Archive for the Canadian Category

American and Canadian Politics – A brief comparison and lay of the land

Posted in alternative, alternatives, American politics, analysis, Barack Obama, Canada, Canadian, Canadian politics, civil liberties, class, climate change, common ground, consciousness, conservative, Conservative Party, constitution, corporate fascism, corporate rule, corporations, corporatism, corporatocracy, coup, crisis of democracy, crisis of legitimacy, deep integration, democracy, Democrat, democratic deficit, Democratic Party, ecological crisis, ecology with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 11, 2013 by jtoddring

Canada and the US have the largest trading relationship in the world between any two countries, as well as the longest undefended border in the world, and share a great deal in common as friends and neighbours. The public opinion polls have shown repeatedly and for decades that, like most of the world, the values of the great majority of the people in both countries are centre-left, and frankly, democratic socialist – although most people, especially in the United States, are unaware of this fact; mainly because they get their “news and analysis” from the corporate and state-run media, and have been brainwashed and indoctrinated to believe, at least in the US, that socialism is the equivalent of Stalinism – which of course could not be further from the truth.

(Since the collapse of the Soviet Bloc, when Leninism was finally thoroughly discredited, most socialists around the world have been highly wary of state power, and highly opposed to authoritarianism or tyranny of any kind. And for the far larger number of people world-wide who hold socialist values – the values of compassion, cooperation, solidarity, freedom and equality – but would not call themselves socialist, the same is true: there is a healthy skepticism and wariness toward government and the state, and a strong aversion and opposition to any form of tyranny, authoritarianism or abuse of power of any kind. This is what I mean by socialism being fundamentally at odds with such tyranny as we saw in the former Soviet Union.

Yes, the Soviet rulers called themselves socialists, and they called their gulag empire socialist – and they did that because they wanted to enhance their credibility with the people. And the Western powers, being pro-corporate, liked to call the Soviet tyranny by the name of socialism, in order to discredit socialism by associating it with tyranny. Both the Kremlin and the Western corporatists were lying however. Soviet style totalitarianism has nothing to do with genuine socialism. It was simply another form of neo-feudal elite rule, and the tyranny of the few over the many. Socialism is about freedom and the emancipation and empowerment of the people, or it is about nothing at all, and does not deserve the name.

Prior to the collapse of the Soviet empire and the final discrediting of Leninism, there were two camps of socialism, from its inception, which came out of the Enlightenment. There were those who followed Marx and later Lenin, and who were definite statists with a strong authoritarian, if not totalitarian streak; and there were the libertarian socialists, following in the tradition of Bakunin, Kropotkin, Rocker, Bookchin and Chomsky, who were and are adamantly opposed to the statists and to authoritarianism or tyranny of any kind. After the fall of the Soviet Bloc and the final, thorough discrediting of Leninism, outside of a few small pockets, such as North Korea, only the latter kind of socialists remain, by and large, and the vast majority of socialists now are passionately opposed any form of excess or abuse of state power.

But let’s stick to specifics, and skip over the labels and isms, which tend only to cause schisms, and lead to further misunderstanding.)

The great majority of the people in both Canada and the United States, as with the majority of the people in most nations today, are in favour of strong social programs to help the poor and the working class; a fair and equitable distribution of both wealth and also power; authentic, participatory democracy; rule by constitutional law, with respect for freedom, civil liberties and minority rights; strong environmental programs and regulations; peace, and an end to war and militarism; universal public health care; jobs for all, and other centre-left policies.

But despite what the people want, the corporate powers have taken over, and they rule the two countries to their pleasing, compromising with the people only when they feel they have no other choice, and only for as long and to the extent that they feel they must.

Still, there are, of course, major differences between Canada and the US, as well as commonalities, and these do not end with the very differing views and culture with regards to guns.

Here is a rough translation of Canadian political culture for Americans and others who may be unfamiliar with the political landscape of the second largest country on earth, the holder of the largest oil and mineral resources on earth, the pantry to the American empire, one of the richest nations on the planet, and a member of the G7 group of nations.

Generally speaking, a conservative Canadian = a very “progressive” Democrat. A liberal Canadian today – after the major slide of all of the major North American political parties to the right over the past thirty years – is to the left of that, but still centrist and pro-corporate, wittingly, or more often, unwittingly. A New Democratic Party supporter in Canada is minimally left of centre, on average – when viewed by world standards of course, and not the extreme right wing politics that now dominate both parties of the US – though NDPers are typically wishy-washy and passive, and by and large are content to moan from the sidelines, and let the two major parties of corporate rule, rule.

Far right Republicans seem to most Canadians to be straight out of Dr. Strangelove – there really aren’t many people in this country that would even call them sane. We kind of look at them as something akin to Frankenstein’s monster – surreal, almost a comic book fiction, but frightening and disturbing nonetheless.

Not that anyone in Canada with half a wit of political savvy is any fan of Obama now, if they ever were, with his incessant and ever-expanding wars, his murderous drone campaign, his shredding of civil liberties and the Constitution, his support for a global surveillance state and also fracking, the Keystone pipeline and generally ecological holocaust-inducing policies, or his on-going massive bail-outs and protection for the Wall Street elite and big banks who funded his election and put him in power, but that is an aside.

We must note also, at least in passing, though it is beyond the scope of this short article, that with the signing of the SPP, the “Security and Prosperity Partnership”, Canada and Mexico agreed to a “deep integration” with the United States in a new “Fortress North America”, as the elite who thought up and pushed through the agreement called it: a deep integration in the realms of economics, law and regulations, military, security and intelligence services – meaning, an essential union of the three nations, without calling it a union – the fate of Canada is now tied to the sinking ship of the United States, and worse, to the corporate powers which rule over it: at least until and unless the people decide to assert and to actively reclaim their sovereignty, and say no to the dissolution of national democracies and their submergence into larger power blocks under corporate rule. I have written on this extremely important subject elsewhere, so I will say no more about it here for the moment. I would urge all Americans, Canadians and Mexicans to look into the subject for themselves, however.

All that being said, and with the acknowledgment that US politics are far to the right of Canadian politics, to say nothing of Europe, it must be understood that neoliberalism, or the ideology of the super-rich who dominate and rule the country – which means, corporate globalization and corporate rule, or more simply, freedom for the ruling corporate elite to do as they please, and subjugation, soup lines and sweat shops for the rest – this corporatist ideology has, for the moment at least, conquered Canada, just as it has conquered the United States and most of the world.

The people of Canada, as in the US and most nations today, do not believe in the ideology of corporate globalization, neoliberalism, corporatism or corporate rule – which are essentially different ways of saying the same thing. This ideology has lost the battle in the propaganda wars, the battle for the hearts and minds of the people. The ideology of the ruling elite has been thoroughly defeated. But, and this is the big “but” – the corporate elite have seized power, and have put their ideology and their agenda into practice, the people be damned, and they are advancing it further every day. And they continue to rule, which means their failed and failing ideology continues to rule, despite the deep and growing crisis of legitimacy which they face; simply because the people have not yet embraced their power, but instead, passively acquiesce and do not challenge the illegitimate and unjust, frankly suicidal and ecocidal rule of the global corporate and banking elite. 

The corporate coup has taken over democracy here in Canada, and it is actively tearing it to shreds and devouring it, just as it has done and is actively doing in the US and most nations in the world today. The major difference between Canada and the US is that the drive towards full corporatization of the society is less brutal here than in the United States, primarily because Canada has a long tradition of tolerant, freedom-loving, constitutional social democracy, and the valuing of compassion and mutual aid; and the people would not stand for a gloves-off, rapid fire destruction of all social programs and safety nets, or a more rapid move towards stark neo-feudal corporate rule. But make no mistake: we are heading down the same road – and will continue to do so, until the Canadian people find their cajones, and stand up.

The same is true in America and Europe, and most nations world-wide.

Stand up people. It is time.

J. Todd Ring,
October 10, 2013

The Greatest Canadians Ever, Eh!

Posted in Canada, Canadian, Canadian politics, civil liberties, common ground, consciousness, corporatism, corporatocracy, crisis of democracy, deep integration, democracy, democratic deficit, empowerment, freedom, geopolitics, globalization, human rights, humor, humour, nation state, national democracies, nationalism, NAU, North American Union, political economy, political philosophy, political satire, political theory, politics, Security and Prosperity Partnership, social theory, SPP, Uncategorized, war on democracy on July 1, 2009 by jtoddring

Reflections on Canadian Nationalism

While I am not a fan of nationalism in the narrow sense of “us versus them” thinking, there is definitely something constructive and life-affirming about having a certain pride or basic dignity when it comes to one’s cultural heritage. If we can take pride in our own cultural heritage, while respecting the cultural heritage of others, then this seems to be something very positive, very helpful, and very empowering – mutually empowering in fact. Our errors and present challenges should be honestly acknowledged, and so too our strengths, talents, and true shining moments. Dignity, confidence and mutual respect are helpful attitudes to be cultivated and cherished. There are also other, equally important considerations on this day, Canada Day, and democracy is one of them.

Freedom requires self-determination, and self-determination requires some form of authentic participatory democracy, at the very least. If we value freedom or self-determination, as we should, then we should value democracy, and seek to preserve it at the least, if not to preserve it in order to evolve it further. Celebration, dignity, confidence and mutual respect are in order: so too is vigilance and awareness. We should dance, and we should also increase our awareness daily, and not only on this day.

More important perhaps than cultural pride within a spirit of tolerance and mutual respect, is this consideration: despite its faults, the nation-state is the primary vehicle of democracy at this time, and therefore, we would be very unwise to attack, undermine or dismantle it, at least until we have something with which to replace it: and that something had better be at least as democratic, if not more so, than the nation-state, or we will be selling ourselves into slavery. What has been happening for some four decades is that the nation-state has been under attack, and it has been under attack for one primary reason, which is to destroy national democracies. We should have no illusions about this. The trend is real, and the trend is not accidental. It is highly conscious, and it is highly deliberate.

Who would wish for such a thing? Who has the greatest vested interest in destroying national democracies? The answer should be clear: the trans-national corporate elite wish to destroy democracy, which means they must destroy the nation-state, which is still the principle forum and bastion of democracy, so that they can do as they wish without having to worry about anyone getting in their way, without that nuisance of the democratic process, and so that they can effectively rule the earth, as the business press has itself said, as the “de facto world government.”

The trend toward the dissolution of the nation-state and national democracies began in earnest in the early 1970’s, with the unilateral cancellation of the Gold Standard by the US, the beginnings of the digital revolution in information and communications technologies, and the unparalleled global hegemony of the by then trans-national corporate elite. The trend can be called by many names: globalization, neoliberalism, neoconservatism, corporatism, globalism, corporatocracy, oligarchy, plutocracy, corporate neo-feudalism, corporate fascism, or most plainly, global corporate rule. Whatever we wish to call it, it is happening, has been happening for some four decades, is deliberate and highly conscious, and it amounts to the destruction of both freedom and democracy.

