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Politics and its Discontents: UPDATED: Thank You, Germans, For Fighting What Should Also Be Our Battle

While Canadians by and large seem content to sleep through the entire CETA negotiations, uttering nary an objection to a deal that will severely compromise our sovereignty, ordinary Germans are turning out en masse to protest its dangers:

Demonstrators took to the streets of Berlin and six other German cities Saturday to voice their displeasure with pending trade deals, one between the European Union and Canada and another with the U.S.

The treaties they’re concerned with are the yet-to-be ratified EU pact with Canada, known as the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), and the EU’s Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) [the Canadian version is called the Trans Pacific Partnership, but carries essentially the same perils] deal with the U.S. that is still being negotiated.

While the deal between the EU and Canada has escaped the same scale of criticism and widespread outrage among the Canadian public, it continues to be a hot button political issue in Germany and one that protesters are hoping to stop from being ratified sometime in the fall.

In broad terms the critics say that CETA would give multinational corporations too much power within European Union markets and they object to a dispute resolution mechanism that has been proposed in the framework agreement.

This dispute resolution mechanism would allow companies to bypass national courts in both countries, allowing then to argue their cases in front of international arbitration panels instead.

Despite the fact that we have access to the same information about the dangers of these free-trade deals, few seem upset by the unbridled enthusiasm that both Justin Trudeau and his poodle Chrystia Freeland profess for them:

Despite Freeland’s rhapsodic recitation of the improvements that have been made in the CETA deal, a quick check of the facts reveals something quite different, unless motherhood statements and feel-good empty rhetoric are your thing. I would encourage you to read about these ‘improvements’ yourself under the pertinent sections, but here are a few highlights:

Dispute Settlement

CETA includes a more robust voluntary mediation mechanism than has been included in Canada’s previous trade agreements. Mediation is a cost-effective and expeditious way to resolve disputes without the need for a third party to decide the outcome. When parties choose arbitration rather than mediation, CETA improves on the WTO dispute settlement mechanism by streamlining and shortening the process. In addition, CETA includes an accelerated arbitration procedure for cases requiring urgent resolution, such as those involving live animals and perishable or seasonal foods.

So in other words, the great improvements Freeland was extolling have nothing to do with changing what might come under dispute, such as environmental and labour laws, but only offers a faster and potentially cheaper way to resolve conflicts. There is nothing that protects our national sovereignty here, nothing that prevents the signatories from suing governments that enact legislation that may hamper the profits of corporations.

Similarly, the language dealing with labour, environment and sustainable development are peppered with 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 in all, empty language that enables the Trudeau government to lie to Canada’s citizens. But at least our Prime Minister has a nice smile, perhaps something to dream about as we continue our long, collective snooze.

UPDATE: Be sure you read Owen’s excellent post today on Investor State Dispute Settlement Mechanisms.

. . . → Read More: Politics and its Discontents: UPDATED: Thank You, Germans, For Fighting What Should Also Be Our Battle

Politics and its Discontents: Will A Change Of Tone Be All It Takes?

Over at Northern Reflections today, Owen has a timely reminder via Henry Giroux of what Donald Trump really stands for: fascism, hatred, bigotry and exclusion. I noted in my response to his post the following:It is interesting to note, Owen, now that T… . . . → Read More: Politics and its Discontents: Will A Change Of Tone Be All It Takes?

Politics and its Discontents: UPDATED: A Further Indictment Of Canada’s Arms’ Deal With Saudi Arabia

Yesterday’s post dealt with the egregious hypocrisy of Canada’s condemnation of Saudi Arabia’s recent spate of executions while at the same time refusing to revisit the $15 billion arms sale to the Middle East kingdom. A report in today’s Globe and Mai… . . . → Read More: Politics and its Discontents: UPDATED: A Further Indictment Of Canada’s Arms’ Deal With Saudi Arabia

Politics and its Discontents: A Shameful Legacy

Yesterday I attended a funeral service for the father of my good friend and former colleague, John. Although I never met John’s father, a retired Presbyterian minister, his son’s stirring eulogy was such that I left the service feeling that I somehow knew him in some way, such was his legacy.

