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Politics and its Discontents: Free Trade Is Never Free

While it is beginning to look like International Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland’s departure from CETA negotiations was more of a ploy than the end of talks, the hiatus at least gives Canadians the opportunity to once more reflect on its dangers, the same dangers that afflict other so-called free trade deals.

The fact is, . . . → Read More: Politics and its Discontents: Free Trade Is Never Free

Politics and its Discontents: CETA – A Threat We Should All Be Aware Of

A recent post I wrote contrasted the apparent indifference/ignorance of Canadians toward CETA with the furious involvement of the Europeans, most recently the Germans, in open protest against the deal. It is a pact that will see even greater erosion of our ability to enact strong legislation to protect labour, the environment and a host of other realms thanks to the Investor State Dispute Settlement provisions that protect multinationals at the expense of citizens. It will further undermine our increasingly fragile sovereign rights.

And sadly, it is a deal the the Trudeau Liberals are avidly embracing.

Scott Sincleair and Stuart Trew write a trenchant reminder of CETA’s dangers:

Much more than a trade deal, CETA is a sweeping constitution-style document that will restrict public policy options in areas as diverse as intellectual property rights, government procurement, food safety and environmental protection, financial regulation, the temporary movement of workers, and public services.

My previous post noted the weak language governing some of the above, including platitudes like commitments to cooperate, provisions encouraging Canada and the EU to continue developing our resources in a way that is environmentally sustainable, establishes shared commitments to promote trade in a way that contributes to the objectives of sustainable development in Canada and the EU, etc.

All part and parcel of what Liberal International Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland calls “a gold-plated trade deal.”

As Sincleair and Trew observe,

While CETA’s safeguards for labour and the environment are mainly voluntary and weak, the investor protections are strong and fully enforceable. Such an agreement could only be considered enlightened in an upside-down world.

The devolution of our sovereignty began long before CETA, however.

Canada’s experience with investor-state arbitration under NAFTA is pitiful. We are the most-sued NAFTA party despite our highly developed legal system and strong protections for private property. Many of these challenges involve environmental protection policies that were legally enacted, but which upset an investor’s plans or profits.

Just last year, Canada lost a disturbing NAFTA dispute over an environmental assessment that recommended against a massive quarry in an ecologically sensitive part of Nova Scotia. Canada currently faces a raft of claims as a result of progressive policies, such as banning natural gas fracking in the province of Quebec.

The pending deal promises more of the same, a source of puzzlement to European progressives:

European labour unions, environmentalists and human rights advocates question why Canada and the EU would want to expand this anti-democratic process through CETA. Despite being rebranded as an “investment court system” with pretenses to judicial independence, the substantive protections afforded to foreign investors remain largely intact. This will expose taxpayers in both Canada and the EU to huge financial liabilities and have a chilling effect on future progressive public policy.

European progressives are also asking important questions about the interplay between CETA and public services. CETA contains no clear protections for governments hoping to expand public services into areas where there is currently private sector competition, or to bring previously privatized services back under public control. Doing so can actually trigger foreign investor claims for compensation, effectively locking in privatization.

All the warning signs are there. Whether the vast majority of Canadians can rouse themselves enough to care is an open question.

. . . → Read More: Politics and its Discontents: CETA – A Threat We Should All Be Aware Of

Alberta Politics: China’s concerns about Canadian canola are legitimate, and we’re going to have to deal with them sooner or later

PHOTOS: A field of canola at its most colourful, photographed in early August near Morinville, Alberta. Below: Farmer Ken Larsen, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, International Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland and Harper-era agriculture minister Gerry Ritz. According to the Globe and Mail, or at least one of the five apparently like-minded individuals interviewed recently by the […]

The post China’s concerns about Canadian canola are legitimate, and we’re going to have to deal with them sooner or later appeared first on Alberta Politics.

. . . → Read More: Alberta Politics: China’s concerns about Canadian canola are legitimate, and we’re going to have to deal with them sooner or later

Politics and its Discontents: Will The Trudeau Government Ignore The Warnings?

As pointed out by The Mound, Joseph Stigliz has issued a dire warning to Canada about the dangers of the TPP (Trans Pacific Partnership); essentially, it will enrich the few at the expense of the many. As well, he has warned about two other grave dange… . . . → Read More: Politics and its Discontents: Will The Trudeau Government Ignore The Warnings?

