We MUST stop CETA.
March in solidarity with Windsor on Oct 29th!!
SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL OCCUPATION!!!
By: A Concerned American"To the Mothers and Fathers of America:
This may not be clear to you yet, but those protesters out in the streets are your bravest children. They now hold the front for all of us in the centuries-old battle against tyranny. Many are fighting the corrupting influence of money in American politics, others against a system no longer functional for a majority that will only grow. Some do not know exactly what they want–only that something has gone terribly wrong in a country in which they would like to believe. They have not articulated one focused message, or one set of demands–and they do not need to. This is not a battle of right against left, red against blue, or liberal against conservative. It is not made-for-TV politics. It is a battle of right against wrong. America has lost, in its political discourse and behavior, the ability to distinguish between the two. Many of its practitioners seem not to care.
Those who support this movement in all its myriad shapes, sizes, sexes, colors, ideologies, income levels, and nationalities–have no sound bite. They get the problem, in general, and are massing to change it. Like the old thinker, they would rather be approximately correct than precisely wrong.
They give their nights, their sleep, their weekends, and their comfort to fight an uncertain battle for you, for all your children. They face police lines and mainstream scorn. They face the indifference of the vast armies of complacency and distraction, who keep waiting for the channel to change, the web page to update, and this movement to end. They face cynics who believe nothing will change, they face the often well-intentioned defeatists who believe nothing can change. They face politicians who patronize, tell them they don’t understand–that they, the politicians, support the movement, even as they make plans with their police forces to clear them.
On Tuesday, October 25th in Oakland, California, Scott Olsen, a 24-year-old Marine and Iraq veteran, standing beside another veteran, a naval officer in dress, was critically injured by a weapon used against him by a police officer from one of 17 jurisdictions in the San Francisco Bay Area. A group of occupiers running away from the scene, amidst police flash grenades, tear gas, and rubber bullets, rushed back when they saw Scott Olsen lying still on the ground. As they rushed in to pick him up–a dozen of your bravest, America–an unidentified officer tossed, from behind police ranks, another flash grenade at their feet. A handful of these unarmed protesters persisted, carrying Scott Olsen, dazed with a fractured skull, away from the police line, shouting for medics as the explosions and smoke recalled the nightmare of American battlefields.
Like this, the guns have again been turned back on your bravest children, most fighting only for the core values they were taught as children: people in need should be helped; democracy should be uncorrupted; citizens must gather in peace; and this country belongs to all of us, not a political elite increasingly indistinguishable from a financial and industrial corporate elite. Like all of us, they see clearly and abhor this crony capitalism now ascendant. They are doing something about it.
These are not trouble-making hippies, America–you mistake them as such at your peril. These are your better angels, trying to save you from yourself. They are your child that cannot help tell the truth, the sometimes inconvenient one that thinks of safety last and justice first. They are fighting the war that rages inside you when you see the circus on TV, in print, or online and can only shake your head. You ignore them, laugh at them, demean them, or discount them at your peril. They may be our last hope of transformation for this country reeling from war, from a crisis of confidence, from scandal, division, corruption, and poverty. Let no demagogue–especially talkers at the service of money and power–convince you, a thinking American, that these are not patriots of the truest kind.
So go out and support your children, America, and with them the fundamental ideas upon which this country was founded. Take a walk by the protest in your town at night, in the morning–drive by or bike past. Stop and talk to someone for a minute. Listen and watch. Gather your friends and neighbors. Everyone has their own place and their own role.
For every Scott Olsen, now lying in a hospital bed in critical condition, there should be 100,000 witnesses, who by their presence lend this movement strength and legitimacy.....
CETA poses a grave threat to Canada's social programs and public services because, for the first time, the provinces are at the table negotiating away their own rights and those of their municipalities. CETA allows corporations to bid on all "sub-national procurement," that is, all the ways in which provincial and municipal levels of governments spend our tax revenues. Access to these levels of government contracts was not available in previous trade deals and represents the mother lode for foreign companies, anywhere from $100 billion to $200 billion a year .
European corporations want to sell Canadians the services we now receive publicly, services such as health care, education, water and mail delivery, and CETA will give these private companies the right to bid on government tenders for goods and services including schools, hospitals, airports, public transit, ports, and hydro projects to name just a few. Any rules or practices that favour local economic development, support local food production or promote local or Canadian goods and services will be challenged as unfair barriers to trade. As well, these corporations will have the right to challenge any local laws that promote fair trade or reflect the environmental concerns of the community, such as bottled water bans.
