Face it, folks, it’s a corporate coup

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Russell Wangersky’s column (“Worth the paper it’s printed on?” Jan. 5) asks about the Resolute NAFTA challenge: “how much can international trade agreements be used to tie the hands of provincial governments looking to come to the aid of their constituents? Does a duly elected government get to say how it can properly spend money, or does that decision rest in the hands of trade agreement arbitration panels? Does that mean that there is one set of standards for companies that operate solely within their own nation, while there are better rules to protect the interests of multinationals?”

The author seems naive and uninformed.

Is the columnist still distracted enough to believe NAFTA, the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) are trade deals and not primarily corporate rights agreements? The TPP, for example, has 29 chapters on trade; only a handful deal with trade, the rest enshrine corporate rights to challenge national governments as equals in closed door tribunals before a panel of corporate lawyers who work for transnationals in their day jobs.

And, by the way, there is no appeal of tribunal decisions. Even if they make perverse decisions not supported by the facts or the NAFTA rules, the decision stands. This circumvents the authority of federal and provincial governments, regulators and most disturbing, Canadian courts.

The NAFTA tribunal decision on the proposed Whites Point quarry and marine terminal on Digby Neck, N.S., illustrates this. I intervened in the panel hearings and was happy that, for once, the unanimous concerns of a community, and a proponent so arrogant that they refused to produce the evidence the panel requested for a year prior to the hearings, resulted in a rejection of the proposal. Part of the decision quoted wording from the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA) that the proposal violated “core community values.” As a longtime practitioner of environmental assessments, I felt that finally CEAA had protected the interests of a community in a very clear case.

Bilcon, the proponent, appealed to the NAFTA tribunal and was awarded damages. The “tribunal” upbraided the panel chair and claimed incorrectly that he erred in law. When perverse decisions that bypass Canadians courts using closed door tribunals are rendered, it sends a message to regulators and governments alike. NAFTA (and the new trade deals) trump national law and the deck is stacked. Does the author not understand that this usurps sovereignty?

These new deals (CETA, TPP) will for generations hinder necessary international climate change agreements and will lower labour and environmental standards. If the author of the column is informed and honest with himself and his readers, he should admit this is a corporate coup we are living through.

Simply put, this is the new global fascism. The results, a cynical victimizing of black and brown and Muslim refugees escaping war and the results of globalization, are already manifest in Europe and North America. Why ask meaningless uninformed questions when the issues demand so much more?

 

Bruno Marcocchio

Sydney, N.S.

 

 

Organizations: The NAFTA, Trans-Pacific Partnership, Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency

Geographic location: Whites Point, Europe, North America

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Recent comments

  • Sue
    January 21, 2016 - 15:11

    Not sure how your letter distinguishes itself from Wangersky's column - other than of course, as usual, you go way over the top. As I read him, Russell is properly critical of the potential for multinationals to use these agreements as a back door for gaining advantage on Canadian based companies. Isn't that what you're saying - only louder? Try being a bit more balanced and diplomatic. Don't trot out the fascism line right away - 'cause we all know whose name comes next.

    • Great Lover of Good Democratic Governance Fior All.
      January 22, 2016 - 08:42

      Sue: I think your right in saying that Mr. Marcocchio's statement doesn't differ from Mr. Wangerski's. They are both trying to educate the electorates of all provinces of the very frightening changes being made to the running of our economies through trade agreements . As Mr. Marcocchio's stated in his letter "These new deals (CETA, TPP) will for generations hinder necessary international climate change agreements and will lower labour and environmental standards." I will further add they will come with many more disadvantages that will be detrimental, as well, to all of us.I do believe Mr. Marcocchio's is singing out loud in his letter because he was unfairl banned, , in my opinion, from making his knowledge known through a couple of other media outlets. I personally saw it to be unfair to the gentleman because now everyone is signing out of the same hymn book in unison with his thoughts on the subject he was talking about at the time. In this letter Mr. Marcocchio was trying to warn Newfoundlanders and Labradorians about the downgrade to the economies most Canadians enjoyed, if not Newfundlaners and Labradorians, and Mr. Wangerski's was doing the same. May They Both be Blessed for sharing their knowledgable opinions.