Politics and its Discontents: Some Disturbing Signs

I won’t for a moment pretend that I am not glad to see Justin Trudeau’s Liberals as our new government. But as happened with a vice-principal we teachers once welcomed with open arms as a relief from the previous administration, my early hopes for real… . . . → Read More: Politics and its Discontents: Some Disturbing Signs

Politics and its Discontents: More On Freelands’s Double-Speak

Recently, I wrote a post about CETA, the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement; part of it examined the double-speak of Chrystia Freeland when she talked about both the protection of investor rights and the benefits of the deal that will redound t… . . . → Read More: Politics and its Discontents: More On Freelands’s Double-Speak

The Canadian Progressive: Canadian think-tank wants to demystify the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal

The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives just launched a new series of reports seeking to “demystify” the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) as Canada inches closer to ratifying the controversial trade deal. The post Canadian think-tank wants to demyst… . . . → Read More: The Canadian Progressive: Canadian think-tank wants to demystify the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal

The Canadian Progressive: Canada and TPP partners to sign “death sentence for Indigenous rights”

As Canada and 11 other nations prepare to sign the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), Indigenous peoples in New Zealand say the trade deal is “a death sentence for indigenous rights.” The post Canada and TPP partners to sign “death sentence for Ind… . . . → Read More: The Canadian Progressive: Canada and TPP partners to sign “death sentence for Indigenous rights”

Politics and its Discontents: Chrystia Freeland Challenges Bill Maher’s Islamophobia

While Bill Maher likes to present his views as reasonable and moderate, he clearly fails to recognize the inflammatory nature of his remarks. Chrystia Freeland tries to point out they are are counter-productive, serving only to demonize Muslims, alien… . . . → Read More: Politics and its Discontents: Chrystia Freeland Challenges Bill Maher’s Islamophobia

Accidental Deliberations: On reasonable responses

Let’s offer a quick reminder to the Libs’ spin machine, and particularly to the people who should know better who are choosing to echo it.

No party is under an obligation to reflexively attack or belittle everything another party proposes in its election platform.

If a platform plank or general principle raised during the campaign . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: On reasonable responses

Montreal Simon: Why Is the Con Clown Joe Oliver Missing In Action?

The economy is teetering on the edge of disaster. The stock market is on a wild roller coaster ride. The loonie or Harper peso has fallen to its lowest level in eleven years. Thousands are losing their jobs.But Joe Oliver, the alleged Con FInance Minister, is nowhere to be seen.He has held no newsers, . . . → Read More: Montreal Simon: Why Is the Con Clown Joe Oliver Missing In Action?

Alberta Diary: Why Edmonton Strathcona electors should vote NDP, as (not exactly) explained by Liberal MP Chrystia Freeland

Toronto Spadina MP Chrystia Freeland, a Liberal, after speaking at the University of Alberta Faculty Club last week. Below: Eleanor Olszewski, nominated Liberal candidate in the federal Edmonton Strathcona riding; Linda Duncan, NDP MP for Edmonton Strathcona.

Last Wednesday night, during an engaging talk at the University of Alberta Faculty Club, Chrystia Freeland . . . → Read More: Alberta Diary: Why Edmonton Strathcona electors should vote NDP, as (not exactly) explained by Liberal MP Chrystia Freeland

daveberta.ca - Alberta politics: Federal Liberal Summer Caucus in Edmonton

TweetTwenty-one years ago, in a federal election that reshaped the Canadian political landscape, the Liberals swept Edmonton, electing Members of Parliament in four of the city’s six federal ridings. That year was a high-water mark for the federal party, which last elected an MP in Edmonton in 2004 and has not come close to electing . . . → Read More: daveberta.ca – Alberta politics: Federal Liberal Summer Caucus in Edmonton

Chris Tindal: Some quick thoughts on Toronto Centre by-election results

Overall, Wells’s first rule — that “for any given situation, Canadian politics will tend toward the least exciting possible outcome” — held up. This is the result you might have predicted, and that most of us did predict. Folks in Toronto Centre are used to voting Liberal, and changing habits is hard.

Notwithstanding, each of . . . → Read More: Chris Tindal: Some quick thoughts on Toronto Centre by-election results

Alberta Diary: Coming soon, perhaps, a legitimate reason for Canadians to thank Conrad Black!

