Monday, October 22, 2012


Dismembering Canada

by Robin Mathews



Dismembering Canada. 

To Save It From Stephen Harper Fascism

The Stephen Harper forces are putting the torch to Canada, to the rule of law in Canada, to Canadian freedom of expression, to Canadian electoral integrity, to Parliamentary legitimacy … and more … every day.  Their Mein Kampf-style plans become clearer with every hour. Having won majority power by what appears more and more to be major election fraud, their imposition of “junta rule” in Canada grows. 

The Opposition parties flail into the increasingly fiery air, refusing to undertake direct, personal, constituency-by-constituency, on-the-ground appeal and organization of people in Canada to reject the Harper program.  The Opposition parties appear to fear the task of directly organizing the Canadian people more than they fear the increasingly fascist moves of the Harper forces.  Perhaps the Opposition parties are simply confused…. 

Maybe.  But an increasingly large number of Canadians are not confused.

One of the latest, gross invasions of Canadian democracy by the Stephen Harper forces is a treaty with China, called The Canada-China Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPPA).  To put the matter briefly: “the Canada-China treaty effectively concedes legislative and judicial elements of our sovereignty…” to, in fact, Chinese agencies. (quoted from Gus Van Harten, Osgoode Law Professor, letter to Stephen Harper).

The implications of the treaty for the destruction of Canadian democracy and independence are enormous.  The treaty was never formally considered by the representatives of Canadians in the House of Commons.  It was never discussed in presentation to Parliament.  There was not a moment of debate about its intent, its construction, its implications, its effect - in the House of Commons or any of the provincial legislatures.  The treaty was created by the Harper Junta, in secrecy and in private with Chinese agencies working in the same way.

Only one of the aspects of the treaty destroys democratic rule in British Columbia. If British Columbia’s government acts against the imposition of the Gateway Pipeline, the results are almost unbelievable.  The Chinese interests may act against British Columbia in secret (laughable) courts (or arbitration panels), not recognized by Canadians, outside of Canada, which may – in fact – overrule the government elected by Canadians in British Columbia.

The “arbitrators under the Canada-China treaty operate outside of the authority of the Canadian legal system and Canadian courts [and so] the treaty appears to contravene the judicature provisions of the Constitution concerning the role of the superior courts.” “Notably, the arbitrators may make non–monetary orders against states as well as issue damages awards for potentially massive amounts.”  [Gus Van Harten, letter to Stephen Harper.]

That kind of behaviour applies to any economic activity in British Columbia (and the rest of Canada) owned by Chinese interests or in which Chinese interests have only a very small part.

We remember Stephen Harper undertaking another violation of democracy in relation to British Columbia.   Almost certainly in concert with Gordon Campbell (who Harper paid off with the position of Canadian High Commissioner in London) the two appear to have arranged a surprise imposition of the infamous HST in B.C. Gordon Campbell (in collusion with Stephen Harper, we may be sure) declared he would not impose the HST in British Columbia.  A few weeks after re-winning election, he did so … to Stephen Harper’s delight. It was a minor coup, but only child’s play compared to The Canada-China Foreign Investment and Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPPA).

But the HST coup, you will remember, lasted a very short time.

And it did so because British Columbians rose up and forced the Gordon Campbell/Christy Clark Harperites, by referendum, to withdraw the HST.  Democracy prevailed despite a Harper/Campbell attempt at Junta Rule and at an anti-democratic coup.

At the time of the victory celebration Chris Delaney, referendum activist said “we know the referendum works, we know it has a legitimate place in our society, our democracy now.  The people have endorsed it overwhelmingly.”

There is nothing to stop British Columbians using referendum again in this hugely more vicious and destructive attack on democracy in Canada and in the province of British Columbia – an attack undertaken by the Stephen Harper government in collusion with the government of China and its corporations.

[Gus Van Harten suggests the treaty with China may violate Canada’s Constitution.  A constitutional challenge to the treaty, therefore, might be undertaken. But that cannot be the only route of challenge, because of the time it takes – and especially since the Harper Junta is undermining the rule of law in Canada every day, the police forces, and the courts. Even (after a long passage of time) a win in the Supreme Court of Canada wouldn’t stop the Harper Junta from signing just such a treaty again (and even during Supreme Court hearings) and working on many other ways to destroy democracy in British Columbia and the rest of Canada.]

