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Canadian Cities Hit by Pandemic Lockdown. Vulnerable to BlackRock’s Privatization Agenda

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blackrock_headquarters_nyc_flags_1550-main_i-001More voices have been added to the urgent call for federal financial help to struggling municipal governments across Canada, hit by the pandemic lockdown.

On May 20, CUPE Ontario (representing 80,000 municipal employees) and the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (representing about 440 municipal councils) joined forces to appeal for immediate federal and provincial emergency funding. Their appeal backs a similar call put out by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities in mid-April, urgently asking the federal government for $10 billion in emergency aid.

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What’s Happening to Canada?

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naderiiOpen letter to P.M.

February 18, 2015

The Right Honourable Stephen Harper, P.C., M.P.
80 Wellington Street
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A2

Dear Prime Minister:

Many Americans love Canada and the specific benefits that have come to our country from our northern neighbor’s many achievements (see Canada Firsts by Nader, Conacher and Milleron). Unfortunately, your latest proposed legislation—the new anti-terrorism act—is being described by leading Canadian civil liberties scholars as hazardous to Canadian democracy.

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Canada’s choice:

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Austerity or prosperity

theftcuffsImagine for a moment two societies living side by side. One has discovered the wheel and uses it. The wheel makes life easier for workers and boosts the economy for everyone. Prosperity reigns. The society next door is well aware of the wheel and watches as its neighbours move inexorably ahead, becoming wealthier, more efficient and healthier while creating more leisure time for cultural activities.

But the ones who reject the wheel aren’t those who do the work in this society. Those who refuse it are the governing elite, the priests, the official advisors and scribes who have incorporated a moral objection to the wheel into the state religion.

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Canada’s Opposition Parties Acquiesce

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Canada’s Opposition Parties Acquiesce to Government’s Draconian “Anti-terror” Bill

G20_ProtestCanada’s opposition parties have signaled that they will mount no serious opposition to the Conservative government’s latest “anti-terror” bill—legislation that would dramatically expand the powers of the national security apparatus and attack core democratic rights.

The Liberals, who polls indicate are the best positioned to unseat the Conservatives in the coming federal election, have announced they will vote in favour of Bill C-51 even if the government rejects the various amendments they intend to propose. The trade-union based NDP, the current official opposition, has thus far refused to say whether it supports or opposes the legislation. Like the Liberals, what criticisms it has made have been confined to the lack of “oversight mechanisms.”

Under Bill C-51, the Canadian Security and Intelligence Service (CSIS), the country’s premier spy agency, is to be empowered to use illegal means to “disrupt” purported threats to Canada’s national security, a major shift from its current role as an intelligence-gathering agency. “Disruption” techniques could include breaking into homes, interfering with bank accounts and other personal data, and intercepting mail and other packages.

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The High Cost of Privatization

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Ontario audit throws cold water on federal-provincial love affair with P3s

Bag_of_CashIn her annual report in December, Ontario’s auditor general (AGO), Bonnie Lysyk, exposed the extraordinary waste and financial sham pervasive in public-private partnerships (P3s)—projects her office estimates to have cost the province $8 billion more than if they had been publicly financed and operated. That is the equivalent of $1,600 per Ontario household, or close to what the provincial deficit will be this year.

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The Renewed Push For Deeper North American Integration

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NAFTA_flagThe globalist plan to incrementally merge the U.S., Canada and Mexico into a North American Union has been ongoing for years. While at times, the agenda appears to have seemingly stalled, current efforts to expand the trilateral partnership show that it is alive and once again gaining steam. With NAFTA as the foundation, the renewed push for deeper North American integration continues on many different fronts.

The Canadian Council of Chief Executives (CCCE), recently issued the report, Made in North America: a new agenda to sharpen our competitive edge. The CCCE is one of Canada’s most influential corporate lobby groups, with many of their proposals shaping the country’s domestic and foreign policy priorities. Throughout the years, they have pushed for deeper continental integration.

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Why Canada’s Job Future Is Sinking like a Stone

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GM_Transmission_Plant_WindsorCanada’s economy is increasingly at the mercy of a risk-averse, inept corporate elite addicted to government tax breaks. They are enabled by an ideologically addled government which is incompetent.

It is a deadly combination — a dumb and dumber team dragging us backwards at a time when the world is hoping there won’t be another economic collapse.

Recent media reports reinforce what we have known for decades about the Canadian corporate elite. One highlighted Canada’s dismal performance when it comes to research and development, the other our pathetic efforts at broadening our markets for exports. More and more evidence piles up that we are de-industrializing — reminding me of the Star Trek episode where the whole crew starts devolving. Captain Picard is destined to become a pygmy marmoset. I wonder what the end point for Canada might be?

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Building a New North American Partnership for the Future

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stephen-harper_council_of_foreign_relationsThe globalist controlled Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) have called on the U.S. to work more closely with Canada and Mexico to build a new North American partnership for the future. The pivot to North America would focus on greater trilateral cooperation in areas such as energy, economic competitiveness, border management, law enforcement and continental perimeter security. Throughout the years, the incremental steps towards a North American Union have been used to further chip away at the sovereignty of all three NAFTA countries.

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Work in the age of anxiety

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Occupy_People_Not_ProfitWorking Canadians, from blue collar workers to middle class professionals to hamburger flippers are facing the worst economy insecurity, most stressful working conditions, the slowest increases in real income and the most cynical anti-worker governments literally since the 1930s. At the same time the 1% and the powerful corporations which make them rich have not been so privileged in terms of wealth, income and political power since the pre-crash 1920s.

