4.30.2013

Had a Wonder-Filled Dream While Napping During the Debate Last Night - About BC Independence


Couldn't help it, just kept nodding off during the BC leaders debate last night. Ah, but in that sleep what a wonder-filled dream did come. In it BC was an independent country. All sorts of things had changed for the better, it was like mr. mud had flown 'over the rainbow'. Sorta half woke up a few times during the show but...when i finally started to come to, in that half-light before full awakening, it seemed a shame to forget all the wonderful magical things on the other side so i made a list.

My Independent BC had a big budget surplus yet all the regressive taxes were gone, no PST, no GST, no Carbon Tax. They'd all been replaced by a progressive taxes including a Luxury Tax both in stores and at the borders, a new 'sin' tax legal marijuana, a Robin Hood Tax on every speculative transaction, a Resource Export Tax and new taxes on non-resident real-estate speculators. Plus all the lotto and other gambling money, as always paid mostly by the poor, went into the schools, hospitals, amateur sports and the arts like it was originally supposed to.

This Independent BC also benefited from having the federal share of other taxes re-directed into its accounts and of course all those million$ of dollars in transfer payments were non-existent. My Independent BC also wasn't losing millions in interest every month to the rich banksters because it had established a Bank of BC, then borrowed from it instead so all that interest went right back to BC's taxpayers via their new Proportionally Represented Legislature.

There was no more NAFTA, no more FIPA, no more free trade mandated raw log exports which meant the sawmills were open again. No more federal Temporary Foreign Workers Program meant more jobs and better pay too. No more threats of lawsuits through corporate friendly FIPA type schemes meant all the decisions about pipelines, about waterway protection, about fisheries, about Coast Guard resources, about anti-GMO laws, about all environmental standards were made in BC and informed by its own un-muzzled scientists.

Gone were the cost of useless overpriced jets and new un-necessary prisons., in their place were safe-injection sites and health based solutions to the drug addiction problems usually at the root of so much crime. Gone were the RCMP now replaced by locally born and raised folks who knew and understood the unique character of each different community.

Undoubtedly many folks would/could add alotta other wonder-filled details of their own to this dream. But when fully awake i realized the biggest boon for an Independent BC - NO MORE HARPER.

4.29.2013

Leadnow and Idle No More's 'Skills for Solidarity' Education Program - Building Bridges Among Allies



The Guardian article by Martin Lukacs titled 'Indigenous Rights are the Best Defense Against Canada's Resource Rush' is an excellent introduction to First Nations activist Arthur Manuel, a brilliant thinker trained in law, who has devoted himself to fighting Canada's policies toward Indigenous peoples and the all important topics surrounding FN's Constitutional Rights. Canada's First Nations are fighting in the courts and on the ground to protect the water, land and wildlife that sustain us all.

Like the Great Plains Tar Sands Resistance folks, the Tar Sands Blockade and others including Bold Nebraska who are on the ground resisting Big Oil stateside Canada's First Nations and environmental activists are on the front lines of a battle that attempts to force the world's largest corporations and the governments they control to put the environment of the many before the profits of the few.

A few days ago, for instance, Harpo's Conservative government along with the ass-kissing Liberals passed a motion to facilitate the adoption of the FIPA trade deal, a deal that if ratified would allow China’s companies to sue Canada if any Canadian government, including the provinces, makes any decision that put our health, jobs and environment before their profits. Worse yet, these suits would be decided by unaccountable arbitrators in secret courts outside our legal system. Green Party leader Elizabeth May commented that now the only legal hope we have of stopping the 31-year corporate rights deal that contains massive environmental, human rights and sovereignty implications is the legal injunction filed by the Hupacasath First Nation in BC.

As the groups at Leadnow and Idle No More explain on their website: "From muzzling scientists and stripping environmental protections to negotiating secretive trade agreements and trampling Indigenous rights, this government is silencing watchdogs and opening the country to devastation for the benefit of a few. Indigenous-led movements have responded by standing up across Canada to defend democracy, Indigenous rights and the land, water and air."

That’s why Leadnow and Idle No More are working together to launch Skills for Solidarity, a free online education program that will teach key lessons about our nations’ histories and ways the rest of us can become a better allies. The 'Skills for Solidarity' program will offer lessons, articles and videos throughout the spring. Hope you'll join me and many others by signing up to learn more from the Skills for Solidarity Educational Program:

4.28.2013

Why Saving Seed and Growing Organic Food is a Powerful Weapon Against Corporate Tyranny



For 12,000 years, since the advent of agriculture itself, saving seed and exchanging seed with other growers for biodiversity purposes was the way folks maintained their farms and gardens.. Now this traditional practice has become illegal for the many plant varieties that are patented or otherwise owned by a corporation. The fact that these fictitious beings can and do now legally own and control our access to the stuff and staff of life proves that the laws, the governments who create them, the police and courts who enforce them are owned and operated by and for the corporations, not us.

Back in George Washington's day not only were seeds routinely saved and traded but folks were in a position to stand up to authority, to rebel, to overthrow the royal tyrants, to form a more perfect union. Today the corporate tyrants are far more powerful, their security and police state apparatus make almost all types of physical rebellion instant suicide. Almost all, but the corporations and security state aren't totally invulnerable. Their is one powerful weapon 'we the people' still have that the corporate forces darkness are vulnerable to. We can ignore them!

It's obvious now that real change can't come from the top down as it could it Washington's day. Any meaningful change must come from the bottom up. And nothing is more bottom up than the soil and the food we grow from it. Open pollination, non-hybrid seed, is an important aspect of intentionally ignoring the corporate tyrants Open pollinated seeds grow plants that reproduce through natural means, adapt to local conditions over time, and evolve as reliable performers, particularly in their localities, these are the 'folk' varieties that Washington traded. These are  the seeds of our non-corporate future, the seeds of our revolution.

Looking back at the all the years of bountiful gardens we had and all the wonderful meals we had back when we lived on our little farm just outside Roberts Creek, BC makes me realize what a lucky and wonderful life we've had. Makes me realize that the process was as magical as the product. At times i've wondered if the magic was only in the eye of this sweat-stained beholder. Turns out it isn't, turns out there is a valid objective, measurable, scientific rationale at play not just our subjective feelings about the magic of my present garden's produce or that of gardens past. It's named the Brix scale after its German mathematician and engineer inventor, Adolf Brix, who figured out how to easily measure the nutrient and sugar contents of produce way back in Washington's time.

This is my second year working in the soil of my new hideout's garden a bit further north along BC's left coast in Black Point. This year there's open pollinated bush and pole beans, peas, corn, potatoes and herbs growing out there plus there's the long established raspberries, cherries and hazel nut trees that were already on the property thanks to the past owners. Luckily the 'Mother Nature' garden store in Powell River recently brought in many other open pollinated seed types from 'Aimers', a certified organic farm in Ontario. By next year everything in the garden will be open pollinated.

The single greatest service each of us can provide to our planet, our families and ourselves is to grow our own organic food from non-hybrid seeds. To save our own seed in turn, and in so doing be part of the future solution to the present day destruction being sown by GMO's, agri-business and the bio-technology giants.

4.27.2013

Alberta and Ottawa's Dilbit Dummies are Desperate Because of Their Own Mis-Management


The Canadian governments in Alberta and Ottawa appear increasingly more desperate to find a way to transport their vile brew of Tar Sands crud and the toxic chemical diluents necessary to pump the crap through pipelines. Their latest gambit is a feasibility study for a pipeline carrying 500,000 gallons a day north to Tuktoyaktuk, N.W.T., on the Beaufort Sea.

