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The European Union/Canadian Free Trade agreement was unexpectedly foisted onto the Canadian public – like driving over a deep pothole at night, the consequences of this agreement require the public to pull over and carefully examine the damage done to our society and economy. Strangely enough, our benevolent leadership has arranged for little to no public consultation and thus no debate as to what the consequences are for Canadian society. We just have to trust our leaders when they say that this is a “good thing” for Canada. In light of such trenchant analysis this Canadian commentator has a few niggling doubts when it comes to the heralded panacea of Free Trade Goodness for ALL!!!11!!
The timing of this “historic accord’ threatens to ruin my suspension of disbelief with regards to the upcoming Canadian federal election cycle. Our Conservative government appears to be busting out the sugar plums and candy-canes early to get a head-start on the official bamboozling of the electorate process.
This list from the CBC is exactly what I mean:
1. Cheaper goods -
When CETA comes into force, Canadians will pay less for items including food, wines and spirits, and even high-end European cars — if retailers and European manufacturers pass on the savings from the elimination of tariffs.
2. More Canadian beef, pork and bison -
CETA will significantly raise the quotas for Canadian beef, pork and bison, giving producers much greater duty-free access to the EU market. The potential increase in annual sales is estimated at $1 billion.
3. More European cheese -
EU cheesemakers will be allowed to sell Canada 29,000 tonnes of cheese, up from the current 13,000 tonnes.
4. Intellectual property rights and drugs -
Intellectual property rights and patent protection was a key area of concern for the Europeans during negotiations, particularly in the area of pharmaceuticals.
5. Provincial and municipal contracts -
Wynne also said she supports the deal because it gives its manufacturers and service providers more access to European markets.
Cheap wine! More Cheese! Consumers will be dancing in the streets, look how amazingly great this deal is… just like NAFTA!!
“Structures of governance have tended to coalesce around economic power. The process continues. In the London Financial Times, James Morgan describes the “de facto world government” that is taking shape in the “new imperial age”: the I.M.F., World Bank, Group of 7 industrialized nations, General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) and other institutions designed to serve the interests of transnational corporations, banks and investment firms.
One valuable feature of these institutions is their immunity from popular influence. Elite hostility to democracy is deep-rooted, understandably, but there has been a spectrum of opinion. At the “progressive” end, Walter Lippmann argued that “the public must be put in its place,” so that the “responsible men” may rule without interference from “ignorant and meddlesome outsiders” whose “function” is to be only “interested spectators of action,” periodically selecting members of the leadership class in elections, then returning to their private concerns. The statist reactionaries called “conservatives” typically take a harsher line, rejecting even the spectator role. Hence the appeal to the Reaganites of clandestine operations, censorship and other measures to insure that a powerful and interventionist state will not be troubled by the rabble. The “new imperial age” marks a shift toward the reactionary end of the antidemocratic spectrum.
It is within this framework that the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and GATT should be understood.’
But, but… what about the cheap cheese? NAFTA ,described in terms closer to reality, was a Free Investors Agreement. It opened the doors for business to compete helter-skelter everywhere and with everyone on the North American continent. NAFTA green lighted the noble quest for the profit and as Chomsky notes indiscreetly kicks the working class in the teeth:
“Particular cases fill out the picture. G.M. is planning to close almost two dozen plants in the United States and Canada, but it has become the largest private employer in Mexico. It has also opened a $690 million assembly plant in eastern Germany, where employees are willing to “work longer hours than their pampered colleagues in western Germany,” at 40 percent of the wage and with few benefits, as the Financial Times cheerily explains. Capital can readily move; people cannot, or are not permitted to by those who selectively applaud Adam Smith’s doctrines, which crucially include “free circulation of labor.” The return of much of Eastern Europe to its traditional service role offers new opportunities for corporations to reduce costs, thanks to “rising unemployment and pauperisation of large sections of the industrial working class” in the East as capitalist reforms proceed, according to the Financial Times.”
The damage wrought by NAFTA to the manufacturing sector American economy is still being felt today as speculative bubbles deliver hammer blow after hammer blow to the dessicated middle class and ever growing contingent of working poor. The happy-clappy propaganda of NAFTA bringing consumer paradise to the people brings small comfort to the poor and soon to be poor people of the United States.
The run up to the EU/Canada FTA has the same eerie feeling that was present when NAFTA was being touted as good for everyone, lifting all boats and other assorted nonsense. The surprise, the promise of cheese, the timing in the electoral cycle all point toward yet another free investor agreement. Investor agreements, will not benefit the great majority people in Europe and Canada, but rather, will enhance the bottom line of a select few.
Three cheers for the eminent pauperisation of even more people? I think not.
This from the Raw Story:
“Yet in the peace-giving west, the award remains significantly venerated – a testament, surely, to being a dynamite idea in principle (if you’ll forgive the cliched reference to Alfred Nobel’s other gift to the world) but a mostly damp squib in practice. Understandably, it is less revered in the sort of countries to which peace tends to be done.
As for Malala, shot not in the line of duty, but in the line of living her 15-year-old life – that ordeal and the thing of wonder she has turned it into were perhaps a little too peace-prizey to win the peace prize. It’s not the most enormous surprise. Thanks in large part to the committee making it so, the honour has long been seen as so political that damp-squibbery seems to be increasingly what is regarded as expedient. Perhaps the committee’s admiration for Malala was tempered by fretting that giving her the prize could see non-peaceful protests in Pakistan. Add to that its pretensions to nation-building and the rather woolly hope that this will persuade the likes of South Sudan and North Korea to sign up to the chemical weapons treaty, and the OPCW was a shoo-in.”
Yes, apparently the brave actions of Ms.Yousafzai are indeed just a little too “peace-prizey”. Although, as the rest of the article mentions, being in the company of the Nobel’s Prize’s alumni isn’t that great in the first place.
Ms.Betty Bowers thoughts on the 2014 Olympics.
A couple nights ago I was wading about the web, waiting for sleepiness to find me when I came across this video. It exhibits the most beautiful project I’ve seen to in a very long time.
On the surface, it is a colossal exercise of empathy and caring for those in desperate need of support. On top of that, and I think much more important, is the awareness it must spread to the community. The bridge highlights a problem and inspires people to think about it, identify with sufferers, and help in preventative measures. It’s a wonderful thing.