Sunday 29 April 2007

The 'Genius' behind George W. Bush

TILMA: Agreement targets subsidies, non-profit organizations could be at risk; CFIB and Leader-Post not telling whole story

Joe Kuchta, on his blog Owls and Roosters, provides an interesting and comprehensive comment on the issue of subsidies and non-profit organizations. He writes about the implications for sports franchises flowing from the Trade, Investment and Labour Mobility Agreement (TILMA)

Also, here's a comment from Erin Weir entitled TILMA versus Canadian Football over at the Relentlessly Progressive Economics Blog.

Thursday 26 April 2007

Sign TILMA - Kiss the Riders good-bye

Erin Weir and Marc Lee, on their Blog - Relentlessly Progressive Economics have done some preliminary analysis of documents posted to the Saskatchewan Provincial Government's web-site regarding the Trade, Investment and Labour Mobility Agreement (TILMA).

One very interesting quote from the analysis of Dr. John Helliwell is as follows: (from page 4)

“The most important feature of TILMA in [respect to increasing mobility and reducing subsidies] is to forbid providing any enterprise subsidy that results in a material injury to a competing enterprise of another party. To take an example not in the short list of explicit exemptions, this apparently means that a professional football franchise in one province could launch an objection, subject to binding panel arbitration, against the government of a city in another province if they were to provide government subsidized infrastructure for the local team. This perhaps takes the concept of a level playing field further than the parties intended. In general, the combination of unrestricted private access to the dispute mechanisms combined with a commitment to neutrality of treatment, would make almost any provincial or municipal programme subject to attack. This is no doubt part of the appeal of TILMA to some. However, using expensive legal procedures to advance particular private interests is surely not the best way of providing a non-intrusive and efficient network of trade-supporting public rules and institutions.”

In other words - "Sign TILMA and Kiss the Saskatchewan Roughriders Good-bye".

I know that at a recent "Pro-TILMA" forum sponsored by the C.D. Howe Institute and a local business developer the sponsors put a gag order on the media and asked reporters not to "record or quote anything said in the room".

So, here's a little nugget from me - quote away:

"Any political leader who would sign an agreement that reduces and relegates democracy to the status of some irritating exemption in a corporate bill of rights (i.e. TILMA) does not deserve to hold the office to which he or she has been elected.

It is totally irresponsible and it is a betrayal of trust for any politician or any elected leader to abandon democracy in an attempt to placate a narrow ideological special interest (i.e. Trans-National Corporations). TILMA is a massive assault on democracy" - Larry Hubich, April 26, 2007.

And finally, check out Gary Schoenfeldt's report of the Secret TILMA meeting entitled (Not) talking about TILMA at Straight Goods.

Olbermann on Giuliani and Fearmongering

Olbermann Hits One Out of the Park!!!

New Developments on TILMA - Saskatchewan to conduct formal inquiry

The Saskatchewan Government has announced that it will be conducting a formal inquiry into the Trade, Investment and Labour Mobility Agreement (TILMA) and whether or not they should sign on.

Here's the Leader-Post coverage on the announcement.

The City of Regina isn't so sure they like this trade scheme and wants more information.

Wednesday 25 April 2007

CFIB says Bill is "knee Jerk reaction"

The reaction from the CFIB (to the government introducing an amendment to strengthen the anti-harassment laws in Saskatchewan) is typical and expected from that organization. They think anything that protects workers is terrible. And they continue to perpetuate the myth that good working conditions and healthy and safe workplaces are bad for business.

It's just so much more of their constant barrage of negativity, and baseless rhetoric.

Their spokesperson said, "We would much rather have the government review existing pieces of legislation to ensure they adequately address harassment" - well that's exactly what the government did, -they amended existing legislation.

I think the time has come to stop supporting businesses that are members of the CFIB.