It would be wise for us to realize what is going on, that democracy is under attack, and that whatever more idealistic dreams we may hold, the nation-state still remains the principle vehicle or vessel of democracy at this time. Before we allow the nation-state to be dissolved, therefore, we should at least have something better in its place, or waiting in the wings, and this is not a world government of megalomanical elites and financial barons.

Democracy is, of course, power of the people, power to the people, and rule by the people. Democracy therefore becomes meaningless when the government is too far removed from the people; for when the government is far above and removed from the people, what we get is elite rule, or oligarchy, which in essence is a return to feudalism and the caste systems of the past, and not democracy in any meaningful sense of the word.

If democracy and therefore self-determination and freedom are to be presevered, then the minimum that must be done is to prevent the further concentration of powers at the trans-national or global level. This means that while we may further democratize the nation-state, we must not let this minimum of democracy as represented by national democracies be destroyed by allowing it to be castrated or effectively folded into unaccountable continental or global powers.

Democracy requires that power be closely connected to the people, as well as representative of the people. This means that power cannot be too centralized without democracy being destroyed. If we dissolve the nation state, or allow it to be dissolved, and do so without having or creating another forum of government that is closer to the people and the grassroots, then what we shall have is the evisceration of democracy, and the rule by an international elite.

What we will have is a kind of global corporate neo-feudalism unless we stand up to the assault on democracy; and we must begin by re-establishing the value and the functioning integrity of national democracies. Missing this point is living in a dream world.

It is important that we realize the value of national democracies now, and realize that where we are heading is not toward some kind of rosey world order, but toward a kind of Orwellian neo-feudal corporatism, in which democracy is no more, and freedom, human rights and dignity are destroyed, all under the guise of inevitability or the common good, to be sure. We must re-establish the integrity and independence of national democracies now. This is critical, and it is urgent. And of course, we should start at home.

So long as we avoid the “us versus them” thinking that often plagues nationalism, and realize that we are in fact interdependent, a certain pride or dignity is a very good thing. So too, are democracy and freedom worth preserving. For these reasons, we should generate confidence and a spirit of independence. In that spirit, let us celebrate the diverse cultural heritage that makes up this land we call Canada, and celebrtate the land as well, which is our home.

*

Before celebrating the rich heritage, and the present lands and cultures which make up this place we call Canada, a note on the ideology of greatness may be in order as well. Greatness has nothing to do with fame, power or wealth. Hitler was famous, powerful and commanded great economic resources, but he was not a great man – he was, of course, a madman. Wealth, power and fame cannot measure greatness, nor even virtue or talent. Many of the greatest of Canadians or individuals from any country have been and will remain unknown to all but a few friends, family and community members. This does not reduce their status. We tend to worship those who have fame, as if being known meant something in itself. Paris Hilton is famous, but is she any greater than anyone you would meet on the street? It is unlikely. King Midas was wealthy in the extreme, but that did not give him character, virtue, wisdom or even happiness, let alone greatness. Stalin had great power, but he was a paranoid egomaniac, and a mass murderer. Let us cease to worship fame, wealth and power, and instead, respect that which is worthy of respect, which is talent, character, and above all, the qualities of the heart. And from a deeper persepctive, we can say this: if you want greatness, look in the mirror: realize your true nature. This is the secret of all the world, the perennial wisdom that all the sages have discovered.

If we can find our own dignity and empowerment by recognizing the good qualities and the true successes or victories of others, then let us do that; but let us always remember that the greatness we see in others merely reflects that which we have yet to uncover in ourselves. Just as the errors or stumbling of others reflects our own potential to err and to stumble, the true successes, virtues and victories of others reflect the potential within us to realize our own greatness. Dignity, mutual respect, and mutual empowerment are worth pursuing, and are also worthy of celebration. This Canada Day, let us celebrate with a new awareness, and sow the seeds for a beautiful future for all. In fact, let this be our celebration daily, and everywhere, no matter where we live or where what country we call home.

*

On a lighter note, as the title indicates, I would nominate Bob and Doug MacKenzie as the greatest Canadians ever. Bring on the beer and back-bacon eh! A sense of humour is one of our finest assets here in the great white North. Bring it on. I recommend the film Strange Brew for all new and old, young and young-at-heart Canadians. A mixture of Hamlet, Star Wars, 1984, and hockey – with beer, naturally – it is a very funny movie, and very perceptive to boot: the Canadian version of Doctor Strangelove. Along with this low-brow/high-brow humour, the film Canadian Bacon, with Canadian funny man par excellence John Candy, would be a perfect combination.

What else do we have to be proud of here in this land called Canada today? The list is as long. Recently Canadians voted Tommy Douglas as the greatest Canadian in our – relatively short and still unfolding – history. I for one, would not disagree. Look him up, if you are not familiar with this truly great man. One other brave heart from this land I would like to mention only: Louis Joseph Papineau – a democrat before his time. There are of course many, many others worthy of great honour, both past and present, and there will be more in the future. As to a further list of names and accomplishments in the on-going history of this country, I will leave that to others.

The lands and the peoples of Canada deserve to be celebrated. And the famous are not the only ones we should remember, take note of, or respect. Mutual respect will help us all. After all, it is only enlightened self-interest, as well as a matter of virtue and basic kindness. Let us celebrate the good in all peoples, everywhere. Today, the focus happens to be on Canada, and that is not a bad thing at all, and very well deserved.

There is no country. Any country is a name only. A country is a mental concept, lines drawn on a map. What is real is the people and the land. Real also is our democracy – or so it is if we preserve it. Let us celebrate the land, the peoples, and the freedom and democracy of Canada. Imperfect as these may be, they are precious, and worthy of both respect and preservation.

JTR,
Canada Day,
2009

Freedom of the Press & The Internet

Posted in blog, blogging, Bush, Canada, Canadian, Chomsky, class, corporate fascism, corporate rule, corporatism, CRTC, democracy, empire, empowerment, fascism, free press, free speech, freedom, freedom of the press, globalism, human rights, internet, Media, net, net neutrality, NSA, police state, policy, political economy, political theory, politics, propaganda, social theory, sociology, U.S., web on March 17, 2007 by jtoddring

Freedom of the Press & The Internet

Why it matters, what is to be done:

The internet has become our town hall – particularly so since the mainstream media is neither a free press nor democratically controlled, but is dominated by a very few corporate voices who control the media by controlling advertising revenues, or who simply own the media outright. (When asked how corporations control the media, Noam Chomsky replied, “They own it. You don’t ask how corporations control GM!”) Given that free speech and freedom of the press are essential prerequisites to a functioning and authentic democracy, and given that freedom of the press cannot coexist with the present framework of corporate media monopolies, the internet, therefore, has become vital to democracy.

 

 

The Context: Media cartels do not constitute a free press

“To make informed decisions, citizens need a wide range of news and information. They also need access to a broad and diverse array of opinions and analyses about matters of public interest. Journalists are important providers of such information, as are the information media that transmit such material. This is why the freedom of the press is widely recognized as a central pillar of any democracy…

“Public debate based on differing views is the cornerstone of democracy, and the news media provide a vital space where that debate is carried out. The right of proprietors to voice their opinions on their editorial pages has long been considered fundamental to freedom of the press. Difficulty arises, however, if one proprietor owns so many media outlets that his or her opinions crowd out others…

“It is impossible to have democracy without citizens and impossible to exercise meaningful citizenship without access to news, information, analysis and opinion. The core of this report addresses crucial factors related to the exercise of citizenship. The public interest in healthy and vibrant news media is as important as the public interest in the rights and freedoms of individual citizens.”

– Final Report on the Canadian News Media,
Standing Senate Committee on Transport and Communications,
June 2006 (original emphasis)

 

A free press, free expression – it’s the last line of defense for all the other freedoms.… No matter how imperfect things are, if you’ve got a free press everything is correctable, and without it everything is concealable.”

– Tom Stoppard, Night and Day.


Large multi-national corporations already control the vastly greatest share of the mass media. Five corporations control the bulk of Canadian media. Six corporations control over 80% of the broadcast media in the U.S. Radio, TV, newspapers, magazines, satellite and cable are controlled by a handful of corporate giants, with only the periphery of media outlets left to represent or give voice to the 99.9% of the population that is not the media-dominating elite investment class. With media monopolies such as this, there is no free press, save for a few voices on the margins that reach only a small percentage of the population. The media barons effectively shut out the majority of perspectives, save for those that fit closely enough with that of the investment class. In terms of mass-communication networks, the only free press we now have in either Canada or the U.S. is the internet. And now the corporate communications monopolies want to take control of that too.


The Corporate Take-Over of the Internet Must Be Stopped

As has been said, the internet has become our town hall, as well as our town square: it is the place where open and free democratic debate and discourse can still happen, can still flourish, and does still flourish; and this is particularly important since the mainstream print and broadcast media are dominated by a handful of corporate voices, who all speak within the same extremely narrow band of opinion and perspective. What the telecom giants want, is to take out town hall and town square, and erect a twenty foot fence around it, topped by razor wire, leaving only a few gates for their friends: those who have the resources to pay the steep toll fee, and who furthermore, do not excessively offend the lords of the town square. This is unacceptable, and this is anti-democratic.

In the U.S., a legal battle is under way to preserve freedom of the press and free speech on the internet. Three corporate telecommunications giants have been busy lobbying political representatives to pass legislation that would grant them control of the internet, as effective gatekeepers, making the net, not a free superhighway of information available to everyone, but a high-fee toll highway, with the highest bidders having full access, and the rest of the populace having their voices muted by the inability to pay the steep tolls. This is one facet of a larger struggle to protect democracy, free speech and human rights from a broad-scale corporate assault. It is critical that the internet remain free and open to all.

While in the U.S. the campaign to save the internet has become a broad-based mass movement of real power, in Canada, the issue is not even on the radar. But in Canada as well, the combination of corporate lobbying by telecommunications giants, deregulation and the oligopoly of telecom corporations, is likewise threatening the free, open and democratic nature of the internet. This cannot be taken lightly. There is virtually no space for democratic debate or dialogue in Canada or the U.S. now in absence of the internet. The internet must be kept a public domain, dominated by none, and accessible to all. If we had had any sense, we would have guaranteed the same for the broadcast media of tv and radio. It’s not too late to return to that issue. And it’s not too late to save the internet, if we act now.


