Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Ethan Cox discusses how the Lac-Mégantic tragedy was a predictable - if not inevitable - outcome of a self-regulated (or un-regulated) rail system:
Prior to, during, and after the process of deregulating railroads, there were strident warnings issued by the most credible and well-positioned experts and organizations in Canada. Their dire predictions fell on deaf ears, and yet not a single story in the mainstream media has made the link between the deregulation of the rail industry and its inevitable consequences.

Instead, those who dare make the commonsensical connection between deregulation, cuts to regulation and inspection, and an increased frequency of accidents, are pilloried for politicizing a tragedy.

I wonder, if now is not the time to discuss the reasons why this disaster occurred, when is?
- Bruce Campion-Smith reports that the Cons specifically approved some of the operating procedures which may have contributed to the explosion, while Bruce Cheadle notes that nobody seems to have seen a problem leaving a train unattended and unlocked in the absence of a regulation to the contrary. And Paul Schneiderfeit takes a more general look at some of the causes of the disaster, while Jennifer Delgado and Kim Geiger point out the rail operator's anti-union history.

- Meanwhile, the rubber-stamping of oil developments with disastrous effects on the environment continues at the Cons' usual breakneck pace.

- And while Jason Sattler hopes that the insurance industry's concern about climate change will serve to shift right-wing opinions, I'd worry the legislative response will simply be to absolve the corporate sector of responsibility for the damage caused by its actions.

- Corporate Europe Observatory highlights some of the areas for concern in an anticipated free trade agreement between the EU and the US. And in what should be a familiar theme in the establishment of separate, corporate-friendly legal systems, there seems to be precious little evidence of any need to impose strict limits on democratic action:
MEPs have repeatedly asked the Commission to provide evidence of access to local courts being denied in Canada. The Commission gave two weak examples where companies did not even try to go to local courts. Asked specifically about problems faced by European investors, it admitted: “There is little publicly available information available in this context”. Neither has the Commission given any proof of discrimination against foreign firms in US courts.

On the other hand, the Commission remains completely silent on the rampant corporate bias and vested interests at play in private investment arbitration tribunals. Last year, our Profiting from Injustice report uncovered how a small club of lawyers riddled with conflicts of interest is securing investor-friendly interpretations of the law and sustains a continuous flow of multi-million dollar lawsuits.

So, while the Commission has yet to prove that there is anti-foreign-investor behaviour in US courts, there is an enormous weight of evidence of the corporate bias in the parallel legal system it is proposing instead.
In its factsheet, the Commission explains that the investor rights which it wants to incorporate in the EU’s future international investment agreements “are not necessarily incorporated into the domestic system” of the signatory states. The investor needs a parallel legal system – investment arbitration – to enforce these rights. Thus the need for investor state dispute settlement.

Finally some honesty! This is exactly what the Commission’s corporate agenda is about: granting multinationals far greater property rights than any domestic firm, any community, any individual is granted by any constitution in the world. And creating an overreaching legal system by which these superior rights can be enforced.
- Finally, Jared Milne's series of posts about Canadian First Nations and the "reserve paradox" is well worth a read.


  1. So what happens if we compare the number of deaths from deregulation in Canada to the number of deaths from terrorism?
    Clearly we need a massive police apparatus to hunt down and jail right wingers, since apparently they're far more dangerous than terrorists.

  2. Anonymous11:52 a.m.

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  3. Government of CANADA should take strict action about the number of deaths from deregulation in Canada to the number of killings from terrorism.

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