Monday 23 April 2007

Calvert wrestles with TILMA - Gag Order in effect

This column by Leader-Post financial and business reporter, Bruce Johnstone seems to confirm that the chill, hush and gag order issued last Friday (April 20, 2007) at the "pro-TILMA" (B.C.-Alberta Trade, Investment and Labour Mobility Agreement) business forum held last week in Regina is having it's desired effect.

At the above-mentioned forum (sponsored by a prominent Regina developer and the C.D. Howe Institute) media in attendance were instructed by the event sponsors not to "record or quote" anything said in the room. After all, the organizers of the event didn't want to run the risk of "embarassing our guests back home in B.C. and Alberta".

What? By reporting what they are actually saying in their attempts to sell this anti-democratic corporate bill of rights - they might be embarassed?

If I was Bruce Johnstone, or any other media person who attended (or tried to attend) that event I would be outraged, insulted and offended. Perhaps Mr. Johnstone is all of these things: outraged, insulted and offended. He just can't put it in print. They told him not to.

Saturday 21 April 2007

Olbermann: Bush out did himself this time

My Open Letter to Premier Calvert on TILMA, and thoughts of a Corporate Gag Order

Click here to view my April 19, 2007 Open Letter to Premier Calvert on TILMA. (PDF Format)

Also, on April 20, 2007 the C.D. Howe Institute and a local Regina businessman hosted a forum on the B.C.-Alberta Trade, Investment and Labour Mobility Agreement (TILMA) where the guest speakers where a couple of government officials from B.C. and Alberta (1 from each province).

The two speakers were from those provinces' respective equivalents of the "Industry and Resources/Economic Development/Trade" departments, and were advocating and supporting the virtues of TILMA in an attempt to convince the audience that TILMA is a good thing.

Two representatives from the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour (SFL) attended the event (after paying their $40 each to get in) and get this - they advise me that the sponsors of the event actually asked any media and the others present "Not to quote, broadcast or report on anything said at the forum."

Talk about a cloak of secrecy. Talk about arrogance, elitism, and anti-democratic behaviour. Is it normal practice in corporate circles to put a "Gag" on the media, and for the media to agree to this type of censureship?

And finally, why do the supporters of TILMA find it necessary to hide their true intentions and then for them to go out of their way to keep it from the citizens?

More on this later, complete with a detailed report of the "so-called" forum.

TILMA is a Massive Assault on Democracy.


Olbermann: Dick Cheney - Worst Person in the World

Thursday 19 April 2007

Wal-Mart loses AGAIN!!!!

Wal-Mart loses AGAIN! Look at this story. And for more coverage on this story, click here.

How many more times will they engage in this blatant abuse of the judicial process?

If Saskatchewan signed TILMA how long do you think it would be before Wal-Mart was dragging every level of government and their "entities" into a TILMA tribunal claiming that something (or some law) was a barrier to investment for Wal-Mart?

Let's not hand our democracy over to the "Smiley Face".


Tuesday 17 April 2007

Out of acrimony a chance to do good

Update - to view some of the consensus recommendations to the OH&S Committee of Review click here.

In this column, Leader-Post political guru Murray Mandryk suggests that the NDP will soon be bringing in amendments to the Occupational Health and Safety Act to strengthen the harassment provisions of the Act. The reason - to prevent another Murdoch Carriere situation from happening again. (Carriere was charged and found guilty of harassing 9 women in his workplace and was fired from his job for doing it). The media and the Sask Party have been on a feeding frenzy about it ever since the legislature reconvened this spring.

You see, for a month now - the Sask. Party has been beating up the NDP over Carriere and now they are even running ads (according to Mandryk and others - false ads) in an attempt to score cheap political points. The Sask. Party has been squealing like stuck pigs over this issue as they pretend to be the defenders of the poor downtrodden workers.

I support the provincial government bringing in amendments to the OH&S Act to improve the anti-harassment provisions of the Act - they should have done it long ago. The labour movement has been calling on government for years and years to address workplaces that allow such horrible situations to occur. And we've been calling on government to provide legislative protections to workers who are the victims of harassment, violence and abuse.

