Democracy over Poetry, for today, anyway

the regina mom is currently on retreat at her favourite Catholic monastery in rural Saskatchewan.  Try as she might, she is unable to fully concentrate on the poetry while the current attack to Canadian democracy is underway.

It’s become pretty clear that the Harper regime will stop at no end to promote the greed of the corporations, particularly those into resource extraction.  The environment and environmental groups, science and scientists and scientific libraries — all are game, fair or otherwise, for him.  As are the people of our First Nations, women, veterans, unionized workers and anything else that gets in his way — including the Canada Elections Act.

Last week, his government introduced what they mistakenly called the Fair Elections Act, about which political columnist, Andrew Coyne, says,

It’s a bizarre bill. But the government is plainly proud of it: so proud that it refused to consult with the chief electoral officer on its contents; so proud that it is now being rushed through Parliament with a bare minimum of debate, using the government’s power of time allocation. And what problem was that intended to solve?

trm is not sure she agrees on the pride angle, thinking perhaps it’s more like arrogance, a “nyah-nyah” to the forces of democracy in Canada, the thousands and thousands of activists who have been tireless in their campaigns to raise awareness about the attacks on our freedoms and our long-standing traditions.

Marc Mayrand, Canada’s Chief Electoral Officer, expressed deep concern about the new Bill in this interview on CBC Radio’s, The House, which everyone should listen to.

He is right to be concerned.  After Vic Toews’ nasty letter calling out environmentalists as terrorists, trm took a look at Naomi Wolf’s blueprint for how open societies become closed societies.   trm examined Canada in that light and found it frightening then.  That was two years ago!  Much more has happened since, and only some of it referenced in the links above. The window is closing, and closing quickly.

Hold the window open, Canada!  Sign the Council of Canadians petition which will be presented in the House of Commons tomorrow.  Also consider participating in the Hold the Phone: Call for Democracy campaign tomorrow, Monday, February 10.  There are, apparently, some Conservative backbenchers who aren’t strongly supportive of this recent attack on democracy.  The calls may sway them enough to make a difference to our future as a democratic state.

My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world.  –Jack Layton

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Willful Ignorance

As the HarperCon delegation of Ministers and big biz boyz prepared to take off for China, the wise Yinka Dene Nation through whose lands the Northern Gateway pipeline is proposed to go, were busy writing letters.  They sent one to the Government of China loaded with examples describing how

Aboriginal communities in Canada live at the margins of society – in abject poverty with appalling conditions. Recently the community of Attawapiskat was highlighted in the news for the extreme conditions with lack of housing, running water and sewage. Attawapiskat is one of more than 100 First Nations communities in Canada that face this reality. These conditions violate the adequate standard of living guaranteed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the rights to adequate housing, education, and other rights guaranteed in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

They sent an open letter to the People of China:

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper is visiting China this week to talk about his plans toforce the Enbridge Northern Gateway Oil Pipeline and Tankers through our lands, territories, and watersheds. Harper plans to violate our indigenous human rights to build this 1200 kilometre oil pipeline from the Alberta oil sands to the Pacific Ocean. We will not allow Harperto force this oil pipeline through our lands. Under United Nations international law, we have the right to say no to this pipeline. We will enforce our legal rights to protect our waters from the risk of an oil spill.

While the Prime Minister is in China, the Indigenous Environmental Network has teamed up with the Council of Canadians and the Climate Action Network to lobby various Ottawa-based European Embassies about the realities of the tarsands.  From their news release:

“The Harper Government has failed Canadians and the world by refusing to take the climate crises seriously,” says Hannah McKinnon of Climate Action Network Canada. “Instead of fighting a pollution battle at home, the government has chosen to fight a Public Relations battle abroad –it is pathetic that our government is putting more energy into trying to kill climate change policies in other countries than doing its fair share to fight climate change in Canada.”

The organizations discussed the importance of the policy and directly debunked common industry and government lobby points regarding discrimination, carbon intensity of tar sands, and trade concerns. They made clear the critical importance of pressuring the government to take action on cleaning up the tar sands, both from a climate change and energy perspective as well as the human rights implications on directly impacted First Nation Communities.

“Profound human rights violations are being perpetuated by the Canadian governments ongoing tar sands bonanza. First Nations in the region are living with 30% elevated rates of cancer compared to the rest of Alberta,” says Clayton Thomas-Muller, Tar Sands Campaign Director for the Indigenous Environmental Network. “First Nations peoples have been leading an international campaign to stop the Canadian tar sands, this policy will help cut off Prime Minister Harpers ability to peddle this dirty oil to the European market.”