One reason for their desperation is that they are feeling the noose tighten. It's become clear that BC isn't going to allow either of the proposed dilbit pipelines westward to go forward. To the south the KXL resistance on the ground and in the media is growing more and more effective and other fantasies to expand the existing capacity, like the Enbridge’s Tar Sands Frankenstein, are also meeting stiff opposition. Then there's the competition from the exploding Bakkan Shale...Going east is more promising, sorta. It sounds some of the many jurisdictions between Ft. McMurray and Halifax welcome the crud but many others, like the strong environmental movement in Quebec and Northern Ontario, have yet to be heard from. So the dilbit dummies are looking north.

As Bob Page, director of the Enbridge Centre for Corporate Sustainability at the University of Calgary says, "Moving viscous heavy crude oil requires a heated pipeline and the thermal shadow around that pipeline tends to melt the permafrost." he continued, "Getting around and sometimes under the powerful Mackenzie River — with its massive spring ice scour — would be another major hurdle." An email buddy also informed me that there's other near insurmountable problems like the huge cost of dredging the port in Tuktoyatuk that's surrounded by dangerous rocks. Also, it's more than 1o000 miles from the Bering Strait so during the winter months it would mean ice breakers leading the tankers past the North Slope oil fields of Alaska and it seems if tankers had been a viable option the Americans wouldn't have built the 1000 mile pipeline to Valdez. All of which shows just how desperate the dilbit promoters have become.

But why? Why when the Tar Sands are the world's largest single oil reserve, when the Canada and the rest of the world are going to need energy in the future when oil prices undoubtedly rise and technology will undoubtedly improve, are the dilbit dummies so desperate?

They're desperate because their decades ideologically driven economic strategy of balancing their books by over selling leases that were bought up by big oil only after the governments signed guarantees of rock bottom taxes and royalties is now bankrupting Alberta and will soon cripple Ottawa. Back a couple of decades ago when Peak Oil was peaking it looked to Alberta and Ottawa like things could only go up, like the time of endless growth was upon them, but Peak Oil was really about peak easy oil and as soon as the prices skyrocketed, presto, big oil found a whole buncha other less easy, more ugly alternatives.

Now, with the tar sands and others over supplying the American Midwest and other markets inaccessible the dilbit dummies are, as economist Robyn Allen says, "Subjecting the Canadian public [and others] to a misleading narrative because Alberta needs to shroud the facts behind their deficit by spinning a web of self-serving lies." Her report, 'Canada’s Pipeline Mania: An Economic and Financial Analysis' shows clearly that the combination of oversupply and the technological difficulty of refining the Tar Sands crud is why it sells for a low price.

All in all, the dilbit dummies are desperate now because of their own mis-management. The Albertans bragged for a generation about their surpluses that were in fact created by over selling development leases not sound financial planning. Instead of, like the tortoise would have advised, proceeding on a slow steady pace, of having the type of royalty and tax structure that other jurisdictions employed, policies that at least to some degree try to make the corporations and wealthy pay their fair share, the right-wing ideologues in Alberta and Ottawa cut taxes and sold leases, now, like the rabbit, they're desperate.

4.25.2013

The Road to Disaster in Bangladesh Paved by 'Free Food' Donations and Land Grabbing Corporations


The sad aftermath of another deadly dsiaster in a condemned building in Bangladesh containing clothing factories 

On 24 April 2013, an eight-story building collapsed in Savar, a sub-district of Dhaka the capital of Bangladesh, killing hundreds and injuring thousands. Bangladeshi news media reported that inspectors had discovered cracks in the building the day before and had requested evacuation and closure. The shops and a bank on the lower floors immediately closed, but garment workers were told to return to work by their supervisors who declared the building to be safe. Some 2,000 people were in the Rana Plaza building when it collapsed suddenly on Wednesday morning.

This is just the latest in the sad series of such disasters in Bangladesh which has one of the largest garment industries in the world, providing cheap clothing for major Western retailers which benefit from its widespread low-cost labour which averages less than $1 per day. A company called New Wave, with two factories in the building, supplies firms from around Europe, the US and Canada, including the popular Loblaws owned Joe Fresh line.

Bangladesh is far from the only country where underpaid workers are subjected to unsafe and inhumane working conditions. It happens all across Asia and Africa everyday. Why, why do all these workers end up packed into urban in ghettos? Where do they come from? What forces them to work as modern day wage slaves?

The answers aren't what we in the west want to hear. The road from small bucolic peasant farms, that successfully supported countless generations of their ancestors, to the hell of urban ghettos seem to be, as the old saying goes, 'paved with good intentions'. These particular good intentions are named 'disaster relief' and 'food aid' by us, but they're often called food dumping at the receiving end.

In short, here's how it works: The 'free food' devastates the food markets of local farmers. The farmers either sell out to the banks or simply leave the land they didn't own in the first place for "jobs in the city". The 'free food' is usually surplus production that our governments buy up as a form of farm subsidy from large corporate farms. The land the farmer left is bought up by the same 'land grabbing' investors and corporations who received the subsidies for over-producing the the 'free food' that the government and aid agencies distributed. This land is then converted into other uses such as turning corn or sugarcane into ethanol, or turning palm oil into biodiesel. A few of the peasant farmers are hired back and paid a pittance, the rest move into the ghetto and beg for scraps while praying to get a wage slavery job so they can stop begging and buy the food s/he used to grow for him or herself.

A news program on Haiti recently explained how a local grain distributor went out of business because people were not buying her grain because they were getting free grain from the flood of food aid. A recent study by Christopher B. Barrett of Cornell University titled 'Food Aid’s Intended and Unintended Consequences' and others have concluded these economic problems are one of the main reasons why people in global crisis’s are opting for cash rather than direct food aid.


La Via Campesina is, as always, leading the way in demanding change. They were at the forefront of recent massive protests in India to stop land grabbing and defend agriculture. Another study pointed out that recent droughts in key grain-producing countries – such as the United States, Argentina and Australia – play a role as well. With dwindling yields, these richer nations buy up land in other places to secure their own food supply. Africa and Asia have accounted for 44 and 37 percent, respectively, of the total land grabbed since 2000. U.S. companies have grabbed about 777 million acres since 2000. The largest acquisition by a U.S. company was a highly publicized 1,482,632-acre purchase in Sudan by Texas-based Nile Trading and Development. The firm purchased the land for about $25,000US, and attained the rights to do whatever it pleased with it – natural resource extraction, mining, subleasing or farming.

This is capitalism in action. It is the power of capital over people and the freedom of globalized capital to move anywhere so as to ensure the biggest return on that capital be it through the road from naive good intentions, to land and water grabbing, to bio-fuel 'profits', to wage slavery or some other road to third world hell.

4.24.2013

Canadians Aren't Buying the Propaganda From the Govt's New Environmental Monitoring Portal


Two days ago, Earth Day, the Governments of Alberta and Canada announced the opening of the Canada-Alberta Oil Sands Environmental Monitoring Information Portal. By now, 2 days later, the comments on a wide variety of non-partisan, non-industry sponsored Canadian websites shows that the vast majority [at least 10-1] of regular Canadians have had enough of the lies and manipulated 'facts' coming out of the Government's various 'ministries of propaganda'. They simply aren't buying the spin.

Most Canadians understand that the site is a gimmick to show the USA [and give cover to the big oil lobby] that the Congressional testimony of independent scientists like SFU Professor Mark Jaccard and many others including Bill McKibbon and Bold Nebraska is false. Canadians know that the Alberta and Canadian governments have no credibility, that they continue to silence their own scientists at every turn to support their ideology and they long ago proved their disregard for environmental concerns.

