Thursday, July 30, 2015

Another great post by Occupy Canada

Occupy Canada is an organization dedicated to changing the way things are run. Their mission is Be the Change you want to see in the world. The following was posted in response to the upcoming debates by the Federal Leaders and the exclusion of the Green Party Leader. What I like about Occupy Canada is that they source all of their information so you can check it so you can make a decision based on fact, not opinion. This post was from their Facebook Page. I recommend you check them out

Canada's Federal Election is going to see a debate on international affairs that almost certainly won't ask these urgent international affairs questions.

When Stephen Harper refused to attend the regular consortium leaders debates with Elizabeth May, they announced that he would participate in others instead, including one by mining company magnate Peter Munk's "Munk Debates," which would exclude Ms. May.

This debate would focus on international affairs questions. The fact that Barrick Gold, the company Mr. Munk founded, is just one of the mining companies based in Canada that the Harper government has assisted in getting away with human rights abuses abroad gives us an idea of how objective we can expect this event to be. Three quarters of all the mining companies in the world are based in Canada, where they enjoy complete impunity to engage in deplorable international human rights abuses without any significant consequences whatsoever.
That not only includes rape and killings, but actual slavery.

As voices were raised with concern about this issue, the Harper government promised to address the problem with the creation of a mining oversight office to police the industry, which was a hollow claim they aren't actually enacting: Canada's mining oversight office sits empty at significant taxpayer expense. Which is small compared to the human cost in foreign nations where those mining companies operate without oversight. Because making a token effort to appear to be addressing the problem seems worthwhile to the Harper government, but actually providing oversight is something they are clearly not interested in.

In addition to broad and intolerable human rights abuses, Canadian mining is linked to a broad range of serious environmental harms, with the full knowledge and support of Canadian authorities.

"Canadian authorities are aware of the difficulties regarding each one of the case-studies cited in the report and despite that, Canada continues to provide political, legal and financial support to companies which commit or tolerate human rights abuses. Canadian ambassadors have played a commercial relations management role between the companies, the respective state, and Canada itself."

The government of Canada is not only turning a blind eye, it is complicit in these abuses.

In fact, Canada is now officially using what is publicly called "Foreign Aid" directly to help Canadian mining companies have their way with nations they wish to exploit. One official "development assistance" fund came with a catch: NGOs could only apply for projects if they were partnering with a mining company.

"If these projects sound like the beginning of the end for an agency whose explicit mandate is poverty reduction and support for international development, that’s because they were. In 2013, omnibus budget Bill C-60 legislated the end of CIDA as an independent agency, folding it into the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade to create a new hybrid department: the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development (DFATD)."

The world is not failing to take notice. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights heard of massive human rights abuses—including killings and sexual assaults of Indigenous protesters—at the hands of security forces in the employ of Canadian mining companies and their associates. These acts were in response to protests motivated by concerns over environmental degradation related to mining activities, which ultimately threaten the very survival of the communities in the regions affected by the mines.

If reading depressing links that make Canada look happily complicit in the worst kinds of human rights abuses happening in dozens of nations around the world bothers you, you could watch ten minutes of equally disheartening interview about how the Canadian Harper government actively interferes in the affairs of other countries on behalf of mining companies registered in Canada here instead.

Because make no mistake, Canadian based mining firms are the worst in the world for both human rights and environmental impacts. The Harper government using public dollars and resources to make it easier for those obscenely profitable companies to rape communities that were unfortunate enough to live where they want to extract resources is only icing on the cake.

And it should really be of little surprise to anyone that John Baird, after serving as foreign affairs minister while the entire concept of foreign aid was transformed into a tool to help mining companies get their way more freely, was rewarded by a nice cushy six figure income by one of those mining companies immediately after leaving office. Is he going to officiate at the debate?

In any event, the debate on international affairs seems incredibly unlikely to ask any of the really important international affairs questions, starting with Canada's transformation from a renowned international peacekeeper to an aggressive militaristic foreign power in the style of George W. Bush.

The once proud tradition of Peacekeeping Canada was once known for is no more, although spearheading the modern approach to peacekeeping was identified by Canadians as the thing we are second proudest of that our country has ever done. So Canadians value it. Stephen Harper's government does not.
Note that the above 2012 article speaks of the UN's desire for Canadian help to prevent things in Syria from spiralling into a civil war. Guess what? After we said no to trying to promote peace, that civil war we wouldn't commit any effort to defusing killed 160,000 people.

Heck, back when the UN wanted help Peacekeeping in the Congo, all they asked Canada for was one General with a handful of support staff, and apparently even that was too much, for a high profile mission that would at least have signified Canada retained some symbolic respect for the idea of peacekeeping at all.