Yet in those days when there was virtually no state protection for workers, unions were illegal, police were more brutal and economic security for many non-existent there was a level of militancy, courage, social solidarity and sheer determination that was at once stunning and inspirational. It terrified that day’s 1% and following the depression and war it brought the only concessions to workers capitalists have ever agreed to.

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Who Needs $80 Billion? Starve Us Some More

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Canadian_Flag

For years Stephen Harper often seemed at war with his own government, so consistently critical were reviews by its various independent oversight agencies. It seems that at least one “independent” body, the Parliamentary Budget Office, is now a little more PMO-friendly. A recent report from the PBO’s new chief Jean-Denis Fréchette declared that thanks to the incredible generosity of the federal government, “Canadians” have an extra $30 billion in their pockets — money “saved” due to Conservative tax cuts. The figure includes reductions in personal income tax of $17.1 billion and the federal share of revenue loss GST/HST of $13.3 billion.

That’s almost $1,000 per person.

Isn’t that nice.

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Imperialism’s Coup d’Etat against Democracy and the People of Haiti

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We Have an Anti-imperialist Obligation to the People of Haiti

Haiti_anti_UNThis month marks the 10th anniversary of the UN’s military occupation of Haiti. This article was first published February 9, 2014.

We are coming upon the 10th anniversary of the February 29, 2004 coup in Haiti that was orchestrated by imperialism[2] against the labouring classes and the democratically elected government of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. According to journalist and writer Yves Engler:

On Jan. 31 and Feb. 1, 2003, Jean Chrétien’s Liberal government organized the “Ottawa Initiative on Haiti” to discuss that country’s future. No Haitian officials were invited to this assembly where high-level US, Canadian and French officials decided that Haiti’s elected president “must go”, the dreaded army should be recreated and that the country would be put under a Kosovo-like UN trusteeship.[3]

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Stephen Harper’s ‘Strategic’ Path to Ruin

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Harper_thumbs_upThe federal government, that is Stephen Harper, is expected to announce its long anticipated decision on Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline sometime in June. The decision could well determine whether or not the Conservatives can win the 2015 election.

The momentum of opposition to the pipeline — and perhaps more importantly to the hundreds of supertankers that would move tar sands bitumen to Asia — is clearly growing in both B.C. and the rest of Canada. This makes Harper’s absolute dedication to the oil industry, and his dogged commitment to the pipeline in particular, tantamount to a suicide pact. This is a pipeline that will never be built. It is already dead. But don’t assume Harper sees that. His decision, as many of them are, will be a war between his highly touted strategic genius and his narcissistic impulses — revealed by a pattern of rejecting defeat until reality can no longer be denied.

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Trilateral Defense Ministers Meeting Continues to Build North American Security Framework

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NAFTA_flagAs an extension of the North American Leaders Summit which was held in February, the defense ministers from the U.S., Canada and Mexico quietly met last month to discuss continental security issues. During the conference, they addressed shared defense and security challenges. This includes threats posed by cyber attacks and transnational criminal organizations. The North American security relationship has evolved with Mexico being increasingly viewed as a valued part of the continental defense team. The U.S., Canada and Mexico are building the framework for greater cooperation on common security issues. They are expanding security arrangements and are further establishing new institutions at a continental level. The trilateral defense ministers meeting, which received very little media attention is part of the process of integrating military planning and coordination into a North American security perimeter.

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NAFTA Partners Pushing North American Competitiveness Integration Agenda

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NAFTA_flagThe recent North American Leaders Summit in Mexico was seen as a perfect opportunity to try and kickstart the trilateral partnership. While there was no headline grabbers or major breakthroughs, the NAFTA partners still moved forward on some crucial issues that centered around North American competitiveness. They developed a shared set of priorities and established a roadmap for enhancing cooperation in areas such as trade, transportation, energy, as well as border facilitation. This includes creating a North American trusted traveler program which is part of ongoing efforts to establish a fully integrated continental security perimeter. During separate bilateral meetings, Canada and Mexico also took steps towards strengthening political, economic and security ties.

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NAFTA and the Next Phase of North American Integration

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TPPIn preparation for the upcoming North American Leaders Summit which will be held in Toluca, Mexico on February 19, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry recently held a meeting with his Canadian and Mexican counterparts. Over the last number of years, not as much attention has been given to the trilateral relationship. Instead, the U.S. has essentially pursued a dual-bilateral approach with both Canada and Mexico on key issues including border and continental perimeter security, as well as regulatory and energy cooperation. On the heels of its 20th anniversary, there once again appears to be renewed interest in broadening and deepening the NAFTA partnership as part of the next phase of North American integration.

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Increasing Data Collection and Surveillance in the North American Homeland

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canam_flagSome of the corporate interests that are steering the U.S.-Canada Beyond the Border integration agenda are not quite satisfied with its progress so far and they would like the implementation process to be accelerated. The bilateral initiative which was launched almost two years ago promotes a shared vision for perimeter security. It seeks to improve information sharing between security agencies. Under the agreement, both countries are moving towards a coordinated entry/exit system and are developing a harmonized cargo security strategy. In addition, the U.S. and Canada are strengthening integrated cross-border intelligence sharing and law enforcement operations. Canada’s own electronic eavesdropping agency is also working hand and hand with the NSA. They are both increasing data collection and surveillance in the North American Homeland.

