bill. Weighing in at over 400 pages, this grab-bag masquerading as a budget bill is a sad attempt at circumventing both the will of the Canadian people and their democratic oversight via their elected officials. I’d say it was a bad attempt, but with a majority of seats the Conservative Party will ram it through perceptions be damned.

But how can one not take exception at the perception of a two-faced Conservative Party? When in opposition the Conservative Party under PM Harper’s direction took aim at the Liberal’s own omnibus budget bills – and may I say rightly so. So if the Conservative Party found there to be a problem with omnibus budget bills of 20 pages, why do they not have any problem with their own budget bill that is 20 times larger?

You would think it would be hard to defend that situation, yet the Conservative’s are attempting to do just that. It’s as if PM Harper never said, “I just regret that we are proceeding with this omnibus approach to legislation which, because it lumps in things we support and things we do not support, unfortunately deprives us of the ability to support the government in votes where that would be appropriate.” Yes indeed, so why do they now expect the opposition and the Canadian people to swallow 20 times more in one gulp?

This situation really becomes surreal when we take under consideration the ruling party’s election campaign promises and sloganeering of transparency. Where is the transparency in an omnibus budget bill? Unless it’s so transparent it cannot be seen, something is rotten in Ottawa.

Contributed to the Federal Politics Journal by Roy Whyte.

Alternative Political Protests

This year at the annual 420 event in Vancouver where everything marijuana is celebrated and observed including the political scene around its use – it took on special meaning. With as many as 10,000 locals taking part in the event and thousands more looking on or passing by the very busy location at the Vancouver Art Gallery, the political message for this event was rather clear even if the air was not. At this alternative political event enemy number one was the Stephen Harper lead Conservative Party. With the Conservatives making strong overtones towards taking a harsher stance on marijuana use, those in support of marijuana came out and made their voices heard.

There were representatives that were spotted by the FPJ staff from the NDP and Green Party. There may have been others but we didn’t come across them. We expected to find the Marijuana Party but try as we might, we couldn’t locate them and nobody we asked could remember seeing or hearing from them. Which isn’t wholly surprising considering the amount of consumption going on. The Green Party Youth were handing out leaflets explaining the Green Party position on marijuana as found in their party platform.

There were other groups like those behind WhyProhibition.ca also using the event for spreading a political message. The leaflet they were handing out read in part – “You wouldn’t let your grandparents choose who you date – then why let them choose your government.” With the crowd most made up of under 30’s, this type of message was the norm for the day.

Jodie Emery made a speech to the crowd between live bands to talk a little about her husband Mark who is currently serving time in a US prison for selling seeds to American citizens and to rally the crowd towards voting based on the issue of the day – marijuana. Across Canada there will be political rallies held at all types of events but none quite like this one. You can view her speech below:

Corporate Tax Cuts and 2011 Election

Will the corporate tax cuts that were to be part of the budget now be part of the electoral campaign in 2011? What will each political party do around corporate tax cuts this election cycle? Well only time is going to tell for sure, but the issue certainly does leave avenues open for both attracting voters or for attacks on opposition candidates.

The Conservatives have said all along that the corporate tax cuts are needed and will help the economy and in turn create jobs for Canadians during these tough recessionary times. They haven’t wavered from that stance and it would be hard to see them doing so now.

The Liberals who instituted the corporate tax cutting regime during their last tenure now claim to be against such measures and instead want to see more emphasis placed on individuals and debt elimination. Some would say it’s hard to be against what you were once all for. They will need to convince voters that they are serious and will stand by what they say now. Are Canadians ready to trust the Liberals again?

The NDP it appeared for a while may actually support the Conservatives with the corporate tax cuts in return for getting much more of what they wanted. That became moot with the non-confidence motion of course so it appears for now they are solidly against further corporate tax cuts.

The Green Party who came out swinging against attack ads have been against the corporate tax rate cut all along. They are in favour of their platform’s tax outline – unfortunately most Canadians have no idea what it says. The Greens will need to get out to Canadians that they are more than an environmental party and indeed have a deep platform with original ideas.

The Bloc Quebecois were looking to secure some $2.2 billion to offset the cost of implementing the HST in Quebec in return for possible support of the corporate tax cuts. This rankled feathers in the usual corners of Canada as Quebec politics often do. With the election being called it’s doubtful they will support further corporate tax cuts.

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