Tag Archives: corporations

The Trans Pacific Partnership: A Threat to Canadian Taxes, Food Security, Democracy, and More

My name is Jonathan. I am 26 years old and living a typical Canadian life. I can honestly say that I spent the majority of my life wanting “the dream”: money, fame, and fortune. I believed that everyone had a chance to get that dream, especially living in a Country like Canada.

After I graduated from high school, I moved to the city. I learned about myself and experienced new people and cultures. I partied, shopped, and socialized, then went to work so that I could go out and spend more money and time with people. I was living the life but something seemed empty about it all. Everything in my life felt like it revolved around spending money.

We may talk about things like homelessness, world hunger, climate change, environmental pollution, wars, and diseases, but as a whole, my society isn’t worried about this. We are concerned about making and spending money, we feel obligated to go out and work those 40 hours every week so that we could have the means to pay for our consumer lifestyles.

What many people don’t realize is that the North American lifestyle wasn’t always this kind of rat race. In many cases, it used to be possible for a middle class family to support themselves on only one income. However, after the introduction of the NAFTA agreement many of those dependable unionized jobs moved to Mexico, where businesses could exploit workers without unions getting in the way. Since then, our economy has become much more dependent on debt. Not to mention that since the 2008 housing crisis in 2008 purchasing a home in many cities is now nearly impossible.

Currently, Canada is looking to introduce a bill that could have just as wide flung effects as the NAFTA agreement: The Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP).

What is the TPP?

Right now our nation is at a crossroads. Recently, our government signed onto the The Trans Pacific Partnership. This agreement threatens many of our rights and freedoms. If it is ratified, we will be allowing corporations to make decisions for us, but with the priority of profit over the welfare of people.

This agreement is quite a bit like the North American Free Trade Agreement that Canada signed in 1994. NAFTA allowed a lot of wealth to be made, but by corporations, and not the people of the countries involved. The new Trans Pacific Partnership may have even worse consequences than NAFTA, as the video below highlights.

While the video explains the general problematic aspects of the TPP, I’ve addressed several aspects below that will directly affect us in Canada.

1. Canadian tax dollars are being spent paying lawsuits to Corporations

Screen Shot 2016-04-26 at 4.58.21 PM

Art courtesy of Jon Marks

Companies within NAFTA are allowed to sue countries whose policies affect their profits. Canada has already paid out around $160 million to companies for lost revenue. How much will Canadians have to pay in the future to satisfy the Companies suing for lost profits?

Policies that are meant to protect Canadians are being challenged just to boost profits. The health and job security of Canadians are not a corporate priority, and the TPP will only further threaten their safety. Canadian policies or decisions can be legal, fair and designed to effectively protect the environment or public health, yet they can still face corporate lawsuits demanding hundreds of millions of dollars in compensation. A powerful tool of corporate rule is already undermining our democracy. Why would Canada want to willfully sign up for more of that? 

2. It threatens Canadian Food Security and Health Security

fsn_understanding_food_security

Courtesy of Food Security News

We live in a globalized world. We have a constant supply of food, a wide variety of options, and goods are cheap. The often overlooked problem with this system is that our world is not a stable one, there are wars, famines, droughts, floods. The Climate is changing dramatically and fast.

We are almost completely dependent on imports for many food and goods that could instead be grown and produced in Canada. At the same time we are exporting our natural resources. If global trade were to stop, Canadians would be ill-prepared to deal with the food and goods shortages.

The TPP opens more markets to Canadians, which pushes down the prices of everything, leaving little motivation to have more expensive Canadian-made products and food. It could even threaten the few industries that are still protected here in Canada, like dairy and poultry. And any dairy farmer could tell you that the difference between our dairy standards and those in the United States are staggering.

The TPP also opens up opportunities for companies to challenge food labeling. Since labeling where food comes from, or how the produce was grown (i.e. GMO) could affect profits, companies could sue Canada for requiring labels.

Personally, I want my food to be labeled so I can know where my garlic is grown and whether my tuna was caught without killings thousands of dolphins. Consumers should have the right to know where and how food is produced. Cost shouldn’t be the only deciding factor.

3. It Threatens Canadian Socialism

Canadians think that we live in a socialist country. We have free health care, employment insurance, and we would like to think it’s a fairly even playing field when it comes to finding a rewarding career. We are told that we have opportunities to become successful, that there’s a piece of pie for everyone. We are told that our lives are best.

Unfortunately, reports and studies continually state that the world’s wealth continues to stay with the 1% of the population and the rest of us are getting poorer.

Canadian corporations have tax havens of up to $200 Billion, which keeps money out of Canada and costs regular Canadians more taxes. Canada should make laws preventing these loopholes and recoup the ‘stolen’ money.

Canada, with countless resources, should be a country of bounty. We shouldn’t have widespread homelessness and poverty shouldn’t be such a problem. People shouldn’t have to decide between supporting themselves and receiving a post-secondary education.

Canadians pride ourselves on universal healthcare, but many medical services and products aren’t actually included under that coverage. This could get even worse if the TPP is passed, since it includes excessive patent protections and other intellectual property rights that are guaranteed to make medication much more expensive in Canada. Call me a socialist, but I believe medicine should not be a profit-focused industry. I think pharmaceuticals should be heavily regulated by the governments, with the goal of bettering mankind, not just the stockholders. The health and wellbeing of humans should not just be seen as an opportunity for profit. Unfortunately, Global News has already reported on certain Pharmaceutical companies dramatically increasing drug prices.