Canadian government scientists, paid by with taxpayer dollars, are muzzled, so the only two sources of reliable information about the Tar Sands must come from independent scientists and those, like the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation community, who've lived on the ground for thousands of years and who's health and economy depend on an intact ecology [watch the video of their elder's statement about the pollution]. The new govt. website says that, "at of the time of this data release, the time series of data is too limited to draw any conclusions[about the Athabasca FN's claims]" But the two governments were ordered years ago to begin gathering stats and doing base line studies of the Athabaska River's contamination. They stalled, then basically refused knowing full well that without those early numbers it would be impossible to generate accurate data on the changes later.

The broader science community is also condemning the lack of independent review at the govt portal and, while waiting to see if that changes, are usually referring inquiries to other long accepted independent studies. Environmental organizations say that the monitoring program is still far from completed, and have concerns about the independence of the research as well. "The tar sands monitoring system is still not independent. There is no indication of when, or even if, this will become a truly independent monitoring regime as recommended by the federal government’s scientific panel," said Edmonton-based Greenpeace climate campaigner Mike Hudema.

This purposeful avoidance of real scientific information isn't an accident, it's a matter of ideology. Stephen Harper, and many of his underlings, belong to the Christian and Missionary Alliance, an evangelical Protestant church. The Alliance Church teaches that environmental groups are "one of the greatest threats to society and the church today." His environmental worldview is informed by The Cornwall Declaration on Environmental Stewardship, one passage of which reads, "The Green Dragon must die... [There] is no excuse to become befuddled by the noxious Green odors and doctrines emanating from the foul beast...God is sovereign over creation and therefore humans can do no permanent damage..."

Knowing all this, it's no wonder most Canadians don't believe a word they say.

4.23.2013

Canada's Cons, Libs, The Fraser Institute, BoM and Homeland Security All in Cahoots on UFO Sighting


Canadians lineup to spend their money in America

There's been 4 stories in the media these last few days that are being reported and commented on as individual issues but are really the same story framed differently. They are: yesterday's Fraser Institute Report on the rising percent of taxes being paid by Canadian families, the the BoM report on how cross-border shopping is at least a $20-billion drain on the Cdn. economy, then there's the dramatic decline in middle-class well-being caused by the Nafta and globalization agenda of both the federal Liberals and Conservatives and, last but not least, how the US Dept of Homeland Security wants to charge every Canadian crossing into Amerika a fee for the privilege.

The Fraser Institute, an infamous right-wing think-tank, yesterday released its findings that in the last three decades the percentage of overall taxation on middle-class and working-class families has risen from about 34% of their total expenses in the early 80s to about 45% today. The early 80s is when the Mulroney-ites, using their 40% of the vote majority govt [the same split as Harpo's is today] - passed the original Free Trade pact with the US. Surprise-surprise, the shedding of good paying jobs = higher taxes on those still employed.

Next a new report by the Bank of Montreal into cross-border shopping showing that it accounts for between 5 and 10 per cent of Canadian consumer spending for items that can be transported, meaning somewhere between $20 billion and $40billion per year. They say cross-border shopping is costing the Canadian economy much more than believed and that new rules, introduced in the March budget, raising duty-free limits will only make matters worse. Two years ago Harpo's gang doubled and tripled the long existing limits. Now on June 1st the duty-free limit on stays longer than 24 hours rise to $200 from $50, while the limit on stays longer than 48 hours rises to $800, from the current two-tiered levels of $400 and $750, depending on the length of stay.

There has never been more Canadians heading south than now and after June 1st that will only grow. Of course the businesses on the US side think Harpo's policies are great but what about the Canadians businesses? What about the jobs lost and the UIC and welfare costs to support those now unemployed? What about all the taxes both the cross border shoppers and the displaced workers aren't paying? Who pays instead? Obviously the folks the Fraser Institute's report talks about.

The first two lead into the 3rd, how the free trade and globalization agenda of both the Conservatives and Liberals in Ottawa are destroying Canada's economy. The story is well summed up by Murray Dobbin's article 'All Hail Justin, You Know, I Mean, Trudeau'. In it Dobbin says, "What accounts for this dramatic decline in the class of people who used to define the nation? In a word, globalization, and the public policies which stem from it and helped create it. Amongst those policies are free trade; lowered labour standards; passive acceptance of de-industrialization; the weakening of labour vis-à-vis capital through cuts to EI and welfare; the virtual abandonment of industrial policies to promote high paying jobs; the use of  "temporary" foreign workers; cuts to the "social wage" which includes post-secondary education; and the transfer of wealth to the uber-rich from the middle class." 

Dobbin concludes, "What [Justin] Trudeau seems unwilling to admit is that the slow demise of the middle class is the result of corporate globalization and to revive middle class fortunes means a direct challenge of all of globalization's elements." It's important to ask: Who benefits from globalization? The uber-rich for sure, but also the upper middle-class, the consumer class, who on whichever side of the border, have the dough to buy all the needless crap they want. Those a$$holes are the ones whose votes the Liberals and Conservatives are vying for. In the type of multi-party, first past the post system, Canada calls a democracy all the parties know that 40% wins a near dictatorial majority.

Finally, comes the one progressive-ish story in the bunch that, and like seeing a UFO - is hard to believe. It comes from the brain-trust at the US Dept. of Homeland Security who is wants to charge a new fee for every vehicle or pedestrian crossing the U.S.-Canada border. As Business Council of B.C. executive vice-president Jock Finlayson said, "A fee would likely reduce the scale of cross-border shopping to the benefit of the B.C. retail sector." A cross border fee of about $3 on every single one of the 350 million individual Canadian residents crossings per year, if adopted, would drain another $1billion directly from the Canadian economy. Combine that with the average 3 hours spent waiting in a lineup that Canadians spend on the weekends just to get into 'the land of the free' and it may well end up that the only buncha neo-cons doing Canada's workers and govt' coffers a favour is Homeland Security.

Did ya see the UFOs flyover last night?.

4.22.2013

An Earth Day Hope For the Faeries and For Our Grand Children's Dreams.

On Earth Day, as on every other day, it's important to remember that the Earth will survive us. As Michael Crichton says, "Earth has survived everything in its time. It will certainly survive us. We've been residents here for the blink of an eye. If we're gone tomorrow, the earth will not miss us.” IMO, whenever we - the myopic rogue primates - do disappear the surviving flora, fauna, microbes, minerals, forces and fairies will have a celebration.

It's important to remind ourselves today of our ancient ancestral heritage, of the time when people were wild, free and happy, a time before profits and plunder, a time before finances and fences, a time when we still realized we were a small part of the greater whole, when we still saw the fairies. As Richard Reese says, “At our core, we long for freedom, for a life without clocks or jobs, cars or cities, master or slaves - a life of love, hope, and celebration." he continues, "The ancestors talk to me in my dreams. It saddens them to see how we suffer in the modern world. Their message is simply this: Come home! We miss you! Let the land heal!"

Doubtless in time, in 'deep time' as geologists call it, the Earth will heal, in deep time the wounds caused by our hubris will be reduced to a thin shiny line in the multi-billion year old sedimentary record. As the Sufis say, "The sea will be the sea, whatever the drop's philosophy." which does well to describe how intoxicated vanity fuels our present worldview.

Deep time, though it offers a respite for my angst, offers no solace for the things i love here and now, or for the dreams of my grand children and theirs. They deserve to have dreams and loves and losses just as i've had. There are solutions that even now we humans could adopt that would allow the next generations to have their dreams. Bio-diverse organic farming and allowing the perennial grasses to return instead of using irrigation and chemical fertilizers to maintain unsustainable annual grains, for instance, would return the balance of life sustaining greenhouse gasses, literally sucking excess greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere and sequestering them safely in the soil, where they belong.

