If you wondered why the Harper government has gutted Canada's environmental legislation, Frances Russell provides the answer:
The North American Free Trade Agreement was the first of a New World Order of trade agreements designed, to borrow the words of the Trilateral Commission in 1975, to repeal “an excess of democracy in the western world.” It set a precedent never before dreamed of, let alone achieved, in international trade: the right of private investors to sue nations. And not just for millions, but billions, robbing national treasuries of the means to address the social and economic needs of their citizens and, in many cases, pushing them back into extreme poverty.
The Harperites mission is to make the world safe for investors. What that means in practice is that they seek out and sign "trade agreements" which entrench investor rights through a system of investor dispute mechanisms. And a remarkably small number of people have been laughing all the way to the bank:
NAFTA and its growing ranks of copycats like the Canada-Europe Trade Agreement and the Trans-Pacific Partnership are about nothing less than entrenching de facto government by transnational corporations. So far, the corporations are winning. In the process, they’re not just enriching themselves but also a global network of fabulously wealthy lawyers and accountants busy impoverishing governments and their citizens to achieve maximum profits for the multinationals they represent.
The rapacious success — and excess — of these latter-day robber barons can be traced through statistics. The number of investor-state lawsuits has soared from 38 cases in 1996 to 450 in 2011. The amount of money involved has soared, too.
A report titled Profiting From Injustice has documented the extent of the corporate coup:
"(I)t has become clear that the arbitration industry has a vested interest in perpetuating a regime that prioritizes the rights of investors at the expense of democratically elected national governments and sovereign states,” the report’s authors state. “They have built a multimillion-dollar self-serving industry, dominated by a narrow exclusive elite of law firms and lawyers whose interconnectedness and multiple financial interests raise serious doubts about their commitment to deliver fair and independent judgments.”
Investment arbitrators have an inbred bias favouring corporations over states, encourage lawsuits against governments in crisis, promote investment arbitration as a necessary condition for attracting foreign investment and encourage governments to sign investment treaties that use language maximizing possibilities for litigation.
The Harperites are the courtiers of this investor-lawyer elite. And, when they leave government, they will be rewarded -- many times over. Unfortunately, we the plebeians will be left with the bill.
This entry is cross posted at Eradicating Ecocide.