Save Community Access Programs

With large numbers of people having limited or no access to the internet, these people, these citizens, are functionally shut out of the democratic debate and dialog. They can be spectators, but not participants; and democracy is not a spectator sport: democracy, by definition, cannot function or exist without citizen participation. To allow large numbers of people to be shut out of the democratic forum is unacceptable for a democratic nation – or one that aspires to be so. For this reason, free, universal public access to the internet should now be regarded as a basic right in every democratic society.

The Community Access Program of Canada, which provides free, universally accessible internet access to people who would otherwise not have this, is therefore vital, and is a matter of upholding basic rights and freedoms for all. The funding, which has been eliminated, must be re-instated now.

Conclusion

Are we or are we not a democratic society? If we answer yes, or if we value democracy, regardless of how we answer that question, then words and sentiment must be combined with action. Rhetoric alone will not do. These basic values are too important to leave to speech writers and PR teams. They require commitment and they require tangible expression in our communities, nation and world. The CAP program is one such expression of the reality of our commitment to democratic values. The preservation of net neutrality and free speech on the internet is another, even more fundamental. If we do value democracy, we need action on these issues now. Otherwise, any pretense about democratic values should be abandoned.

J. Todd Ring,

March 16, 2007

 

 

 

Save Community Access Programs

Your Media: Preserve Freedom, Diversity, Independence

* Save the Internet : Fighting for Internet Freedom

Canada Sleeps Through War to ‘Save the Internet’

Tory documents cast doubt on Net neutrality

BBC Reveals U.S. Military Plans to Control Internet

Join the Blue Ribbon Online Free Speech Campaign!

Electronic Frontier Foundation

irrepressible.info

OpenNet Initiative

CitizenLab

Psiphon

Tor Privacy Software

Journalists Question Media Ownership in Canada

CRTC delays hearing but mergers still on

Canadian Media Ownership Too Concentrated – Poll

Canada’s Media Monopoly

Concentration of Newspaper Ownership: Royal Commissions of 1970, 1981 – no action yet

Final Report on the Canadian News Media: June 2006

Defend the Press

PR Watch

Project Censored

 

Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting

The Power of Nightmares: BBC Documentary Shreds the War on Terror Myth

The Responsibility of Intellectuals

Manufacturing Consent – excerpts

Necessary Illusions; Thought Control in Democratic Societies – Noam Chomsky


 

 

Excerpts from the Final Report on the Canadian News Media,

Standing Senate Committee on Transport and Communications, June 2006

“Watch dogs that do not bite”

“Two federal agencies administer the legislation and regulations that have an impact on the corporate practices of Canadian news gathering organizations. The Competition Bureau is responsible for matters relating to the Competition Act, including media mergers that might affect competitive markets. The CRTC regulates the broadcasting system; changes of ownership that involve broadcasting licences must have its approval…

“A history of the approach of the Competition Bureau and the CRTC in their respective treatment of news gathering organizations and news media is available in a paper prepared for this Committee by Professor Richard Schultz.[15] It concludes that the Competition Bureau has had a narrow focus on advertising markets and the CRTC has largely set aside its concerns about news and information. Instead, the CRTC focuses on “cultural” issues, i.e., policing Canadian content….

“As for media concentration and cross-media ownership, the current regulatory system offers little protection against particular adverse effects of ownership concentration on the diversity of voices….rules to prevent high levels of concentration of ownership of media properties, either in particular regions or within the country as a whole, do not exist….

“The media’s right to be free from government interference does not extend, however, to a conclusion that proprietors should be allowed to own an excessive proportion of media holdings in a particular market, let alone the national market. Yet the current regulatory regime in Canada does little to prevent such an outcome….

“As this report has pointed out several times, an important element of a free press is that there be a variety of different sources of news and opinion. This can only be guaranteed if there is a plurality of owners. The country will be poorly served if as few as one, two or three groups control substantial portions of the news and information media in particular markets or within the country as a whole….

“The Committee’s 40 recommendations are guided by the conviction that the more owners, the better. In the Committee’s view it is imperative that the Broadcasting Act and the Competition Act be amended. Without changes to these two pieces of legislation, it will be impossible to develop a mechanism that allows discussion of the public interest in media mergers…

It is impossible to have democracy without citizens and impossible to exercise meaningful citizenship without access to news, information, analysis and opinion. The core of this report addresses crucial factors related to the exercise of citizenship. The public interest in healthy and vibrant news media is as important as the public interest in the rights and freedoms of individual citizens.”

– Final Report on the Canadian News Media,
Standing Senate Committee on Transport and Communications,
June 2006

An Open Letter to the NDP

Posted in alternative, Canada, Canadian, corporate fascism, corporate rule, corporatism, coup, deep integration, democracy, fascism, freedom, geopolitics, globalism, globalization, inspiration, left, liberal, Martial Law, NACC, NAU, NDP, neoliberalism, North American Union, police state, policy, political economy, politics, Security and Prosperity Partnership, SPP, Tommy Douglas, U.S. on March 10, 2007 by jtoddring



I would like to tell you why I will not – why I cannot, in good conscience – support the New Democratic Party of Canada at this time, even though there is much in your platform I do support.

A Lack of Vision, and An Absence of Boldness:

As a party that values and seeks to promote justice, fairness and equality, among other noble and democratic goals, the party of Tommy Douglas, the NDP would be the natural choice for me – but for two reasons. First, for at least forty years the NDP has stubbornly clung to a losing strategy of vying for the centre with the Liberals. (The Wobblies and the New Politics Initiative, if I’m remembering the name correctly, tried and failed to correct this timid and strategically foolish tendency.)

If you seek to compete with the Liberals for the centre, you will continue to lose – it is that simple. If the NDP does not present a clear and bold alternative to the current slide into corporate rule – which in reality amounts to a slide into corporate fascism – the NDP will fail to inspire Canadians, and will continue to be a minor party, not a leading party. Currently, the NDP has no clear or compelling vision to present as an alternative to the failed ideology of corporate-led globalization, otherwise known as neoliberalism. This is a vacuum of leadership. And the entire party, not just its official leader, is responsible.

We need a party that presents a clear and bold alternative to the present and accelerating corporate dominance of our society. The NDP currently offers nothing of the sort. It is a party fighting for small victories, while the greater struggle to protect and enhance democracy, human rights, the environment and quality of life for all, is being lost. This approach is akin to fighting a raging forest fire with a garden sprinkler: you are not only losing, you are not even successful in rear-guard action. (The Liberals have an even worse record for compliance with a corporate-led agenda, but that is hardly reassuring. And while the Conservatives are the party for gung-ho get-on-board-with-corporate-rule, the NDP is hardly a serious alternative, as it offers nothing of substance.)

At present, the NDP is fighting a forest fire with a garden sprinkler and running backwards as fast as it can. We are losing ground rapidly, not gaining it. This is worse than useless – it gives a false sense of action. It is rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic, and patting ourselves on the back for all the good work we’re doing. This has to stop, or the NDP will become another Tony Blair party – so sold out to compromise that they are virtually indistinguishable from the Conservatives. The other two alternatives for the NDP are irrelevance, or new birth. I would sincerely hope for the latter.

Silence on the Most Urgent Issue of the Day: The SPP

The second reservation I have about the NDP is just as great. You have a bold spokesperson with NDP trade critic Peter Julian, along with Dennis Bevington and a few others, but the party is otherwise frighteningly silent on the single greatest issue of the day, and the most urgent issue for Canada at this time: the Security and Prosperity Partnership and the rapidly unfolding deep integration of Canada into a militarized, undemocratic, corporate dominated North American Union. Where are you on this, and why are you so strangely – disturbingly – silent?

(Of course, the Liberals were the party to sign the SPP to begin with, under Paul Martin, and the Conservatives under Stephen Harper are racing to implement this stealth take-over of Canada. But at present at least, the NDP is little better, offering nothing but a yawning chasm of silence on this critical issue of deep integration with the U.S.)

While the NDP focuses on other issues, the SPP is being implemented – quietly, undemocratically, and rapidly. If we do not stop the SPP, we will have no country left, and no democracy – which would mean that we have lost on ALL issues of social or ecological significance.

In Conclusion:

Until the NDP finds its spine, and presents a bold vision, a bold and clear alternative to the continued and rapidly accelerating slide into global corporatocracy; and until the NDP makes the SPP and deep integration with the U.S. a key and core electoral issue, I will not – I cannot in good conscience – support this party.

I hope you will address these issues. I know there are a great number of good people, intelligent people, people of integrity and experience in this party. I hope this good-hearted, intelligent depth of character will come forth now. We need it. God help us if we don’t find it – either in the NDP, or more importantly, in ourselves as citizens and human beings.

Posted in Bush, Canada, Canadian, corporate rule, deep integration, economy, fascism, globalization, NACC, NAU, North American Union, policy, politics, SPP, trade, U.S. on January 25, 2007 by jtoddring

Time for Action:


Canadian politics and the future of Canada as a nation

The long and the short of it is – I believe – unless we seriously address the macro-economic issues, we will not even have the option of meaningful parliamentary debate, much less effective action via parliament, for parliament will continue to be subsumed under corporate dominance. Whatever concerns or good ideas we may have would then be blocked from implementation, at least within the parliamentary process. We would then be left to plead from the sidelines – or bleat from the sidelines – having failed to tackle corporate rule, and thus having failed to reclaim our democracy and our nation.

I’d like to see the Green Party, the NDP, a new party, or a coalition that is created from elements of the existing parties – based on a shared set of principles, values and goals – address our current socio-economic, political and ecological situation in Canada systematically and boldly.

I’d like to see a party – any party – or a coalition of individuals derived from progressive elements of a number of parties – take on corporate globalism, the crisis of democracy, oil dependency and environmental issues, in a comprehensive, systematic, strategic and courageous manner, with vision and vigour.

This would entail a platform that communicated the realities of our current predicament to Canadians in a straight-forward, no-nonsense way – realities which polls show the great majority of Canadians already understand. And it would require the creation of a vision, a strategy and a platform for addressing these realities in a way that fits the seriousness of these issues, and not in a tepid or piecemeal way.

It would be a platform to take back Canada, to truly “stand up for Canada” (as Harper and the Conservatives promised, but promised insincerely) by reclaiming and renewing authentic democracy, and re-investing in our ability as Canadians to set our own independent social, economic, environmental and foreign policy values, goals and policies.

In order to accomplish this, we would have to form and implement a plan to reduce our economic dependence on the US, in terms of trade and economic policy, and we would have to take a courageous stand against corporate globalization and the defacto corporate rule which has emerged.

We would then, in terms of the details of such a strategy and vision to reclaim our nation, abrogate NAFTA, say no to the FTAA, deep integration and the SPP, gain control of our currency through capital controls and changes to monetary policy with the Bank of Canada, create a Tobin tax to deter financial speculation, repatriate the debt, and restructure our investment policies and regulations.