There's many other viable solutions to the environmentally unsustainable lifestyles that we could undertake, the problem with all of them is that they don't make the rich richer, they require hard, dirt under your fingernails, work, they don't return quarterly profits, they return quality. Instead we attempt to defy nature, to run faster each day, by stealing our descendants dreams, with subsidies, plows, petrochemicals, fences and self-deception.

Finally, there are many good people working very hard on this Earth Day and every other day too. Giving their time and energy to resist the forces causing those wounds to our Great Mother, people like Sandra Steingraber, an activist from upstate New York, who's moving article 'From Jail on Earth Day' is so clear and perfect that reading it allows a person to believe there is hope nearer at hand than deep time, hope for the faeries and for our grand children's dreams.

4.20.2013

4/20, a Day of Celebration, a Day of Communication, a Day of Rebellion



Vancouver BC has been ground zero for the celebration of 4/20 day for the past 18 years. Again this afternoon thousands of folks from every walk of life will descend on the Vancouver Art Gallery at West Georgia & Howe Streets [map and info here] between 10 a.m. and 6.00 p.m. to smoke the free weed, to enjoy the entertainment and check out the always interesting Cannabis Farmers Market. Then, at 4:20 PM Vancouver's potheads will join a long list of fellow potheads worldwide in a huge SMOKE OUT.

Having been a pothead myself for nearly.50 years means i can testify that among the reasons pot smoking is so popular, beyond the obvious euphoric effects, is that for at least the last half century it has become a act of rebellion against the tyranny of the fearful status-quo, against the self-righteous dictates of the religious sheep, against government authority itself.

The history of 4/20 goes back to N. California's rebellious youth secretly meeting to smoke weed behind a fence after school. Weed smoking has long since come outta the closet and become broadly accepted by most folks. A recent poll here in BC by Stop the Violence BC and conducted by Angus Reid,  said 73 per cent of British Columbians responded favourably to conducting a research trial looking at the impacts of a government-sanctioned cannabis retail establishment for adult recreational cannabis users.

As Dana Larsen of Sensible BC, and attendee of all 18 on Vancouver's 4/20 celebrations, said in an email today, "I believe the way we regulate wine works well for marijuana. They're quite comparable. Like wine, marijuana users prefer to try different kinds," says Larsen. "The wine model where you can brew a limited amount of wine in your own house for your own use, and where there are both small-scale and large producers who produce wine, would work well for marijuana."

So why is pot still illegal in BC? Considering all the money our cash starved governments could and should be raking in from it, as they do the other 'sin taxes', and all the dough the province could save by not investigating, arresting and prosecuting cannabis cases it seems a no-brainer eh. But things aren't that simple, there are many other 'stakeholders' who's interests would be damaged by legalization. There's the booze industry who correctly see that pot would be a competitor in the buzz market, there's tobacco who less correctly feels the same. Both of those industries produce sizable govt. revenue through taxation and they have potent lobbies.

Actually lottsa people profit from prohibition. BC would need a lot less judges, lawyers and cops [as the police unions point out] if pot were legal. Then there's the big time growers, big dealers, gangsters, big business [like the banks that launder all the illegal dough] and the media who get to sell ads during their sensationalized coverage of the busts.

Then there's the political cost that politicians supporting legalization would pay the minute they truly endorsed the idea. Remember that millions of Canadians believe the route to their imaginary heaven goes through the unquestioned word of their bishops who stand up there every Sunday denouncing the 'evil weed' as the devil's tool. You'd think those very real political costs would be cancelled out by the votes of all the pot legalization supporters but they aren't really. First off potheads, being the anti-authority types they often are, don't vote nearly as often as the religiously brainwashed.

Finally, there's the realities that pot is already everywhere, legalization couldn't make it more available. That, despite the fear mongering headlines, 99% of gangster pot is an export product therefore of no danger to BC potheads. That high quality local pot is grown by small mom and pop operations who use the extra income on groceries, utility bills, mortgage payments, university for the kids, etc. BC's potheads have often known the folks who grew the pot they're smoking for decades, they are their friends and neighbors. Legalization would probably mean increased heat on the mom and pops from the government who'd soon want to eliminate the competition for their corporate buddies who'd get all the licences in a legalized environment.

Taking all this into consideration then adding in the fact that to actually legalize pot in BC would take agreement from the feds...there's not a snowball's chance in hell of real change in BC's pot laws anytime soon. So 4/20 is also a good day to start yours seeds in the widow and look forward to another year of enjoying your backyard's bounty.


4.19.2013

The Real Human Costs of BC's Regressive Carbon Tax and Some Progressive Solutions


Ever wonder why a neo-liberal right-wing government like Gordon Campbell's would have promoted and passed BC's Carbon Tax? Because, especially as it's currently structured, BC's Carbon Tax is not only regressive ideologically but it's also a direct subsidy to his wealthy supporters. Before explaining just how such a 'motherhood and apple pie' sounding idea is being used as a weapon in the ongoing class war it's important to acknowledge that all of the well-intentioned environmental activists supporting this sham do so outta their genuine motivation to fight CO2 pollution and human induced climate change. Their cause is noble and, as this article will hopefully show, could be advanced by turning the tax's current regressive structure into a vehicle for progressive change.

The Campbell government began it's assault on the common sense arguments against the regressive nature of the carbon tax by assuring BCers that the tax would be 'revenue neutral'. What they weren't forced to explain by the compliant media was the details. What they did say was that they would make it neutral by cutting other taxes, and they did. First they cut corporate taxes and income taxes, both progressive types of taxation, which meant a direct subsidy of the haves by the have-nots. Next, they also instituted a low-income tax credit. Of course, over 20% of BC's population, the truly poor, already earn so little a credit is meaningless.

Not only is using a regressive carbon tax to reduce a progressive taxes deceitful but meanwhile the poor tightened their belts by spending less on other things. They may have spent a few less of their meager monies on heat for their families but they also spent less on food for them, their kids got to participate in less activities, they skimped on prescriptions, they traveled less - including less to the medical clinics and the dentists. The real and immediate effects on the poor are simply costs that will be paid in the future in the form of increased social costs like crime and health care.

It may be that BC's carbon consumption has gone down in recent years because of the carbon tax as proponents say, or maybe they've gone down due to the combination of the poor's belt tightening and the general vice-grip put on all middle class spending in the last 5 years caused the bankster induced worldwide recession. Neo-liberals, like corporations, are real good at putting lipstick on the free-lunch pig, unfortunately to many of us are only to happy to buy their bullshit.

But not all of the revenue generated by BC's Carbon Tax goes to cutting progressive taxes, much of it is given to favoured interests in subsidies as reward for their political support. But none, not one dollar, of the money raised by the tax goes to projects that reduce carbon emissions.

There are other solutions. For instance BC's Carbon Tax applies only to the purchase or use of fuels within the province, when in reality every action, every event, every person everything emits a certain amount of carbon. Check out the website 'How Much CO2 Is Created By…' and you quickly learn that everything has a carbon footpint not just fuels.

Some of the stuff folks consume isn't a necessity, it's a luxury. So one easy way to start turning BC's regressive Carbon Tax progressive is to turn it into a luxury tax. A luxury tax is a tax on non-essential goods, it mainly affects the wealthy because the wealthy are the most likely to buy luxuries such as expensive cars, real estate, jewelry, etc. A luxury tax could be applied only to all purchases over a certain amount or on all items of particular types or both. It's level could be adjusted to be 'revenue neutral' compared to the existing carbon tax.

