Politics and its Discontents

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Reflections, Observations, and Analyses Pertaining to the Canadian Political Scene
Mis à jour : il y a 43 min 44 sec

The Art Of The Deal: A Guest Post By John B.

il y a 4 heures 41 min

In response to yesterday's post about free trade, John B. provided a detailed commentary that derves a separate posting. Below is what he wrote:

Are any Canadians asking?

I find the current tap dance we are witnessing reminiscent of the public displays of angst and pretense of desperation by Mulroney and Burney a generation ago over the possibility that the Canada-US deal was in peril because of American apprehension. I've always believed that we were the unwitting dupes of a ruse designed to seduce an uninformed public into assuming, without any further analysis and consideration of what it would occasion that, because a negotiating and simultaneously competing business partner had some reservations, the deal must certainly be much more beneficial to Canada than to its supposedly hesitant deal partner at whose expense the anticipated benefit was to be achieved.

On Saturday when I met up socially with a couple of old acquaintances, both university-educated persons, one of them initiated a discussion of the current CETA situation. They're not people who are generally uninformed: one has an honours degree in history; and the other is a retired police chief. Before I had said anything on the subject, one of them introduced a conversation expressing his displeasure that an insignificant region of a country that had been freed from oppression by Canadian efforts during the Second World War would dare to obstruct an enterprise beneficial to Canadian interests. As my grade eight history teacher would have said: "Shades of the CUSFTA." My pal had made the assumption, just as many other Canadians must have done when Mulroney submitted his star performance, that the other side was balking because the relative benefits of the deal were so heavily weighted in Canada's favour. (There must be a term that marketing specialists use for this baloney sales tactic. Maybe it's got its own chapter in "The Art of the Deal" or "Think and Grow Rich".) After listening to the others' comments, I interjected my opinions on the I-SDS and ICS factors, the enhanced corporate opportunity for achieving regulatory capture and the implications of transnational labour mobility, and briefly stated my view that an insignificant component of this and other "trade" deals actually has anything to do with trade and tariffs. Both of them looked at me as though they didn't speak English and then one of them said that he didn't remember whether he had ever even heard of the CETA prior to Friday. The other one then said that he thought he had heard the first mention of he could recall it earlier in the week.

Now consider what they've been putting on the TV regarding this subject since the hiccup in Belgium on broadcasts that purport to be political and economic analysis : Ed Fast lambasting the Liberals for possibly wrecking his deal when all they had to do was to get it signed; Kevin O'Leary, while Evan Solomon grins from the other side of the interview, ranting in full leadership campaign mode that, because of Freeland's apparent failure, we should now question the competence of all of Selfie-Boy Zoolander's cabinet choices; a private equity and derivatives exchange expert telling Michael Serapio that "trade deals are win-win deals" and that the uncertainty in Wallonia is "absolutely appalling"; and, as we should expect, no discussion dealing with the substance of the objections.

So what's my point? It's that there must certainly be some convergence of interests that has willed the Canadian public to be kept in the dark and cooked the pablum we are being served.

What has happened during the CETA negotiations under both political parties seems to have taken it all up a notch. How did Canada become the headwaiter to and chief water carrier for the global investor-rights business lobby? What additional net benefit are we expected to assume will accrue to the country's economy through the adoption of this irregular national policy as a standard practice? Have we become the go-to guy for the transnational commerce management industry? I'll leave it up to someone smarter and better informed to consider those questions. But I'll suggest that an investigation into some revolving doors and the subsequent career choices of former negotiators and political leaders might provide some possible answers. Maybe Dominic Barton could make some explanation that relates to what's happening now under the Sunny Ways Corps.

With respect to Mound's comment on the possibility of abuses in investor claims, it seems that another innovative market has already emerged from the vibrancy and dynamism of the I-SDS protection racket:


https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/financial-speculation-corps-vis-lawsuits-isds-court-part-martin-jr-Recommend this Post

Free Trade Is Never Free

dim, 10/23/2016 - 06:28
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, free trade is never free. The surrender of sovereignty rights, about which I have written previously, is probably the most insidious aspect of such deals, given that corporations are granted the right to sue if national or subnational governments pass legislation that affects a corporation's right to make money. That includes legislation to protect the environment or mitigate climate change.