Linda McQuaig addresses the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees annual convention in 2008. (AUPE photo taken by Daryl Dyck.) Below: Conrad Black in the uniform of the Governor General’s Foot Guard, and not, as you may have thought, that of a security guard.

It occurs to me that we Canadians may soon actually . . . → Read More: Alberta Diary: Coming soon, perhaps, a legitimate reason for Canadians to thank Conrad Black!

A BCer in Toronto: What would Jack Layton say about Linda McQuaig’s push for a two-person debate?

Four federal by-elections have been called for Nov. 25th, including in Toronto Centre. While a new poll shows the Liberals comfortably ahead, I think it’s going to be a real battle. And so does NDP candidate Linda McQuaig, judging by the gambit she launched this weekend. McQuaig is challenging Liberal candidate Chrystia Freeland to . . . → Read More: A BCer in Toronto: What would Jack Layton say about Linda McQuaig’s push for a two-person debate?

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

– Paul Dechene interviews Maude Barlow about the downside of privatizing public infrastructure: Somebody asked me to point blank explain the difference between private and public and I said, profit. That’s the difference. In a public system, it’s the same amount of money; you’re raising it from taxes or . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

– Christopher Ragan writes about the lessons we should be drawing from the 2008 financial meltdown – as well as so many similar bubbles before it: Contrary to what many people seem to believe, financial crises like the one that began five years ago are neither rare nor . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

The Liberal Scarf: "Willing to bring it … hard", "stoke[ing]…frustration and anger" – What the expect from NDP campaigns in the upcoming by-elections

That’s what Pundits’ Guide and David Akin wrote about new Mulcair candidate Linda McQuaig’s approach to politics in their (both very good) summaries of the Toronto Centre nominations.

I was happy to spend the day pulling vote for Chrystia Freeland, who McQuaig wasted no time in attacking. Those who read my blog frequently will . . . → Read More: The Liberal Scarf: "Willing to bring it … hard", "stoke[ing]…frustration and anger" – What the expect from NDP campaigns in the upcoming by-elections

Politics and its Discontents: A Needed Voice

For those interested in a broader public policy discussion than has been permitted by our political ‘leaders’ thus far, the NDP nomination of journalist Linda McQuaig yesterday in Toronto Centre, Bob Rae’s old riding, is an auspicious beginning. No stranger to progressives, McQuaig has exposed the iniquities of gross income inequality in her writing . . . → Read More: Politics and its Discontents: A Needed Voice

Scott's DiaTribes: Competition to replace Bob Rae in Toronto-Centre is officially on

The NDP and Liberal candidates for Toronto-Centre were voted on last evening. Chrystia Freeland and Linda Mcquaig were elected by their memberships to run for their political parties. Mcquaig’s win was on the first ballot, which surprised me a bit, as my original perception from reading up on this race was that Jennifer Hollett had . . . → Read More: Scott’s DiaTribes: Competition to replace Bob Rae in Toronto-Centre is officially on

A BCer in Toronto: Liberals and NDP pick their Toronto-Centre by-election candidates

A busy day in downtown Toronto on Sunday, as both the Liberals and the NDP picked their candidates to replace Bob Rae as the MP for Toronto-Centre at nomination meetings just a subway stop apart. It made for interesting comparisons, and I attendeed both meetings.

The Storify below shares some of the highlights of . . . → Read More: A BCer in Toronto: Liberals and NDP pick their Toronto-Centre by-election candidates

Calgary Grit: Dog Days of August

Georges Laraque claims to be an animal lover. But see if he gets PETA’s endorsement once they find out he used to beat up sharks, ducks, and penguins.

It’s the third summer of the Stephen Harper majority government. Leadership races have been run, the Cabinet has been shuffled, but we won’t be going . . . → Read More: Calgary Grit: Dog Days of August

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

– Not surprisingly, this week’s revelations about Pamela Wallin have set off plenty more discussion about what’s wrong with the Senate and its current beneficiaries. Andrew Coyne recognizes that the problem lies in the design of an institution based on patronage and unaccountability rather than being merely an . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

Accidental Deliberations: On coopting

Paul Wells offers a note of warning for the Libs in recruiting Chrystia Freeland as a candidate. But I see a greater problem for Freeland herself in pursuing the role.

It’s not hard to see how Freeland might seem appealing as a means of papering over the Libs’ disconnection from the general public: Chrystia Freeland, . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: On coopting