The blog, Trapped in a Whirlpool, raises the question of water quality in First Nations communities, noting that Alberta has the biggest increase of boil-water orders in the country rising to 38 in 2011 from 8 in 2006.  [begin sarcasm] Of course, we don’t know why, do we? [end sarcasm]  But the HarperCons are doing nothing to fix this.  Apparently, they’d rather the First Nations people drink bitumen, I guess.  Of course, we are not surprised, are we?

The tarsands are also taking habitat away from wild animals. In a twisted scheme to save caribou herds, the HarperCon government will reduce the wolf population by poisoning bait with strychnine.  In a report on the impact of tarsands development the US National Wildlife Federation says,

Canada’s Minister of Environment Peter Kent said in September that thousands of Alberta wolves will need to be killed to rescue caribou impacted by tar sands development. “Culling is an accepted if regrettable scientific practice and means of controlling populations and attempting to balance what civilization has developed. I’ve got to admit, it troubles me that that’s what is necessary to protect this species,” Kent commented. Simon Dyer of the Pembina Institute estimates that many thousands of wolves could be destroyed over five years under Canada’s proposed plan.

The minister has it backwards. Rather than killing wolves, he should be stopping the habitat destruction and restoring habitat associated with tar sands production. Without healthy habitat, the decline of caribou is inevitable, no matter how wolves are managed. If Canada wants to protect caribou herds, the first priority should be protection and restoration of caribou habitat.

The Minister and his cohorts get a lot of things wrong, particularly when it comes to science, according to Metaman.  He basically suggests we turn on our bullshit detectors.

Check your science carefully folks: Give it the sniff test! Is the next phase of “CPC Agnotology” fake peer reviewed “bullshit”? The GOP republicans and CPC conservatives know that they are failing to succeed with ideology, so, is the next step is to put on the “SunTV lab coats (brought to you by FoxNews)” and do some “dog and pony science” for the masses? Perhaps Ezra will finally exchange his “heavy carbon footprint chainsaw for a more efficient and intelligent pen”? Watch for more the new “science parrot” to replace CPC “bullshit“?

It is 2012; Science, in the past 20 years has cleared out a lot of “Kenty” science, but there is much to be done. By eliminating government based science, seems our government expects us to trust corporate science: Tobacco science? Ethical science? FDA Science?

 

350 or bust shared a 26-second video created by NASA scientists.  It shows, very clearly, that global climate change is real.  Have a look yourself:

 

A child could easily understand that.  But our government refuses to.  Willful ignorance is so unbecoming a government.  But that’s willful too, isn’t it?

 

North American Union, Listeriosis, TILMA & the Stephen Harper Party

A trip through some blog posts has my neural pathways click-click-clicking! Be forewarned, this is a click-heavy post!

It all started with Alison@Creekside, talking about Stock Day and the hook-up with the Conference Board of Canada, Bell Canada, Microsoft and the RCMP for discussions on the server in the sky, that whacked-out plan for a surveillance society.  It’s a plan which flows from the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America (SPP), that nasty piece of work cobbled together by the US Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), the Canadian Council of Chief Executives (CCCE – those poor, poor millionaires) and the Mexican Consejo Mexicano de Asuntos Internacionales (Comex, a group sponsored by Exxon Mobil, and boasting affiliation with none other than Milton Friedman’s Chicago School of Economics).

After civil society defeated the Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI), a piece on the path to North American Union, the CCCE worked with the CFR and Comex on another way of making change.  They proposed, in 2003, the North American Security and Prosperity Initiative (NASPI) which identifed five key areas of work:

Wholehearted action on these began when the SPP agreement was signed by former Liberal Prime Minister Paul Martin, US President George W. Bush and former Mexican President, Vincente Fox, in 2005.  It has been lovingly tended by PM Harper, President Bush and Mexico’s President Calderon.

On my blogging journey, when I got to Larry Hubich‘s post discussing the Stephen Harper defence strategy that’s absent from the Conservative platform, I thought SPP.  He sent me over to Owls and Roosters, for more on the $490,000,000,000 defence plan.

