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Thursday, October 18, 2012

Time to Speak Up Canada



        If you don’t like the way things are going in Canada, here’s your chance to make your voice heard in a better way than complaining to your friends. The following are five letter campaigns being conducted by Leadnow.ca. Take some action and make your voice heard. I have included links to the online letters at the end of each campaign.

 

Leadnow.ca is an independent advocacy organization that brings generations of Canadians together to achieve progress through democracy.

We're working together to build a stronger democracy that protects our environment, creates economic opportunity while increasing equality, and guarantees that everyone receives the care they need.


Canada-China FIPA and Nexen

In two weeks, Prime Minister Harper could pass the most secretive and sweeping trade deal of a generation.

This deal would pave the way for a massive natural resource buyout and allow foreign corporations to sue the Canadian government in secret tribunals, restricting Canadians from making democratic decisions about our economy, environment and energy.1

Most Canadians have never heard of FIPA, the Canada-China Foreign Investment Protection Agreement, because Prime Minister Harper is trying to sneak it through without a single vote or debate in Parliament.2,3
Canadians have a right to determine our future, but this agreement will undermine our democratic rights and lock us into an inescapable path of foreign-ownership and resource extraction until at least 2040.

The Canada-China FIPA is set for automatic approval on October 31st unless we get the word out now that the Harper Conservatives are trying bypass Parliament and sneak this deal by Canadians. That’s why we partnered with SumOfUs.org on this campaign – if enough of us raise our voices now, we can create a massive public outcry to stop this devastating deal in its tracks.
Send a message to Prime Minister Harper and your MP: Canada is not for sale, stop the Canada-China FIPA and the Nexen takeover. When 30,000 sign, we will deliver your messages to Ottawa.

Alongside this deal, the Harper government is trying to speed through the sale of Nexen, a major Canadian oil and gas company, to the Chinese National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC), one of China’s massive state-owned oil companies.4 The $15 billion-dollar Nexen takeover will open the floodgates to a wave of foreign buyouts of Canada's natural resources.

If FIPA passes, a Chinese company can take over Canadian resources and then sue Canadian governments – provincial or federal – in secret, if the government does anything that threatens the company’s profits.
Any Canadian law or government decision – even ones that protect Canadian jobs, our environment, our economy and our families – could be fought in secret tribunals outside of our legal system. Arbitrators unaccountable to the Canadian public would have the power to award billions in damages to foreign corporations if we do anything that hurts corporate profits, like improve environmental standards or slow down the export of cheap, unprocessed resources.1,5,6

Time is running out. We have two weeks before FIPA is set to pass into law, and the Nexen takeover could be approved at any time. Canadians, including many Conservative MPs, oppose the Nexen takeover, and Prime Minister Harper has just asked for a 30 day extension to regroup. We need a massive public outcry now.

Additional Information

The ability for corporations to sue foreign governments in private courts, called “investor-state arbitration,” is a controversial practice built into many trade deals like NAFTA that has cost Canada millions and over-ruled democratic decisions, but none impose the level of secrecy in the Canada-China FIPA.

Incredibly, if BC tries to regulate or block Enbridge’s Northern Gateway Pipeline, Sinopec, another Chinese state-owned oil company with investments in Canada’s natural resource infrastructure, could sue the BC government for damages, and we may never even hear about it the case or its results.5,6

Other countries like India, South Africa and Australia are moving away from this kind of trade deal. Last year Australia rejected investor-state arbitration due to concerns that it would “constrain the ability of Australian governments to make laws on social, environmental and economic matters”.7,8

Why is Canada moving backwards?

Sources:

1.      Canada-China Investment Deal Allows for Confidential Lawsuits Against Canada (Toronto Star)
http://www.thestar.com/opinion/editorialopinion/article/1264290--canada-china-investment-deal-allows-for-confidential-lawsuits-against-canada
2.      Tories quietly table Canada-China investment treaty (Globe and Mail)
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/tories-quietly-table-canada-china-investment-treaty/article4573635/
3.      Battle over CNOOC’s proposed Nexen Takeover Heats Up In Ottawa (Financial Post)
http://business.financialpost.com/2012/09/17/battle-over-cnoocs-proposed-nexen-takeover-heats-up-in-ottawa/
5.      Chinese Companies Can Sue BC for Changing Course on Northern Gateway, says Policy Expert
http://www.vancouverobserver.com/sustainability/chinese-companies-can-sue-bc-changing-course-northern-gateway-says-policy-expert
6.      Chairman Harper and the Chinese Sell-Out (The Tyee)
http://thetyee.ca/Opinion/2012/10/11/Chairman-Harper/print.html
7.      Trading our way to more jobs and prosperity (Government of Australia)
http://www.dfat.gov.au/publications/trade/trading-our-way-to-more-jobs-and-prosperity.html#investor-state
8.      Multiple Countries Rejecting Investor State Dispute Settlement (Janet M Eaton, PhD)
http://www.sierraclub.ca/en/main-page/multiple-countries-rejecting-investor-state-dispute-settlement

Tell Prime Minister Stephen Harper:
Canada is NOT for sale.