The wording of such a British Columbia referendum, therefore,  would have to be narrow, direct, and clear.  It could not, effectively, request or demand anything from the federal government.  The B.C. referendum process has no power outside of British Columbia.  Stephen Harper could simply laugh at a referendum - even overwhelmingly carried –  asking him to change Junta law and policy. Nothing British Columbians could do to sway the Harper Junta could work – through referendum.

And so the people of British Columbia are driven to a simple question, within their own powers to ask and then to act upon. It must be a question that erases the power of the Stephen Harper Junta to impose fascist, oppressive, democracy-destroying laws upon British Columbians (and other Canadians).

The question must ask British Columbians if they wish to leave Confederation, to separate from Canada, and to set up (in whatever sovereignty-association status they wish to have in relation to the federal government), a democracy that cannot be forced by Ottawa to erase itself and accept totalitarian domination by Ottawa, by any foreign power, or by any combination of the two.

[Such a referendum could be sponsored or supported by the B.C. government – or like the referendum against the HST could be conducted legitimately against the wishes of the presiding provincial government. Government can refuse to act on the outcome of a referendum in most provinces … but a referendum with this kind of question would be hard to refuse if a strong percentage vote supported it.]

The situation in Canada is dire and the threat to democracy in British Columbia and Canada is real as a result of the nefarious actions of the Stephen Harper forces and especially of the Stephen Harper Junta/Canada-China Foreign Investment and Promotion Agreement (FIPPA). I suggest British Columbians begin, now, to create a referendum organization.  It must begin removing British Columbia from the reach of the corrupt and rapacious hands of Stephen Harper and his global corporate companions in thievery. 

[Referendum legislation exists in most other provinces in Canada.  People in those provinces should be urged to move immediately, also, to set up referendum organizations with the same purpose in mind. Later they might “re-Confederate” in a Canada that couldn’t rob them of democracy in the service of global thieves and looters.]


What is the Council of Canadians?

A little over a week ago I received the following essay by Robin Mathews after I had been away from the keyboard and the intertoobz for a couple days. By the time I found this in my e-mail it had already been posted at Grant G's Straight Goods for a day or two, so I just kept a copy on my hard drive. This morning I received another good piece from Robin concerning the "Harper Junta" and the damage they are inflicting on Canada and Canadians, apparently to a great extent to satisfy his Chinese masters, which I will be posting here shortly. I thought it would be appropriate to put this here also now, for archival purposes and because it does relate to the upcoming post Dismembering Canada. (kootcoot)

What is the Council of Canadians?  (COC)

  by Robin Mathews

The Council of Canadians – whatever else it may be – is a living and breathing declaration of the failure of the parliamentary system in Canada, and, especially, the failure of Canadian political parties in that system.

Let us say at the beginning that Maude Barlow, voluntary chair of the Council of Canadians, is an upstanding, excellent, principled, competent, dedicated, and devoted servant of the organization.  Let us say, too, that the organization does work of genuine importance in Canadian life and society.  Let us say – Canadian things being in the parlous state they are – that we are far better off having the Council of Canadians than not having it.

The Council of Canadians is holding a major conference in Nanaimo, B.C. from October 26 to 28, 2012, called “Making Waves: Sinking the Harper Agenda”.  Clearly the purpose is a political one.  Clearly the event is intended to be an occasion of Political Opposition. 

The questions that follow have to be ones like: “Where is the parliamentary political opposition?” “Where is it – whether in Ottawa or in the capitals of the provinces?” “Why isn’t it holding such events?” “Why aren’t the political Opposition parties in Canada acting among and with the people of Canada in open public spheres to educate, to inform, to act, to lead, to concentrate attention on the sell-out of the country?”  “Why is a political non-party necessary in Canada?” “Where has this Council of Canadians come from?”

Begin there – answering the last question – and much is answered. 

The fact is that the Council of Canadians is the bastard child of several forces which were coming to realize (a) the Canadian parliamentary system was collapsing, and (b) the “Party System” in Canada was betraying both Parliament and Canadians.

Strangely, the beginning happened within a Party.  In 1969, a group of (mostly young) progressives were convinced that the New Democratic Party was going to the Right, was forsaking its roots, was becoming a collaborator with the sell-out forces in Canada, and that the NDP was betraying Canadians in its parliamentary role. Those (mostly) young people created a left rump in the NDP which came to be known as “the Waffle movement in the NDP” with a slogan “Independence and Socialism”.