Additionally, the revenue generated by a luxury tax could be directed by law into research on alternative energy solutions to our obscene use of the biosphere as a dumping ground for our waste. Surely there's alotta folks in BC and beyond who've already conjured up many more excellent progressive solutions. Personally though simply understanding the emotional cost of a deceitful, regressive tax like BC's Carbon Tax on the poorest among us seems ample motivation to use our capacity for compassion and empathy as the leverage to a progressive solution.

As H.L. Mencken once wrote, “For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong.”

4.18.2013

The Real KXL and Big Oil Resistors are on the Ground Protecting the Water, Land and Wildlife


As the excellent folks of the Great Plains Tar Sands Resistance movement explain, "There are no safe ways to transport tar sands crud. Tar sands crud [bitumen] must be diluted from its asphalt like consistency to a thinner substance by a proprietary, undisclosed chemical cocktail as well as heated by stations every 40 miles to be moved through pipes.  The nature of this diluted bitumen (dil-bit) is a caustic and corrosive material that will sooner or later leak. The Keystone 1 tar sands pipeline alone leaked 12 times in its first year of operation."

Big Oil has declared that pipelines are the 'safest' way to transport petroleum products, including the tar sands crud. In reality they have a terrible safety record. Since 1990, over 110 million gallons of crude oil and petroleum products have spilled from pipelines across the United States alone.

The Great Plains Tar Sands Resistance folks, along with the folks of the Tar Sands Blockade and others including Bold Nebraska are on the ground resisting Big Oil stateside for the same reason Canada's First Nations and environmental activists are fighting the Northern Gateway Project up here, to protect the water, land and wildlife that sustain us all. Tar sands extraction and pipelines like the Keystone XL and Enbridge’s New Tar Sands Frankenstein pipeline must be stopped. It's all the same fight, there is no American water, no Canadian air, we're all in this together

Together this far-flung band of resistors is facing the combined forces of the largest capitalist industry in human history and the government officials they own and control. But the greater reality is that the resistance to Big Oil is only part of the issue. Big Oil can only exist, as Adam Brandt, an energy expert at Stanford University pointed out recently, "So long as the demand is there, energy producers are going to search for new supplies of fossil fuel - many of them using unconventional means like tar sands extraction. With growing global demand, the economic pressure to develop unconventional resources is enormous and not going away,” he said. “The emphasis should be on demand, not supply. If the U.S. stopped consuming so much of the world’s oil, the economic need for the tar sands would evaporate."

Though it's much more convenient to cover attractive celebrities staging protests about the evil suppliers and non-existent regulations, it's the demand side that drives every economic exchange. The celebrities in Washington, New York and Hollywood provide the MSM something to write about so they won't have to write about consumerism or about the only realistic solution to it which is so revolutionary they can't bring themselves to utter the words... both because their paymasters would reject their articles and because the only inevitable, inescapable solution - the collapse of extractive capitalism - would lead to the end of their Beamer driving, Gucci wearing, world trotting lifestyles.

Folks don't need to travel to Arkansas or Nebraska, or Kitimat or anywhere to join the resistance to dr satan's ['tar sands' letters better arranged] crud. Just stop dropout of the consumer culture where ever you are, stop driving to the mall to buy more needless crap, spend your time and energy growing a garden, walking in the outdoors, listening to the birds sing and watching the miracle unfolding around you.

4.17.2013

The Small Independents Have Become the Real Journalists at the Forefront of the Dilbit Battles


Tar Sands Crud still pollutes the creek in Marshall Michigan where the Kalamazoo River pipeline disaster occurred almost 3 years ago.

Reporters Elizabeth McGowan, Lisa Song and David Hasemyer of InsideClimate News, a small five-year-old online only, non-profit, non-partisan news organization that specializes in energy and environmental science news, are the winners of this year's Pulitzer Prize for national reporting. The trio took top honors in the category for their work on 'The Dilbit Disaster: Inside the Biggest Oil Spill You've Never Heard Of', which reported the results of their seven-month investigation into the 1.1 million gallon spill of tar sands crud into a creek in Marshall Michigan, a community of 7,400, that feeds Michigan's Kalamazoo River.

The Pulitzer committee commented that the report helped broaden the national debate on pipeline safety issues, and pointed out how unprepared the nation is for the impending flood of imports of 'dilbit' - a more corrosive and more dangerous form of crude oil. The cleanup of the spill that happened nearly 3 years ago is still not complete and has cost over $1billion so far due to the extremely difficult circumstances created when the heavier than water tar sands crud sinks [as well as stinks]. The recent ExxonMobil pipeline spill near Mayflower Arkansas of dilbit underscores the continuing relevance of their of work.

The dilbit disaster in Michigan also taught big oil and the pipeline industry how important access to information is in the PR war that follows a pipeline failure. As the estimates in Arkansas climb to over 300,000 gallons spilled ExxonMobil continues to ramp up its focus on PR damage control rather than actual damage control.  At every turn they are attempting to obfuscate the truth by, for instance power-washing bitumen into a nearby wetland and then paying local sheriffs to keep cameras away, hiding the problem at the expense of the local watershed and everyone who relies on it for drinking water, hunting and fishing.

Why are law enforcement officials taking their orders from a private corporation? Not only are the local cops and officials taking orders from big oil but so is the FAA who within hours of the spill acquiesced to ExonMobil's demands for secrecy by declaring a no-fly zone above the whole area. By a few days later as a huge storm approached that was bound to spread the dilbit further into the marshes and Lake Conway itself Exxon's campaign of censorship and intimidation had put such a fear into the MSM that they wouldn't risk trying to gain access. If it weren't for the devoted independent activist journalists of Tar Sands Blockade who dodged the authorities and risked their safety during the thunder and lightening we would never have the evidence we do now of Exxon's workers pumping the crud polluted water over the dikes and directly into Lake Conway.

The Tar Sands Blockade activists, the folks maintaining the Mayflower Spill facebook site, the independent video streamers at Live Leak and those reporting at Treehugger are, like the reporters at InsideClimate News, leading the charge against the big oil billionaires who will do anything and everything to insure the continued flow of profits generated by dilbit no matter who pays in the long term costs, as long as it's not them.

The MSM is owned by the same selfish corporate forces as big oil. The MSM rely on the advertising revenue they collect from big oil and other corporations for their profits. Consequently the MSM have now relinquished the torch of inquiry to the small independent outlets and the volunteer army of citizen journalists who's courage and hard work both inspire and remind us that as George Orwell said, “Journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed: everything else is public relations.”

4.16.2013

All Bombs that Kill and Maim Innocent Civilians are Acts of Terror Delivered by Fanatics


During this morning's news conference US Pres.Obama said, "Any time bombs are used to target innocent civilians, it is an act of terror." Unfortunately we've learned from experience that every word Obama, or any other lawyer or politician, utters must be looked at very carefully. In this case, it's the word 'target' that must be parsed. Obama includes the word 'target' to provide a logically plausible, but actually fallacious, argument for differentiating between those innocent victims in Boston yesterday and those who are innocent victims of his drone's bombings.

The agrument is fallacious because the definition of both the spoken term target and the inferred term collateral damage that the US militarists use to justify the equally innocent that their bombs kill and maim are 'in the eye of the beholder'. Fanatics can always justify their actions by defining their victims as 'other'. So yesterday's fanatical bombers can, in their own minds, justify the dead and maimed as collateral damage just as easily as the US militarist fanatics do.

