Canada is in denial of her true self. We have been co-opted by a globalized corporatocracy.
This chosen self-negation is exacting a heavy toll. We have arguably lost our democracy, and our much of our sovereignty, in addition to cultural pluralism, biodiversity, and economic self-determination.
The facilitator of this "corporate coup" is a toxic mental landscape.
Transnational corporations and their political lobbyists wilfully co-opt the language of human rights as a subterfuge for retrograde supranational agreements that deny democracy, as well as economic and cultural self-determination. We are daily bombarded with false terms such as "free trade" and "private sector" to the point where we internalize (subliminally?) incorrect meanings.
Ubiquitous "free trade" rhetoric infers freedom and prosperity even as it delivers the opposite. Protectionist agreements such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) enable the outsourcing of labour to authoritarian regimes where human and labour rights are much lower. The movement of capital is protected and deregulated as jobs, public health, environmental, cultural, and human rights disappear.
Investor-state laws effectively subordinate a country's economic and political self-determination when international and domestic laws or regulations are perceived to be an impediment to corporate profits. Unelected supranational arbitrators make decisions and the public is often left paying the bill. Stuart Trew, trade campaigner with Council Of Canadians, explains in John Bonnar's article, "Toronto activists oppose Trans-Pacific Partnership and corporate globalization" : "Within all these trade deals there is an investor rights chapter that lets companies sue countries when they feel their profits have been harmed, ... giving corporations more rights than anyone else in this country and any other country." Trew cites Calgary's Lone Pine Resource's lawsuit against Canada as an example:
"(Lone Pine Resources) first disclosed last week that it intends to sue the Canadian government for at least $250-million under NAFTA's Chapter 11, which allows investors from the U.S. and Mexico to take government policies or actions that hurt their interests before a panel of arbitrators, (Globe and Mail, Nov. 22, 2012.)
In its notice of intent, Lone Pine charges that the government's move, 'without a penny of compensation,' violates NAFTA's provision that companies facing expropriation should be reimbursed. Lone Pine also charges that Quebec's move unfairly pre-empts the conclusion of the province's ongoing study on the safety of fracking.
The Quebec government's move to cancel a natural-gas exploration permit for deposits beneath the St. Lawrence River last year was "arbitrary, capricious and illegal," according to the U.S. energy company challenging the move under the North American free-trade agreement."
(Lone Pine Resources is incorporated in Delaware, U.S, a known tax haven, but has its headquarters in Calgary.)
The "private sector" rhetoric infers independence and freedom, yet it is highly socialized -- the 2008/09 bailouts would be a case in point -- by the public sector. Additionally, as public funds flow into the "private" sector, corporations return the favour by capturing legislatures and engineering self-serving laws and regulations -- or the absence thereof -- to entrench their monopolies and their anti-public behaviours. Bruce Livesy explains in "Tax Dodge: Gildan Activewear" how Canada's Gildan corporation avoids paying taxes: "By moving its factories overseas, Gildan managed to cut its Canadian tax rate down to nothing in the past four years, despite earning profits of $95 million in 2009, $196 million in 2010, $224 million in 2011 and $144 million last year."
Currently there is a host of anti-democratic corporate-power agreements being negotiated behind closed doors, including the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), the Foreign Investment Protection Agreement (FIPA) with China , the CETA, as well as agreements with India, Japan, Honduras, and South Korea. Each of these (largely secret) deals promises to enrich and empower foreign investors to the detriment of local economies and public spheres. Outcomes, such as those resulting from the 20 year old North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) will likely include and exacerbate some of NAFTA's symptoms,
* increased inequality between rich and poor nations
* increased inequality within rich and poor nations
* an exodus of good-paying manufacturing jobs
* collapsing small farm incomes
Corporate globalization entrenches parasitical monopoly capitalism. In agriculture, for example, large agribusiness monopolies, often funded by international banking institutions, push out smallholders -- thereby reducing economic diversity -- so that they can grow monoculture cash crops for export. Consequently, people are displaced, and nation states lose their food sovereignty. Mexico now imports most of its food.
Globalized monopoly capitalism also reduces biodiversity. Ahmed Djoghlaf,
secretary-general of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, explains that if the continued accelerated trajectories towards biodiversity losses continue, we can expect "total disaster", and the disaster includes the economic realm. Djoghlaf explains that "in immediate danger", are the 300 million people who depend on forests for their livelihoods and the more than 1 billion who depend on sea fishing for their livelihoods.
Of equal importance is cultural diversity and the respect for international and national laws that enshrine rights of indigenous peoples throughout the world. Anthony James Hall, author of The American Empire And The Fourth World, argues that we need to recognize and affirm aboriginal and treaty rights throughout the world to build what George Manuel referred to as the Fourth World. Such a world would value unity in pluralism, and be a counterbalance to the totalitarianism of globalized neoliberal capitalism, sometimes referred to as the corporatocracy.
Hall poses the question, "Will we grapple with the substance of our inheritances from history or will we continue to retreat into the black hole of memory loss, the willed amnesia that facilitates the on-going neo-liberal revolution of the New World Order?"