Declaration for Change

An Open Letter to the Next Parliament

It's time to move beyond today's political division and short-term thinking, and get to work on the shared challenges of our time.

Across geographies and generations, in local communities and online, thousands of Canadians are coming together to create a new kind of politics. This is our agenda for the new Parliament.

We call for political cooperation to build a stronger democracy that protects our environment, creates economic opportunity while increasing equality, and guarantees that everyone receives the care they need.
We commit to support action on the following key priorities and vote for the politicians who will best:

Democracy
  • Create an open government plan to increase transparency and accountability
  • Initiate a citizen-led process for a referendum on electoral reform
  • Make it easier for people to participate directly in government decision-making
Economic Opportunity and Equality
  • Establish a plan with clear targets to reduce poverty and provide affordable housing
  • Improve access to high quality post-secondary education and reduce student debt
  • Ensure access to affordable quality child care and early childhood education
Environment
  • Establish climate legislation to meet international and science-based targets
  • Invest in renewable energy, energy efficiency and home retrofits
  • End subsidies to fossil fuel companies
Health
  • Ensure universal access to high quality and publicly administered health care
  • Invest in programs that prevent illness and promote wellness
  • Create a national strategy to increase mental health support
Where there is overlap with provincial jurisdiction, we call for action to be defined in collaboration with the provinces and implemented according to jurisdiction.

We, the undersigned, call for political cooperation to build a stronger democracy that protects our environment, creates economic opportunity while increasing equality, and guarantees that everyone receives the care they need. Declaration for Change


Cooperation against Harper

In the last federal election, 61% of voters cast ballots for change, but the vote split and our broken electoral system gave Stephen Harper a majority of seats in Parliament.

Now, if we work together, we can make sure our next government represents a majority of Canadians and fixes our broken electoral system. Here’s how we can do it:
During the next election, the NDP, Liberals and Greens can cooperate in key ridings to defeat Stephen Harper’s government, and then pass electoral reform to make Canada’s democracy work better for everyone.

The Liberals are preparing to choose their next leaders. We need to show the leadership candidates that thousands of Canadians are willing to take action to support cooperation for electoral reform.


    “I call on the opposition party leaders to support political cooperation for electoral reform.

    During the next federal election, I call on the NDP, Liberals and Greens to work together in key ridings to defeat Stephen Harper's government. After the election, I call on them to cooperate to pass electoral reform and make sure our government better reflects the values and priorities of all Canadians.” Cooperation


The Budget Omnibus Bill

Have you heard that the Conservative government just voted to rush debate on a budget bill that would strip our environmental protections, silence our environmental watchdogs, and damage our economy?[1,2]

Never before has the budget been used as cover for such a sweeping agenda.[3] Environmental leaders have called this budget a declaration of “war on nature,” and unless we speak out now this budget will sell out our natural heritage and economy for short-term oil company profit.[4,5]
 
Canadians from all across the political spectrum want responsible environmental protections, democratic decision-making and an economy that’s built to last. By silencing critics and burying these changes in a 400-page budget bill, the Conservative government is showing us they believe Canadians would say no to this deal if they knew about it.

If we speak out together and spread the word, we can create a massive public outcry to take these measures out of the budget, and start an open debate about the kind of smart laws we need to ensure lasting prosperity and a stable climate for all generations.

The budget is:

1. Bad for our natural heritage: The budget will gut the Fisheries Act, the most powerful federal environmental protection for our waters. It will weaken Canada’s environmental assessments for major industrial projects, shut more and more Canadians out of the review process, and politicize the results by placing all decision-making power in Harper’s cabinet.[6]

These measures are designed to put the short-term interests of big oil companies first, despite the permanent consequences for our climate and natural heritage.[4]

2. Bad for our democracy: These sweeping changes should be debated openly, not rammed through in a budget bill. The bill also contains anti-democratic measures to silence opposition. At the same time as the Conservative government is cutting funding to Elections Canada, the budget will spend $8 million intimidating environmental watchdog charities with constant audits and threats to their status.[7]

3. Bad for our economy: The reckless expansion of the oil sands is hollowing out our economy. Fast rising energy exports have driven up the dollar, making Canada’s manufacturing exports less competitive and shutting down factories, especially in Ontario and Quebec. This pattern is called the “Dutch Disease” and it threatens our economy because manufacturing provides the bedrock for a stable middle class, creating vastly more good jobs and innovation than fossil fuel exports.[8]

Public opinion is the only thing that can keep this government accountable to a majority of Canadians. Let’s rally Canadians together, and tell Finance Minister Flaherty that we want our environmental laws to move forward, not backward.

