No 1525 Posted by fw, November 30, 2015
“The Globe and Mail reported on November 18 that the new, Liberal government is “taking an officially neutral position on the [TPP deal], arguing that it needs time to allow for the consultations they promised during the recent election.” But Minister of International Trade Chrystia Freeland tweeted on Nov 27, “Looking forward to working together and increasing Canadian trade opportunities with Asia!” Indeed. The Trudeau government is under intense pressure by the United States to sign the package. The U.S. and Japan scoff at any idea of re-negotiating any of the terms of the deal, if that is even something that the new government in Ottawa would dare to seek.” —Roger Annis, rabble.ca
Longtime socialist and trade union activist Roger Annis warns Canadians that “it is difficult to see very much new in the new Liberal government in Ottawa.” And given her busy schedule, when did our trade minister find time to read the mammoth TPP report?
To read the full version of his long article in rabble.ca, click on the following linked title. Alternatively, below is a much shorter version focussing entirely on troubling signs of the Trudeau government’s capitulation to Bay Street and a pro-business-as-usual agenda. Hello TPP, goodbye democracy.
“It is difficult to see very much new in the new Liberal government”
On November 10, newly elected Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met in Ottawa with the leadership council of the Canadian Labour Congress, the federation of trade unions in English-speaking Canada. Amazingly, this was the first such meeting of a Canadian prime minister with a national labour body since 1958. The event was very cordial, according to a report published in the Globe and Mail. The CLC group numbered some 120 delegates.
Unions have reasons to welcome the election defeat on October 19 of the anti-social Conservative government of Stephen Harper. The Liberal government has pledged to repeal two of the worst pieces of anti-union legislation of the Harper regime — bills C-377 (financial reporting obligations) and C-525 (right to form unions). Other positive measures by the new government are suspension of the ending of home and office mail delivery, increasing the funding for the state broadcaster CBC, lifting of the muzzling of scientists working in government institutions, and putting a halt to some of the discriminatory legislative and judicial measures of the defeated government targeting people of Muslim faith.
But on the large and fundamental economic issues facing Canada today, with broad implications for the world’s global warming/climate change emergency, it is difficult to see very much new in the new Liberal government in Ottawa. And there are many reasons to be concerned that the country’s union leaders as well as elected representatives of the union-supported New Democratic Party in Parliament will acquiesce to the new government’s pro-business agenda.
New capitalist trade and investment regimes
The new government has played coy with the latest and largest-yet international trade and investment agreement cooked up by the large imperialist governments, the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The TPP joins other such agreements in tearing down restrictions on the unfettered movement of global capital. It is sharply condemned by progressive forces in Canada, including many unions.
Has Trade Minister Freeland already tweeted away her TPP sellout?
The Globe and Mail reported on November 18 that the new, Liberal government is “taking an officially neutral position on the [TPP deal], arguing that it needs time to allow for the consultations they promised during the recent election.” But Minister of International Trade Chrystia Freeland tweeted on Nov 27, “Looking forward to working together and increasing Canadian trade opportunities with Asia!”
Indeed. The Trudeau government is under intense pressure by the United States to sign the package. The U.S. and Japan scoff at any idea of re-negotiating any of the terms of the deal, if that is even something that the new government in Ottawa would dare to seek.
Liberals used to be against NAFTA until they were for it
In the 1980s and early 1990s, Liberal Party of the day actually fought elections in the name of opposing the U.S. and then North American free trade deals. Only to calmly oversee the implementation of NAFTA when returned to office in 1993.
Trudeau says he is “broadly supportive” of CETA trade deal with the EU
Another, giant trade and investment agreement on the government’s agenda is the Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement between Canada and the European Union that the former Harper government negotiated on behalf of Canada. During the election campaign, Trudeau announced that he is “broadly supportive” of this deal.
Some capitalist governments in Europe are under great pressure to oppose CETA because of the threats it contains to economic and political sovereignty. As a result, more negotiations can be expected.
And Canada’s unions used to be against trade deals until the power brokers said they were for them
There was a time when the unions in Canada organized rallies and protests against such trade deals, notably against the North American Free Trade Agreement of 1994 and the Canada-United States Free Trade Agreement that preceded it. These agreements were recognized as serious threats to democracy, national sovereignty and existing and future social and human rights. “Free trade” investment regimes hobble the capacity of people and governments to deal with global warming because “investor rights” are given legal standing equivalent to human rights, including the right to live in a healthy environment.
But the days of such protests by unions, it seems, are behind us, replaced by consultations that leave the polluters and the power brokers calling the shots.
Roger Annis is a longtime socialist and trade union activist. He has lived in most regions of Canada, including in Montreal where he became fluent in French. He is a retired aerospace worker living in Vancouver. Roger writes regularly on topics of social justice, peace, and on issues concerning Haiti. His personal blog is at http://rogerannis.com/
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