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The Economy, Labour And The 2015 Election

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uniforWith the formation Unifor, a “new kind of union” and the country’s largest private sector union, there is at least a chance that the long slumber o the labour movement is over. An organization that big, with a radically new mandate, cannot help but influence developments elsewhere in the movement. The largely complacent leadership of other large unions will either be inspired by Unifor’s approach, or be forced to recognize that change is in the offing – which might just mean their replacement.

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Canada Aids and Abets the Spectre of Nuclear Terrorism

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plowsharesEarlier this year, Michael Walli made a blunt confession in a Tennessee court. "I was employed as a terrorist for the United States Government," he told the judge hearing his case. And sure enough, Walli is facing down a potential 35 years in prison for what his prosecutors successfully argued was an action that fit the "federal crime of terrorism."

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U.S. Arctic Ambitions and the Militarization of the High North

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canam_flagCanada recently took over the leadership of the Arctic Council and will be succeeded by the U.S. in 2015. With back-to-back chairmanships, it gives both countries an opportunity to increase cooperation on initiatives that could enhance the development of a shared North American vision for the Arctic. The U.S. has significant geopolitical and economic interests in the high north and have released a new national strategy which seeks to advance their Arctic ambitions.

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Canada Being Assimilated Into a U.S. Dominated North American Security Perimeter

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canam_flagCanada’s prime minister recently addressed the CFR, a globalist think tank who have been a driving force behind the push towards deeper North American integration. The U.S. and Canada are now further advancing this agenda through the Beyond the Border agreement. Both countries are increasing bilateral border transportation and infrastructure coordination. This includes a common approach to border management, security and control. They are also integrating an information sharing system that would be used to track everyone crossing the U.S.-Canada border and entering or leaving the continent. Without much fanfare and seemingly little resistance, Canada is being assimilated into a U.S. dominated North American security perimeter.

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The Return of ACTA:

U.S. Dictating Canada’s Intellectual Property Laws

Big_BrotherIn March, the Canadian government introduced a bill that would bring about sweeping changes to its copyright and trademark laws. This includes giving more power to customs and border protection agents without any judicial oversight. The move is intended to prevent counterfeit goods from entering the country, but has been criticized for being less about protecting Canadians and more about caving to American demands. With the U.S. dictating global intellectual property standards, the new legislation represents the return of ACTA and would pave the way for Canada to ratify the controversial international treaty.

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Final Push for a Canada-EU CETA and the Coming NAFTA-EU Free Trade Zone

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Canada_Europe_Flags_sqPressure is mounting on Canada to finish up a long-delayed trade deal with the EU. Despite outstanding issues that still must be settled, there is a final push to try and complete an agreement this summer. If both sides are able to secure a deal, it would lay the groundwork for the proposed U.S.-EU trade pact. There is the possibility that the U.S.-EU transatlantic trade talks could also include the other NAFTA partners and maybe even other countries. Mexico has already shown interest in joining and if Canada can’t put the final touches on their own agreement with the EU, they might also be part of the negotiations. This would facilitate plans for a coming NAFTA-EU free trade zone and the formation of a transatlantic economic union.

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This is what democracy could look like

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Hugo_ChavezOne of the many things that Hugo Chavez, the charismatic and revolutionary president of Venezuela contributed to the world was his demonstration for people everywhere the difference between democracy and liberal democracy. Chavez’s hyperbolic style, his tweaking the tail of the Imperial tiger and his willingness to be just as ruthless as his US-backed opponents, gave Western leaders and journalists lots of ammunition to demonize him.

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Canada’s Reckless Banks Inflate House Price Bubble

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Bank_of_CanadaThe whole issue of the housing bubble, its extent and whether there will be a soft landing as predicted by many wishful thinkers has resulted in many interesting headlines in recent weeks – including some high on the delusional scale. One suggested that house prices are a mere 20% overvalued (if you believe that, I have a bridge to sell you). Another that Marc Carney, having solved the housing bubble issue, was now moving on to an allegedly different issue: economic growth. Into this mix rode the cowboy of the big Canadian banks, the Bank of Montreal (BMO), with a replay of its irresponsible low interest rate of 2.99% for a five year mortgage. The last time it did this, for a couple of months in early 2012, it scooped $7 billion in mortgage business.

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The Vanishing Country (Part III of III)

(Part III of III) Originally Published on CCPA February 4, 2004   Part I   Part II

After years of kowtowing, our influence with the U.S. is still zilch, Canada is too good a country to let our Americanizers destroy it!

NAFTA_flagU.S. President George W. Bush and the U.S. ambassador to Canada, Paul Cellucci, were “disappointed” that Canada didn’t join in the American-led invasion of Iraq. Their predecessors in the 1960s and ‘70s were also disappointed that we didn’t join them in their catastrophic Vietnam quagmire. Too bad. Back then, we were right and they were dead wrong. Today we are right again, and they are dead wrong again.

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The Vanishing Country (Part II of III)

(Part II of III)  Originally Published on CCPA December 1, 2003   Part I   Part III

Personal incomes rise much more slowly in free trade years

canada_moneyThe noted Canadian economist Pierre Fortin tells us that, “during the 1990s, Canada’s aggregate economic performance has been the worst since the great depression, and very nearly the worst among all industrial countries.”