(For example, we could start by revising our investment policies so that tax credits are given for RRSP’s only when the investment is in Canada, in Canadian companies or Canada savings bonds – which would go a long way both to strengthening the economy and toward gaining greater economic and thus political independence, and which also would provide a way to repatriate the debt, thus freeing us from dependency upon and manipulation (economic leverage, or simply blackmail) by international banks and financial institutions.)

A couple of points, at least, need to be realized, acknowledged, and acted upon. 1. Corporate-led globalization is not working for the vast majority – either in Canada or elsewhere in the world, does not benefit the vast majority, and is in fact destroying our social programs, quality of life, environment and democracy. We need to fundamentally re-orient our economic policies and strategy in order to create prosperity with both equity and sustainability. We urgently need to find or create, and to implement, an alternative to corporate globalization. 2. The U.S. economy is a sinking ship. We need to cease immediately our strategy of aligning ourselves ever more deeply with this failed state and empire at eclipse. We need to halt the rapid slide into deep integration with the U.S., and immediately begin to diversify and shift our trade alliances. While the U.S. is sinking economically, Europe, Latin America, India and China are rising fast. If we are intelligent, we will shift our trade and economic alliances in response to these rapidly changing global economic realities.

The EU and the BRIC alliance make far more sense as trade partners now, when the U.S. is in rapid decline, than does the teetering giant to the south. The BRIC alliance – Brazil, Russia, India and China, with many other Latin American and Asian countries joining – is the rising star. Given the choices between closer ties with the U.S. (via NAFTA and the SPP), or the EU and the BRIC alliance, smart money would certainly be on the latter. In fact, the smart money, and most of the big money, is already moving or has moved out of the U.S. We are very slow in the uptake if we as a country do not get this.

In terms of a rejection of corporate globalism, Chavez has shown what a bold approach to macro-economic and social policies can achieve, especially when backed by large oil reserves and the economic and political power that comes with these. There is no reason why Canada could not be even more bold: we hold more oil reserves than Venezuela, and have more resources and greater economic wealth and power than Venezuela.

We should be radically restructuring our tax and subsidy policies with regard to the oil and gas industry in Canada. With the increased tax revenue, we can do far more than has been done in Venezuela, Venezuela having comparably fewer resources and less economic power to work with. With this increased public revenue from the oil and gas industry we can adequately fund, protect and even enhance our social programs, expand dramatically our environmental programs, and get serious about the environmental and social issues we face. More importantly, we can gain and preserve a greater degree of economic, social, cultural and political independence: we can preserve our nation. Presently the Alberta government, presiding over the bulk of the nation’s oil reserves, which it claims as its own, is charging an absurd 1% royalty rate on oil extraction. Meanwhile, the federal government actually subsidizes the oil companies, to the tune of multi-billions a year. Is this not just a little ridiculous?

There is no reason to let Exxon take a long straw from Texas and suck out our oil – at least not without the biggest part of the profits going to the Canadian people. Venezuela, under the leadership of Chavez, has increased the windfall profits tax on oil companies, reaping an additional USD $3 billion a year into the public purse. The oil industry in Venezuela now generates about one third of the nation’s GDP, and approximately half of all government revenues. This windfall to the public purse is being used to eradicate poverty, fund education and public health care, and, in short, lift the quality of life for all people in the country. In Bolivia, President Evo Morales simply turned the profit distribution for the oil industry on its head. Before, oil companies took 80% of the profits, while 20% of the profits went to the people of Bolivia. Now the people of Bolivia get 80% of the profits, and the oil companies are happy to receive 20%. Are the oil companies leaving en masse? Of course not. They want the oil, and they can still make a hefty profit. The countries with oil have the upper hand. They can either concede to essentially giving away their oil, or they can insist that the bulk of the profits go to the people of the country, while leaving room for ample – though not extortionist – oil company profits. The difference is one of fair trade versus economic predation.

Who’s oil is it anyway? The trans-national oil companies certainly have less of a legitimate claim to it than do the people of the country. The oil companies can still invest, operate, extract, and make a profit. They simply can’t make a killing. If we had a party or a coalition that showed real leadership, this one act of socializing the oil industry – not expropriating it, but making 80% of the oil profits go to the Canadian people, and not the global oil companies – would make a dramatic difference in the lives of the Canadian people, and in this country. For one, there would be no crisis in our social programs – they would be amply funded. And not incidentally, a significant portion of the multi-billion dollar a year windfall to public coffers could go to investing in renewable energy and conservation. We give our oil away, and neither the environment nor the people of Canada benefit. How sensible is this?

Meanwhile, to site just one example:

“In 2005, Exxon reported third-quarter profits of $9.92 billion, 75% higher than its third-quarter earnings in 2004, and the largest quarterly profit ever reported by a US company.

“Exxon is reportedly giving its retiring chairman, Lee Raymond, a package worth nearly $400 million, in combined pension, stock options and other perks, including a $1 million consulting deal, the use of a corporate jet for professional purposes, 2 years of home security, and a car and driver.

“While testifying at a Congressional hearing last November, Raymond claimed that high gas prices were a result of supply and demand. “We’re all in this together,” he told members of Congress, “everywhere in the world.”

“”In 2004, Mr. Raymond,” Senator, Barbara Boxer (D-CA), was quick to point out, “your bonus was over $3.6 million.”

“After exhibiting a chart revealing the pay scale for each of the CEOs at the hearing, Senator Boxer told the oil executives: “Your sacrifice appears to be nothing.”

“According to Exxon’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Raymond’s paycheck rose to $51.1 million in 2005.”

– Evelyn Pringle, Will Big Oil Destroy the US Economy?

As with our oil industry, we are still currently shipping our forestry products out of the country with relatively little gained for the Canadian people. This is 19th century colonial thinking. We should immediately increase stumpage fees levied upon forestry corporations, and re-invest the money back into the forestry industry, supporting the growth of valued-added industries that take the raw logs and pulp, and turn them into high-value products for export. A log shipped to China is a gross waste of Canadian resources, and shipping lumber to the U.S. is little better. We can tax the rapacious cutting of our forests by big forestry companies, and feed the creation and support of value-added industries and sustained-yield ecological forestry in this country, thus creating a surge in jobs and tax dollars while preserving the long-term economic viability of the forestry industry and the ecological base which it rests upon. Instead of shipping logs, lumber and pulp, we would then be shipping furniture, musical instruments and other high value products, increasing our positive trade balance and public revenues enormously while protecting the forests from a senseless hack and slash model in the tunnel-visioned and myopic pursuit of short-term economic gain. Simply by making an intelligent shift in economic strategy with regard to these two giant industries – oil and forestry – we can bring profound and far-reaching benefit to the people of Canada. What we need is a bold approach that does not flinch when the corporate lobby flexes its muscle. Sorry MacBlo and Syncrude. The people of Canada come first.

Just as we need urgently to shift our international trade and economic strategies – away from reliance on and integration with the sinking U.S. empire, and away from excessive dependency upon and vulnerability to trans-national capital and international financial markets and institutions – we need to dramatically shift our economic policies and strategy domestically, at home.

We need to shift our basic macro-economic strategy: away from one of catering to big corporations, especially foreign-based multi-nationals, for whom we presently bend over obligingly, and whom we subsidize with massive tax breaks as well as direct and indirect subsidies; and toward funding and giving tax breaks to small and medium size businesses, the poor and the middle class. Small business is the engine of economic growth, the backbone of the economy, and the primary employer in the country, as elsewhere – as is widely acknowledged. It makes no sense to subsidize big corporations and tax small business to death. What makes sense is to reverse this pattern, reign in the corporate giants who now dominate the political process and receive huge tax breaks, and support small business. This would strengthen the economy, create jobs, increase our economic and political independence and sovereignty, and provide a functional, viable and prosperous, as well as more equitable alternative to corporate-dominated globalization.

***

Who would benefit from such a platform? Small and medium business, the poor, the middle class, students, children, the elderly – in short, the vast majority of Canadians. Who could we seek to support such a platform to truly “stand up for Canada”? The grassroots right – who voted in Harper and the Conservatives on the promise to stand up for Canada, who want tax cuts for the middle class, the poor and small business, who want a revitalized democracy, who want a strong economy and good jobs – and many authentic conservatives, who are not happy with the sell-out of the country to big business, financial institutions and foreign governments (ie: the U.S.). The left and centre, who want prosperity with equity, protection for and enhancement of social programs, expansion of environmental programs, a reduction of taxes on the poor and middle class, an alternative to corporate globalization – which 70% of Canadians say is not working in the public interest – and a preservation of our cultural, political and economic sovereignty. In short, across the political spectrum, support can be expected, if the platform is sufficiently bold and inspiring, and is communicated clearly enough.

There is no party currently offering such a platform or vision, no party that currently offers anything resembling a bold and inspiring vision for Canada. Should a party or coalition decide to offer such a vision, there could be a landslide of popular support that rises up in response. This is what I’d like to see happen.

If Chavez, Morales and Kirchner, in Venezuela, Bolivia and Argentina, can show leadership in throwing off the gross failure which is neo-liberalism, can assert authentic democracy in the face of decades of history with fascist regimes, imperial aggression and U.S.-backed coups, and present a viable, dynamic, moving, inspiring, wildly popular movement and vision for independence, solidarity and justice, what can we do in Canada with even more resources and economic strength at our disposal?

Sitting on the world’s largest oil reserves – the tar sands – and with one of the world’s resource-richest nations, one of the biggest economies in the world, a highly educated and literate populace and skilled and educated workforce, an infrastructure and technological base that has few rivals, and a history of social justice and peace that, while imperfect, is strong and runs deep, we in Canada are in a position not just to bemoan the social, economic, political and environmental difficulties that we face, but to take the lead. We can become the junior partner to a dying empire, and slide further into neo-fascist corporate rule, or we can break out of the mold, find solidarity with Europe and Latin America, as well the fast-rising star of India (the world’s largest democracy, home to the world’s largest middle class, with an economy that is set to out-pace China’s in economic growth this year), and set a course for economic and socio-political independence, in solidarity with other nations that are sick and tired of imperial power games.

It is a choice that we are going to face rather soon, and with increasing urgency, for the realities of deep integration with what has become a fascist state – the Security and Prosperity Partnership with the United States – are about to hit us. We had better awaken from the American dream now. This dream is becoming a nightmare. We need to chart a new course – our own course. A Canadian course.