The truth is it doesn't matter if yesterday's bombers turn out to be Muslim Jihadists, or extremist right-wing activists, or left-wing agitators, or false-flag black-ops militarists or Muslim-fearing Anders-Breivik types, or lone individuals driven by apolitical mental illness, fanatics of all ilks are crazy. The truth is that terror is terror whether it's being felt in the Hindu-Kush mountains, the deserts of Arabia or the streets of America.

Glen Greenwald's piece this morning contained the important word 'compassion' saying in part, "The widespread compassion for yesterday's victims and the intense anger over the attacks was obviously authentic and thus good to witness. But it was really hard not to find oneself wishing that just a fraction of that compassion and anger be devoted to attacks that the US perpetrates rather than suffers." Another important word to include here is 'empathy'.

All life forms are hard wired to react with fear when they encounter a situation similar to a previous one that caused pain and trauma, that's why terrorism is a potent weapon. But primates and many other species also have been proven to be hardwired with empathy and compassion by the possession of mirror neurons. A mirror neuron fires both when an animal acts and when the animal observes the same action performed by another. Thus, the neuron "mirrors" the behavior of the other, as though the observer were itself acting. Dogs, for instance, have been shown to possess the highest ratio of mirror neurons among all the creatures tested so far. Someday neuro-science will most probably prove that all the various human fanatics have the lowest.

Hopefully someday we'll all, including the all fanatics who's fear filled ignorance allows them to justify their violence against 'others', have learned to take a deep breath and listen instead to the voice of compassion and empathy which is inside us all competing for our attention even in our most extremely stressful moments. Hopefully someday the killing and maiming of any innocent civilians, be it in  Pakistan, Yemen or Boston, will arouse the same reaction.

4.15.2013

Rolling Jubilee - a Bottom Up Bailout Project of the People by the People


The Rolling Jubilee Project, is the brainchild of 'Strike Debt' which is a coalition of Occupy groups looking to build popular resistance to all forms of debt imposed on us by the banks. Their website says, "Debt keeps us isolated, ashamed, and afraid. We are building a movement to challenge this system while creating alternatives and supporting each other. We want an economy where our debts are to our friends, families, and communities — and not to the 1%."

Rolling Jubilee has devised a legal and ingenious way to abolish millions of dollars in consumer debt.by raising money in the form of donations by ordinary folks and then uses that money to purchase debt on the secondary market [for pennies on the dollar}, Rolling Jubilee has purchased millions of dollars in unpaid medical debt that is – or, was – owed by consumers. As of this morning the Rolling Jubilee Project has raised about 579,000 and with it abolished $11,580,719 of debt.

Yesterday's excellent article by Matthew Charles Cardinale explains that banks routinely sell 'bad' debt for pennies on the dollar on a shadowy speculative market of debt buyers who then turn around and try to collect the full amount from debtors through threats and harassment. But instead of trying to collect the debts through practises that range from threatening letters to lawsuits, Rolling Jubilee is mailing letters to families saying that their debts have been forgiven. VERY cool eh!

A jubilee is an age-old event in which all debts are cancelled and all those in bondage are set free. It worked in Biblical times and it can still work today. For example, a kind of jubilee happened in Iceland after the 2008 economic crisis: instead of bailing out their banks, Iceland canceled a percentage of mortgage debt.

Web of Debt author Ellen Brown in praising the project and suggesting its expansion, says, “The Federal Reserve could just step in and buy the debt. Let’s say they bought a trillion dollars in debt. When they rip it up, they add money into the money supply...that’s how you stimulate the economy.”

The video below, a clip from the documentary 'Maxed Out', like the Rolling Jubilee Project, focuses on America, but Canadians, Europeans and everyone else everywhere are also subject to the same bankster mafia's profiteering on the backs of the poor.

4.13.2013

Working Class Brits Vote 'Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead' #1 Because They Remember



The Brits aren't being cruel or ignorant, nor are they the first to dance in the street after the death of a person they've viewed as an oppressive tyrant. Thousands of folks in Germany, and beyond, danced in the streets when the news of Hitler's death hit, thousands danced when Yassar Arafat died, there were street dances recently in the more 'tony' sections of Venezuela just after Hugo Chavez died, thousands dance in South Florida every time another rumor circulates that Castro is dying, Russians danced when the Czar was killed, and again when...well let's face it, Russians like to drink vodka and dance.

Anyway, these past few days of seeing the Ding Dong song rise on the British charts as opened the space for the working class' side of the globalization debate to re-emerge. Without the space created by the social media campaign in support of the Din Dong song Terry Glavin's article 'An alternative view on Margaret Thatcher' would have faced only the unanimous condemnation of the corporate media not the two sided debate it has engendered. Mainstream media outlets from Vancouver's conservative Sun to America's liberal The Nation are running stories on both sides of Thatcherism, and as Martha Stewart says 'that's a good thing'.

By Friday the online campaign had propelled the "Wizard of Oz" song to No. 1 on British iTunes and into the top five of the music chart used by the BBC to compile its weekly radio countdown., by today - Saturday - the BBC won't comment on it's position. As Terry Glavin says, "Opponents of the late Margaret Thatcher are taking a kind of musical revenge on the former prime minister, pushing the song "Ding Dong! The Witch is Dead" up the British charts in a posthumous protest over her polarizing policies."

Besides the rising tide of political power being wielded by the Internet generally and social media specifically, this explosion of working class consciousness in Britain also opened a space for connecting this particular issue with something more general. For instance, Canuckistan has seen a slightly different explosion of working class angst this past week through the TFW and outsourcing issues.

Outsourcing, offshoring and TFWs are all offspring of Thatcherism. Just as to some folks outsourcing is the well-spring of wealth creation when to others, like me, it's another obscene robbery of the poor by the rich, some folks see Margaret Thatcher as the 'Iron Lady' that saved our free world's asses and others, like me, see her as a linchpin for the sorry state of our increasing inequitable world.

There's a poll on the Guardian website asking the question: Do you want Ding Dong! The Witch Is Dead to top the charts? Over 100.000 have voted in the last few days. Results so far [poll closes on Sunday morning] are 80% YES and 20% NO. Guess witch way mr; mud voted.

4.12.2013

Naming and Shaming the Companies Using TFWs a Step Toward Making Them Pay The Full Costs


Now, just a few days after Dave Moreau blew the whistle on RBC's abuse of Canada's TFWP, they are in full retreat. They've issued a public 'mia culpa' that included promises that all the fired employees would be getting comparable jobs and that their business practices would change. Such is the power of bad publicity in our modern interconnected world. In reality their bottom line won't change a bit in the short-term because of the public's reaction to their getting caught doing exactly what thousands of other companies all across Canada are doing. The damage RBC fears is to their long-term PR persona.

RBC is in full damage control mode because they got 'named and shamed' by the whistleblower. The website Outsource Canada has province by province lists derived from StatsCan's voluminous and somewhat confusing tables. For instance, my home province of BC which currently has 166,400 folks registered with the government as unemployed and also has 28,065 TFWs which is 16.87% of its total employed workforce. The BC page's list of BC's companies, which includes hundreds of names, is really only a partial list because very few of the national corporations, including the big banks like RBC or the fast food outlets like Tim Horton's, are on it so...nonetheless it's well worth a cruise though the list to see how many of the places you frequent are there.

According to StatsCan, the largest number of TFWs across Canada are general farm workers including nursery, greenhouse and harvesting labourers  followed by food counter attendants, cooks, kitchen helpers and related restaurant occupations. The mind numbing lists and tables at StatsCan show that by far those highly specialized workers the program is supposed to help companies find are a tiny minority of the 338,000 TFWs now working in Canada.

