Tag Archives: famine

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

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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

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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.

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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.
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Shame Day: Africa Will Always Be Poor (And Other Racist ****)

First off, CISPA, passed by Congress last Friday, is headed to the floor of the Senate. If you haven’t already, get in contact with your senators and send them this message:

Now back to business.

I’ve been meaning to take a crack at this issue for a while. In fact, I’ve even tried a few times to actually write a post on it- I just couldn’t quite find the words to illustrate the problem succinctly.

Then, earlier today, I came across this image [click to open up larger in a new window]:

Continue reading

Apocalypse Wow

There is, if sources are to be believed, going to be a rebooted Left Behind movie coming out sometime next year.

Your reaction should be as follows:

If it isn’t, then you probably aren’t familiar with the series (and should count yourself truly fortunate), so for you blissfully innocent, here’s the basic run-down.

The Left Behind series is based on the book of Revelation in the Bible, as well as certain (delectably) apocalyptic verses in Old Testament books. I say “based on”, but that’s more to demonstrate the authors’ intentions. Left Behind is “based on” the book of Revelation in the same way that Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is based on Vasari’s biographies of Italian Renaissance artists.

In the sixteen-novel series, all true (cough, Protestant, cough) Christians have been “raptured” (removed from the world and taken directly to the after life), leaving behind the unsaved protagonists of the story who find themselves contending with the oncoming “tribulations” (the host of hardships and catastrophes marking the end times) and the rise of the antichrist, who walks the earth in the form of a Romanian politician who takes control of the UN (because, you know, there’s no one more powerful than the UN).

Things more powerful than the UN:
The Student Government of MLK Jr. Middle School,
A Junior Sales Rep from Prescott Pharmaceuticals,
Paris Hilton’s Chihuahua

Needless to say, I don’t think very highly of the series. But hey, if we’re looking for badly written fan-fiction, why not haul Twilight to the guillotine?

It’s because of the fan part. That’s what really gets me. We’re not talking about someone fawning over the idea of stalker-veggie-sparkle-vampires, we’re talking about someone fawning over the idea of millions- billions– of human beings undergoing agonizing deaths. Think I’m reading into things? Take a look at this passage from the series:

The riders not thrown leaped from their horses and tried to control them with the reins, but even as they struggled, their own flesh dissolved, their eyes melted, and their tongues disintegrated. As Rayford watched, the soldiers stood briefly as skeletons in now-baggy uniforms, then dropped in heaps of bones as the blinded horses continued to fume and rant and rave.

Seconds later the same plague afflicted the horses, their flesh and eyes and tongues melting away, leaving grotesque skeletons standing, before they too rattled to the pavement.

You might say “Sure, that’s violent, but that isn’t exactly glorifying it, is it?”. Let me continue on.

…Jesus nudged His magnificent white charger and descended to the top of the Mount of Olives.

As He dismounted, Carpathia shrieked out his final command, “Attack!” The hundred thousand troops followed orders, horsemen at full gallop firing, foot soldiers running and firing, rolling stock rolling and firing.

And Jesus said, in that voice like a trumpet and the sound of rushing waters, “I AM WHO I AM.”

At that instant the Mount of Olives split in two from east to west, the place Jesus stood moving to the north and the place where the Unity Army stood moving to the south, leaving a large valley.

All the firing and the running and the galloping and the rolling stopped. The soldiers screamed and fell, their bodies bursting open from head to toe…

So much for turning the other cheek, eh?

And here’s what gets me about the series. It’s not the generally bad writing or the twisted theology- it’s just how freakishly popular the series is. Popular enough not to spawn just one movie attempt, but two. It’s hard enough for good stories to get a second chance at something like that, let alone this junk. And it’s the implication of that popularity which gnaws at me. There are people out there- a lot of people- who genuinely look forward to this supposed apocalyptic scenario, or an apocalyptic scenario, anyhow. People who fully expect the end of the world to be a plague and hellfire ridden Armageddon, complete with WWIII and genocide of unheard of proportions. People who look forward to this- and not in a “in the sweet by and by” way, I’m talking about a “I love the smell of napalm in the morning” kind of way.

You can’t deny that this blood-thirsty anticipation does exist. If you’re even only vaguely familiar with the Christian (American-Christian, more on that in a second) subculture, you’ll almost have certainly run into this. There’s plenty of other lousy Armageddon fantasies out there.

And what makes it all the worse is just how utterly undeserved all this hidden vitriol is. This vengeful glee isn’t coming from people who have been mercilessly persecuted for their faith. This isn’t coming from the families of martyrs or the congregations of assassinated priests and pastors in the third world. The churches of Africa, Asia, and South America have enough problems combating war, poverty, and disease to be drooling over prophesied war, poverty, and disease. No, this is the bitter vindictiveness that only comfort and safety can breed. All this body-bursting leering isn’t a result of imprisonment (not that it would be justified there either), it’s a result of being snubbed by Bill Maher or portrayed as yokels on some sitcom.

That’s just messed up.

Now this isn’t Shame Day, but that doesn’t mean we can’t all gather ’round and ruthlessly mock something that so richly deserves it, and if this drivel doesn’t deserve it, I don’t know what does.