Few Canadians realize how much power, decision-making ability, and economic control our governments have already surrendered to corporations, the US, and elsewhere through free trade and other agreements. Harper is taking this further at a rapid rate with little consultation – or information.
1a) The Conservatives don’t want to alienate their corporate allies by toughening up foreign takeover rules. They also don’t want Canadians reacting to the fact that their have been almost 12,000 takeovers since Mulroney opened Canada up for “business” – meaning that decision-making and profits leave the country, and jobs, pensions, benefits, and wages are cut.
1b) Saving the Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan, for obvious political reasons, was a notable exception. About 97 percent of foreign direct investment is used to buy established companies, not create new ones. Are Bombardier, Suncor, Research in Motion, and Magna vulnerable?
2) Canadian business has another reason to worry. CETA, the “free” trade deal with the EU, will allow Europe’s largest corporations access to provincial and municipal contracts. (As Mayor Ford privatizes Toronto’s garbage.)
3a) The Harper Conservatives have made a lot of noise about their desire to protect Canadian sovereignty in the north. However, if you look closely, the government is not worried about the future of ordinary citizens in the region. As Maude Barlow points out, there has been a “free for all” drive to exploit our resources – from oil to mining ventures – much of it done by transnationals, which don’t have Canadian interests at heart. At the same time, Harper has used Arctic sovereignty as an excuse to buy those $30 Billion fighter jets.
3b) Harper’s push to exploit Artic resources was given a boost by a $100-million fund to kick-start the geo-mapping searches for minerals and oil and gas deposits, showing that the Conservatives see the ravages of climate change more as an economic opportunity than an environmental crisis. "We know from over a century of northern resource exploration that there is gas in the Beaufort, oil in the eastern Arctic and gold in the Yukon,” said Harper. ''There are diamonds in Nunavut and the Northwest Territories, and countless other precious resources buried under the ice, sea and tundra … As I've said before, 'use it or lose it' is the first principle of sovereignty in the Arctic.”
3c) “Canada's sovereign claim to its Arctic regions will be evaluated by the UN in 2013. They will be looking to assess the "use it or lose it" philosophy espoused by Harper himself. A government intent on establishing Canada's Northern sovereignty needs to support our Northern peoples where and how they live. Saving our North cannot be just a military exercise or a question of ice breakers, as appealing as that is to Conservative sensibilities. It requires comprehensive, climate change mitigation and adaptation measures and social and economic supports so that our Northern peoples can use the North broadly in their daily lives. We need to reframe this debate. If we really want to defend the North (to use the Conservative militaristic terminology), we don't need jets as much as we need to fight climate change and the social and economic issues that plague the North.” Liberal Senator Grant Mitchell
4a) Harper wanted us to join the US in its disastrous invasion of Iraq. It will be more difficult to say “no” in the future. He is now negotiating a secretive “perimeter security” agreement with the United States, creating what has been called a “big vision of North America as an economic, environmental, and security unit.”
4b) This includes increased amounts of exchanged data (remember Maher Arar?) harmonizing rules and regulations (recall bovine growth hormone), practices for screening offshore imports and travellers, and close collaboration on immigration, border protection, and law enforcement. The border is “thinning.”
5) On February 14 of this year, Canada and the U.S. signed an agreement, paving the way for the militaries from each country to send troops across the other’s borders during an emergency. Although the Harper government and Canadian Forces were silent on this, the U.S. Northern Command went public. Stuart Trew, a researcher with the Council of Canadians, said this deal could militarize civilian responses to emergencies, pointing out that work is also underway for a Canada/US plan to protect common infrastructure, such as roadways and oil pipelines. “Are we going to see (U.S.) troops on our soil for minor potential threats to a pipeline or a road?” he asked.