***

The initiatives outlined above are not in themselves sufficient to remedy our social or environmental problems, but they are a necessary first step. If we do not take serious action now, we will only see the further unraveling of our democracy, the further drift into full-fledged neo-fascist corporate rule, the further destruction of our social programs, and the further destruction of the environment. If we care about any of these things, if we care about having or creating a just society, a peaceful society, a sustainable society, or even a society where the quality of life for all is preserved and enhanced, rather than undermined, then we need to take serious steps to renounce corporate globalism and corporate rule, and to reclaim our democracy and our sovereignty. Piece meal efforts will not do. We must now boldly present and act upon a plan to reverse the dominance of the trans-national corporations over our economy and political process. We must regain control of our currency, economy and parliaments. If we do not, then our fine words and nice ideas will go nowhere. If we do not regain control of the helm, then we are a drifting ship of fools, and our pious words are all in vain.

If none of the political parties can take the necessary steps and do what needs to be done, then they should announce themselves as irrelevant, and close up shop. My hope is, however, that the Canadian people can create the movement necessary to get one of the political parties, a new party, or perhaps a coalition that is created from members of all parties, to step up to the plate and get the job done. However it gets done, we need to act now. Time is running out on our sovereignty, our democracy, even our existence as a nation. Time for action.

***

Now that it is outlined, as to what needs to be done, the question that remains is one of strategy: how do we do it? Political strategy in the era of corporate dominance of the political process, the media and the economy is a tricky question. When most political parties are indebted to big business for the funds that get them elected, when the mass media is either directly owned or else controlled by corporations – via dependency on corporate advertising money – the political process becomes mired in the politics of vested interest, democracy is in crisis, and even public debate and discussion is largely quashed. Creating a popular movement for bold and progressive social change requires communicating a vision that will rally popular support and empower collective action. But the means of communication are locked up by corporate controlled media, who have no interest in changing the status quo. Any movement, party or coalition that seeks to create an alternative to corporate rule, that seeks to reclaim, renew and revitalize genuine democracy, will no doubt meet with bad press, or no press, given the present media environment. Thus, in order to reach out to the people, the newest and the oldest of tools for political mobilization will be required: the internet and the street. To reach out to the people with a bold and inspiring vision, to even begin to form a movement for creative action and positive social change, will require the use of the new town hall – the web – and the old town hall – the face-to-face meetings that used to be the staple of politics, before the electronic age. In the age of mass-media electoral politics, the new medium of the internet is often overlooked, and the old medium of town hall-style public meetings is forgotten. But this is where the movement will begin. This is where it will succeed or fail.

In order to accomplish the goals of reclaiming our democracy, protecting our sovereignty, our social programs and our environment; to create a just and sustainable society, and to preserve and enhance the quality of life for all, it will be necessary to make a few simple but crucial steps. The above outline of a platform can be taken as a starting point for creating a vision. Without a vision there is no inspiration, and therefore no action. A small group of activists – ordinary individuals – can take the initiative. From there, the enlistment of support from a few prominent Canadians will do to encourage more involvement and get the ball rolling. After that, it is a matter of old-fashioned political organizing – from the grassroots up. Go to the people, city by city, town by town, hold public meetings in libraries and churches, schools and union halls, universities and workplaces, and utilize the internet to its fullest capacity to compliment the face-to-face engagement of citizens. From there, it is a matter of either forming a new party from this emerging grassroots movement, getting an existing party to find the courage to take on the challenge, or forming a coalition from members of existing parties as well as ordinary Canadians to take the movement to the next level: implementation.

The path is hard, but the time is ripe. The political landscape has, in some ways, never been more ready for such a groundswell of change. There is an opening now. And there is a need. The urgency is almost ear-shattering. The longing for meaningful, clear-headed, good-hearted change is almost palpable. The movement that can fill this need – recognize the opportunity and act to create the flow through that opening – is going to meet with resounding success. It is now that we must dispense with pious hand-wringing and defeatist pessimism. There is always more day to dawn. The time is ripe, the moment is now. Let us begin.

JTR

January 24, 2007

Time for Action: Canadian politics and the future of Canada as nation

The Sinking U.S. Economy:
Poor Choice for an Economic Partner in the 21st Century

America’s Unsustainable Current Account Deficit

* The Dollar’s Full-System Meltdown

Economic ” Armageddon ” Predicted

Dollar Catching Asian Flu – Asia Times

Arab central banks sell dollar

As Dollar Plunges, Watch for US Government Bonds Sell -off – DEBKAfile –

The War To Save The U.S. Dollar – Trinicenter.com –

Fears for dollar as central banks sell US assets

BBC NEWS | Business | Is the global economy set for trouble?

Collapse of the Petrodollar Looming

Iranian Oil Bourse Opens for Business: A Final Step Toward US Dollar Collapse & Preemptive Nuclear Strike

Deep Integration & the SPP:


* Secret Banff Meeting of CEOs and the Defense Establishment : Militarization and the Deconstruction of North America

CBC – Top secret: Banff security meeting attracted U.S., Mexico officials

* CNN Video: Lou Dobbs Slams CFR & North American Union

*** De Facto North American Government in the Making: “Canadians must take back Canada”

Deep Integration – The Council of Canadians

* North American Union/Testimony, Publications and Reports – SourceWatch

*** Paul Martin’s Big Texas Adventure


Fascism in America:

*** Habeas Corpus Your words are lies Sir – YouTube – olbermann 10-18-06

***Bush Moves Toward Martial Law

Habeas Corpus, R.I.P. (12/15 – 2006)

General Tommy Franks calls for Repeal of US Constitution

Air Force chief : Test weapons on testy US mobs – Sep 12 …

Ten Minutes to Midnight: The Emerging Police State – Z Store

Fascism watch

War on Terrorism Watch: CAUT Resource Website – Home Page

The Guardian article, “This war on terrorism is bogus: The 9/11 attacks gave the US an ideal pretext to use force to secure its global domination”

Time for Action: Canadian politics and the …

Posted in Bush, Canada, Canadian, corporate rule, deep integration, economy, fascism, globalization, NACC, NAU, North American Union, policy, politics, SPP, trade, U.S. on January 25, 2007 by jtoddring

Time for Action:


Canadian politics and the future of Canada as a nation

The long and the short of it is – I believe – unless we seriously address the macro-economic issues, we will not even have the option of meaningful parliamentary debate, much less effective action via parliament, for parliament will continue to be subsumed under corporate dominance. Whatever concerns or good ideas we may have would then be blocked from implementation, at least within the parliamentary process. We would then be left to plead from the sidelines – or bleat from the sidelines – having failed to tackle corporate rule, and thus having failed to reclaim our democracy and our nation.

I’d like to see the Green Party, the NDP, a new party, or a coalition that is created from elements of the existing parties – based on a shared set of principles, values and goals – address our current socio-economic, political and ecological situation in Canada systematically and boldly.

I’d like to see a party – any party – or a coalition of individuals derived from progressive elements of a number of parties – take on corporate globalism, the crisis of democracy, oil dependency and environmental issues, in a comprehensive, systematic, strategic and courageous manner, with vision and vigour.

This would entail a platform that communicated the realities of our current predicament to Canadians in a straight-forward, no-nonsense way – realities which polls show the great majority of Canadians already understand. And it would require the creation of a vision, a strategy and a platform for addressing these realities in a way that fits the seriousness of these issues, and not in a tepid or piecemeal way.

It would be a platform to take back Canada, to truly “stand up for Canada” (as Harper and the Conservatives promised, but promised insincerely) by reclaiming and renewing authentic democracy, and re-investing in our ability as Canadians to set our own independent social, economic, environmental and foreign policy values, goals and policies.

In order to accomplish this, we would have to form and implement a plan to reduce our economic dependence on the US, in terms of trade and economic policy, and we would have to take a courageous stand against corporate globalization and the defacto corporate rule which has emerged.

We would then, in terms of the details of such a strategy and vision to reclaim our nation, abrogate NAFTA, say no to the FTAA, deep integration and the SPP, gain control of our currency through capital controls and changes to monetary policy with the Bank of Canada, create a Tobin tax to deter financial speculation, repatriate the debt, and restructure our investment policies and regulations.

(For example, we could start by revising our investment policies so that tax credits are given for RRSP’s only when the investment is in Canada, in Canadian companies or Canada savings bonds – which would go a long way both to strengthening the economy and toward gaining greater economic and thus political independence, and which also would provide a way to repatriate the debt, thus freeing us from dependency upon and manipulation (economic leverage, or simply blackmail) by international banks and financial institutions.)

A couple of points, at least, need to be realized, acknowledged, and acted upon. 1. Corporate-led globalization is not working for the vast majority – either in Canada or elsewhere in the world, does not benefit the vast majority, and is in fact destroying our social programs, quality of life, environment and democracy. We need to fundamentally re-orient our economic policies and strategy in order to create prosperity with both equity and sustainability. We urgently need to find or create, and to implement, an alternative to corporate globalization. 2. The U.S. economy is a sinking ship. We need to cease immediately our strategy of aligning ourselves ever more deeply with this failed state and empire at eclipse. We need to halt the rapid slide into deep integration with the U.S., and immediately begin to diversify and shift our trade alliances. While the U.S. is sinking economically, Europe, Latin America, India and China are rising fast. If we are intelligent, we will shift our trade and economic alliances in response to these rapidly changing global economic realities.

The EU and the BRIC alliance make far more sense as trade partners now, when the U.S. is in rapid decline, than does the teetering giant to the south. The BRIC alliance – Brazil, Russia, India and China, with many other Latin American and Asian countries joining – is the rising star. Given the choices between closer ties with the U.S. (via NAFTA and the SPP), or the EU and the BRIC alliance, smart money would certainly be on the latter. In fact, the smart money, and most of the big money, is already moving or has moved out of the U.S. We are very slow in the uptake if we as a country do not get this.

In terms of a rejection of corporate globalism, Chavez has shown what a bold approach to macro-economic and social policies can achieve, especially when backed by large oil reserves and the economic and political power that comes with these. There is no reason why Canada could not be even more bold: we hold more oil reserves than Venezuela, and have more resources and greater economic wealth and power than Venezuela.

We should be radically restructuring our tax and subsidy policies with regard to the oil and gas industry in Canada. With the increased tax revenue, we can do far more than has been done in Venezuela, Venezuela having comparably fewer resources and less economic power to work with. With this increased public revenue from the oil and gas industry we can adequately fund, protect and even enhance our social programs, expand dramatically our environmental programs, and get serious about the environmental and social issues we face. More importantly, we can gain and preserve a greater degree of economic, social, cultural and political independence: we can preserve our nation. Presently the Alberta government, presiding over the bulk of the nation’s oil reserves, which it claims as its own, is charging an absurd 1% royalty rate on oil extraction. Meanwhile, the federal government actually subsidizes the oil companies, to the tune of multi-billions a year. Is this not just a little ridiculous?