Sources:

1.      Conservatives pass motion to limit debate on budget bill
http://www.ctv.ca/CTVNews/TopStories/20120503/canada-conservatives-budget-debate-120503/
2.      Opposition fumes as Tories limit debate on sweeping budget bill (Globe and Mail)
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/ottawa-notebook/opposition-fumes-as-tories-limit-debate-on-sweeping-budget-bill/article2421287/
3.      Bill C-38 shows us how far Parliament has fallen (National Post)
http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2012/04/30/andrew-coyne-bill-c-38-shows-us-how-far-parliament-has-fallen/
5.      How Ottawa runs on oil (Maclean’s)
http://www2.macleans.ca/2012/03/23/oil-power/
6.      Budget bill rolls back protection for fish (World Wildlife Federation
http://blog.wwf.ca/blog/2012/04/30/fishy-business-budget-bill-rolls-back-protection-for-fish/
7.      Charities that spend on political action a “tiny fraction” (CBC)
http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/story/2012/04/25/politics-charity.html
8.      Respected economist echoes McGuinty: “petro dollar damaging to Canada’s manufacturing industry” (Vancouver Observer)
http://www.vancouverobserver.com/world/canada/2012/03/01/respected-economist-echoes-mcguinty-petro-dollar-damaging-canadas

 

Further Reading:

Feds set Canada back 50 years on environment regulations: critics
http://www.hilltimes.com/news/legislation/2012/04/30/feds-set-canada-back-50-years-on-environment-regulations-critics/30592

Federal Budget 2012: Tories using majority to limit debate on omnibus budget bill (Toronto Star)
http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/politics/article/1172359—federal-budget-2012-tories-using-majority-to-limit-debate-on-omnibus-budget-bill

Canada’s stealth prime minister (Edmonton Journal)
http://www.edmontonjournal.com/news/Andrew+Coyne+Canada+stealth+prime+minister/6557310/story.html

Harper’s real agenda visible in budget bill (CBC)
http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/story/2012/05/01/pol-vp-greg-weston-harper-anniversary.html

Tories to overhaul Fisheries Act (Globe and Mail)
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/tories-to-overhaul-fisheries-act/article2413184/

Tell Finance Minister Jim Flaherty:
Stop the Budget Bill from Selling Out Canada's Natural Heritage and Economy. Budget 2012

 

Election Fraud

Elections Canada has just traced illegal phone calls made during the 2011 federal election to a company that worked for the Conservative Party across the country.


The “robocalls” appeared to be designed to stop non-Conservative voters from casting ballots in key ridings by falsely telling voters that the location of their polling stations had changed, causing them to go to the wrong location on election day.1

This news casts doubt on the legitimacy of their majority Government. The Conservatives only narrowly won their majority by 6,201 votes in 14 ridings.2

We need answers and real consequences that lay the foundation for new laws to protect the integrity of Canadian elections.

Tell the leaders of all political parties that you demand a full and independent public inquiry to expose the facts about the robocall scandal and ensure that the penalties for any election fraud matches the consequences of the crime - including possible new elections.

Examples of targeted ridings

  • Kitchener-Waterloo (Conservative): In 2008, Peter Braid’s margin of victory over Liberal Andrew Telegdi was just 17 votes. In 2011, the margin was 2,100 votes.3
  • Winnipeg South Centre (Conservative): In 2008, Winnipeg South Centre was a Liberal-held seat. In 2011, the seat went Conservative by just 696 votes.4
  • Sydney-Victoria (Liberal): In 2011, Mark Eyking defeated Conservative candidate Cecil Clarke by just 750 votes.5
  • Willowdale (Conservative): Chungsen Leung defeated Liberal incubent Martha Hall Findlay by 950 votes.6
  • Etobicoke Centre (Conservative). In 2011, Ted Opitz won the seat by a margin of 26 votes over the incumbant Borys Wrzesnewskyj.7

Sources

  1. Fraudulent election calls traced to Edmonton firm with Tory links:
    news.nationalpost.com/2012/02/22/racknine-inc-fraudulent-election-calls-traced
  2. Tallying the Conservative win in 14 ridings: 6,201 reasons to be frustrated:
    rabble.ca/news/2011/05/tallying-conservative-win-14-ridings-6201-reasons-be-frustrated
  3. Election Results, Kitchener Waterloo:
    www.parl.gc.ca/About/Parliament/FederalRidingsHistory/hfer.asp?Search=Det&rid=1020
  4. Election Results, Winnipeg South Centre:
    www.parl.gc.ca/About/Parliament/FederalRidingsHistory/hfer.asp?Search=Det&rid=rid=1302
  5. Election Results, Sydney Victoria:
    www.parl.gc.ca/About/Parliament/FederalRidingsHistory/hfer.asp?Search=Det&rid=1067
  6. Election Results, Willowdale:
    www.parl.gc.ca/About/Parliament/FederalRidingsHistory/hfer.asp?Search=Det&rid=817
  7. Election Results, Etobicoke Centre:
    www.parl.gc.ca/About/Parliament/FederalRidingsHistory/hfer.asp?Search=Det&rid=220
  8. At least 14 election ridings blitzed with live calls from fake Liberals
    http://news.nationalpost.com/2012/02/24/at-least-14-election-ridings-blitzed-with-live-calls-from-fake-liberals/


Send a message to all the party leaders and your MP demanding a full public inquiry and real consequences for election fraud:  Election Fraud