Canada is currently grappling with this question as it continues to deny and negate aboriginal and treaty rights at home and abroad.
Activists of Fourth World pluralism from countries such as Honduras are pushing back, at great cost, against the international reach of Canada's neo-liberal agenda that denies and negates aboriginal and treaty rights. In this video, Alfredo Lopez of the Honduran Garifuna Collective describes the shackles that we are imposing on his community.
The oppression of the Garifuna is an outward expression of Canada's wilful amnesia that denies its own pluralism, and its unmitigated embrace of the monoculture of globalized neoliberal corporatism.
There are steps that can (and must) be taken to push back against these converging totalitarian trajectories. A paper entitled "Towards an Alternate Trade Mandate for the E.U -- an invitation to participate" offers a comprehensive list of ideas.
All steps should be considered. Listed below are two of the most salient ones :
1) ensure a transition to a low-carbon economy
2) stop pushing for the deregulation of financial services and the privatisation and deregulation of public goods like water, health and education, but improve the quality of and access to these goods, for example, through partnerships among public authorities.
ALSO ON HUFFPOST:
CANADA - APRIL 17: David Thomson, chairman of Thomson Reuters Corp., speaks during a news conference in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, on Thursday, April 17, 2007. Net worth: $26.1 billion, up 30% (from last year)
W. Galen Weston, Executive Chairman of grocery giant George Weston Ltd., speaks during the company's annual general meeting in Toronto on Thursday, May 9, 2013. Net worth: $10.4 billion, up 24%
Prime Minister Stephen Harper, left, chats with New Brunswick Premier David Alward and Arthur Irving, right, chairman of Irving Oil as he visits the Irving Oil refinery in Saint John, N.B. on Thursday, Aug. 8, 2013. Net worth: $7.85 billion, down 3%
Ted Rogers , founder of Rogers Communications Inc. signing some copies of his new autobiography before delivering an address to the Economic Club of Canada luncheon at the Sheraton Hotel in Toronto. Net worth: $7.6 billion, up 18%
Vancouver businessman Jim Pattison typically plays his cards close to the vest as head of Jim Pattison Group , one of the country's largest privately owned conglomerates. Net worth: $7.39 billion, up 20%
Saputo Inc. Chairman Lino Saputo addresses shareholders during the company's annual general meeting in Laval, Que., Tuesday, August 6, 2013. Net worth: $5.24 billion, up 24%
GESCA Ltee Director Paul Desmarais appears before the Kent Commission inquiry into the news paper industry in Ottawa on April 7, 1981. Paul Desmarais Sr. died at the age of 86. Net worth: $4.93 billion, up 12%
LOS ANGELES - SEPTEMBER 20: Jeff Skoll arrives for the Los Angeles Premiere of Paramount Vantage "Waiting For Superman" held at the Paramount Theater on September 20, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. Net worth: $4.92 billion, up 8%
James Richardson & Sons manages financial services through Richardson Financial Group, property management through Richardson Center Limited, and oil and gas exploration through Tundra Oil & Gas Partnership. Richardson Financial Group consists of two operating divisions, Richardson Partners Financial Limited, and Richardson Capital. In 2009, Richardson Partners Financial merged with GMP Private Client to form Richardson GMP, a wealth management and investment services firm. Net worth: $4.45 billion, up 31%
Carlo Fidani stands with Prime Minister Stephen Harper (left) and Ontario's Lieutenant Governor David Onley as Diamond Jubilee Medals were awarded to seventeen Canadians for outstanding service to their country, in Toronto, on Saturday January 12, 2013. Net worth: $4.08 billion, up 13%
Also On HuffPost: THE WORLD'S RICHEST BILLIONAIRES
Net worth: $29 billion DOWN Source: LVMH Citizenship: France - Falls from no. 4 in world to no. 10 due to more information about his ownership stake. - Also a factor: Forbes now values his direct stake in Christian Dior, which in turn has a 41% stake in LVMH and trades at a near 20% discount to the underlying shares; previously we had valued the shares in LVMH. - LVMH shares rose more than 6%; U.S. sales grew at a faster rate than sales in Asia region in the fourth quarter - Arnault denied reports that his request for Belgian citizenship last year was related to the country’s tax policies. - It was announced in October that he will be knighted for his services in the U.K.
Net worth: $30 billion UP Source: L’Oreal Citizenship: France - Heiress to L’Oreal cosmetics fortune jumps to 9th richest in 2013 from 15th richest last year, thanks to a more than 30% rise in the price of L’Oreal stock. Her net worth is $6 billion higher than a year ago. - Now the world’s richest woman. She last cracked the top 10 in 1999. -Her father founded L’Oreal. Bettencourt and her family own more than 30% of the company. -Bettencourt’s assets were placed under the guardianship of her daughter in 2011 after a three-year legal battle. Bettencourt, widowed and age 90, suffers from dementia. Her grandson, Jean- Victor Meyers, took her spot on the L’Oreal board in February 2012.