For those of you who might think that Canada has improved substantially in the new millennium, you should know that this country still ranks only 65th in GDP growth rate.

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The Vanishing Country (Part I of III)

(Part I of III)  Originally Published on CCPA Novemeber 1, 2003   Part II   Part III

It’s not too late to preserve Canada as an independent country.

canam_flagThe subtitle of my book The Vanishing Country, published a year ago by McLelland & Stewart, is Is it too late to save Canada? I personally don’t think it’s too late, but even some great Canadian nationalists such as Peter C. Newman and David Suzuki have said to me that in their opinion it is already too late, that we have already become so integrated into the United States as a result of the FTA and NAFTA that we’ve now passed the point of no return.

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U.S.-Canada Harmonizing Border Security and Immigration Measures

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canam_flagThe U.S. and Canada have made significant progress in advancing the Beyond the Border deal and continue to implement various perimeter security initiatives. Without much fanfare, they have signed an immigration agreement that would allow them to share biographic and at a later date, biometric information. As part of a North American security perimeter, both countries are further harmonizing border security and immigration measures. Canada is further taking on U.S. security priorities and this could include a bigger role in the war on terrorism.

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Canada vs. Norway:

The Petro Path Not Taken

Tar_SandsMomentum is building across Canada on the need to develop a sustainable national energy strategy.

On this front, Canada and Alberta, its main petro-province, has much to learn from another major petroleum producing and exporting country, Norway.

Canada and Norway are advanced industrialized countries with highly developed political, bureaucratic and economic institutions.

Norway and Alberta have similar population size, similar production profiles, and similar levels of dependence on petroleum exports and government petro-revenues.

During my recent trip to Norway, I found they have taken very different paths, and with very different outcomes.

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The Power of Idle No More’s Resurgent Radicalism

Idle_No_MoreThe remarkable Idle No More movement is the biggest and most important national outpouring of grassroots aboriginal anger ever seen in Canada. Not since the late 1960s when Indians (as they then referred to themselves) and Métis confronted governments with demands for justice has such a dramatic and passionate expression of resistance been seen. As the movement continues to grow we can only speculate on what its longer term outcome will be. Many movements begin with such spontaneous explosions of pent up anger and frustration. The successful ones find their feet quickly and are able, through collective leadership, to focus their energy and passion on a unifying vision and on some organizational form to press for its realization. Idle No More will be no different.

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The Tri-Command Strategy and Merging U.S.-Canada Arctic Foreign Policy

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Canada and USA Flag picThe Arctic has become an important part of North American perimeter security. Recently, the U.S. and Canada signed two new agreements that will expand bilateral military training, security and defense operations in the region. Both countries are working together to prepare for any real or perceived threats and are moving towards merging their Arctic foreign policies.

On December 11, 2012, the U.S. and Canada signed the Tri-Command Framework for Arctic Cooperation which will further integrate United States Northern Command (USNORTHCOM), Canadian Joint Operations Command (CJOC) and North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD).

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Beyond NAFTA:

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Shaping the Future of North American Integration

NAFTA_flagIn a move that signalled the importance placed on the NAFTA partnership, Mexico’s new president visited the U.S. and Canada before his inauguration. This was seen as a step forward in further strengthening political, economic, energy and security ties between all three countries. Other recent high-level meetings and policy papers are also shaping the future of North American integration.

Before his recent trip to the U.S., Mexico’s new President Enrique Pena Nieto emphasized in a Washington Post editorial the opportunity both countries have to build on their economic partnership. He explained that, “in NAFTA we have a solid foundation to further integrate our economies through greater investments in finance, infrastructure, manufacturing and energy.”

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Canada:

Starving the People in Order to Feed the Banks

Global Research News Hour Radio: Episode 7

Canadian_Flag“What is this? This is nonsense! This is an unconstitutional use of the Bank of Canada and it also breaches the terms for which it was set up. The other dimension is, why do we have foreign private interests dictating to the Bank what the interest rate policy, the currency policies and everything else is going to be? And it’s not as if these people are brilliant. They’ve literally caused the collapse of the financial system in the G20 countries! The Federal Reserve, it’s just come out on the audit, printed $16 trillion to save their banks. Our government has put in over a hundred billion in buoying our banks.

So why are we doing this at public expense? And letting the Bank of Canada wither down to nothing, except interest rate policy trying to keep interest rates between 1% and 3%? That’s all they do now!

It’s abdicating your duty under the Bank of Canada Act to govern with respect to these issues.”

-Canadian Constitutional Lawyer Rocco Galati, Dec 5, 2012

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Canadian Vets Victimized by National Security State

VETSWhen Prime Minister Stephen Harper chose this year to spout his annual Remembrance Day propaganda half a world away in Hong Kong, the symbolic nature of his distance from a growing number of Canada's alienated and neglected veterans seemed quite apropos.

Indeed, while war veterans have never enjoyed the support they required, the gap between "support our troops" rhetoric and the miserable reality of countless veterans' lives has become increasingly wide in the Harper years. The list of scandalous treatment is voluminous, including high rates of untreated post-traumatic stress disorder (at least one in four Afghan vets suffers from PTSD), homelessness among former soldiers, clawed-back benefits, refusal to pay proper funeral expenses, and increased rates of alcoholism and drug abuse, along with huge increases in violence committed against loved ones, significant governmental invasions of privacy, and demonization of any vets who dare speak up for their rights.

