Author Archive

NDP to vote against China FIPA

- April 21st, 2013

Will be interesting to see if any Conservative or Liberal MP votes with the opposition on this:

OTTAWA — Opponents of the Conservative government’s trade agreement with the People’s Republic of China will have a chance to vote against it in the House of Commons on Monday.

A motion from NDP MP Don Davies, the Official Opposition’s International Trade Critic, would tell the Chinese government Canada will not ratify what it calls the “critically flawed” Canada-China Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement, or FIPA.

FIPA was signed by Prime Minister Stephen Harper at an APEC summit in Russia, and tabled in Parliament last September. But when he introduced his motion in Parliament on Thursday, Davies told the House the agreement in its present form “will do serious damage to Canada”. The NDP objects to the agreement’s “lack of transparency and openness” and worries it will expose Canadians to undue legal troubles.

When he tabled FIPA, the Prime Minister said in a statement “This agreement with China — the world’s second largest economy — will provide stronger protection for Canadians investing in China, and create jobs and economic growth in Canada.” But the NDP says the agreement will give state-owned Chinese businesses access to Canadian resources and markets without ensuring reciprocal access to Chinese markets for Canadian firms. The dippers also fret about Canadian taxpayers being faced with “multi-billion dollar lawsuits by Chinese corporations” and object to the secrecy surrounding the agreement.

Not only would its arbitration mechanism let panels hold secret hearings, “outside the view of public or media – a violation of Canada’s open court traditions,” according to Davies. But as he told the House last week, the agreement “was passed by the Conservatives with no consultation with provinces, First Nations, trade experts, business, labour or the public. Outside of this one day called for by the New Democrats, there has not been a single minute of democratic debate after 18 years of negotiation. Once ratified, this FIPA will lock Canada into these damaging terms for a minimum of 31 years.”

Green Party leader Elizabeth May, who registered her opposition to the agreement the day after it was tabled last fall, already signalled she would vote in favour of the NDP motion on Monday.

Opposition to the agreement is also ramping up online. The left-leaning website leadnow.ca has been running an online petition urging Canadians to register their opposition to the agreement. As of Sunday morning the website claimed over 33,000 Canadians had done so.

But the Liberals, despite introducing their own unsuccessful motion last week calling for public hearings across Canada on the agreement, will likely vote with the Conservatives against the NDP motion.

- With files from David Akin.

NDP: Socialist or not?

- April 16th, 2013

La Presse reports, and this website concurs, that the NDP continues to be a member of Socialist International.

Just saying!

What on earth took them so long?

- April 15th, 2013

Looking for an antidote to Alexandre Boulerice?

- April 11th, 2013

Johnathan Morin

Allow me to introduce you to a splendid young man I met by chance in Montreal recently. His name is Jonathan Morin, from Saint-Denis-sur-Richelieu not far from Montreal.

I was at the Sheraton hotel downtown, about to give a speech to a group of students, and we needed help to make sure the laptop was properly connected to the hotel’s AV system. This fellow shows up and checks that everything works fine, then says, in flawless English, “Anything else I can do for you?”

Being my usual clownish self, I say, “Well, I don’t know – can you sing?”

“Yeah, actually, I can!”

“Really? Show me…”

And out of his pocket comes a thumb drive that he plugs into the system to make me hear his song, A la vie (To Life). It’s this kind of rap (I think) style I’m not exactly a huge fan of… I try to be polite. I switch to French. “What’s it about?”

“It’s a tribute to the soldiers fighting in Afghanistan,” he replies in equally flawless French.

“Get out of here!”

His head is held high, and he’s looking me right in the eye. Yes, absolutely. That’s what my song is about.

He explains that it’s a project he’s had for a long time, with three contributors (Louis Babin, Emmanuelle Caplette and Jacques Bigras), and that he’d only recently uploaded the song to MySpace under his artist name, L’INTeRLoKuTeuR, feeling it was finally ready to share with the world.

I ask him why on earth he’d write that kind of song. He has close friends in the military who’ve been to Afghanistan, he says. And he wanted to pay tribute to their service, to the reason why they chose to enlist – to fight fear, with honour, pride and dignity. His song is the internal monologue of one soldier yanked from his reveries while on guard duties when he’s called to rush to the scene of a suicide bombing. Just before the call comes he’s thinking to himself about what keeps him fighting, the picture he keeps in his helmet of his wife and daughter and his return to his family.

The song ends with this exhortation to the Canadian people never to forget the sacrifices of our military. “And may you, O Canada, understand what lies in the hearts of your soldiers.”

“To our soldiers, past, present, and future,” he concludes, “my hat is off to you.”

Refreshing, isn’t it? Hit the play button below to hear it. Oh, and you know what? After listening to it a few times, I can say this: It’s rather catchy!
À la vie – L’iNTeRLoKuTeuR – Master

Those secret Douglas files? Still secret

- March 28th, 2013

Not overly surprising:

OTTAWA – Secret RCMP files on Tommy Douglas will remain secret, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled on Thursday.

The Court dismissed a request by Canadian Press reporter Jim Bronskill to force Library and Archives Canada to release a large part of the file on the former Saskatchewan premier and founding leader of the federal NDP.

The former security service of the RCMP shadowed Douglas for more than three decades, starting in the late 1930s when the socialist firebrand agitated for a federal law to protect unemployed Canadians. The federal agency continued to spy on Douglas until the early 1980s, taking a particular interest in the politician’s involvement in anti-war causes and possible link to communist sympathizers.

Bronskill has been seeking access to the intelligence file compiled on Douglas by the former Security Service of the RCMP. Hundreds of pages have already been released, but a large part of the file remains secret. The government has argued there is “no issue of public importance” to justify releasing the secret information.