There is no reason to let Exxon take a long straw from Texas and suck out our oil – at least not without the biggest part of the profits going to the Canadian people. Venezuela, under the leadership of Chavez, has increased the windfall profits tax on oil companies, reaping an additional USD $3 billion a year into the public purse. The oil industry in Venezuela now generates about one third of the nation’s GDP, and approximately half of all government revenues. This windfall to the public purse is being used to eradicate poverty, fund education and public health care, and, in short, lift the quality of life for all people in the country. In Bolivia, President Evo Morales simply turned the profit distribution for the oil industry on its head. Before, oil companies took 80% of the profits, while 20% of the profits went to the people of Bolivia. Now the people of Bolivia get 80% of the profits, and the oil companies are happy to receive 20%. Are the oil companies leaving en masse? Of course not. They want the oil, and they can still make a hefty profit. The countries with oil have the upper hand. They can either concede to essentially giving away their oil, or they can insist that the bulk of the profits go to the people of the country, while leaving room for ample – though not extortionist – oil company profits. The difference is one of fair trade versus economic predation.

Who’s oil is it anyway? The trans-national oil companies certainly have less of a legitimate claim to it than do the people of the country. The oil companies can still invest, operate, extract, and make a profit. They simply can’t make a killing. If we had a party or a coalition that showed real leadership, this one act of socializing the oil industry – not expropriating it, but making 80% of the oil profits go to the Canadian people, and not the global oil companies – would make a dramatic difference in the lives of the Canadian people, and in this country. For one, there would be no crisis in our social programs – they would be amply funded. And not incidentally, a significant portion of the multi-billion dollar a year windfall to public coffers could go to investing in renewable energy and conservation. We give our oil away, and neither the environment nor the people of Canada benefit. How sensible is this?

Meanwhile, to site just one example:

“In 2005, Exxon reported third-quarter profits of $9.92 billion, 75% higher than its third-quarter earnings in 2004, and the largest quarterly profit ever reported by a US company.

“Exxon is reportedly giving its retiring chairman, Lee Raymond, a package worth nearly $400 million, in combined pension, stock options and other perks, including a $1 million consulting deal, the use of a corporate jet for professional purposes, 2 years of home security, and a car and driver.

“While testifying at a Congressional hearing last November, Raymond claimed that high gas prices were a result of supply and demand. “We’re all in this together,” he told members of Congress, “everywhere in the world.”

“”In 2004, Mr. Raymond,” Senator, Barbara Boxer (D-CA), was quick to point out, “your bonus was over $3.6 million.”

“After exhibiting a chart revealing the pay scale for each of the CEOs at the hearing, Senator Boxer told the oil executives: “Your sacrifice appears to be nothing.”

“According to Exxon’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Raymond’s paycheck rose to $51.1 million in 2005.”

– Evelyn Pringle, Will Big Oil Destroy the US Economy?

As with our oil industry, we are still currently shipping our forestry products out of the country with relatively little gained for the Canadian people. This is 19th century colonial thinking. We should immediately increase stumpage fees levied upon forestry corporations, and re-invest the money back into the forestry industry, supporting the growth of valued-added industries that take the raw logs and pulp, and turn them into high-value products for export. A log shipped to China is a gross waste of Canadian resources, and shipping lumber to the U.S. is little better. We can tax the rapacious cutting of our forests by big forestry companies, and feed the creation and support of value-added industries and sustained-yield ecological forestry in this country, thus creating a surge in jobs and tax dollars while preserving the long-term economic viability of the forestry industry and the ecological base which it rests upon. Instead of shipping logs, lumber and pulp, we would then be shipping furniture, musical instruments and other high value products, increasing our positive trade balance and public revenues enormously while protecting the forests from a senseless hack and slash model in the tunnel-visioned and myopic pursuit of short-term economic gain. Simply by making an intelligent shift in economic strategy with regard to these two giant industries – oil and forestry – we can bring profound and far-reaching benefit to the people of Canada. What we need is a bold approach that does not flinch when the corporate lobby flexes its muscle. Sorry MacBlo and Syncrude. The people of Canada come first.

Just as we need urgently to shift our international trade and economic strategies – away from reliance on and integration with the sinking U.S. empire, and away from excessive dependency upon and vulnerability to trans-national capital and international financial markets and institutions – we need to dramatically shift our economic policies and strategy domestically, at home.

We need to shift our basic macro-economic strategy: away from one of catering to big corporations, especially foreign-based multi-nationals, for whom we presently bend over obligingly, and whom we subsidize with massive tax breaks as well as direct and indirect subsidies; and toward funding and giving tax breaks to small and medium size businesses, the poor and the middle class. Small business is the engine of economic growth, the backbone of the economy, and the primary employer in the country, as elsewhere – as is widely acknowledged. It makes no sense to subsidize big corporations and tax small business to death. What makes sense is to reverse this pattern, reign in the corporate giants who now dominate the political process and receive huge tax breaks, and support small business. This would strengthen the economy, create jobs, increase our economic and political independence and sovereignty, and provide a functional, viable and prosperous, as well as more equitable alternative to corporate-dominated globalization.

***

Who would benefit from such a platform? Small and medium business, the poor, the middle class, students, children, the elderly – in short, the vast majority of Canadians. Who could we seek to support such a platform to truly “stand up for Canada”? The grassroots right – who voted in Harper and the Conservatives on the promise to stand up for Canada, who want tax cuts for the middle class, the poor and small business, who want a revitalized democracy, who want a strong economy and good jobs – and many authentic conservatives, who are not happy with the sell-out of the country to big business, financial institutions and foreign governments (ie: the U.S.). The left and centre, who want prosperity with equity, protection for and enhancement of social programs, expansion of environmental programs, a reduction of taxes on the poor and middle class, an alternative to corporate globalization – which 70% of Canadians say is not working in the public interest – and a preservation of our cultural, political and economic sovereignty. In short, across the political spectrum, support can be expected, if the platform is sufficiently bold and inspiring, and is communicated clearly enough.

There is no party currently offering such a platform or vision, no party that currently offers anything resembling a bold and inspiring vision for Canada. Should a party or coalition decide to offer such a vision, there could be a landslide of popular support that rises up in response. This is what I’d like to see happen.

If Chavez, Morales and Kirchner, in Venezuela, Bolivia and Argentina, can show leadership in throwing off the gross failure which is neo-liberalism, can assert authentic democracy in the face of decades of history with fascist regimes, imperial aggression and U.S.-backed coups, and present a viable, dynamic, moving, inspiring, wildly popular movement and vision for independence, solidarity and justice, what can we do in Canada with even more resources and economic strength at our disposal?

Sitting on the world’s largest oil reserves – the tar sands – and with one of the world’s resource-richest nations, one of the biggest economies in the world, a highly educated and literate populace and skilled and educated workforce, an infrastructure and technological base that has few rivals, and a history of social justice and peace that, while imperfect, is strong and runs deep, we in Canada are in a position not just to bemoan the social, economic, political and environmental difficulties that we face, but to take the lead. We can become the junior partner to a dying empire, and slide further into neo-fascist corporate rule, or we can break out of the mold, find solidarity with Europe and Latin America, as well the fast-rising star of India (the world’s largest democracy, home to the world’s largest middle class, with an economy that is set to out-pace China’s in economic growth this year), and set a course for economic and socio-political independence, in solidarity with other nations that are sick and tired of imperial power games.

It is a choice that we are going to face rather soon, and with increasing urgency, for the realities of deep integration with what has become a fascist state – the Security and Prosperity Partnership with the United States – are about to hit us. We had better awaken from the American dream now. This dream is becoming a nightmare. We need to chart a new course – our own course. A Canadian course.

***

The initiatives outlined above are not in themselves sufficient to remedy our social or environmental problems, but they are a necessary first step. If we do not take serious action now, we will only see the further unraveling of our democracy, the further drift into full-fledged neo-fascist corporate rule, the further destruction of our social programs, and the further destruction of the environment. If we care about any of these things, if we care about having or creating a just society, a peaceful society, a sustainable society, or even a society where the quality of life for all is preserved and enhanced, rather than undermined, then we need to take serious steps to renounce corporate globalism and corporate rule, and to reclaim our democracy and our sovereignty. Piece meal efforts will not do. We must now boldly present and act upon a plan to reverse the dominance of the trans-national corporations over our economy and political process. We must regain control of our currency, economy and parliaments. If we do not, then our fine words and nice ideas will go nowhere. If we do not regain control of the helm, then we are a drifting ship of fools, and our pious words are all in vain.

If none of the political parties can take the necessary steps and do what needs to be done, then they should announce themselves as irrelevant, and close up shop. My hope is, however, that the Canadian people can create the movement necessary to get one of the political parties, a new party, or perhaps a coalition that is created from members of all parties, to step up to the plate and get the job done. However it gets done, we need to act now. Time is running out on our sovereignty, our democracy, even our existence as a nation. Time for action.

***

Now that it is outlined, as to what needs to be done, the question that remains is one of strategy: how do we do it? Political strategy in the era of corporate dominance of the political process, the media and the economy is a tricky question. When most political parties are indebted to big business for the funds that get them elected, when the mass media is either directly owned or else controlled by corporations – via dependency on corporate advertising money – the political process becomes mired in the politics of vested interest, democracy is in crisis, and even public debate and discussion is largely quashed. Creating a popular movement for bold and progressive social change requires communicating a vision that will rally popular support and empower collective action. But the means of communication are locked up by corporate controlled media, who have no interest in changing the status quo. Any movement, party or coalition that seeks to create an alternative to corporate rule, that seeks to reclaim, renew and revitalize genuine democracy, will no doubt meet with bad press, or no press, given the present media environment. Thus, in order to reach out to the people, the newest and the oldest of tools for political mobilization will be required: the internet and the street. To reach out to the people with a bold and inspiring vision, to even begin to form a movement for creative action and positive social change, will require the use of the new town hall – the web – and the old town hall – the face-to-face meetings that used to be the staple of politics, before the electronic age. In the age of mass-media electoral politics, the new medium of the internet is often overlooked, and the old medium of town hall-style public meetings is forgotten. But this is where the movement will begin. This is where it will succeed or fail.