Canadians need to decide what we want our future to be like.

We can allow the TPP to be signed and continue the corporate and banking invasion of our country, allowing rich corporations to benefit at the expense of the rest of the population.

Or we could stand up to the corporate world and demand that our country protect our rights and freedoms. We could see our governments take down economy-destroying banking systems and regulate corporations to once again benefit humans before profits. We could work towards health and food security, only selling or sharing surpluses with other countries. With less focus on profits, we might be able to solve many of the problems plaguing our world.

It is not too late to challenge the TPP. It may have been signed, but it is not yet ratified. The recent election was a political shakeup; it could allow Canada to rewrite our embarrassing trade, environment, and social policies.

So what will you do? Say nothing, and allow the TPP to pass? Or stand up and contact your MP to let them know that you care about Canada’s future. You can tell Ottawa that Corporations have no right to rule Canadians. We are a free country, we are a democracy, and we will not go down without a fight.

The time to decide is now. You have everything to lose.

24169248014_eb975c4259_b

Courtesy of The Council of Canadians acting for Social Justice


JON Marks is a 26-years-young, flamboyant, micro-writer who works in the garden and irrigation industry. He is a hobbit at heart and loves a good cup of tea. He is often a quiet fellow, but some situations can cause him to voice his opinions. He has no problem dishing the T.
Advertisements

Shame Day: Video Game Companies

eaeaI am a dude who loves video games. I’ve played so much Team Fortress 2 in the past few weeks that it’s essentially become a ritual for me, something to do while and after I eat dinner. What I don’t always love are the business practices these  companies  engage in.

The image I Photoshop’d together depicts the EA [Electronic Arts] logo because they’re a company that I’m positive some of the blame lies with when it comes to generally being horrible to its employees.

I was turned onto this flagrant abuse of humanity through a webcomic Scott Kurtz [of PvP] and Mike Krahulik and Jerry Holkins [of Penny Arcade] put together. The comic, titled The Trenches, follows the life of a QA [quality assurance] guy whose name escapes me at the moment. The important part is that below the comic is a feature called Tales From The Trenches, which catalogues nightmare stories from those who toil within in the industry.

Below is one of my favourites, entitled “Weekend Funtimes.” My favourite not in that I enjoy reading it, but in that it encapsulates some of the horror of working  for large corporations:

We were about two months into “crunch” when they decided to up our hours AGAIN, taking us to over 80/week. The only available day to squeeze these extra hours in? Sunday!

I arrive at the building Sunday morning, only to find it locked—no other businesses had Sunday hours. I call my supervisor, who proceeds to fuss at me about interrupting his “family” time. My team had all arrived for work by that point, which just seemed to make him angrier. He tells me he is on his way and hangs up.

Flash forward ten minutes. We’re all still freezing (it was winter and -10 windchill) when we see his car come around the corner at the end of the block. He drives up the road, rolls his window down, and THROWS the office key at me—all without ever slowing down.

He calls me twenty minutes later to make sure we had gotten in, then informed me we would have to make up the time we had “wasted” waiting on him. He ended the call telling me to never interrupt his family time again.

That’s fairly despicable, and definitely up there among the worst of them. It was posted last month, and while it’s unknown when the event actually happened there is a date we can pinpoint: November 10th, 2004. The date that “EA: The Human Story” was posted to LiveJournal by user “EA Spouse.”

The post is a thorough examination of EA’s policies, especially regarding the infamous “crunch time” that its employees have to go through as the game nears its impending launch. She writes with a genuine, heartfelt voice that stems from being the wife of an EA employee. This is definitely present in the penultimate paragraph of her piece:

If I could get EA CEO Larry Probst on the phone, there are a few things I would ask him. “What’s your salary?” would be merely a point of curiosity. The main thing I want to know is, Larry: you do realize what you’re doing to your people, right? And you do realize that they ARE people, with physical limits, emotional lives, and families, right? Voices and talents and senses of humor and all that? That when you keep our husbands and wives and children in the office for ninety hours a week, sending them home exhausted and numb and frustrated with their lives, it’s not just them you’re hurting, but everyone around them, everyone who loves them? When you make your profit calculations and your cost analyses, you know that a great measure of that cost is being paid in raw human dignity, right?

Better known by her blogging handle, little did Erin Hoffman know what sort of action her post would lead to. In part it resulted in the filing of three class action lawsuits against EA and the beginning of many changes within the industry. Her post inspired another entitled “Why Crunch Modes Doesn’t Work: Six Lessons” which garnered a fair amount of attention within the online community.

That being said, Tales From The Trenches continues on into 2013, and it’s undeniable that many are slaving away in gaming companies because they love the final product. Their devotion to video games means that they’re stuck in jobs where they’re treated poorly by anyone and everyone a rung above them on the corporate ladder. Yes, this can be said of many work environments, but few have the same number of young, eager individuals so passionate to take part in what they’ve enjoyed their entire lives.

So shame on EA, and shame on any and all video game companies that treat their employees like dirt. No one said starting a career was easy, but no one should have to toil away thanklessly for an abusive system, either.