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Survivors File U.N. Complaint Against Canada for Failing to Prosecute George W. Bush for Torture

BushNovember 14, 2012, Vancouver and New York— Today, four torture survivors filed a complaint against Canada with the United Nations Committee against Torture for the country’s failure to investigate and prosecute former President George W. Bush during his visit to British Columbia last year. As a signatory to the Convention against Torture, Canada has an obligation to investigate and prosecute a torture suspect on its soil. This is the first time a complaint concerning torture allegations against a high-level U.S. official has been filed with the U.N. Committee. The Canadian Centre for International Justice (CCIJ) and the U.S.-based Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) filed the complaint on the men’s behalf.

“Canada has the jurisdiction and the obligation to prosecute a torture suspect present in Canada, including a former head of state, and even one from a powerful country,” said Matt Eisenbrandt, CCIJ’s Legal Director. “Canada’s failure to conduct a criminal investigation and prosecution against Mr. Bush when there was overwhelming evidence against him constitutes a clear violation of its international obligations and its own policy not to be a safe haven for torturers.”

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U.S.-Canada Integrated Cybersecurity Agenda

canam_flagAs part of the Beyond the Border initiative, the U.S. and Canada are strengthening cybersecurity cooperation. In a move that received little attention, both countries recently announced a joint cybersecurity action plan. Cyber threats know no national borders which has made the issue an important security concern. A fully integrated North American security perimeter would be entrusted with preventing and responding to any such attacks.

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Tax Cheaters

Give Us Back Our Money

Safe_robberyThere is a class of people and corporations in this country whose illicit financial practices have an enormous negative impact on the country and its citizens. Yet the law and order regime of Stephen Harper barely plays lip service to the issue of tax evasion through tax havens. While Harper cuts billions from government programs in the name of deficit reduction, he refuses to go after billions of dollars in revenue lost to tax evasion and avoidance every year. The practice has been going on for at least forty years and has grown to breathtaking levels world-wide.

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How big ideas become government policy

Canadian_FlagThirty-five years ago the policies that now define democratic governance – or rather anti-democratic – in Canada were literally unthinkable. Voluntarily giving up, through reckless tax cuts, hundreds of billions of dollars in revenue needed for running the country (and provinces); the fire sale disposal of some of the countries most valuable, efficient and productive crown corporations; the signing of corporate rights agreements like NAFTA that severely constrain elected governments from legislating on behalf of their citizens; the ruthless slashing of social spending; and the deliberate driving down of salaries and wages by government policy – all now commonplace and once unthinkable.

In the late 1960s and early 70’s, at the height of the so-called golden age of capitalism, the ideas behind these policies were not discussed, they didn’t appear even in the “capitalist press.” They were, in effect, caged up some where, almost invisible.

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Taking Liberties:

Canada's Growing Torture Infrastructure

Canadian_Torture_FlagThe ease with which self-described democratic states embroil themselves in torture continues to be illustrated by the manner in which agencies of the Canadian state, from spies to judges, have wedged open a door to legitimize complicity in a practice that both domestic and international law ban outright.

Before dismissing that paragraph as preposterous, it is worth considering that two federal inquiries into the torture of Abdullah Almalki, Maher Arar, Ahmad El Maati, and Muayyed Nureddin revealed a sinister level of Canadian complicity in torture, from which no accountability or systemic changes have emerged.

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Canada Supports Torture:

An Instrument of "Terrorism Propaganda"

Gitmo_StatueIn the course of the past week, the Canadian government of Stephen Harper, has made confusing statements regarding the role of torture as a means of obtaining information from arrested "terrorist suspects".

In December 2010, the Minister of Public Safety, Vic Toews, instructed the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) to use information obtained through torture in order to prioritize “the protection of life and property.”

In the House of Commons Mr. Toews did not backtrack. “Information obtained by torture is always discounted. But the problem is, can one safely ignore it when Canadian lives and property are at stake?” Jason Kenney, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, added: “Of course we oppose the use of torture, but we believe that Canada's security agencies should prioritize, yes, the protection of life.” (Hélène Buzzetti, Torture: oui dans certains cas, dit Ottawa, Le Devoir, February 8, 2012)

Theses statements are nonsensical. Information obtained through torture is either “always discounted” or it is not. One is either in favor or opposed to torture. Both Vic Toews and Jason Kenney are contradicting their own statements. They claim to be firmly opposed to torture, but are in supportive of the practice of torture. To “prioritize […] the protection of life” simply means that using information obtained by torture is part of the available options.

Is it a matter of cognitive dissonance or an attempt to slowly make torture acceptable to the population?

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CETA:

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Can Harper's Trojan Horse Be Stopped?

Stop_CETAStephen Harper’s no-longer-secret agenda to implement a revolution from the right and dismantle Canada has one major impediment that must really stick in his craw. He is constrained in what he can do by the constitutional division of powers which gives the provinces so much political authority. The really big social items on the political agenda – health, education, social services – are matters of provincial jurisdiction. To be sure he can severely damage all of these by destroying the decades old principle of universality and slash federal funding. But he can’t get rid of them. The provinces also have a mandate on protecting the environment and regarding labour rights, most working Canadians are in sectors that come under provincial jurisdiction. Lastly, the third level of government is also a creature of the provinces. While municipalities depend on the federal government for financial help, Ottawa has no political authority over them.