According to another section of StatsCan, BC lost 16,200 full-time jobs last month. As BC Federation of Labour President Jim Sinclair says, "These numbers reveal we don't have a temporary shortage of workers, we have a shortage of jobs." The Federation has long opposed the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, because the program drives down wages and severely limits the rights of workers entering Canada. "We know that over the long run with expected retirements and slowing birthrates, our workforce requires continued reliance on immigration," said Sinclair; "but let's invest in real immigration programs that allow prospective citizens the same rights as all Canadian workers. It's how we built Canada and how we should continue to build Canada.

Wading through the jargon can be almost as confusing as the stats. The term 'outsourcing' is commonly used as a catch-all term by us folks non-familiar with the lingo. Reading up on the definitions of outsourcing, offshoring, temporary foreign workers and outsourcing companies can drive a person to drink. The street level reality is that the earlier era's destruction of Canada's manufacturing industries by the free trade and globalization bandits was mostly offshoring. The current corporate scheme of hiding behind sub-contractors [outsourcing companies] that actually hire and import temporary foreign workers is what we call outsourcing.

In the end it doesn't matter much which knife slit your throat, the reality is that you're bleeding and useless you stop the bleeding quickly somehow you'll be dead. It would be nice to live in a world where a person could count on the government to step in and stop the metaphorical bleeding of Canadian jobs, but we all know that'll happen just after pigs fly. So the best option, the best tool we have is to make the dastardly companies pay the Public Relations price of their short-term profit motivated actions is to take a first step by  'Naming and Shaming' them.

4.11.2013

Environmental and Animal Rights Activists Targeted as Eco-Terrorists and Jailed in Little Gitmo


An article a few days ago about.Daniel McGowan, an activist convicted in 2006 for his role in two Earth Liberation Front arsons in opposition to genetic engineering and to the logging of old-growth forests, was eye opening. McGowan was sentenced to 7 years and the court also applied what’s called a 'terrorism enhancement' which got him sent to a CMU. the article was on the website 'Green is the New Red' which concentrates on stories how animal rights and environmental activists are being targeted as 'eco-terrorists'  throughout the US and what their incarceration in the secretive prison units officially named Communication Management Units [CMU] and more commonly known as 'Little Guantanamos' means for American's safety, freedom and constitutional rights.

Following a link in that article to the Democracy Now interview with Andrew Stepanian, an animal rights activist also secretly jailed in a CMU opened my eyes even wider. Yesterday i watched another Democracy Now interview. This one was with an animal rights investigator detailing how he has spent over a decade secretly filming animal abuse and why that work is now imperiled by a wave of laws sweeping the country. These laws, like the one currently being adopted in Indiana, commonly called 'ag-gag' laws, actually extend far beyond the activities of animal welfare advocates to include environmentalists who defy publication bans to report on clearcutting, fracking, or in the current fiasco in Mayflower Arkansas, oil pipeline spill devastation.

The Little Gitmos were opened by the Bush administration. The first in 2006 in a special isolated wing of the federal prison in Terre Haute, Indiana. A second was opened last year by Obama's Bureau of Prisons in Marion, Illinois. Most of the prisoners held in the CMUs have been Muslim men, but there have also been several political activists, including environmental and animal rights activists.

After reading of and listening to these stories it seems clear that the US's loud and proud boasts about being a 'Government of Laws' now thinks itself 'Above the Law'. The laws, as Cicero wrote in the days of the Roman Republic, “are silent in time of war." But unlike in Cicero's time the current empire feels free to declare war on an undefinable enemy like terrorists, on ideas which can have no defined territory and on drugs all of which create wars that have no end.

Canadians and folks in other vassal states shouldn't spend any energy feeling safe and superior because their laws are quietly evolving into 'harmonization' with the US's. Up here in Canuckistan the Harper regime is spending $billions on new prisons while the serious crime rate is plunging. Who do they expect to be filling all those new cells? Maybe they're planning on an influx of 'foreign funded environmental radicals' to lay down in front of the pipeline building bulldozers. Maybe a buncha 'idle' First Nations folks bent on defending their constitutional guarantees by defending the water, air and animals their cultures have lived in harmony with for thousands of years. Maybe you, maybe me, maybe the only moral address soon will be 'Little Gitmo'.

4.10.2013

How Corporate Structure, Neo-Liberal Politics and Globalization Create Canada's TFW Fiasco


As University of British Columbia law professor Joel Bakan's book 'The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power' explains every corporation has one purpose -maximizing shareholder profits. Bakan's book and documentary [full version available online here] examine the corporation, considering its legal status as a class of person and evaluating its behaviour towards society and the world at large as a psychiatrist might evaluate an ordinary person.

A corporation, like any psychopath, may at times appear soft and cuddly but it's only an act performed to gain your confidence in order to further their only real agenda - maximizing shareholder profits. It's a corporation's job to avoid any cost that's avoidable in the service of their one master. Only by understanding the true nature of a psychopath can one avoid becoming a victim. Canada's corporations aren't dropping the ball on the TFW file one, they are doing their slippery best to slither through the loopholes in Canada's TFW program.

Just as it's the corporation's obligation to do every legal thing possible to maximize its profits, it's the government's job to create regulations that make avoiding costs that are socially deleterious illegal. Canada's Harper government is doing exactly the opposite with its religiously zealous, neo-liberal, laissez-faire non-regulations. For instance the US, 10 times larger than Canada, had 65,000 TFW admitted last year, Canada had 338,000.

This same free market madness and its idiot twin of globalization during the Brian Mulroney era 3 decades ago launched the Free Trade boondoggle that resulted first in the loss of  so many of Canada's manufacturing jobs and is now responsible for the rabid outsourcing in almost all of its economic sectors. Mulroney wasn't a lone wolf in this, he had allies, like Margret Thather and Ronnie Reagan, but apparently a person isn't supposed to speak badly of the dead so we'll stick to lambasting Mulroney.

The Harper government's huge expansion of what originated as a Liberal program designed to bring specialized workers into Canada that were unavailable now has thousands of corporations with TFWs doing such specialized work as flipping burgers at McDonald's, pouring coffee at Tim Horton's and every other damn thing that will cut the labor cost and thereby increase the profits of the Conservative's major financial backers.

Harper's neo-liberal, free trade ilk say Canada needs TFWs because Canadians won't accept jobs in the North, or in certain industries like slaughter houses but they never mention a free market in wages and that if people won't work for $10 an hour it's usually because they can't live on that little money. They never suggest that in a free market the company should offer higher wages and training instead of being allowed to bring in TFWs instead. Free traders always demand a free market for their capital knowing that the national borders which then become invisible to the movement of their capital will corral and restrict labour's freedom.

Canadians aren't buying RBC's CEO Gordon Nixon's denials, they understand, sub consciously at least, that they can never trust a corporate apologist because, though their words may be technically and legally true, their real agenda is being manipulatively disguised to control the situation. A the recent CBC Go Public investigation into the RBC and iGATE scandal has shown the two corporations have have been working together since 2005 to replace some Canadians with lower paid TFWs and to outsource the jobs of many others. It's shown also that RBC's contract with iGATE accounted for 11 per cent of RBC's total revenue last year, according to the firm's annual report, with RBC paying iGATE about $100 million. So it's not small, it's huge.

The Boycott RBC facebook site that started just a few days ago is growing by the minute. On it are whistleblowers from everywhere across Canada in every industry telling their stories, check it out, it's very uplifting. As always, RBC, and the rest of corporate Canada, are counting on Canadians to complain for a few days and then do nothing. Only time will tell, but apparently many RBC branches now have greeters at the door like Wal-Mart to chat up incoming customers, so they're at least hedging their bets eh.