An analysis of the Trans Pacific Partnership yields this chilling truth:
"The Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) mechanism included in the TPP investment chapter grants foreign investors access to a secret tribunal if they believe actions taken by a government will affect their future profits. This provision is a ticking time-bomb for climate policy, because many government policies needed to address global warming are subject to suits brought before international investment tribunals. ...Other TPP chapters like the one covering trade in goods can be the basis for state-to-state suits challenging climate policies."Here in Ontario, citizens were recently reminded of the consequences of corporate displeasure via the NAFTA investor dispute settlement provisions. Opting for some sober second thoughts, the province decided to put a moratorium on offshore wind turbine development, a pause that did not sit well with Windstream Energy LLC, the American company that had signed a $5.2 billion with Ontario. A fine of $25 million has been imposed after Windstream invoked its investor rights that were granted under under NAFTA, but the fine is a mere precursor to future action.
At the end of September, a panel convened by the Netherlands-based Permanent Court of Arbitration awarded $25.2-million in damages and almost $3-million in legal costs to Windstream, saying the province broke rules under the North American free-trade agreement when it put a moratorium on offshore wind developments in February, 2011, effectively scuttling the Windstream project.The deal is still considered to be in force, and Windstream has every intention of making sure it comes to fruition:
“We have a contract here, and contracts don’t go away,” [Windstream director David] Mars said, even though the moratorium on offshore wind is still in effect.In other words, taxpayers will have to brace themselves for further, much deeper compensation to the company in the future, unless Ontario gives in to the extortion NAFTA has made possible.

And despite free-trade cheerleader Freeland's ceaseless chatter about making the investor dispute settlement process more transparent, the unalterable fact is that the rights of corporations to sue governments remains solidly intact.

I'll leave the final word to Noam Chomsky who, in this brief video, reminds us of of some inconvenient truths we would do well to never, ever forget:

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This Is Good News

ven, 10/21/2016 - 09:09
I'll have more to say about this in the future, but for now, some good news for those who oppose free trade deals that sacrifice national sovereignty and jobs so corporations can be further enriched:
Canadian Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland has walked out of negotiations to salvage a major trade deal with the European Union, saying she is returning home because she feels the 28-member bloc is unable to reach an accord with Canada.

In fact, she said she considers it “impossible” for an agreement to be clinched.

The development throws the future of the Canada-EU trade deal into doubt and, coming only months after the United Kingdom voted to quit the European Union, is a blow to the EU’s efforts to demonstrate it is still moving forward as a viable entity.

The European Council has been unable to reach a consensus on approving the Canada-EU deal because Belgium is unable to give its assent. Politically-decentralized Belgium requires the approval of regional governments on major international agreements and the French-speaking Wallonia region has opposed signing the agreement with Canada.

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This Sounds Promising

jeu, 10/20/2016 - 05:57
Whether this will turn out to be another idea that holds great promise but then comes to nothing will only be known, I guess, in the future, but it does sound promising:
The danger of the ever-increasing levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) in Earth's atmosphere has become one of the most pressing issues of our age. As such, much research has been conducted to find ways not only to reduce it, but also in ways to remove it. This has led to many schemes that simply sequester CO2 underground, or store it in volcanic rocks. More ambitious schemes even aim to not only remove this gas, but to usefully employ it to create usable products, such as plastics and foam, or even to produce hydrocarbon fuels. Now scientists from the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) claim to have produced one of the most usable of all chemicals – ethanol – in a process that is not only cheap, efficient, and scalable, but also conducted at room temperature.

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A Festivus Moment

mer, 10/19/2016 - 06:13
Like me, some of you were probably great fans of Seinfeld, the "show about nothing." As such, you may recall the Festivus airing of grievances:

Well, in that spirit I would like to use this blog to air a grievance, and that grievance involves one of Canada's putative icons, Wayne Gretsky, aka., The Great One. For me, the emperor has no clothes.

Readers may recall that last year, during our federal election campaign, Gretsky, a resident of the U.S., took it upon himself to extol Stephen Harper, pronouncing the latter as "wonderful to the country" and "one of the greatest prime ministers ever." Ever since then I have avoided all products associated with his name, most notably his wine label. I am happy to add his new whisky to my boycott list.

Vindictive and petty? Perhaps. But it is also immensely satisfying to exercise my power as a consumer.

Wayne is dead to me.Recommend this Post

A Love Note To The U.S.

mar, 10/18/2016 - 06:22
From my jaundiced perspective, Canadians sending a 'love note' to America will only add to its unbearable hubris, seen regularly in its conduct on the world stage and in its claims to be the greatest country on earth.