But guess what - the Sask. Party (and their parents the Conservative Parties), at the behest of certain elements of the business crowd have been blocking it every step of the way. Why? Because they describe workplace health and safety as "red tape" and they accuse it of being "union friendly labour laws that scare business away". The hypocrits.

Both the NDP and the "New West" Sask. Party opposition should hang their heads in shame over the matter of Occupational Health and Safety. A couple of years ago there was a comprehensive review of the OH&S Act which resulted in a report containing a couple of hundred recommendations. These recommendations were achieved through consensus between labour and business.

How many of those recommendations do you think have been implemented to date?

The answer - none.

The reason - because inspite of the consensus that was achieved (a concensus that business participated in) - the Sask. Party and their unenlightened business buddies have been engaged in a massive campaign of misinformation and a constant barrage of negativity by suggesting that improving Saskatchewan's Labour Laws will scare away business and investment.

I say - bring on the "harassment" amendments to the OH&S Act. And while we're at it - bring in the other 200 concensus recommendations to fix the OH&S Act. Recommendation that business and labour have already agreed to.

Let's see if our politicians are prepared to stand up for the working women and men who are suffering from unhealthy and unsafe workplaces every day in this province.

Are our politicians really concerned about workers being protected in the workplace? Do they really care about stopping workplace harassment? Or is what we've witnessed over the past month - just political grandstanding?

Update - to view some of the consensus recommendations to the OH&S Committee of Review click here.

Monday 16 April 2007

Olbermann: Names Geraldo Best Person in the World

Bill O'Reilly is over-the-top here. Give the man a valium.

Charter has been good for aboriginals

Here is an excellent commentary by Saskatoon freelance writer - Doug Cuthand.

It exposes the outright contempt that certain political parties and their leadership have for the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

It further exposes how certain politicians will go to any length to silence their critics, and to deny rights to disadvantaged groups.

Saskatchewan CEOs racking up Millions in pay and perks

Now I'm not opposed to folks making a decent wage. In fact I support the concept. A fair day's pay for a fair day's work. But at a certain point, levels of compensation for the corporate elite and the captains of industry start to border on the obscene.

In this CBC story, it's indicated that CEO's in Saskatchewan racked up the big bucks last year.

For instance:

Wayne Brownlee, Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan - 16.7 million
Gerry Grandey, Cameco Corporation - 6.8 million
David Sutherland, IPSCO - 10+ million

It's no wonder average folks are becoming increasing concerned with the Growing Gap between the rich and the rest of us.

TILMA: Saskatchewan Party Leader Brad Wall continues to back peddle; recent letter to City of Saskatoon hypocritical

Joe Kuchta just keeps putting together great stuff on TILMA. Check this out.

His analysis clearly uncovers what the Sask. Party's true agenda regarding TILMA is.

Sunday 15 April 2007

Dick Cheney Ruins Easter

TILMA: A Massive Assault on Democracy

Immediately below are links to a couple of great letters to the editor on the Trade, Investment and Labour Mobility Agreement - TILMA. (both recently appeared in the Regina Leader-Post - April 14 and April 12 respectively).

1. SUMA has good reason to worry - by Allan Earle, SUMA
2. TILMA: 'a corporate bill of rights' - by Marvin Meickel, SFL

What both of these letters illustrate is that there is absolutely no good, sound, or rational reason for Saskatchewan (or any other province for that matter) to join in on the 'so-called' TILMA. In fact, it would be in the best interests of the citizens of both B.C. and Alberta if the agreement was simply scrapped and written off in the history books as just another bad idea that was flawed from the get go.

TILMA is an anti-democratic, top-down, ideologically driven instrument for massive deregulation. It strips governments, and their entities of the ability to act, regulate, and legislate in the public interest.