In order to accomplish the goals of reclaiming our democracy, protecting our sovereignty, our social programs and our environment; to create a just and sustainable society, and to preserve and enhance the quality of life for all, it will be necessary to make a few simple but crucial steps. The above outline of a platform can be taken as a starting point for creating a vision. Without a vision there is no inspiration, and therefore no action. A small group of activists – ordinary individuals – can take the initiative. From there, the enlistment of support from a few prominent Canadians will do to encourage more involvement and get the ball rolling. After that, it is a matter of old-fashioned political organizing – from the grassroots up. Go to the people, city by city, town by town, hold public meetings in libraries and churches, schools and union halls, universities and workplaces, and utilize the internet to its fullest capacity to compliment the face-to-face engagement of citizens. From there, it is a matter of either forming a new party from this emerging grassroots movement, getting an existing party to find the courage to take on the challenge, or forming a coalition from members of existing parties as well as ordinary Canadians to take the movement to the next level: implementation.

The path is hard, but the time is ripe. The political landscape has, in some ways, never been more ready for such a groundswell of change. There is an opening now. And there is a need. The urgency is almost ear-shattering. The longing for meaningful, clear-headed, good-hearted change is almost palpable. The movement that can fill this need – recognize the opportunity and act to create the flow through that opening – is going to meet with resounding success. It is now that we must dispense with pious hand-wringing and defeatist pessimism. There is always more day to dawn. The time is ripe, the moment is now. Let us begin.

JTR

January 24, 2007

Time for Action: Canadian politics and the future of Canada as nation

The Sinking U.S. Economy:
Poor Choice for an Economic Partner in the 21st Century

America’s Unsustainable Current Account Deficit

* The Dollar’s Full-System Meltdown

Economic ” Armageddon ” Predicted

Dollar Catching Asian Flu – Asia Times

Arab central banks sell dollar

As Dollar Plunges, Watch for US Government Bonds Sell -off – DEBKAfile –

The War To Save The U.S. Dollar – Trinicenter.com –

Fears for dollar as central banks sell US assets

BBC NEWS | Business | Is the global economy set for trouble?

Collapse of the Petrodollar Looming

Iranian Oil Bourse Opens for Business: A Final Step Toward US Dollar Collapse & Preemptive Nuclear Strike

Deep Integration & the SPP:


* Secret Banff Meeting of CEOs and the Defense Establishment : Militarization and the Deconstruction of North America

CBC – Top secret: Banff security meeting attracted U.S., Mexico officials

* CNN Video: Lou Dobbs Slams CFR & North American Union

*** De Facto North American Government in the Making: “Canadians must take back Canada”

Deep Integration – The Council of Canadians

* North American Union/Testimony, Publications and Reports – SourceWatch

*** Paul Martin’s Big Texas Adventure


Fascism in America:

*** Habeas Corpus Your words are lies Sir – YouTube – olbermann 10-18-06

***Bush Moves Toward Martial Law

Habeas Corpus, R.I.P. (12/15 – 2006)

General Tommy Franks calls for Repeal of US Constitution

Air Force chief : Test weapons on testy US mobs – Sep 12 …

Ten Minutes to Midnight: The Emerging Police State – Z Store

Fascism watch

War on Terrorism Watch: CAUT Resource Website – Home Page

The Guardian article, “This war on terrorism is bogus: The 9/11 attacks gave the US an ideal pretext to use force to secure its global domination”

Posted in Bush, Canada, Canadian, corporate rule, deep integration, economy, fascism, globalization, NACC, NAU, North American Union, policy, politics, SPP, trade, U.S. on January 25, 2007 by jtoddring

Time for Action:


Canadian politics and the future of Canada as a nation

The long and the short of it is – I believe – unless we seriously address the macro-economic issues, we will not even have the option of meaningful parliamentary debate, much less effective action via parliament, for parliament will continue to be subsumed under corporate dominance. Whatever concerns or good ideas we may have would then be blocked from implementation, at least within the parliamentary process. We would then be left to plead from the sidelines – or bleat from the sidelines – having failed to tackle corporate rule, and thus having failed to reclaim our democracy and our nation.

I’d like to see the Green Party, the NDP, a new party, or a coalition that is created from elements of the existing parties – based on a shared set of principles, values and goals – address our current socio-economic, political and ecological situation in Canada systematically and boldly.

I’d like to see a party – any party – or a coalition of individuals derived from progressive elements of a number of parties – take on corporate globalism, the crisis of democracy, oil dependency and environmental issues, in a comprehensive, systematic, strategic and courageous manner, with vision and vigour.

This would entail a platform that communicated the realities of our current predicament to Canadians in a straight-forward, no-nonsense way – realities which polls show the great majority of Canadians already understand. And it would require the creation of a vision, a strategy and a platform for addressing these realities in a way that fits the seriousness of these issues, and not in a tepid or piecemeal way.

It would be a platform to take back Canada, to truly “stand up for Canada” (as Harper and the Conservatives promised, but promised insincerely) by reclaiming and renewing authentic democracy, and re-investing in our ability as Canadians to set our own independent social, economic, environmental and foreign policy values, goals and policies.

In order to accomplish this, we would have to form and implement a plan to reduce our economic dependence on the US, in terms of trade and economic policy, and we would have to take a courageous stand against corporate globalization and the defacto corporate rule which has emerged.

We would then, in terms of the details of such a strategy and vision to reclaim our nation, abrogate NAFTA, say no to the FTAA, deep integration and the SPP, gain control of our currency through capital controls and changes to monetary policy with the Bank of Canada, create a Tobin tax to deter financial speculation, repatriate the debt, and restructure our investment policies and regulations.

(For example, we could start by revising our investment policies so that tax credits are given for RRSP’s only when the investment is in Canada, in Canadian companies or Canada savings bonds – which would go a long way both to strengthening the economy and toward gaining greater economic and thus political independence, and which also would provide a way to repatriate the debt, thus freeing us from dependency upon and manipulation (economic leverage, or simply blackmail) by international banks and financial institutions.)

A couple of points, at least, need to be realized, acknowledged, and acted upon. 1. Corporate-led globalization is not working for the vast majority – either in Canada or elsewhere in the world, does not benefit the vast majority, and is in fact destroying our social programs, quality of life, environment and democracy. We need to fundamentally re-orient our economic policies and strategy in order to create prosperity with both equity and sustainability. We urgently need to find or create, and to implement, an alternative to corporate globalization. 2. The U.S. economy is a sinking ship. We need to cease immediately our strategy of aligning ourselves ever more deeply with this failed state and empire at eclipse. We need to halt the rapid slide into deep integration with the U.S., and immediately begin to diversify and shift our trade alliances. While the U.S. is sinking economically, Europe, Latin America, India and China are rising fast. If we are intelligent, we will shift our trade and economic alliances in response to these rapidly changing global economic realities.

The EU and the BRIC alliance make far more sense as trade partners now, when the U.S. is in rapid decline, than does the teetering giant to the south. The BRIC alliance – Brazil, Russia, India and China, with many other Latin American and Asian countries joining – is the rising star. Given the choices between closer ties with the U.S. (via NAFTA and the SPP), or the EU and the BRIC alliance, smart money would certainly be on the latter. In fact, the smart money, and most of the big money, is already moving or has moved out of the U.S. We are very slow in the uptake if we as a country do not get this.

In terms of a rejection of corporate globalism, Chavez has shown what a bold approach to macro-economic and social policies can achieve, especially when backed by large oil reserves and the economic and political power that comes with these. There is no reason why Canada could not be even more bold: we hold more oil reserves than Venezuela, and have more resources and greater economic wealth and power than Venezuela.

We should be radically restructuring our tax and subsidy policies with regard to the oil and gas industry in Canada. With the increased tax revenue, we can do far more than has been done in Venezuela, Venezuela having comparably fewer resources and less economic power to work with. With this increased public revenue from the oil and gas industry we can adequately fund, protect and even enhance our social programs, expand dramatically our environmental programs, and get serious about the environmental and social issues we face. More importantly, we can gain and preserve a greater degree of economic, social, cultural and political independence: we can preserve our nation. Presently the Alberta government, presiding over the bulk of the nation’s oil reserves, which it claims as its own, is charging an absurd 1% royalty rate on oil extraction. Meanwhile, the federal government actually subsidizes the oil companies, to the tune of multi-billions a year. Is this not just a little ridiculous?

There is no reason to let Exxon take a long straw from Texas and suck out our oil – at least not without the biggest part of the profits going to the Canadian people. Venezuela, under the leadership of Chavez, has increased the windfall profits tax on oil companies, reaping an additional USD $3 billion a year into the public purse. The oil industry in Venezuela now generates about one third of the nation’s GDP, and approximately half of all government revenues. This windfall to the public purse is being used to eradicate poverty, fund education and public health care, and, in short, lift the quality of life for all people in the country. In Bolivia, President Evo Morales simply turned the profit distribution for the oil industry on its head. Before, oil companies took 80% of the profits, while 20% of the profits went to the people of Bolivia. Now the people of Bolivia get 80% of the profits, and the oil companies are happy to receive 20%. Are the oil companies leaving en masse? Of course not. They want the oil, and they can still make a hefty profit. The countries with oil have the upper hand. They can either concede to essentially giving away their oil, or they can insist that the bulk of the profits go to the people of the country, while leaving room for ample – though not extortionist – oil company profits. The difference is one of fair trade versus economic predation.

Who’s oil is it anyway? The trans-national oil companies certainly have less of a legitimate claim to it than do the people of the country. The oil companies can still invest, operate, extract, and make a profit. They simply can’t make a killing. If we had a party or a coalition that showed real leadership, this one act of socializing the oil industry – not expropriating it, but making 80% of the oil profits go to the Canadian people, and not the global oil companies – would make a dramatic difference in the lives of the Canadian people, and in this country. For one, there would be no crisis in our social programs – they would be amply funded. And not incidentally, a significant portion of the multi-billion dollar a year windfall to public coffers could go to investing in renewable energy and conservation. We give our oil away, and neither the environment nor the people of Canada benefit. How sensible is this?

Meanwhile, to site just one example:

“In 2005, Exxon reported third-quarter profits of $9.92 billion, 75% higher than its third-quarter earnings in 2004, and the largest quarterly profit ever reported by a US company.

“Exxon is reportedly giving its retiring chairman, Lee Raymond, a package worth nearly $400 million, in combined pension, stock options and other perks, including a $1 million consulting deal, the use of a corporate jet for professional purposes, 2 years of home security, and a car and driver.

“While testifying at a Congressional hearing last November, Raymond claimed that high gas prices were a result of supply and demand. “We’re all in this together,” he told members of Congress, “everywhere in the world.”

“”In 2004, Mr. Raymond,” Senator, Barbara Boxer (D-CA), was quick to point out, “your bonus was over $3.6 million.”

“After exhibiting a chart revealing the pay scale for each of the CEOs at the hearing, Senator Boxer told the oil executives: “Your sacrifice appears to be nothing.”

“According to Exxon’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Raymond’s paycheck rose to $51.1 million in 2005.”

– Evelyn Pringle, Will Big Oil Destroy the US Economy?