Europe is also in a race with China to nail down access to raw resources such as Canada's fish, potash, natural gas, forests, and minerals and will gain permanent access to these resources through an "investor-state" provision of CETA that will give European corporations the right to sue Canadian governments if they try to interfere with their "right to profit." Under a similar provision in NAFTA, the Harper government shockingly recently paid an American pulp and paper corporation, Abitibi Bowater, $130 million for the timber and water "rights" the company claimed when it picked up and left Newfoundland and the workers high and dry.
The National Farmer's Union is deeply worried that the Harper government will sacrifice supply managed poultry and dairy farming in Canada and give big European agribusiness companies the right to further erode farmer rights to save, exchange and sell seeds from their crops. The move this week to kill the Wheat Board in spite of its very high rating of approval by Western wheat farmers, is a sure sign that the Harper government will sacrifice family farms to get this deal.
"At the end of 2009, the CMHC insured roughly $473 billion worth of mortgages (it expected that figure to rise to $519 billion last year, though updated figures haven’t been released), which is nearly the entire mortgage insurance market in the country. The CMHC also assists the financial sector by buying pooled mortgages and reselling them to investors as bonds, giving banks and other institutions an immediate source of cash that they can re-lend. As of 2009, the CMHC had securitized $300 billion worth of mortgages. So critical is this function that Ottawa relied on the agency to prop up the country’s big banks during the financial crisis, giving the CMHC permission to buy $66 billion worth of mortgages.....
....Grant and other critics argue the CMHC’s balance sheet looks strikingly similar to both Fannie and Freddie if you compare the mortgages the agency insures against its equity. Using the CMHC’s 2010 forecasts, it insures $519.1 billion in mortgages against $9.9 billion in equity, which works out to around 1.9 per cent (although the CMHC says it has another $6.7 billion in “unearned” premiums that could be used toward future claims). By comparison, in 2007, at the peak of the bubble, Fannie Mae backed up US$2.7 trillion of mortgage-backed securities with US$40 billion of capital, or 1.5 per cent equity against its overall exposure. But the CMHC says its capital levels are double what the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions requires of mortgage insurers (though the CMHC is not regulated by the OFSI). But such assurances in the absence of transparent disclosure offer limited comfort. As C.D. Howe researcher Finn Poschmann wrote in a recent report: “Parliament and the voters to whom it answers have no formal documentation of the way these exposures are calculated or managed.”What bothers Grant is that the CMHC’s government-backed guarantees encourage banks to feel they have less to lose if loans go bad. “The risk has been shifted, rather than reduced, from the stockholders and depositors of the big Canadian banks to the Canadian taxpayer,” he says. And if house prices fall and borrowers get into trouble, the ripples would run far and wide. “A sharp break in Canadian house prices would inflict terriﬁc damage to consumer conﬁdence, would hurt the Canadian labour market, and ultimately produce a lot of the unpleasant results that have been America’s burden to bear since 2007.” *note: highlights are mine*
Canada's 75 Billion Dollar Bank BailoutThe $64 Billion Federal Budget Deficit is intended to Finance Canada's Chartered Banks
Canada's Bank BailoutThe 64 billion dollar budget deficit should come as no surprise.
It is directly related to a 75 billion dollar bank bailout program for Canada's chartered banks, announced, virtually unnoticed, four days before the October Federal election.
The bank bailout received close to no media coverage; its budgetary implications were not analyzed.
In a statement by Prime Minister Harper on October 10, the bank bailout was casually presented as a commitment by the Federal government to purchase an initial $25 billion in "secure" bank mortgages from the Canadian chartered banks. The transaction would be implemented through Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp:
"Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) will purchase up to $25 billion in insured mortgage pools as part of the Government of Canada’s plan, announced today, to maintain the availability of longer-term credit in Canada." (Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation Supports Canadian Credit Markets, CHMC Press Release, 10 October 2009)
The decision implies a money transfer into the coffers of Canada's financial institutions. The money is "fungible" and can be used by the banks as they see fit:
"The federal government's [initial] $25-billion takeover of bank-held mortgages to ease a growing credit crunch faced by the country's financial institutions is not a bailout similar to recent moves made in the United States and other Western countries, Conservative Leader Stephen Harper said Friday.
"This is not a bailout; this is a market transaction that will cost the government nothing," he told reporters at a campaign rally in Brantford, Ont., ahead of Tuesday's federal election.
"We are not going in and buying bad assets. What we're doing is simply exchanging assets that we already hold the insurance on and the reason we're doing this is to get out in front. The issue here is not protecting the banks." (CBC News October 10, 2008, emphasis added)
The 25 billion dollar allocation was announced four days prior to the elections. Two days following the federal elections, the first mortgage purchase took place leading to an initial cash injection of 5 billion into the coffers of the chartered banks.
Barely a month following the federal election, on November 12 2008, another $50 billion allocation was announced.