Where the current mission in Iraq is concerned, Prime Minister Harper said that Canadian forces would not “accompany” Iraqi troops to the front lines. Chief of the Defence Staff Tom Lawson also told us that Canadian troops would not join Iraqi and Kurdish fighters in front-line action, nor would they be involved in guiding airstrikes. So what happened? Canadian troops spent a fifth of their time on the front lines and guiding airstrikes.
Putting our troops on the front lines makes that a combat mission. Seeing them not only exchange fire with opposition forces but also receiving friendly fire also makes it a combat mission. Lying to the Canadian public about it is just icing on the cake.

Now for the very first time in all of Canadian history, Parliament has voted to act as a rogue state on the world stage, ignoring international law and the UN charter. What do you call a country that conducts air strikes against another country that it's not at war with without any sanction to do so? Before the current government, you couldn't have ever answered that question with "Canada."
The only possible justification the Harper government has offered at all for this action was a reference to UN Charter Article 51. The problem with that argument is that Article 51 absolutely does not apply to the Syria campaign in any way, as they would well know if this was a government that A) consulted experts or B) cared what they think.

If western countries expand their bombing campaigns against ISIS into Syria, it will only make the Islamic State stronger. It will reinforce ISIS's message that western infidels are attacking and killing Muslims. This provides a perfect recruiting tool to attract more desperate people to join their cause.
Canada's first Iraq casualty was the truth.

"As with just about everything else, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said one thing about the war on the Islamic State but is doing another. The non-combat mission featured combat. The short-term commitment has become long. No involvement in Syria has evolved into a war in Syria. His reasons for extending and expanding the mission are patently false. The Islamic State didn’t move into Syria yesterday — it was there last year as well. It does not pose a direct threat to Canada the way the prime minister frames it in order to scare us, just as George W. Bush whipped up fear about weapons of mass destruction and terrorism to justify his wars and get re-elected."

For anyone bothering to pay any attention to global affairs so far this century, it's painfully clear that more of the same won't counter extremism. Period.

The so called "war on terror" is actually the most effective recruitment campaign that extremism could ever have asked for, a self perpetuation self fulfilling prophecy that fuels military contractor profits but cannot produce any lasting peace or lessening of global extremism.

Where diplomacy is concerned, they've been showing their level of commitment to diplomacy by steadily selling off Canada's diplomatic properties in other nations at fire sale prices.

Selling precious national assets for short term political gain. Does that sound like responsible fiscal management to you?
Here Canada's traditional diplomatic home in the United Kingdom - you know, where the queen came to dinner - is sold off for $530 Million.

Unlike the sale of GM shares, those diplomatic assets are pretty much irreplaceable. But who cares if we've been using them for important diplomatic work around the globe for decades if rushing to find buyers for them will produce a very short term gain for the party in power?
Yes, Canada is now in violation of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights.

As far as the role Canada is choosing on the world stage under Harper diplomatically, Harper's Canada opposes efforts to deal with nuclear weapons proliferation.

Stephen Harper's Canada has opted out of nearly every resolution to protect endangered species taken at last year's meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species. In one year, it filed 76 'reservations' to resolutions to protect endangered species, each such motion representing "a unilateral statement that (a country) will not be bound by the provisions of the Convention relating to trade in a particular species." In 39 years, Japan has filed a total of 18 such reservations, The UK only 8, and the US has filed none, while Canada just blew that away in a single year. This sets Canada well apart from the rest of the planet in publicly declaring its disinterest in caring for endangered species, even on paper.

A Federal Court has already ruled that the Canadian federal government broke the law regarding 167 at risk species inhabiting areas affected by Enbridge’s proposed Northern Gateway pipeline. Under Canada’s Species at Risk Act, they were required to act, but missed the statutory deadlines by between four and 6½ years. Indeed, the government got cracking on this file only after five environmental groups took Ottawa to court. The government’s delays, the justice wrote, were “unlawful.” That ministers of the Crown had deliberately broken an act of Parliament, she wrote, was “simply not acceptable … Public officials are not above the law.”

And to add intellectual insult to environmental injury, changes to the fisheries act now pretend that we can protect fish without paying any attention whatsoever to their habitat.
So is the Harper legacy to Canada going to be a future where our nation's iconic biodiversity is diminished forever? It seems likely the answer is a yes.
But it's not just the wonderful life affirming biodiversity around us that's in danger under this government. Harper's Canada is a global outlier on indigenous rights
which presumably is directly related to Canada voting against declaring access to water as a basic human right. If we consider that without access to water, people die, that's pretty much the same as the Harper government declaring that the ability to stay alive isn't a human right.

Harper's Canada is also opposed to fighting global drought, the first and only country to do so. What a wonderful way to make us stand out on the global stage, by declaring that we don't care whatsoever about a major crisis facing every continent on the entire planet.