  • Attention Politicians: They Are not Trade Deals, They are Primarily Corporate Rights Agreements.
    January 21, 2016 - 07:27

    I have a stro g feeling you are 100 per cent right MR. Marcocchio in implying that NAFTA, the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) are NOT trade deals instead THEY ARE primarily corporate rights agreements? AS YOU SAY The TPP has 29 chapters on trade; only a handful deal with trade, the rest enshrine corporate rights to challenge national governments as equals in closed door tribunals before a panel of corporate lawyers who work for transnationals in their day jobs. WHEN ARE OUR POLITICIANS going to wake up and STOP what is going on with the people's natural resources through the corruption of enshrining rights for Corporations over our natural resources. I am perplexed and I can only ask a question on why the reigning politicians are allowing this to happen? Are they ONLY working on their own personal behalf to ensure their personal economy, while completely forgetting those who elected them to utilize the resources to create an economy for the whole of society? What politician{s} is/are going to wake up and intervene to STOP this CORRUPTION demanded by the Corporations o behalf of all of society?

    • SkepticalNewfoundlander
      January 21, 2016 - 08:23

      "Are they ONLY working on their own personal behalf to ensure their personal economy, while completely forgetting those who elected them to utilize the resources to create an economy for the whole of society? " Yes, without a doubt. Knowing about these things is their job and career. And they would have us believe they don't know what is obvious to any reasonable person with an internet connection and 10 minutes of research. They can't possibly be that stupid.

  • Ken Kavanagh
    January 19, 2016 - 10:51

    Well said Bruno. There are many of us who have been pointing this out for some time about trade deals. You are so very correct in saying that NAFTA, CETA and TPP are 1% about trade and 99% about enshrining corporate rights to make maximum profit unfettered by any laws, regulations and policies of a sovereign government. What is even worse than most of our politicians lending a deaf ear to this matter is that far too many citizens do as well. It is time to for citizens to tell their governments not to sign such sovereignty-sucking so called trade agreements. Ken Kavanagh Bell Island

    • Stephen  Redgrave
      Stephen Redgrave
      January 19, 2016 - 17:53

      Ken is right. but we need to show the government and corporate greed mongers that we can fight back. Or at least some of us can. When the slaves revolt, the grain stocks will be opened up for everyone. Make no mistake--we are all slaves, but without us they are useless--think about it. Educate yourself and use their own rules against them. My Father once said --"there is a rule to counter every other rule in government, you just have to find it" He helped create the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in 1981-2. He knew what he was talking about.

    • Another businessman
      January 20, 2016 - 08:33

      You're only a slave if you choose to be one. Choose to be successful and you can be anyone.

  • Christopher Chafe
    January 19, 2016 - 10:14

    The only people this will hinder are those that work in industries or live in areas that are afraid of change. In other words ATL Canada will be screwed.

    • Donna J.
      January 19, 2016 - 13:02

      Afraid of change? Like not being employed? How is it that are you worth your keep while others aren't, Christopher?

    • Chantal
      January 20, 2016 - 06:26

      Read the article. It affects anybody whose welfare gets in the way of corporate profits and their government's ability to act on their behalf.

  • Chantal
    January 19, 2016 - 05:10

    It seems that this agreement is something that should have been front and centre during the last election campaign. In fact, it should have been roundly debated whether n the public arena long before. The media, as it invariability does, had us debating Bieber's latest scandal or the colour of a dress.

    • SkepticalNewfoundlander
      January 19, 2016 - 13:09

      None of the political parties were willing to take a stance against it then. It didn't help that the TPP was negotiated in almost complete secrecy. Elected government officials weren't even allowed to see it until backing out was no longer feasible. Our politicians let this happen. And nothing short of a massive public backlash is going to persuade any of them to lift a finger now.

    • Chantal
      January 20, 2016 - 06:20

      Agreed. Then again, it would have had no traction as an issue as, even those who were aware of it, couldn't say exactly what it contained. However, it doesn't take a genius to understand that these agreements aren't drawn up to serve the intrests of working people.

    • SkepticalNewfoundlander
      January 20, 2016 - 14:09

      I would have hoped they would take issue with the country being signed up for a deal they couldn't even see. Or that they weren't allowed to say what it contained despite it having nothing to do with national security. As far as I'm concerned all our politicians were not doing their job in that regard.