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The Student Mobilization in Quebec:

The Most Significant Act of Civil Disobedience in Canadian History
The Threat of Quebec's Good Example

Quebec_Canada_FlagThe extraordinary student mobilization in Quebec has already sustained the longest and largest student strike in the history of North America, and it has already organized the single biggest act of civil disobedience in Canadian history. It is now rapidly growing into one of the most powerful and inventive anti-austerity campaigns anywhere in the world.

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Workers Rights in Canada:

Workers at CP Get Railroaded

CPOn May 23, 4800 CP Rail workers went on strike after giving a 72-hour strike notice on May 19. The workers, represented by the Teamsters Rail Conference of Canada, had voted 95 per cent in favour of a strike on April 27. The major issue is pensions, but there are also other areas of dispute such as fatigue management and workplace safety. The company is seeking to devalue existing pensions by 40 per cent in a move that would affect both new hires and long-time CP workers who have paid into the company pension plan for years.

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Expect More From Your Government

Super_richSomething is happening in Canada that seems, in the context of a majority Harper government, counter-intuitive. Harper continues implementing his right-wing revolution by fiat, and Preston Manning’s “democracy” institute says Canadians actually want “less” government and more individual responsibility. Yet a flurry of polls in the past few weeks and months suggest two dramatic counterpoints to this self-serving narrative.

First, in a development that is virtually unprecedented, inequality has become, by far, Canadians’ top concern displacing the perennial front-runner, Medicare. And closely related are a number of polls showing that Canadians in large majorities think wealthy people and corporations should pay more taxes. They are even willing to pay more themselves.

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The F-35 Stealth Fighter Program:

How the War Economy Contributes to Exacerbating the Social Crisis

F35There is mounting controversy regarding the purchase of the F-35 stealth fighter jet from US defence giant Lockheed Martin. The Pentagon has commissioned the purchase of 2,443 aircraft "to provide the bulk of its tactical airpower for the US Air Force, Marine Corps and Navy over the coming decades". This massive procurement of advanced weapons systems is part of America's "Global War", largely directed against China, Russia, North Korea and Iran.

The overall cost of the program to the US military is estimated at a staggering $1.51 trillion over the so called life cycle of the program, namely $618 million per plane. (Shalal-Esa, Andrea. Government sees lifetime cost of F-35 fighter at $1.51 trillion., Chicago Tribune, April 2, 2012).

Several of America's close allies including the UK, Australia, Italy, Canada, the Netherlands, Norway, Turkey, Israel, and Japan are slated to purchase the F-35 stealth fighter plane.

The economic and social implications of this program are potentially devastating. Apart from the fact that the fighter planes will be used in upcoming US-NATO wars, resulting in inevitable civilian deaths, their procurement --at tax payers expense-- will contribute to exacerbating the ongoing fiscal crisis. Unless they are solely funded by an increase in the public debt (which is highly unlikely), these massive expenditures on advanced weapons systems will require the adoption of concurrent austerity measures over a period of up to thirty years, at the expense of an entire generation.

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Oh Canada!

Imposing Austerity on the World’s Most Resource-rich Country

harperflahertyEven the world’s most resource-rich country has now been caught in the debt trap. Its once-proud government programs are being subjected to radical budget cuts—cuts that could have been avoided if the government had not quit borrowing from its own central bank in the 1970s.

On March 29 in Ottawa, the Canadian House of Commons passed the federal government’s latest round of budget cuts and austerity measures. Highlights included chopping 19,200 public sector jobs, cutting federal programs by $5.2 billion per year, and raising the retirement age for millions of Canadians from 65 to 67. The justification for the cuts was a massive federal debt that is now over C$ 581 billion, or 84% of GDP.

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Canadian Banking System Fraud Exposed

If Canadians really understood the scam, they would rise up in the streets and demand their Government stop the theft of their money.

Thank you Bill Abram

 

Call for Renaissance of the Bank of Canada

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COMER — Committee on Monetary and Economic Reform EST. 1986

Bank_of_CanadaWe civil society organizations who work for public welfare in Canada, depending heavily on dedicated volunteers, are constantly frustrated in our efforts to obtain government funding to meet urgent human and environmental needs. We are repeatedly informed that there is never enough money available, and that now we are entering a period of inescapable austerity required to overcome growing public debts. We are told that public funds – essential for infrastructure repair, for health and medical care, for education, for poverty reduction, for social justice, and for environmental protection – not only cannot be increased despite urgent unmet needs, but must be cut, and public assets for providing public services, must be privatized.

We are deeply concerned about government deficits and debt, and also about the heavy personal debts borne by Canadian citizens. Indeed we believe that governmental and personal debt should be taken far more seriously, and dealt with by far more radical means than the usual austerity programs involving cuts to social programs and privatization. Such measures have already been experienced as profoundly unjust. They shift debt burdens to individual Canadian citizens, especially to the most needy, bankrupting and impoverishing many.

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Canada Continues to Spiral Down

New OECD Comparisons 

  "This is totally contrary to the kind of nonsense we hear from some of our business people in Canada and some of our media. 23rd of 34 OECD countries in terms of social spending!"

Canadian_FlagThe following is from the new OECD publication , Society at a Glance 2011, which is the OECD annual publication of leading social indicators.

This is a reminder that there are now 34 countries in the OECD. Looking at median income in OECD countries, Canada is now in 7th place.
Bear in mind that many of the figures that follow are from 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010. But they are the most recent equivalent numbers because some of countries don't come out with their figures that frequently.