But that's not nearly as damning as his government's stance on the greatest collective challenge that humanity has ever faced with climate change. This only started with pulling out of international treaties to confront climate change.
and proceeded to proudly doing more to harm global climate efforts than any other country on Earth.
Here we have Canada using all the diplomatic power it can summon to discourage pro climate policy at the EU in order to promote the dirtiest energy source on the planet.

The Tar Sands trump everything in the minds of this monstrous excuse for a government. Having set the weakest emissions targets of any industrialized country, there has been only a token effort to pass even that low-set bar. Thus far, we are only 7% of the way to meeting what was already the least aggressive emissions target in the world.

And while his administration still claims that they are harmonizing with efforts in the US, we are lagging far behind US efforts to deal with climate issues.
This is nothing new. The Minister of the environment of this major industrialized nation responded to a reporter's question about the international Fossil of the Year awards, which single out those who do the most to derail international progress on climate change, and which Canada has now won six years in a row, by saying that "some of those awards are worn with honour." This kind of statement from a public official charged with the well being of the environment ought in any sane world to be grounds for immediate dismissal at the very least. It amounts to a public declaration "I am proud to be destroying your children's hope for a future."

With the next cabinet shuffle, we got a new minister of the environment who also denies climate change. What's the point of having an environment minister at all, if they're going to deny basic climate science? Isn't that more the role of an anti-environment minister?

And that's pretty clearly why this government is waging an all out war on science and evidence based decision making and science in general that the New York Times called "More than an attack on academic freedom. It is an attempt to guarantee public ignorance."
The Harper government will also not sign the Global Arms Trade treaty.
Delaying rules that require serial numbers on guns, after delaying them four times already, means Canada is in contravention of international agreements on arms proliferation.
Canadian made military vehicles have already been used in military crackdowns on pro democracy protesters, as Canadian arms sales to Saudi Arabia alone jumped from $35 million to $4 Billion.

That jumped again to $10 Billion, because apparently the fact of weapons Canada made and sold being used to kill innocent people who are interested in democracy isn't a good enough reason to slow down giving even more Canadian made weapons to the exact same people.

But what may be the widest ranging long term impact on Canada from the current government's stance on foreign affairs is its eagerness to be a part of so-called international "trade" agreements that have very little to do with trade and much more to do with corporate control over sovereignty and government affairs. Today, we are on the brink of the complete suppression of state power under corporate control. With no escape clause.
Surely a country's ability to care for the well being of its citizens is more important than making already insanely huge corporate profits just that little bit bigger. I mean, a cosmetics company's profits are less important than an entire nation's ability to give its citizens health care, for example. Well, not under so called trade agreements being sold to the public as good for the economy.

"Investment arbitrators have the power to divert taxpayers' money to corporations," the authors of Profiting from Injustice state. "They can decide to penalize governments for ensuring people's human rights to health, access to water or electricity, as well as the right to a healthy environment."
Read it and weep. I did.

So the thing to know about the TPP, FIPA, CETA, and the rest is not only that they put profits for a few above the well being of all, but that they make it easier and go farther than the agreement that already resulted in this particular injustice. Citizens, and even regulators and lawmakers, aren't allowed even to know what happens in them: the TPP, which will directly affect the lives of over a billion people, includes an agreement that only three individuals in each signing country are even allowed to see what's in the whole document before it becomes law.
Canada is already the most sued nation under NAFTA

Under the new deal already signed with China, any decision by any state entity in Canada — from federal or provincial legislation to a Supreme Court of Canada decision — can be challenged by a Chinese investor. The arbitrators, if they conclude that the decision violates flexible standards of "investor protection," can issue orders and award damages against a country. On the other hand, no one in Canada including the government will be able, under the deal, to sue a Chinese investor for breaking any laws. The claims are one-way. Also, only the federal government can participate in the arbitrations. Provincial governments, Canadian companies and other constituencies have no right of standing even if their interests are affected directly.

The way the deal is structured, it can't be undone, even if the Canadian courts find it to be unconstitutional, without consent from China. More significantly, it overrides existing treaty obligations to Canada's First Nations, allowing Chinese investors to force the Canadian government to grant access to aboriginal lands that are technically not Canadian territory.

Only five of 29 chapters on the TPP are actually about trade.
Can Canada expect to hear any leader challenged with any of the above tough questions about international affairs at the international affairs debates, or will it be a congratulatory celebration of "trade" and "fighting extremists to keep Canada safe?" And with fully 81% of Canadians wanting to see Elizabeth May at the debate, why are they excluding her, again? Oh yes, because they really don't care what Canadians think, and hope many of us will be so disheartened by our dysfunctional politics that we stay home on election day.

Let's prove them wrong with the biggest election turnout in Canadian history, shall we?

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