Friday, September 28, 2012

Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Althia Raj reports on the Cons' concerted effort to undermine organized labour in Canada (along with anybody else who might object to putting the interests of dirty oil and dirty money above the needs of citizens):
Behind the rhetoric about “union bosses” and “transparency” lies a strategy, political observers say, that stokes controversies and throws up red herrings in order to force key opponents on the defensive — in this case, Canada’s labour movement and the NDP.

“The whole approach is not to push your guy but to totally demean and to discredit and to vilify your opponent so that the only person left standing in the ring is your own person,” said Nelson Wiseman, a political scientist at University of Toronto.
Critics of the government, such as Sierra Club of Canada executive director John Bennett, see a wider game of political distraction at play — the kind the Tories perfected last winter when they accused environmental groups of being radicals backed by foreign interests.

For months, environmentalists were forced to explain their activities and funding sources while the Harper government crafted a budget that scrapped decades of environmental legislation the groups had fought for.

The campaign began in January, when Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver suggested “radical groups” were out to destroy Canada’s economy. Environment Minister Peter Kent raised the spectre of charitable groups “laundering” foreign funds in Canada. And Conservative senators launched an inquiry into the "interference of foreign foundations in Canada’s domestic affairs and their abuse of Canada’s existing Revenue Canada charitable status.”

“It was a total distraction,” Bennett said. “I think that is what they wanted us to do — to be messaging not the vision of a sustainable future but rather the complaints of an interest group.

“And I think they are doing the same thing to the unions,” he said.
- Meanwhile, Kathryn May highlights the next step in the attack on public-sector workers, as the Cons are trying to impose a two-tier workforce.

- And Adam Radwanski discusses the McGuinty Libs' plans to test the limits as to how many labour rights they can strip away under the Charter. Which would be a dubious enough strategy even if it wasn't based on a false claim that public-sector wages are headed in a different direction than private-sector ones.

- Charmaine Borg stands up for the privacy concerns of Canadians in the wake of Facebook's timeline fiasco. And Megan Leslie calls for an end to the Cons' shredding of environmental standards.

- Finally, Paul Wells catches some major problems in the China trade deal the Cons want to push through without debate:
Why am I dragging you through all this business about dispute-settlement arbitration? Because things are getting crazy out there, and by “out there” I mean “wherever China doesn’t like the way a business deal turns out.” Say hello to Belgium, where on Monday the Chinese insurance company Ping An filed an arbitration claim worth $3 billion. In 2008 a Chinese SOE bought a Belgian bank. The global economy went through the ensuing turmoil and the Chinese firm lost its shirt. Which is, you know, life, but the Chinese firm figures the government of Belgium owes it the $3 billion it lost, and the arbitration mechanism will now consider the claim seriously.

“This might signal the beginning of a wave of Chinese claims if you think about the commodities they’ve been buying, and the investments they’ve made in commodity-related companies around the world,” a British trade lawyer told Reuters, while freaking ominous music played in the background if you’re reading his quote in Canada. ”There are bound to be any number of outward investments they have made in the last five to ten years which may now be starting to run into problems.”

So, you know, good luck. The FIPA, tabled yesterday, is available for consultation at the link above for 21 Parliamentary sitting days, at which point it comes into force without need for a vote in the House of Commons.
That's right: in addition to facilitating a takeover of our natural resources, the Cons may also be committing to have the Canadian public foot the bill for any investments that don't turn out as hoped. 

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