The Waffle had very high profile for a few years until driven out of the Party by the Lewis family, the U.S. unions, and their allies. Its importance (to this discussion) was that it focused attention on many independence issues that were not being addressed by the parliamentary Parties. It gathered real sympathy in the NDP and in both the Liberal and Progressive Conservative Parties of the time.

A few scholars have claimed that because of the Waffle’s effectiveness certain progressive Liberals felt left out, and they believed the Liberal government of the day, as well, was not addressing key political questions, was betraying Canadians in its parliamentary role.  And so what might be called “the Walter Gordon group” – the nationalist wing of the Liberal Party (with some sympathetic Progressive Conservatives) - created in 1970 an “independent” organization called The Committee for an Independent Canada.  It was not (as the Waffle was inside the NDP) inside the Liberal Party or any other. 

That allowed people who believed in its work to be members – people who had membership in any party, or none.  The fact is that the Waffle attracted people of the Left and the Committee for an Independent Canada mostly attracted Liberals and Progressive Conservatives, though there was cross-over.

That was the next step toward the Council of Canadians – making a political group that was not attached to a Party but which had, primarily, a political role – to bring about legislation, to affect political thought, and to press for various kinds of change.

All the developments were indications that our parliamentary democracy operating through political parties was failing.

The Waffle Movement in the NDP angered “the Lewis family” – David Lewis, Stephen Lewis, and their allies. In 1972 in the Orange Hall in Orillia, the great vote was held to decide if the “Waffle” could stay a part of the NDP.  At the time, about 51 per cent of constituencies wanted the Waffle in.  Into the Orange Hall paraded the non-elected, appointed delegates from U.S. Unions in Canada – and they provided the majority necessary to the Lewis family and their allies to drive the Waffle out of the NDP. 

The Waffle slowly died.  As an independent Party it couldn’t muster the force to remain afloat. 

The Committee for an Independent Canada went on working.  Its publicity is that it influenced major legislation, and I believe it did so. I believe the principal people in the CIC grew tired of the work.  In 1981 they dissolved the Committee for an Independent Canada saying it had done the work it set out to do – which was simply not true.

The connection and the continuity of concern from then to now is dramatic.  Today, resistance forces outside the House of Commons and legislatures across the country are fighting the Harper intention to sell ownership of Canadian raw (fossil fuel) resources to China (CNOOC’s  $15 billion bid for Nexen Oil).  They are up in arms about the secretly concluded Canada-China Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Act which gives China, in fact, legislating power in Canada and greater power than Canadian legislatures in the exploitation of Canadian resource wealth.

One of the major battles of the Waffle and the Committee for an Independent Canada was the battle about foreign ownership of the Canadian economy.  Major leader of the Waffle Movement in the NDP, Mel Watkins, cut his teeth as head of the first government appointed major Task Force on foreign ownership.  From 1967 to 1972 three major Reports were issued on the subject – the Watkins Report, The Wahn Report, and the Gray Report.
Chief founder and organizer of the Committee for an Independent Canada was Liberal ex-finance minister Walter Gordon who spent his years in parliament tenaciously fighting foreign takeover.  

With the arrival of Brian Mulroney as prime minister in 1984, all knew the slight advances made to preserve Canadian independence would be scuttled. And they were….

It is no accident that a year after Brian Mulroney became prime minister of Canada, a meeting was held in Toronto in 1985 of many, many of the activists involved in the struggle for Canadian independence – meeting to revive a non-political-party resistance.  Mel Hurtig was one of the chief organizers of the meeting which was addressed by Walter Gordon who rose from his sick bed to speak to and encourage the group.  All of the people at the meeting were aware that Canadian independence was being destroyed with the assistance of the parliamentary parties … and that something needed to be done. The Council of Canadians was formed.

Mel Hurtig led the Council of Canadians in the beginning.  At that time, the Council held a national meeting of members every two years who acclaimed the Chair or voted in another.  With time, apparently, that practice seemed too cumbersome and elections of the Chair ended.  Search as I might, I can’t find a simple history of the foundation and early years of the Council of Canadians.  Having been at the founding Toronto meeting, having been on the first National Board, I see gaping holes in “the story”.