TILMA is an abrogation of the duty and responsibility of duly elected officials to govern for the citizens who have elected them. Even the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants can see that. Their Vice-President recently testified before the Standing Senate Committee on Banking Trade and Commerce and said the following related to TILMA:

"We do not believe that this is consistent with the obligation of legislators and ensure that the public is protected." (for the full quote see Page 21 of this legal analysis)

Don't be fooled by the attempts of supporters of TILMA to paint those who oppose this anti-democratic agreement as fear mongering. Simply read the agreement for yourself, and then read some of the analysis of the agreement. You'll come to the same conclusion that I have - TILMA is a Massive Assault on Democracy.

Send a message to your MLA that your Saskatchewan does not include the "so-called" Trade, Investment and Labour Mobility Agreement.


Thursday 12 April 2007

Opposition questions restrictions on media

This is absolutely fascinating. The Sask Party criticizing the government because Al Gore's contract will not provide special entrance for the media to attend his speech in Regina on April 23, 2007.

"With taxpayers footing the bill, why on earth did the premier agree to these kind of restrictions, restrictions that will limit who will hear the former vice-president's views?" - Ken Krawetz

This is the same opposition who apparently has no problem with Alberta and B.C. signing away the democratic rights of voters and citizens in those two provinces without any consultation - out of public scrutiny - in a secret back room deal - without anybody being able to hear what the Premiers of those two provinces were up to.

The same opposition who roundly criticizes the Saskatchewan Government for not signing the deal and for not being in that back room with the Premiers of B.C. and Alberta.

What a bunch of hypocrits.

I'm surprised they weren't self-righteously indignant that the "Rolling Stones" concert had restrictions on cameras and recording devices. As if the provincial government had anything to do with that.

Wednesday 11 April 2007

Override charter, Canadians argue

This article reports that 68 percent of Canadians support the Federal Government retaining the ability to use the "notwithstanding clause" in the Canadian Constitution as an override of the Constitution under certain exceptional circumstances.

This is an interesting development considering we are hearing some of those in the business crowd (and certain right-wing politicians) saying that governments shouldn't even have the right to legislate and regulate in the public interest. (i.e. TILMA).

What is democracy anyway? Is it handing off the citizens' and their elected representatives right and legal responsibility to govern - to the arbitrary decisions of a hand-picked trade tribunal?

That's not my vision of democracy.

The BC/Alberta Trade, Investment and Labour Mobility Agreement (TILMA) is a Massive Assault on Democracy. It was signed in secret, in the backrooms, between Gordon Campbell and Ralph Klein, without public consultation or knowledge. It is short-shighted, irresponsible, and unacceptable.

Monday 9 April 2007

A Natural Mystic: The Honey Bee is Speaking to Us

I encourage you to watch the video below and then check out the following website:

I don't subscribe to much of what is being suggested on the site, but I am fascinated and concerned about what is causing the "bees to die".

Video Pictograph and Essay by A.J. Bruno - Music by Bob Marley.

Sunday 8 April 2007

Saturday 7 April 2007

Canadian TaxEvaders Federation thinks civic workers earn too much

Once again, the Canadian TaxEvaders Federation is complaining that working people don't deserve (and aren't entitled) to get a decent pay increase so they can keep up with increases to the cost of living.

It's remarkable that you never hear a peep out of this organization when it comes to exhorbitant CEO salaries (and "annual" double digit increases for the people at the top of the heap). Or the fact that the cost of housing across this country is rapidly increasing - so that buying a home is out of reach for a significant segment of our society. Or that working people are the back-bone of this country and it's their wages and taxes that keep the economy going.

No, the free-riders over at the TaxEvaders Federation think all of the decent things in a modern, caring and compassionate society just fall out of the trees. Like health care, and education, and libraries, and schools, and snow removal, and garbage collection, and roads, and policing, and fire-fighting, and parks, and recreation, --- the list of things provided by civic workers for the public good is long and impressive.