4.09.2013

A Wide Range of Whistleblowers Prove That RBC is Just the Tip of the Iceberg in Canada's TFW Scandal



The dam of silence has burst. Three days ago there was one leaky Dave Moreau talking to the CBC, in the next couple of days a few other folks in the same situation started telling their stories publicly. Overnight and today whistleblowers from every sector of Canada's economy are talking. The Temporary Foreign Worker Program scandal is not about RBC anymore or about whether they broke the rules. It's about the TFW program as an obvious sop to business and how it is destroying jobs and opportunities for a generation of young Canadians.

This scandal has been going on for years in industries ranging from the hated Tar Sands to the beloved Tim Hortons. RBC, and now the not-so-beloved other banks, just got caught because whistleblower Dave came out on a weekend - when the full RBC PR machinery was off and when the HD mining corporation's hiring of 200 TFWs from China had already primed Canadians to pay attention.

Successive governments, both Conservative and Liberal, have been willfully ignoring and even excusing this practice for years by saying that we need more skilled workers. Well we have a million and a half unemployed workers yet there were 300,000 temporary foreign workers in Canada last year. As Karl Flecker of the Canadian Labour Congress said, "Ottawa’s policy to allow employers to pay foreign temp workers 15 per cent less than the prevailing wage simply offers an incentive for employers to replace Canadian workers." For instance there are tons of construction job postings in Alberta and Saskatchewan's newspapers at ridiculously low wages. Few Canadians ever apply because they can't make a living at those low wage levels given the high cost of living now in Alberta and Saskatchewan.

Profits are the real issue, the program is a direct attack on Canadian workers by driving down wages. A wage race to the bottom ensues when companies of any size or in any sector have one that is using cheaper TFWs.and the other isn't. Today on the 'Boycott RBC facebook page there are numerous reports that RBC is intimidating their IT workers all over Canada about the info that is being leaked onto the page. Jenny, who started and maintains the page says, "I want everyone to know that I will protect you at all costs - even if that means going to jail." One whistleblower says, "Today I show up for work and we staff have received a letter from Gord Nixon [RBC's CEO] explicitly telling staff to have no opinion, to be aware and say this is happening in all major banks and corporations." Going on to add, " Clients should know we have all been provided with scripted answers and told to comply and not to respond to individual inquiries."

My solution would be to eliminate the Temporary Foreign Worker Program immediately. Force companies who operate in Canada to hire Canadians, if they can't find capable workers, let 'em train them. Let them pay fair wages that are high enough for Canadians to live modestly and raise a family on. If companies can't compete with others who can exist while paying fair wages let 'em hit the road, who needs 'em. Further Canadians, who would then be earning a fair wage, would be able to afford TimBits that cost a few cents more, they'd be able to pay taxes instead of collecting UIC and welfare, they'd be able to afford an education for their kids, they'd not be forced to keep quiet for fear of being fired, they'd be able to stand up strait and proud and we'd all be better off for it. All of us that is except the profiteers and their politician lackeys.

4.08.2013

Thousands of Outraged Canadians Join RBC Boycott Over Foreign Worker Outsourcing



The Royal Bank of Canada is in full damage control mode as thousands of angry Canadians from coast to coast to coast join the protests and begin moving their money in response to learning about RBC's outsourcing deal that will see some of its staff lose their jobs to foreign workers. The new Facebook site is exploding with 'likes' and comments from folks who have joined the boycott by either closing their accounts completely or being in the process of it.

The story hit a few days ago when Dave Moreau, an RBC IT systems support employee, went public by contacting the CBC. Moreau told the CBC that dozens of employees at Canada’s largest bank are losing their jobs to temporary foreign workers who are in Canada to take over the work of their department. Moreau, one of the axed employees said, "The new people are in our offices and we are training them to do our jobs."

RBC is the most profitable bank in Canada making almost $8 billion last year and another $1.9 billion in the last quarter alone. RBC, like every corporation serves only one master - its shareholders. This move, which could end up being the dumbest in Canadian banking history, shows both just how short-sighted and stupid that type of business model is and also empirically proves how little they care about their employees or their customers.

If this style of business offends you, as it does me, and you are a customer of RBC, there are concrete actions we can take to put a crimp in RBC's profits. Moving your money to a local Credit Union is one. You can find a Credit Union near you by using this Credit Union Locator, give 'em a call, you might have to make an appointment because they'll probably be real busy in the next while. Credit Unions are owned by their members and by investing locally they benefit the local community economically.

Next, why not send off a few emails. Here's a few address to start with:
RBC's board of directors : https://www.rbc.com/governance/contactus.html
RBC's public affairs manager: Mark.Hamill@rbc.com
Human Resource Minister: diane.finley@parl.gc.ca

Then check out the 'Boycott Royal Bank of Canada' Facebook page and sign the AVAAZ 'Canadians should have priority for jobs' petition.

To be fair, RBC isn't the only culprit, every one of Canada's big 6 banks has some type of outsourcing scheme underway, the only real difference is that RBC got caught first. In fact, Canada's Temporary Foreign Worker Program is full of loopholes big enough to drive any sized corporation's greed driven agenda through. Hopefully this stupid move by RBC will serve as an anti-corporate bankster tipping point and one day we'll all look back and realize how important today is.

4.06.2013

The US Bubble Economy and the Entire Global Capitalist Pyramid Scheme Set to Collapse

According to Richard Duncan, formerly of the World Bank, the capitalist pyramid scheme is in a death spiral. Going on to say, "What's really disturbing about these findings is that the pattern isn't limited to our economy, it's the same catastrophic pattern in our energy, food, and water systems as well." If he's right then why is the Dow hitting record highs? Why are Wall St. bonuses soaring? Because, as Ellen Brown explains, the US is bubble economy who's vampire like life depends totally on the Fed's printing presses. The $3 trillion the fed has printed in the last few years has propped up the stock market and it kept the banks temporarily out of bankruptcy but in the end, when the bubble pops, it will take down the worldwide capitalist pyramid scheme.

In explaining the international debt pyramid scheme, world renown economic adviser Dr. Kent Moors says, "Most frightening of all is how this exact same pattern keeps appearing in virtually every system critical to our society and way of life. It's a pattern that's hard to see unless you understand the way a catastrophe like this gains traction," Dr. Moors says. "At first, it's almost impossible to perceive. Everything looks fine, just like in every pyramid scheme. Yet the insidious growth of the virus keeps doubling in size, over and over again - in shorter and shorter periods of time - until it hits unsustainable levels. And it collapses the system."

Roger Baker's latest series 'Terminal Capitalism' gives an excellent, concise, explanation of how interest on debt, both sovereign and personal, has snowballed to the point where the inequity of wealth distribution around the world means that either financial collapse or revolution are the only conceivable outcomes. This inconvenient truth isn't a secret, every government, every banker, everybody who pulls back the curtain and sees the little old man pulling the levers, knows that one day soon the collapse of the dreaded and unfunded 'credit default swap' flimflam will cascade through the world, the bubble will burst and, as always, the shit will flow downhill.

Despite it's current $1trillion yearly deficit, the US spends $4,000+ per capita every year on the military and untold more on it's uber-secret security programs not because it's afraid of crazy leaders in tiny North Korea, not because it fears Iran's Ayatollahs, not because it fears the Chinese threat, or the Jihadists, or the Latin American socialists. The banksters, the corporate fascists and their puppets in every government including the EU, China, Russia and the US know the collapse coming and they  fear YOU.