Yet that is exactly what a Toronto firm called the Garden Collective is suggesting we do in a campaign entitled #TellAmericaItsGreat:
According to the Garden’s blog, the digital pep talk is meant as a balm to the “pretty scary realities” and “tremendous amount of negativity” exposed by the campaign, which continues for another three weeks.However, given my low threshold for nausea-inducing saccharine sentiments, I shall refrain from uploading an inspirational video to buck up our neighbours to the south and stick with my core philosophy, which I think you might infer if you are a regular reader of this blog: "Better a bitter truth than a sweet lie."

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The World We Ignore

lun, 10/17/2016 - 08:38
I suppose it is the curse of consciousness that leads humans to see themselves as distinct from, and superior to, nature. It is a hubris that the natural world is paying a heavy price for, as we insist on placing our wants and needs above those of other forms of life. New research is showing how misplaced and misguided our sense of ourselves really is.

Those who read this blog regularly may know that I have written fairly often on nature and nature documentaries, the latter surely the easiest way for us, if we take the time from our busy lives, to reconnect with the wonders of the world around us. Moreover, if viewed seriously, such films can make us ask some hard questions of the lives we lead and the impact our acquisitiveness and self-centeredness have on the other creatures we share this planet with.

Last night I was reminded of these things as I watched the latest Nature of Things, entitled Conversations With Dolphins. Highly intelligent and self-aware, these creatures seem to possess amazing capabilities that, until recently, were believed to be the exclusive domain of human beings. Tool use, a teaching culture, precise communications and deductive reasoning are but four of the wondrous things these mammals are capable of.

What follows is a brief clip from the documentary, but I hope you take the opportunity to view the entire program. It may change your perspective on many, many things.

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Kelie Leitch - Savant Extraodinaire

dim, 10/16/2016 - 06:46
I see that Kellie Leitch has officially launched her leadership campaign:

As the campaign heats up, she can expect more of this:

And if that doesn't sate your appetite for this strange lady who would lead the CPC through bigotry and xenophobia, try this from Frank Magazine.

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Arc d'Trump?

sam, 10/15/2016 - 06:51
Thanks to Jonathan once again for alerting me to some clips from the 1957 movie, A Face in the Crowd, starring Andy Griffith in a role so diametrically opposed to his later persona as Sheriff Andy Taylor that he seems positively demonic at times. That the director, Elia Kazan, was able to draw the link between television stardom and political power is a testament to his prescience.

I think you will agree that the film eerily echoes the future rise of Donald Trump. Hopefully, a similar downfall ensues.

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Somedays, I Don't have To Write A Thing

ven, 10/14/2016 - 14:31
Watch this, and you'll see what I mean.

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A Remarkable Speech

ven, 10/14/2016 - 06:06
This lady surely has a future in politics, should she so choose. Her strength, integrity and passion are a beacon in these politically and socially debased times.

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Why Is the Mainstream Press Ignoring This Story About Donald Trump?

mer, 10/12/2016 - 12:51
I was alerted to this story by my friend Jonathan; it is profoundly disturbing, even though, because it involves an alleged rape committed by Donald Trump, it probably should not shock or astound anyone.

Tomorrow, October 14, may be a stressful day for the Republican nominee, in that he has a 10:00 a.m. appointment at the Thurgood Marshall Court House, Lower Manhattan, in response to a suit launched by Katie Johnson, who claims she was raped by Trump in 1994, when she was but 13 years old:

You can view the plaintiff's complete complaint here, but here is the essence of it. The details may not be suitable for everyone:
A federal lawsuit filed in New York accuses Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump of repeatedly raping a 13-year-old girl more than 20 years ago, at several Upper East Side parties hosted by convicted sex offender and notorious billionaire investor Jeffrey Epstein.

The suit, first reported by the Real Deal, accuses Trump and Epstein of luring the anonymous plaintiff and other young women to four parties at Epstein's so-called Wexner Mansion at 9 East 71st Street. Epstein allegedly lured the plaintiff, identified in the suit only as Jane Doe, with promises of a modeling career and cash.

Another anonymous woman, identified in additional testimony as Tiffany Doe, corroborates Jane's allegations, testifying that she met Epstein at Port Authority, where he hired her to recruit other young girls for his parties. Trump had known Epstein for seven years in 1994 when he attended the parties at Wexner, according to the suit. He also allegedly knew that the plaintiff was 13 years old.