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On the environment Canada is a Rogue State

Tar_SandsThere are so many areas of conventional democratic governance being challenged or eliminated by the Harper wrecking crew it is hard to keep up. Those searching for a line in the sand that even this government won’t cross still haven’t found it. So far, it seems, there is nothing in the broad field of democratic governance (save the military and prisons) that is sacrosanct.

Minimally, all governments take seriously the protection of their citizens; otherwise there is scarcely any point in having one. Yet a recent CBC report reveals that that the Harper government has virtually eliminated monitoring of the ozone layer over Canada. The government has shut down four of five very sophisticated monitoring stations leaving only a single station – at UBC in Vancouver – still gathering information about this critical aspect of our environment.

In doing so, Canada is once again demonstrating that it is becoming a rogue state. The monitoring of the ozone layer – which protects the earth from harmful radiation – is an international task requiring the co-operation of many countries.

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Canada Supports Torture:

An Instrument of "Terrorism Propaganda"

Gitmo_StatueIn the course of the past week, the Canadian government of Stephen Harper, has made confusing statements regarding the role of torture as a means of obtaining information from arrested "terrorist suspects".

In December 2010, the Minister of Public Safety, Vic Toews, instructed the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) to use information obtained through torture in order to prioritize “the protection of life and property.”

In the House of Commons Mr. Toews did not backtrack. “Information obtained by torture is always discounted. But the problem is, can one safely ignore it when Canadian lives and property are at stake?” Jason Kenney, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, added: “Of course we oppose the use of torture, but we believe that Canada's security agencies should prioritize, yes, the protection of life.” (Hélène Buzzetti, Torture: oui dans certains cas, dit Ottawa, Le Devoir, February 8, 2012)

Theses statements are nonsensical. Information obtained through torture is either “always discounted” or it is not. One is either in favor or opposed to torture. Both Vic Toews and Jason Kenney are contradicting their own statements. They claim to be firmly opposed to torture, but are in supportive of the practice of torture. To “prioritize […] the protection of life” simply means that using information obtained by torture is part of the available options.

Is it a matter of cognitive dissonance or an attempt to slowly make torture acceptable to the population?

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Deep Military Integration:

Towards a North American Combined Military Force

canam_flagThe U.S. and Canada recently signed several bilateral agreements that will further strengthen continental security and defense cooperation. Deeper military integration between both countries is part of efforts to establish a North American security perimeter and better address common global threats.

Following the recent Permanent Joint Board on Defense (PJBD) meeting which took place in Ottawa, the Commander of Canada Command, Lt.-Gen Walter Semianiw and the Commander of North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and United States Northern Command (USNORTHCOM), Gen. Charles Jacoby, Jr. signed three military documents. The first was the Combined Defense Plan which a backgrounder described as a, “planning framework between Canada Command, its counterpart USNORTHCOM, and NORAD for enhanced defense cooperation between Canada and the U.S. should governments require each other’s assistance.” The second is the Information Sharing Memorandum of Understanding, “an arrangement between Canada Command, its counterpart USNORTHCOM and NORAD to identify and provide for ease of sharing information amongst the three organizations.” The Civil Assistance Plan, which was originally signed in 2008 and allows the armed forces of one nation to support the other during an emergency was also renewed for two years.
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Bow Down Canadians, Corporations Are King

Finance_MinisterTwo recent stories out of Ottawa underline the ongoing political and economic assault on ordinary Canadians. More Canadians are now working for low wages than at any time in decades, continuing a trend that began in the early 1990s, and Stephen Harper has announced major changes to retirement benefits — including delaying Old Age Security (OAS) eligibility to age 67. What kind of society beggars those of its citizens who worked all their lives and now want to retire in dignity while privileging the rich and super-rich by slashing their income taxes and allowing them to transfer wealth to their children untouched?

Since the mid-1980s, and accelerating with the signing of the Canada-U.S. “free trade” deal, the guiding principle of neo-liberalism seems to have been “Ask not what your economy can do for you, ask what you can do for your economy.”

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CANADA: Tax Cuts, Privatization and Deregulation

Is it a Debt Crisis or a Distribution of Wealth Crisis?

Canadian_ParlimentWhere are we going as a society? We once proudly invested in our schools, pools, libraries, daycare, healthcare, roads, electricity, water and sewers. Today we're busy slashing social services and letting our infrastructure crumble. With new technologies in place, families are working longer hours and harder and our resources are demanded all over the world. Yet all we hear about is deficits and austerity measures.

“Occupy” helped bring attention to the top 1 per cent. There is more wealth now than there has ever been. Today our per capita GDP is 50 per cent higher, even after adjusting for inflation, than it was at the start of the 1980s. Where has all the money gone? Over the last 30 years, structures have been put in place to transfer wealth to the wealthy. We're told these structures are in the public interest. ‘Tax cuts will lead to more investment and jobs’ and ‘all boats will be lifted by the rising tide.’ Only the luxury liners are rising and everyone else is sinking in their wake.

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Wage cuts, Elimination of pensions, Cuts to Benefits:

Canadian Labour At The Crossroads?

Canadian_FlagA wage cut of fifty per cent. An elimination of pensions. Cuts to benefits. These demands have inevitably led to a major showdown at a locomotive factory in London, Ontario between the 700 unionized workers of Electro-Motive Diesel (EMD) and Caterpillar, a massive U.S.-based corporation. The workers, members of Canadian Auto Workers Local 27, responded to the employer's demands with a positive strike vote of 97 per cent. The employer, Progress Rail, a subsidiary of Caterpillar, locked out the workers on New Year's Day.