And the TaxEvaders Federation thinks the people who provide these services to community and society should do it for crap wages, and that these good citizens should fall further and further behind the cost of living by having their wages frozen.

In the meantime the TaxEvaders Federation supports massive tax-cuts and free-rides for businesses and the corporate elite. Why? Because the TaxEvaders Federation is not a member based organization. It has no members. You can't join the organization (you can only give them money). It has no membership meetings, it has no democratic structure. It's people and representatives are unelected and unaccountable.

They seem quite prepared to disclose the names of people who donate to political campaigns, and they are prepared to disclose the names of people in the public sector and what those people earn. But they are not so transparent when it comes to disclosing their own supporters, or funders, or the wages of their staff.

Exactly who are the "donors/supporters" of the TaxEvaders Federation? How much money do the supporters contribute to this "so-called" advocacy group? How do I get a copy of the organization's audited financial statement? How do I get a copy of the organizations constitution, and bylaws?

So many questions - so few answers.

Wednesday 4 April 2007

TILMA: Edmonton Journal and Saskatchewan Party admit few genuine trade barriers exist between three westernmost provinces

Check this out! Click here.

CFIB says pact cuts red tape, but labour strongly criticizes it

In this Regina Leader-Post article, the CFIB accuses the Sask. Federation of Labour of being "high on rhetoric and low on substance" when it comes to TILMA. Nothing could be further from the truth.

In fact, we (those who have actually studied the scheme) are the only organizations who have provided substantial background material including legal analysis, economic analysis, factual analysis and other analysis to re-inforce our positions. If there is anybody who lacks substance on this topic it's the CFIB and their spokespeople.

Their tactics here are reminiscent of the approach they took on the "available hours" debate in Saskatchewan two years ago. Their campaign then was based on misinformation, distortion, hysteria, fear mongering and outright lies - just like they are attempting to do now in support of TILMA.

As for the Sask. Party - they're still trotting out bogus numbers in their effort to support joining the secret back-room deal signed by the Premiers of B.C. and Alberta. This in spite of the fact that the study they are relying on (done by the Conference Board of Canada) has been discredited and shot so full of holes that even the Conference Board of Canada has stopped using it.

TILMA is a massive assault on democracy, and is an instrument of wholesale deregulation. It strips away governments ability (at all levels) to legislate and regulate in the public interest. Any intelligent and thoughtful person will come to this conclusion by simply reading the agreement. We have. And so apparently have the Saskatoon City Soliciter, the Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association, and others.

"High on rhetoric and low on substance" - INDEED!

Tuesday 3 April 2007

Grady on the Conference Board and TILMA

Below is a quote from the Relentlessly Progressive Economics Blog:

Patrick Grady, a former senior Finance official and leading mainstream economist, has weighed in on the Conference Board’s estimate of TILMA’s economic benefits. He cites the paper that (Marc Lee) and (Erin Weir) wrote and reiterates the points first made on their blog. He also notes that the Conference Board’s own forecast of BC’s economic-growth rate does not seem to reflect its projection of TILMA’s effect.

Monday 2 April 2007

Lou Dobbs and the SPP

B.C., Alta. trade pact goes into effect

On April Fools Day 2007 the B.C. and Alberta governments put into effect an agreement that effectively strips away the democratic rights of their citizens in favour of giving corporations the authority and legal mechanism to veto any social policy initiatives of either province. And by extension an agreement that will eliminate the ability of any other level of government or government agency to act in the public interest.

And the media continues to trot out the corporate sector's wild assertions that the borders between provinces in this country are currently closed to trade, investment and labour mobility. The media never asks the supporters of TILMA to prove their allegations, or even provide supporting evidence of the distorted and twisted accusations that they make.

The corporate sector is engaged in yet another campaign of misinformation, distortion of the facts, and out-right lies. We need a broad based public debate on the TILMA, and it is the responsibility of the main stream media to provide balanced and unbiased coverage.