It received no news coverage. Moreover, opposition party leaders did not analyze the official statement of the Ministry of Finance.
The likely consequences of the Canada bank bailout on the federal fiscal structure were not the object of discussion or political debate.
The text of the official statement reads as follows:
"The Honourable Jim Flaherty, Minister of Finance, today announced the Government will purchase up to an additional $50 billion of insured mortgage pools by the end of the fiscal year as part of its ongoing efforts to maintain the availability of longer-term credit in Canada.
This action will increase to $75 billion the maximum value of securities purchased through Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) under this program.
"At a time of considerable uncertainty in global financial markets, this action will provide Canada's financial institutions with significant and stable access to longer-term funding," said Minister Flaherty.(The Main Wire, November 12, 2008, emphasis added)....
....The $700 billion US bank bailout under the Troubled Assets Relief Program, was the object of debate and legislation in the US Congress.
In contrast, in Canada, the granting of 75 billion dollars to Canada's chartered banks was implemented at the height of an election campaign, without duly informing the Canadian public.
Canada's media and financial press bears a responsibility in this regard. The matter was barely mentioned. It passed virtually unnoticed a few days before a federal election.
Media coverage was minimal. There was no parliamentary debate. No discussion, no debate as one would have expected from the opposition parties at the height of an election campaign as well as in its aftermath.
Nobody seemed to have noticed. Most Canadians do not know that there was a 75 billion dollar bailout of Canada's financial institutions.
The decision was casually presented as an effort "to ease the credit crunch" and encourage Canadian banks "to loosen their purse strings and extend more lending to businesses and consumers."
The impact, however, is likely to result in exactly the opposite: the centralization and concentration of financial wealth to the detriment of the real economy..
Three Reasons banks need to Bail-In in Canada: Tax Havens, the bail-out of Canadian banks, and absurdly low corporate tax rates.The $75 billion dollar bailout
"....Harper refused to call it a bailout.4 He certainly couldn’t risk characterizing it as one identical to the US bailout of the banking industry (see the excellent film Inside Job for the full, fascinating story on that). According to the IMF, the cost of trying to stabilize the Canadian banking system was the third-highest amongst the G7, just behind the U.S. and the U.K.5 Whatever history decides to call it, it delivered more public money into the already dirty hands of the banking industry.
Here’s what happened: in 2008, the government took $75 billion worth of risky mortgage assets off the hands of the banks, and placed that risk in the hands of the taxpayers through the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation.6 Harper justified this by explaining that they were only acquiring assets that the taxpayer was obligated to insure if debtors didn’t pay up.7 But taxpayers were only obligated to insure those assets because the government forced the taxpayer to insure them. This was done to make certain that banks wouldn’t decrease their lending as dramatically. But why are taxpayers the ones taking on these risks, making the only real sacrifices to improve the economy – in effect, being “stung” twice? The “bailout” helped create a 9.3% increase in Canadian household debt between June 2008 and June 2009.8
The amount of risk from which Canadians freed the banks is enormous. With the additional burden of mortgages insured by CMHC, by the end of 2010 the amount had reached $500 billion, up from $138 billion in 2007.9 That $500 billion is the debt least likely to be paid back. It was the problem of the banks that provided the loans, and they carry no risk. Now it’s Canada’s problem. It’s national debt if the mortgages don’t get paid back. What happens if too many debtors default, and the housing market and the financial system in Canada come crashing down? The disturbing answer can currently be seen as it plays out south of the border.
Harper’s government also created the Extraordinary Financing Framework, which established a commitment of $200 billion to lend to the banks. Billions were borrowed to establish this fund, which will charge taxpayers with the interest carrying-costs – all so that banks can lend the money back to the consumer, to make more money.9
Bruce Campbell of the Canadian Center for Policy Alternatives, writing about the $75 billion dollar bail-out and the $200 billion fund, had this to say:
“These measures are considered “non-budgetary” or “off book.” They do not show up as expenditures, which increase the federal deficit and debt. Rather, they appear on the books of CMHC and the Bank of Canada. But they have increased the government’s borrowing from 13.6 billion in 2007-08 to $89.5 billion in 2008-09, or double the fiscal deficit now projected for 2009. (Note the government has arbitrarily chosen to expense $8 billion of the auto restructuring package – normally an off-book expense – as a one-time loss provision.)” [emphasis added]5
Meanwhile, compensation for bank CEOs has risen dramatically. It was recently reported that the Bank of Montreal’s CEO pay has increased by 28% (to $9.5 million annually), and CIBC’s Chief Executive received a pay raise of 50% (to $9.34 million).10 11 These astronomical salaries are ridiculously disproportionate to the contributions these individuals make to society. Under the current system, Canada enables these corporations to provide such ridiculous rates of compensation...."