In addition to facing down a notorious anti-union employer who hammered the American United Auto Workers in the 1990s,[1] there are plenty of rumours about Caterpillar closing the London plant and moving operations to Muncie, Indiana. EMD workers in London make $36/hour while their counterparts in Muncie are paid only $12.50-14.50 (Cdn)[2]. Indiana is also on the cusp of becoming the first rust-belt state to introduce a “Right to Work” law, a notorious form of anti-union legislation made possible by the even more infamous Taft-Hartley law of 1947, the long-standing crown jewel of American anti-union legislation.[3]

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This Year, Put the Country Ahead of the Party

Harper_mission_accomplishedAs we enter the new year, the prospects for defeating the Harper government in 2015 seem uncertain at best. And yet if those who care about the country were musing over a new year’s resolution, that would be it, a dedication to this single overarching purpose. Even if Harper is soundly defeated in the next election, it will take a decade to reverse the damage he has already done. If he wins a second majority, it will take a generation or more.

There is a deep malaise in Canadian democracy rooted, it seems, in a profound alienation from politics and radically lowered expectations of what is possible from government. Much of this is the result of a deliberate strategy of voter-suppression employed by the Conservatives, a strategy of making politics so offensive and good government so unimaginable that millions of people simply tune out, as if it has nothing to do with them.

For those who thought that this was a temporary attitude of the Harper anti-government, that there would be more civility with a Conservative majority, the evidence is in. This is a permanent strategy to keep the party in power. It will not diminish with time or with the advancement of the Harper agenda. This was never about Harper being frustrated with his minority status. It is about who the man is, a malignant political rogue, contemptuous of his own country. It is about what his agenda has always been — a right-wing libertarian remaking of the nation.

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Privatization:

Leading Canada's Public Healthcare to the "Free-market Guillotine"

Canadian_FlagNational discussion in Canada on the Conservative government's new healthcare financial ultimatum, a take-it-or-leave-it-style proposal, largely revolves around myths. First that financing alone is key to securing a sustainable public healthcare system and second that free-market economic winds will provide sustainable guidelines, via GDP, for viable future government healthcare financing.

A surprise delivery from Conservative Finance Minister Jim Flaherty to provincial finance ministers, over a fancy lunch-in at the Chateau Victoria Hotel this past Monday, the plan offers no space for negotiation toward collective national solutions for public healthcare.

Essentially, the Conservative proposal works to strip federal responsibility in crafting, via national negotiations, coherent and sustainable healthcare systems in Canada's provinces and territories. A clear move away from the flawed but important Canada Health Act and a political node to provincial governments already working to allocate federal healthcare financing toward enhancing the corporate, for-profit sector role in delivering healthcare, as already seen extensively in Alberta and Québec.

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The End of Canada as a Sovereign Nation State?

Canada, the US and the “Security Perimeter”

VIDEO: End of Nations: Canada, the US and the "Security Perimeter"
Learn about the path toward the North American Union on GRTV
- 2011-12-1

canam_flagWhen Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and US President Barack Obama announced the much-anticipated border agreement between the two countries at a press conference in Washington last week, those mainstream media outlets that bothered to cover the story at all compensated for the lack of details about what specifically is going to be accomplished by this accord by focusing on issues of no practical significance.

The Globe and Mail, for example, ran an entire article about how Harper and Obama’s personal “friendship” allegedly effected the deal, which was in reality and admittedly struck by bureaucrats in months of closed-door negotiations.

A variety of trade magazines and corporate websites released vague laudatory statements about the “streamlining” of the border.

But the story itself, which generated few headlines at all in the American media, was not about what specifically will change at the border so much as the border is increasingly being redefined as just one part of a broader security perimeter that in fact encompasses both the US and Canada.

The agreement in fact comprises two so-called “action plans,” one entitled Beyond The Border and the other the Regulatory Cooperation Council. The former plan focuses on border security with the explicit aim of creating a security perimeter that encompasses both countries. The latter is meant to harmonize regulations for business, facilitating cross-border trade.

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The Destruction of Canada's Family Farm

Open Letter To Environmental Groups from an Alberta grain farmer, November 27, 2011
 
HarperI am a Canadian wheat and barley producer; who values and respects democratic process. I want to protect the environment, preserve wild life habitat and I am very concerned about climate change

The Harper government is intent on destroying our Canadian Wheat Board (CWB) (BillC-18) before Canadians have time to become aware of the negative effects this fundamental change to grain marketing will have on the environment and many other aspects of Canadian life and our food.

IMPACT ON THE ENVIRONMENT

1. Trees will be bulldozed and burnt, wind breaks taken out, fence rows cleared, wetlands drained as larger farm operations take over control of the land.
2. Wildlife and water fowl habitat will be lost.
3. Energy consumption and climate changing emissions will increase in grain transportation.
4. More climate changing nitrous oxide will be produced.
5. Genetically modified, glyphosate resistant wheat and other genetically modified crops will be licensed for production and more super weeds will develop requiring combinations of even stronger chemicals to control.
6. The genetically modified crops will cross pollinate with other crops and make organic production difficult if not impossible as has already happened with canola.
7. Corporate controlled factory farms will increasingly take over production and control of land with the associated problems of water and air pollution.
8. Genetic diversity of food crops will decrease.
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