In the sidebar at OnR, I noted a piece about TILMA, the Trade, Investment and Labour Mobility Agreement that puts investment ahead of people.  Get this!  A re-elected Stephen Harper government would force TILMA on the provinces.  From page 16 of Stephen Harper’s de-sweatered platform:

A re-elected Conservative Government led by Stephen Harper will work to eliminate barriers that restrict or impair trade, investment or labour mobility between provinces and territories by 2010… We hope to see further progress, but are prepared to intervene by exercising federal authority if barriers to trade, investment and mobility remain by 2010.

And guess where talk of labour mobility barriers first appeared.

Yup!  The CCCE! It’s in the section on regulatory efficiencies:

  • As part of this effort, three issues of significant sensitivity must be addressed: the use of trade remedies within a de facto integrated market; regulatory restrictions on access and ownership in major industries; and impediments to the mobility of skilled labour.

Given what’s happening on Wall Street right now, it would make more sense for Canada to race away from markets more integrated with the USA!  But Steve, like Noah of the Old Testament, is staying the course.  In fact, Canada should have run away from the North American integration a long while ago.  That might have prevented 20 recent deaths.  From the same regulatory/economic efficiencies section:

  • With respect to standards, inspection and certification procedures, our two countries should be able to apply a principle of “tested once” for purposes of the Canada-United States market. Examples of such areas are the consumer and industrial goods sector, food safety and pharmaceuticals.

Food safety, huh?

But wait! There’s more.

I had to travel back to Alison@Creekside, in 2006, where she quoted a Maclean’s article (note the changed URL),

This is how the future of North America now promises to be written: not in a sweeping trade agreement on which elections will turn, but by the accretion of hundreds of incremental changes implemented by executive agencies, bureaucracies and regulators.

Incremental changes, huh?

One more bit from that Maclean’s article.  Ron Covais, president of the Americas for the arms manufacturer, Lockheed Martin, and a former adviser to US Vice President, Dick Cheney, said of the 2006 SPP meeting, “We’ve decided not to recommend any things that would require legislative changes because we won’t get anywhere.

Democratic process is such a pain, isn’t it?

Government by stealth; the Stephen Harper Party’s strength.

Can you stand more, dear reader?

Go ahead, watch this without me; I’ve had enough for one day!

Crossposted at rabble.ca/election

The SPP lacks democratic approval

Last summer, Linda McQuaig (Part I and Part II) spoke of the “sophistication” of the business elite in their soft-peddling of continental integration through the Security and Prosperity Agreement (SPP).  The deal has been kept quite quiet and the work of moving it forward is ongoing via various business leaders, politicians and bureaucrats.

McQuaig’s focus is North American Energy Security which, in essence, is an agreement that Canada guarantee an energy supply to the USA.  The catch is that we must do that before we take what we need!  Why would Canada agree to ensuring the US supply before ensuring our own?  As McQuaig says, there are about 10 years of regular oil supplies left in Canada.  Are we too nice, offering it to the US first?  Or, too stupid?  Yes, there’s the Alberta tar sands, but that über project has garnered a huge outcry from ecological organizations, northern peoples, environmentalists, and even a few politicians, such as former Alberta premier, Peter Lougheed and the Mayor of the Alberta boomtown, Fort McMurray.

Are we, as Canadians, really prepared to give over our own energy security, the ecological integrity of our beautiful north and the well-being of our northern and First Peoples so that the business elite can continue to line their own pockets?  Do we really want to continue fueling the USA’s wars?  Furthermore, are we willing to let this carry on without the due process of our democratic institutions?

In August 2007, Prime Minister Harper refused to accept letters on this matter from 10,000 concerned Canadians.  In the April 2006 Throne Speech, Mr. Harper promised to present “significant international treaties” to a vote in Parliament.  In the last session, he did not do so.  Did he lie to Canadians?  And why, as we learned from US President Bush’s State of the Union Address earlier this week, is our Prime Minister is continuing to forge ahead with the SPP?  He has plans to meet with Presidents Bush and Calderon this April in New Orleans.  But he will do so without the consent of the Canadian people, despite promises — not to mention the obligation — to do so!

Should you so wish, you can tell the Prime Minister how you feel about this lack of democratic process.  The Council of Canadians have been following the developments on the SPP very closely.  It was the organization that forced some media attention onto the issue last summer.

If we truly treasure democracy then we are obliged, as responsible citizens, to speak out when it is being circumvented or abused.  This, I think, is one of those times.  If you do nothing else, at least inform yourself on this important issue.  It will change your life, one way or the other.