Net worth: $31 million UP Source: diversified Citizenship: Hong Kong - Once again Asia’s richest person and the only one from the region among the world’s top 20 richest. - His fortune jumped $5.5 billion to $31 billion, as shares of his biggest holdings, Cheung Kong, Hutchison Whampoa and Husky Energy, all rose more than 10%. He also received 2012 dividends of $860 million. - Li's businesses employ 260,000 people around the world in 52 countries. -Li-controlled companies bought British gas supplier Wales & West Utilities for $1 billion in October; his third utilities acquisition in the U.K. in 24 months. He now supplies gas to a quarter of all Brits. - Investor in such tech outfits as Facebook, spotify, and social TV platform Stevie.
Net worth: $34 billion UP Source: diversified Citizenship: U.S.A. - World’s richest siblings added $9 billion apiece to their fortunes over the past year. - They own a combined 84% of Koch Industries, country’s second largest private company with $115 billion in estimated sales, up 15% in the past year. - Also got boost from improving operations at Georgia Pacific, maker of Angel Soft and Quilted Northern toilet paper, Brawny paper towels, and Dixie cups. Sold more than $1 billion worth of toilet paper in 2011. - David, who runs the chemical technology side of Koch Industries, is the richest New Yorker. - Things didn’t go so well on the political front as brothers failed in their quest to unseat Barack Obama from the White House ("Bitterly disappointing," he told Forbes in an interview after the election).
Net worth: $43 billion UP Source: Oracle Citizenship: U.S.A. -Software mogul is $7 billion richer than a year ago, thanks to more than 20% jump in the value of Oracle stock. - In June he bought 98% of Hawaiian island of Lanai from billionaire David Murdock for a reported $500 million. -Just recently bought Island Air, a Hawaiian airline. Purchase price was not disclosed. -Continues to buy property in Malibu. -Gearing up for the America’s Cup yacht races in San Francisco later in 2013. -Supports the Ellison Medical Foundation, which does research on aging and age-related diseases. Gave $45 million worth of Oracle shares to the foundation in April 2012.
Net worth: $53.5 billion UP Source: Berkshire Hathaway Citzenship: U.S.A. - Year’s second biggest gainer added $9.5 billion to his fortune as Berkshire Hathaway shares rose 26% year over year -First time he’s not among top 3 richest since 2000. - Investors applaud his dealmaking savvy, and this year was no exception as he made a couple of notable moves: in February, announced a deal with Brazilian billionaire Jorge Paulo Lemann's 3G Capital to snap up iconic ketchup producer H.J. Heinz Co. for $23.2 billion; bought Oriental Trading in November 2012. - World’s second most generous person, he gave $1.5 billion to the Gates Foundation in July 2012, bringing his lifetime giving to nearly $17.3 billion. On his birthday in August 2012 Buffett pledged $3 billion of stock to his children's foundations.
Net worth: $57 billion UP Source: Zara Citizenship: Spain - Year’s biggest gainer: fortune up $19.5 billion - Moves to number 3, up from number 5 richest last year. Now ahead of Warren Buffett. - Driving the jump is a more than 50% rise in value of Inditex shares; Ortega, who stepped down as the firm’s chairman in 2011, still owns nearly 60% of the shares. - He also has real estate portfolio, estimated to be worth more than $4 billion, that includes iconic Torre Picasso, a 43-story skyscraper in Madrid (Google is a tenant), plus properties in Madrid, London, Chicago, San Francisco and New York.
Net worth: $67 billion UP Source: Microsoft Citizenship: U.S.A -World's biggest philanthropist has given away $28 billion, the vast majority of it to his foundation, which is working to eradicate such diseases as polio and malaria. - Net worth is up by $6 billion vs. March 2012 due to gains in his investment portfolio. Holdings include tech hygiene firm Ecolab and Mexican Coke bottler FEMSA, both up more than 20% in the past year. -Microsoft stock --he owns about 5% of the company -- accounts for just 18% of his net worth. -In February the first 12 non-Americans joined Bill Gates’ and Warren Buffett’s Giving Pledge, in which the ultra-wealthy pledge to give away at least half their net worth to charity. New pledgers include Richard Branson of the U.K. and India’s Azim Premji. -Gates recently said the only thing left on his bucket list was, "Don't die."
Net Worth: $73 billion UP Source: telecom Citizenship: Mexico - World's richest man for the fourth year in a row. - Net worth up $4 billion versus 2012 but still $1 billion shy of his all-time record; boost came from surging stock prices at his financial arm, Grupo Financiero Inbursa, and at his Grupo Carso industrial and retail giant. - Pan-Latin American mobile telecom outfit America Movil remains his most valuable holding at $36.3 billion; the company spread its wings to Europe in the past year, buying pieces of Dutch telecom company KPN and Telekom Austria - Bought a majority of struggling Spanish soccer team Real Oviedo. - Latin America’s most generous person, his foundation pledged to translate into Spanish 1,000 videos from the Khan Academy education nonprofit website. Slim also hosted Bill Gates in late February; the two men announced they are funding research to improve farmers' yields and reduce hunger.
Follow Mark Taliano on Twitter: www.twitter.com/MaTaliano