Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Corporate Rule

Frances Russell lays bare what is really going on behind the Harper government's trade agenda:

Their real purpose is to repeal democracy, to elevate investor/corporate rights over the democratic will of the people. Corporations — not governments — become the decision-makers, the de facto rulers.

This corporate coup d’etat is being accomplished through Orwellian investor rights clauses empowering corporations to sue governments, often for astronomical sums, should governments enact any laws for the public good that constrain corporate interests.

The odious concept that corporate rights should trump democratic rights was pioneered in the 1992 North American Free Trade Agreement negotiated and signed by Prime Minister Brian Mulroney’s Progressive Conservative government.

To underscore her point, she reviews the record under NAFTA:

To date, Canada has faced over 30 investor-state claims under NAFTA, lost or settled five cases, been forced to pay over $157 million in damages and incurred tens of millions more in legal costs. Mexico has paid out $187 million. But the U.S. — which wrote the rules and has property rights entrenched in its constitution, unlike its two trade partners — has never lost a case and thus has paid nothing.

The real problem, she writes, is that these disputes are handled behind closed doors and rarely go before a judge:

The arbitrators are often corporate lawyers. They lack judicial independence, training and experience. They tend to favour corporations over governments. There is an open bias in the process. Investors can sue governments but governments cannot sue investors.

And that is the heart of the problem: governments cannot act to defend the rights of citizens. Welcome to corporate rule.


Anonymous said...

Secret document details new Canadian foreign policy

Draft policy calls for closer economic ties 'even where political interests or values may not align'

Greg Weston, CBC News

Owen Gray said...

I caught this story this morning, Anon. This from the man who said we would not sell out our values to the Almighty Dollar.

Lorne said...

Your post, Owen, amply demonstrates the dangers that are inherent in the CETA deal, currently being negotiated behind closed doors, the details of which even most politicians are not privy to.

Owen Gray said...

And the reason it is being done behind closed doors, Lorne, is because, if it were examined -- which is the usual course of affairs in a democracy -- it would never succeed.

Anonymous said...

Corporations, their lackeys and sycophants are first class citizens. The rest of us are not and serve them at their pleasure.

Owen Gray said...

That includes our present government, Anon.

The Mound of Sound said...

Now, Owen, just where do we turn to find an alternative that will restore democracy and wrest Parliament from the fingers of corporatism? The Liberals? The New Democrats? As Murray Dobbins relates in the latest Tyee, even Mulcair is a rank corporatist.

The term the Right uses for this is "capture." In the states the corporatists have captured Congress and they've captured the Supreme Court. To the extent he's not fighting back, it could be said they've captured the White House too.

Canada is in this dismal lockstep with the U.S., all of our leaders fearful that breaking from America's self-destructive ways will cause our economy to implode. Harper at least is an acolyte, a True Believer. Every Lib and New Dem who follows meekly in his path is merely a coward.

Owen Gray said...

It's a sad state of affairs, Mound.
And no party or leader -- at the moment -- appears to be willing to break out of lock step.

Anonymous said...

Once a monster such as Harper, cheats his way into office?? We have to behave as other people do, in third world country's. We have to have a revolution, chase Harper to Communist China. That's the only country, I can think of that would accept him. He would fit right in there.

Or, provinces should get the hell out of Harper's Canada. But no, it's easier just to, B and B about it. Provinces would rather be sold out to, Communist China. China owns our resources and, all of the jobs. And, here we dumb s..ts sit, to be governed by a, Treason Traitor of a tyrant.

The only one who had the guts, to call Harper out, on his Treason, was Elizabeth May. The rest of them, are not worth the powder to blow them to hell. Useless and gutless, the lot of them.

Owen Gray said...

Unfortunately, Anon, Elizabeth May is a party of one.