Observing with dismay after 1975 that opposition to sell-out by the politicians in the federal and provincial legislatures was weakening, two National Party of Canada parties were formed, one after the other.  The first was formed in 1979 in hopes of bringing together the divided forces –  old Waffle Movement people and other independentist groups – to concentrate on the real political needs in the country.  That National Party lasted about five years, ran a few candidates in two federal elections, in Ontario only (though it was a national Party wanting to offer candidates nationally), and then it faded. It couldn’t manage to bring the real opposition forces into alliance.

In the early 1990s Mel Hurtig (chief founder of the second National Party of Canada) phoned the leader of the former Party of that name to ask if the Party being newly created could have the name.  The former leader of the first National Party of Canada gave the name and his blessing to the Hurtig challenge.  That Party ran in the 1993 election with considerable success, and had the real possibility of becoming a force in Canadian politics.

But a fierce battle over financial accounts in the second National Party of Canada burst into view and was loudly conducted for a few years. Case after case was taken to court, and the Party was split into fragments; and finally was de-listed by Elections Canada. As an observer, I still cannot decide if the wrecking of the second National Party of Canada came about because of its obvious success and potential future or because there were real, demonstrable failures of accountability in the Party.

Clearly, the founders of the first National Party of Canada and the founders of the second one believed Canada needed a political force as a political party in Parliament to address the needs of Canadians.  The first National Party of Canada was winding down as the Council of Canadians was being formed.  The second National Party of Canada came into existence eight years after the formation of the Council of Canadians, believing, obviously, in the need for a political party in parliament to do the kind of work the Council was trying to do outside of the political structures of the country.

The failure of the parties forming the political opposition in Canada’s national parliament and in provincial legislatures to shape the kind of work the Council of Canadians does is a disgrace.  Those opposition parties fail to hold major democratic conferences, public rallies, and public actions, They fail nationally and from constituency to constituency to resist sell-out and to inform and educate Canadians.  Their failure condemns them to all the disapproval that Canadians can muster. 

The opposition parties act as silent partners of sell-out.  The work of the Council of Canadians throws into highlight the huge failure of the political opposition parties in Canada, both in provincial legislatures and in the national Parliament … and outside of them.

Wise observers have stated, over and over, that no “movement” organization, like the Council of Canadians, can ever transform itself into a political party.  The reasons are very many … and they are very convincing.

One can only hope, however, that the example of the Council of Canadians inspires Canadians – young and old – to reject all the Mainstream Parties as they present themselves today. One can only hope that Canadians, young and old, found a new party to save Canada from the exploiters holding political power in Canada today, and from the fat parasites, called the Opposition parties, doing very little for Canada and living off the almost totally corrupted system.  We think of that system as The Guardian of Canadian Freedom – our parliamentary system based upon conflicting and competing political parties possessing different visions of the best ways to serve the Canadian people.

To the degree that the Council of Canadians fills the need of Canadians to feel that a meaningful resistance to the destruction of Canada exists – to that degree the Council of Canadians is a negative force. For it can never become more than a movement looking in at the forces shaping Canada’s future – the forces we call the political parties in the national Parliament and in the legislatures of the provinces of Canada.

To the degree that the Council of Canadians alerts Canadians to the terrible failure of political parties in Canada and shows the desperate need for a new, people-empowered, responsible, and responsive Party – and helps to have such a new Party come about – to that degree the Council of Canadians is and will be a heroic part of Canadian history.

The Council of Canadians is, strangely, a living statement that real concern for the future of Canada is forbidden in the national Parliament and in the provincial legislatures of the country.  It must also be the forerunner of new, militant, dedicated groups who form the Party or Parties required to overthrow the corrupt Parties of the day, to rebuild a destroyed Parliament, and to replace the old, cynical, time-serving, morally corrupt, self-indulgent Parties with a Party or Parties determined to serve Canada and Canadians and to save the future of the country for the generations to follow us.

If that doesn’t happen, then the chances for the formation of what may be called “revolutionary resistance” groups will grow.  What shape they will take cannot be guessed at now.  But real, in the streets, physical resistance to the destruction of Canadian democracy seems almost fated unless a new kind of democratic political party appears determined that Canada will be independent and will survive as a democracy.