Jane Doe filed a similar suit in California in April, under the name Katie Johnson, also accusing Trump and Epstein of rape. That suit was dismissed on the grounds of improper paperwork — the address affiliated with her name was found to be abandoned. Today's suit confirms that the plaintiffs are one and the same.Here is what allegedly happened, in Johnson's own words:
I traveled by bus to New York City in June 1994 in the hope of starting a modeling career. I went to several modeling agencies but was told that I needed to put together a modeling portfolio before I would be considered. I then went to the Port Authority in New York City to start to make my way back home. There I met a woman who introduced herself to me as Tiffany. She told me about the parties and said that, if I would join her at the parties, I would be introduced to people who could get me into the modeling profession. Tiffany also told me I would be paid for attending.

The parties were held at a New York City residence that was being used by Defendant Jeffrey Epstein. Each of the parties had other minor females and a number of guests of Mr. Epstein, including Defendant Donald Trump at four of the parties I attended. I understood that both Mr. Trump and Mr. Epstein knew I was 13 years old.

Defendant Trump had sexual contact with me at four different parties in the summer of 1994. On the fourth and fnial sexual encounter with Defendant Trump, Defendant Trump tied me to a bed, exposed himself to me, and then proceeded to forcibly rape me. During the course of this savage sexual attack, I loudly pleaded with Defendant Trump to stop but he did not. Defendant Trump responded to my pleas by violently striking me in the face with his open hand and screaming that he would do whatever he wanted,

Immediately following this rape, Defendant Trump threatened me that, were I ever to reveal any of the details of Defendant Trump's sexual and physical abuse of me, my family and I wold be physically harmed if not killed.
Here is a video statement Johnson made:

The filing also includes a statement by Tiffany Doe, the woman who brought Johnson to the party:
I personally witnessed four sexual encounters that the Plaintiff was forced to have with Mr. Trump during this period, including the fourth of these encounters where Mr. Trump forcibly raped her despite her pleas to stop.

I personally witnessed the one occasion where Mr. Trump forced the Plaintiff and a 12-year-old female named Maria [to] perform oral sex on Mr. Trump and witnessed his physical abuse of both minors when they finished the act.

It was my job to personally witness and supervise encounters between the underage girls that Mr. Epstein hired and his guests.It is important to note that Jeffrey Epstein, also named in the suit and the host of the party, is a registered sex offender who has faced a series of such allegations, and was convicted in 2008 of sex with an underage girl. Unfortunately, owing to his powerful connections, he 'served a one-year term under house arrest at his Palm Beach home.

The entire story sickens me, but you can read further details in the links provided. However, it seems to me that the larger story is the strange quiescence of the mainstream media. Surely this is a story that deserves the full attention and scrutiny of all American voters.Recommend this Post

Meanwhile, Closer To Home

mer, 10/12/2016 - 06:12
Much of the climate-change video material I post on my blog shows the devastation being wrought in the United States. I feature such material because it receives extensive coverage on American networks. It would, of course, be foolish to assume that such effects are confined to that country. Climate change is being felt worldwide through droughts, tornadoes, hurricanes, flooding and killer heatwaves.

Closer to home, the impact of Hurricane Mathew is being experienced in the Maritimes, as the following amply demonstrates:

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It's Official: Trump Won The Debate

lun, 10/10/2016 - 17:26
So declares America's favourite crazed evangelical, Pat Robertson. Presumably, his assessment came from on high.

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What You Don't Know Will Hurt You

lun, 10/10/2016 - 13:30

While much of western society enjoys living in willful ignorance about climate change, the fact is, what you don't know can hurt you. Tim Wallace of the New York Times reports that much of the heat of our rapidly warming world is being absorbed by oceans, and the long-term effects will be devastating.
Ocean temperatures have been consistently rising for at least three decades. Scientists believe that global sea surface temperatures will continue to increase over the next decade as greenhouse gases build up in the atmosphere.

Last year, nearly all observed ocean surface temperatures registered above average because naturally occurring conditions caused by El Niño combined with human-induced warming. About a quarter of those observations broke record highs.This excess energy has largely been sucked up by the oceans, which have a huge capacity to store heat. As the oceans store more heat, however, they expand. Scientists have shown that over the past decade, this thermal expansion has caused about one-third of the rise in sea levels.But what is happening below the surface?
The near-surface ocean takes only decades to warm in response to elevated greenhouse gas concentrations, but the deep ocean will take centuries to millenniums, raising sea level all the while. In the meantime, warmer ocean temperatures may also increase the destructive potential of extreme weather, like cyclones and hurricanes.
Out of sight, out of mind is no longer a viable strategy, as we are now seeing, and far, far worse is yet to come.Recommend this Post