Like his father, John . . . → Read More: Politics and its Discontents: A Shameful Legacy

Politics and its Discontents: Michael Chong And The Reform Act

Yesterday, Owen at Northern Reflections wrote a post on Michael Chong, one of the few members of Stephen Harper’s caucus with real integrity, attested to by his principled resignation as Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs after Harper’s unilateral declaration of Quebec as a nation. A legitimate question posed is why he remains in the caucus, given . . . → Read More: Politics and its Discontents: Michael Chong And The Reform Act

Politics and its Discontents: Cowardly Leadership: We All Pay A Price

As I have written in the past, poor leadership costs all of us dearly. Whether looking at local provincial, federal or international politics, the price we pay for leadership that has too high a regard for itself and too little for the people is moral, social, economic and military disarray. Whether we are talking . . . → Read More: Politics and its Discontents: Cowardly Leadership: We All Pay A Price

Politics and its Discontents: On Harper’s Reign of Terror

Last week, Owen wrote a post he entitled Corrupting Civil Society, a reflection on the Harper war on non-profits that stand in opposition to any of his regime’s agenda. I recommend reading it for a good overview of the situation.

In yesterday’s Star, three letters articulated three excellent perspectives on this shameful war:

Tories . . . → Read More: Politics and its Discontents: On Harper’s Reign of Terror

Politics and its Discontents: The Harper Enemies List: A Prominent Member

Yesterday I wrote about a fund-raising plea that the Harper machine has sent out to its true believers with deep pockets; the missive stressed the need for big dollars to get out the truth to Canadians about what a fine job the regime is doing, a message that is, according to the neocons, being . . . → Read More: Politics and its Discontents: The Harper Enemies List: A Prominent Member

Politics and its Discontents: Heather Mallick And The Climate Of Fear

Toronto Star columnist Heather Mallick has a lacerating assessment this morning of the political landscape we now inhabit, thanks to the machinations of the Harper cabal. Owen, over at Norther Reflections, has a post on her piece that is well-worth reading.

I shall only add this from her column:

What an extraordinary thing to . . . → Read More: Politics and its Discontents: Heather Mallick And The Climate Of Fear

Politics and its Discontents: A Friday Evening Thought

I came upon this excerpt of a much longer poem by Elizabeth Barrett Browning on Owen’s blog this morning in his Daily Literary Quote section.

… Earth’s crammed with heaven, And every common bush afire with God; But only he who sees, takes off his shoes,…

Imagine the world if we treated it with the . . . → Read More: Politics and its Discontents: A Friday Evening Thought

Politics and its Discontents: Two Blogging Recommendations

With so many things of note to comment on, today is one of those days when, if I had the time, I suspect I would spend most of the day writing blog posts. Instead, allow me to direct your attention, if you haven’t already read them today, to Alison over at Creekside, and Owen . . . → Read More: Politics and its Discontents: Two Blogging Recommendations

Politics and its Discontents: Industry ‘Self-Regulation’

In a world rife with the environmental, economic and social consequences of unfettered capitalism, the term ‘industry self-regulation’ has always struck me as little more than a oxymoron. Examples abound of what happens when government regulatory agencies enter into what turn out to be Faustian bargains with the corporate sector, the sad case of . . . → Read More: Politics and its Discontents: Industry ‘Self-Regulation’

Politics and its Discontents: Thomas Walkom: Harper’s Strategy Behind The Foreign Workers Program

Yesterday, over at Northern Reflections, Owen Gray wrote a post entitled A Lost Generation, a reflection on the discouraging prospects our young people face in establishing themselves in gainful employment, and the fact that their plight does not seem to be a factor in the Harper regime’s decision-making.

I left the following comment . . . → Read More: Politics and its Discontents: Thomas Walkom: Harper’s Strategy Behind The Foreign Workers Program