Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Linda McQuaig makes the case as to why any NAFTA renegotiation needs to focus on workers' rights:
NAFTA has been key to the transformation of Canada over the last two decades, enabling corporations to become ever more dominant economically and politically, while rendering our labour force increasingly vulnerable and insecure.

Indeed, the much-lamented rise in income inequality and feelings of powerlessness among working Canadians aren’t mysterious consequences of participating in the global economy. Rather, they’re the predictable consequences of our country signing a trade deal that greatly empowers corporations and their investors at the expense of everyone else.
ISDS, which has now been adopted in other international trade deals, has created an extraordinary set of legal rights for corporate investors. “If anyone doesn’t need to be protected it’s these guys,” notes Toronto trade lawyer Steven Shrybman.

Yet “these guys” enjoy legal protections much stronger than the protections available, for instance, under international human rights laws — for victims of torture and wrongful imprisonment.

Furthermore, NAFTA gives corporations rights — but no responsibilities, Van Harten says. Governments can’t bring a claim against a corporation for breaching NAFTA, and affected individuals and groups have no right to standing at the tribunals.

Indeed, NAFTA provides few rights for citizens or workers to counter all this corporate power, only “side deals” on labour and the environment that are weak and largely unenforceable.
The NAFTA renegotiation should be an opportunity to revise the trade deal to include rights for workers and citizens, not just corporate investors.
- Meanwhile, Jessica Elgot discusses a UK push to develop organized bargaining structures for self-employed workers.

- Andy Beckett traces how both of the UK's main parties have come around to recognizing the dangers of unfettered corporate control. And Matt Bruenig comments on the need to confront capital in order to rein in inequality.

- Trish Audette-Longo points out Greenpeace's work documenting the track record of pipeline operators - who are regularly spilling while demanding approvals for new projects based on their supposed concern about safety. And Damian Carrington reports on new research showing how the effects of climate change will be extremely dangerous even for healthy people. 

- Finally, Jerry Dias writes that it's time to call out Brad Wall as a liar for his deception about Saskatchewan's Crown corporations. John Conway explores what's become of the CCF's plans for public ownership as a central aspect of economic development. And Pamela Cowan discusses Saskatchewan's persistent racial divide.

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