As with our oil industry, we are still currently shipping our forestry products out of the country with relatively little gained for the Canadian people. This is 19th century colonial thinking. We should immediately increase stumpage fees levied upon forestry corporations, and re-invest the money back into the forestry industry, supporting the growth of valued-added industries that take the raw logs and pulp, and turn them into high-value products for export. A log shipped to China is a gross waste of Canadian resources, and shipping lumber to the U.S. is little better. We can tax the rapacious cutting of our forests by big forestry companies, and feed the creation and support of value-added industries and sustained-yield ecological forestry in this country, thus creating a surge in jobs and tax dollars while preserving the long-term economic viability of the forestry industry and the ecological base which it rests upon. Instead of shipping logs, lumber and pulp, we would then be shipping furniture, musical instruments and other high value products, increasing our positive trade balance and public revenues enormously while protecting the forests from a senseless hack and slash model in the tunnel-visioned and myopic pursuit of short-term economic gain. Simply by making an intelligent shift in economic strategy with regard to these two giant industries – oil and forestry – we can bring profound and far-reaching benefit to the people of Canada. What we need is a bold approach that does not flinch when the corporate lobby flexes its muscle. Sorry MacBlo and Syncrude. The people of Canada come first.

Just as we need urgently to shift our international trade and economic strategies – away from reliance on and integration with the sinking U.S. empire, and away from excessive dependency upon and vulnerability to trans-national capital and international financial markets and institutions – we need to dramatically shift our economic policies and strategy domestically, at home.

We need to shift our basic macro-economic strategy: away from one of catering to big corporations, especially foreign-based multi-nationals, for whom we presently bend over obligingly, and whom we subsidize with massive tax breaks as well as direct and indirect subsidies; and toward funding and giving tax breaks to small and medium size businesses, the poor and the middle class. Small business is the engine of economic growth, the backbone of the economy, and the primary employer in the country, as elsewhere – as is widely acknowledged. It makes no sense to subsidize big corporations and tax small business to death. What makes sense is to reverse this pattern, reign in the corporate giants who now dominate the political process and receive huge tax breaks, and support small business. This would strengthen the economy, create jobs, increase our economic and political independence and sovereignty, and provide a functional, viable and prosperous, as well as more equitable alternative to corporate-dominated globalization.

***

Who would benefit from such a platform? Small and medium business, the poor, the middle class, students, children, the elderly – in short, the vast majority of Canadians. Who could we seek to support such a platform to truly “stand up for Canada”? The grassroots right – who voted in Harper and the Conservatives on the promise to stand up for Canada, who want tax cuts for the middle class, the poor and small business, who want a revitalized democracy, who want a strong economy and good jobs – and many authentic conservatives, who are not happy with the sell-out of the country to big business, financial institutions and foreign governments (ie: the U.S.). The left and centre, who want prosperity with equity, protection for and enhancement of social programs, expansion of environmental programs, a reduction of taxes on the poor and middle class, an alternative to corporate globalization – which 70% of Canadians say is not working in the public interest – and a preservation of our cultural, political and economic sovereignty. In short, across the political spectrum, support can be expected, if the platform is sufficiently bold and inspiring, and is communicated clearly enough.

There is no party currently offering such a platform or vision, no party that currently offers anything resembling a bold and inspiring vision for Canada. Should a party or coalition decide to offer such a vision, there could be a landslide of popular support that rises up in response. This is what I’d like to see happen.

If Chavez, Morales and Kirchner, in Venezuela, Bolivia and Argentina, can show leadership in throwing off the gross failure which is neo-liberalism, can assert authentic democracy in the face of decades of history with fascist regimes, imperial aggression and U.S.-backed coups, and present a viable, dynamic, moving, inspiring, wildly popular movement and vision for independence, solidarity and justice, what can we do in Canada with even more resources and economic strength at our disposal?

Sitting on the world’s largest oil reserves – the tar sands – and with one of the world’s resource-richest nations, one of the biggest economies in the world, a highly educated and literate populace and skilled and educated workforce, an infrastructure and technological base that has few rivals, and a history of social justice and peace that, while imperfect, is strong and runs deep, we in Canada are in a position not just to bemoan the social, economic, political and environmental difficulties that we face, but to take the lead. We can become the junior partner to a dying empire, and slide further into neo-fascist corporate rule, or we can break out of the mold, find solidarity with Europe and Latin America, as well the fast-rising star of India (the world’s largest democracy, home to the world’s largest middle class, with an economy that is set to out-pace China’s in economic growth this year), and set a course for economic and socio-political independence, in solidarity with other nations that are sick and tired of imperial power games.

It is a choice that we are going to face rather soon, and with increasing urgency, for the realities of deep integration with what has become a fascist state – the Security and Prosperity Partnership with the United States – are about to hit us. We had better awaken from the American dream now. This dream is becoming a nightmare. We need to chart a new course – our own course. A Canadian course.

***

The initiatives outlined above are not in themselves sufficient to remedy our social or environmental problems, but they are a necessary first step. If we do not take serious action now, we will only see the further unraveling of our democracy, the further drift into full-fledged neo-fascist corporate rule, the further destruction of our social programs, and the further destruction of the environment. If we care about any of these things, if we care about having or creating a just society, a peaceful society, a sustainable society, or even a society where the quality of life for all is preserved and enhanced, rather than undermined, then we need to take serious steps to renounce corporate globalism and corporate rule, and to reclaim our democracy and our sovereignty. Piece meal efforts will not do. We must now boldly present and act upon a plan to reverse the dominance of the trans-national corporations over our economy and political process. We must regain control of our currency, economy and parliaments. If we do not, then our fine words and nice ideas will go nowhere. If we do not regain control of the helm, then we are a drifting ship of fools, and our pious words are all in vain.

If none of the political parties can take the necessary steps and do what needs to be done, then they should announce themselves as irrelevant, and close up shop. My hope is, however, that the Canadian people can create the movement necessary to get one of the political parties, a new party, or perhaps a coalition that is created from members of all parties, to step up to the plate and get the job done. However it gets done, we need to act now. Time is running out on our sovereignty, our democracy, even our existence as a nation. Time for action.

***

Now that it is outlined, as to what needs to be done, the question that remains is one of strategy: how do we do it? Political strategy in the era of corporate dominance of the political process, the media and the economy is a tricky question. When most political parties are indebted to big business for the funds that get them elected, when the mass media is either directly owned or else controlled by corporations – via dependency on corporate advertising money – the political process becomes mired in the politics of vested interest, democracy is in crisis, and even public debate and discussion is largely quashed. Creating a popular movement for bold and progressive social change requires communicating a vision that will rally popular support and empower collective action. But the means of communication are locked up by corporate controlled media, who have no interest in changing the status quo. Any movement, party or coalition that seeks to create an alternative to corporate rule, that seeks to reclaim, renew and revitalize genuine democracy, will no doubt meet with bad press, or no press, given the present media environment. Thus, in order to reach out to the people, the newest and the oldest of tools for political mobilization will be required: the internet and the street. To reach out to the people with a bold and inspiring vision, to even begin to form a movement for creative action and positive social change, will require the use of the new town hall – the web – and the old town hall – the face-to-face meetings that used to be the staple of politics, before the electronic age. In the age of mass-media electoral politics, the new medium of the internet is often overlooked, and the old medium of town hall-style public meetings is forgotten. But this is where the movement will begin. This is where it will succeed or fail.

In order to accomplish the goals of reclaiming our democracy, protecting our sovereignty, our social programs and our environment; to create a just and sustainable society, and to preserve and enhance the quality of life for all, it will be necessary to make a few simple but crucial steps. The above outline of a platform can be taken as a starting point for creating a vision. Without a vision there is no inspiration, and therefore no action. A small group of activists – ordinary individuals – can take the initiative. From there, the enlistment of support from a few prominent Canadians will do to encourage more involvement and get the ball rolling. After that, it is a matter of old-fashioned political organizing – from the grassroots up. Go to the people, city by city, town by town, hold public meetings in libraries and churches, schools and union halls, universities and workplaces, and utilize the internet to its fullest capacity to compliment the face-to-face engagement of citizens. From there, it is a matter of either forming a new party from this emerging grassroots movement, getting an existing party to find the courage to take on the challenge, or forming a coalition from members of existing parties as well as ordinary Canadians to take the movement to the next level: implementation.

The path is hard, but the time is ripe. The political landscape has, in some ways, never been more ready for such a groundswell of change. There is an opening now. And there is a need. The urgency is almost ear-shattering. The longing for meaningful, clear-headed, good-hearted change is almost palpable. The movement that can fill this need – recognize the opportunity and act to create the flow through that opening – is going to meet with resounding success. It is now that we must dispense with pious hand-wringing and defeatist pessimism. There is always more day to dawn. The time is ripe, the moment is now. Let us begin.

JTR

January 24, 2007

Time for Action: Canadian politics and the future of Canada as nation

The Sinking U.S. Economy:
Poor Choice for an Economic Partner in the 21st Century

America’s Unsustainable Current Account Deficit

* The Dollar’s Full-System Meltdown

Economic ” Armageddon ” Predicted

Dollar Catching Asian Flu – Asia Times

Arab central banks sell dollar

As Dollar Plunges, Watch for US Government Bonds Sell -off – DEBKAfile –

The War To Save The U.S. Dollar – Trinicenter.com –

Fears for dollar as central banks sell US assets

BBC NEWS | Business | Is the global economy set for trouble?

Collapse of the Petrodollar Looming

Iranian Oil Bourse Opens for Business: A Final Step Toward US Dollar Collapse & Preemptive Nuclear Strike

Deep Integration & the SPP:


* Secret Banff Meeting of CEOs and the Defense Establishment : Militarization and the Deconstruction of North America

CBC – Top secret: Banff security meeting attracted U.S., Mexico officials

* CNN Video: Lou Dobbs Slams CFR & North American Union

*** De Facto North American Government in the Making: “Canadians must take back Canada”

Deep Integration – The Council of Canadians

* North American Union/Testimony, Publications and Reports – SourceWatch

*** Paul Martin’s Big Texas Adventure


Fascism in America:

*** Habeas Corpus Your words are lies Sir – YouTube – olbermann 10-18-06

***Bush Moves Toward Martial Law

Habeas Corpus, R.I.P. (12/15 – 2006)

General Tommy Franks calls for Repeal of US Constitution

Air Force chief : Test weapons on testy US mobs – Sep 12 …

Ten Minutes to Midnight: The Emerging Police State – Z Store

Fascism watch

War on Terrorism Watch: CAUT Resource Website – Home Page

The Guardian article, “This war on terrorism is bogus: The 9/11 attacks gave the US an ideal pretext to use force to secure its global domination”