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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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(Gay) Mawige Is Wat Bwings Us Togever Today

As you already know, June 26th saw the US Supreme Court’s ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges- an agonizingly boring name for what was one of the most momentous decisions in American legal history.

Effectively legalizing same-sex marriage in all 50 states, the ruling was met by many Americans with resounding applause and celebration that often seemed to border on being downright aggressive.

But we’re not here to talk about that. Nor are we here to talk about the outcries and horror and disgust from the ever-dwindling minority of marriage equality opponents. At least- not the nutjobs.

The pastor who promised to set himself on fire if the ruling was made (though he swiftly retracted that oath), the folks claiming that gays cause hurricanes, the ones who hold up picket signs reading “God hates Fags!”-

-these are not the people I want to talk about.

I’m referring to the non-crazy (but by no means less angry) rank and file of the opposition here. Your conservative uncle. Your Wesleyan Aunt. Folks who’d never shriek obscenities, or claim the impending wrath of God, but who’d still shake their heads sadly and call this ruling a “tragedy” or “evidence of our culture’s moral free-fall”.

These folks:

FB capture 1FB Capture 2FB Capture 3 Continue reading

2 Broke Girls, S4E7 “And a Loan for Christmas”: A TV Review

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Can you imagine if all TV shows handled their midseason finales the same way The Walking Dead does? Which beloved character would we create petitions to resurrect? Would the Williamsburg Diner be short a staff member or lose their most valued customer? Honestly, just thinking about it makes me wish it would happen, if only to really mix things up.

“And a Loan for Christmas” is a direct sequel to last-last week’s episode, “And the Brand Job”. To save you the time of watching it for yourself, or even reading the review, that installment of Max and Caroline’s wacky adventures concerned their respective business plans, with the former’s coming to life in the cold open: snarkily decorated cupcakes and t-shirts are on full display. What’s more, these new wares are doing great [no surprise, really]. So great, in fact, that there’s talk of acquiring some capital, because you need to spend money to make money-

– and I want to stop you [and Caroline] right there and be upfront with you all: I don’t know a lot about finances. Continue reading

2 Broke Girls, S4E6 “And the Model Apartment”: A TV Review

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The last “big” guest star I can remember 2 Broke Girls featuring was Grammy-nominated rapper 2 Chainz in what was hands-down the worst episode of the show I can remember reviewing. Similar to that last instance network synergy is what brings the Victoria’s Secret Angels to the sitcom, with The Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show airing tomorrow night on CBS. The creative push behind this particular twenty-some minutes of television finds its source not in the writers’ room but in a boardroom, and the results are far from stellar.

Remember when I wrote a single review about the pilot episode of MTV’s Underemployed? That was a show entirely about young attractive men and women who were just barely making it through life [note the title of the show] while at least 1/3 of the cast lived in one of the biggest, nicest apartments I have ever seen. That lines up pretty well with Max and Caroline of Broke Girls
constantly making note of how tragically poor they are while residing in an enormous apartment that has, revealed in this episode, a literal barn attached to it complete with sunroof.

WHAT IS THIS WHAT IS GOING ON

WHAT IS THIS WHAT IS GOING ON.

I remember how in the pilot episode Max explained that she didn’t pay rent because the previous tenant died yet continues to pay for it with his pension cheques or something along those lines but are you kidding me? My suspension of belief already took a beating when they decided to keep the horse, but now to find out that they have an entire barn? Is that why they’re so poor? Otherwise, honestly, it makes no sense since they both work two jobs and none of what they make goes towards rent. Continue reading

Giving Money [Minus the Ice Bucket]

I’d say there’s no better time than right now to discuss what we do with our money in light of the hundreds upon thousands of Ice Bucket Challenge videos that have been taking up most of the internet the past few days [FYI, Emily Blunt’s is the best]. Just yesterday my youngest brother posted one to Facebook, so it’s gotten just about as close to home as it possibly can.

Now there’s been a lot of discussion about how this appears to be just the latest trend, which probably has a lot to do with the sheer number of celebrities who are getting in on this. What can’t be argued with, though, is the fact that in a very short time this challenge has resulted in over $50 million being donated for ALS, which is roughly 80% of what the organization raised last year. That’s big, that’s worth applauding. I’m going to end this paragraph on that note.

What else it is, though, is fun. It’s fun watching people like Bill Gates and Nick Offerman get soaked in frigid water and calling out their peers. It’s fun when our peers do it to us, and when we in turn choose to douse ourselves in glacial H2O. That makes it easier to give, I think, there’s this pervasive lightheartedness about it that makes us more inclined to reach into our wallets and give howevermany dollars towards ending Lou Gehrig’s Disease [an ailment I only very recently connected to these shenanigans]. Giving gets infinitely harder when there’s none of that fun involved.

Here’s my favourite scene from a pretty bad 2004 Jackie Chan movie [no offence to Steve Coogan, but we weren’t watching it for him]:

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Fame Day: Liberation Theology (Can the Church be a Force for Social Justice?)

I grew up as an Evangelical Christian. There are many wonderful people I love who strongly associate with that title, but at this point in my life I no longer consider myself one. As I’ve struggled with certain tenants of the Evangelical movement over the last few years I’ve also struggled with the urge to write off Christianity entirely.

As I’ve gotten older and moved away from my previous home and (wonderful) community, I’ve started to realize that the “brand” of Christianity I was raised with is certainly not the only one out there. I also discovered that the emphasized conversion message that I was brought up in is actually a relatively new aspect of Christianity. While this method had a real heyday in the 80-90’s (think altar calls), here in North America things seem to be evolving yet again.

While I’d love to share more about what I’ve been learning regarding the evolution of Christianity sometime soon, for this post I want to focus on a branch of theology that I didn’t even realize existed until pretty recently: Liberation Theology. Continue reading

Guaranteed Minimum Income

Your name is John/Jane Smith, and you are an American citizen 18 years of age or older. On this merit alone, you will receive approximately 300 dollars per month to be deposited in a bank account of your choosing.

That right there is the gist of Guaranteed Minimum Income and the subject of today’s discussion. Continue reading