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Wednesday, 25 March 2015

TPP Investment Chapter: How to Annihilate an Industrial Strategy

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) “Investment Chapter” was released by Wikileaks on March 25, and revealed a rather confused view of what has been going on during the secret trade negotiations between the 12 parties representing 40 per cent of the world’s GDP (Vietnam, USA, Singapore, Peru, New Zealand, Mexico, Malaysia, Japan, Chile, Canada, Brunei, Australia).
The Wikileaks TPP investment cartoon

The TPP Investment Chapter is dated 20 January 2015. According to Wikileaks, the document is classified, and to be kept secret for four years from either the completion of the agreement or, should it not come to fruition, the close of negotiations.

Presumably, after four years the TPP will have been normalized to the extent that it will no longer be “news”. There is simply no other way to explain why the citizens of the affected nations would be denied access to information on how their labor, assets, and national patrimonies are being peddled.

But perhaps we should know. The TPP is, after all, the largest economic treaty in history.

The Grapes of Wrath, 2015: Mexico’s slave labor problem

After Mexican officials freed 200 indigenous Rarámuri working in slave-like conditions in Baja California Sur earlier this month, more abuses have come to light. Just this week, forty-nine indigenous Mixtecs were found working in similar conditions in a Colima cucumber field, on Mexico’s Pacific coast.
Work camp in Baja Sur

Since the first story broke, 452 people in Mexico have been rescued from what amounted to indentured servitude. Many of the victims are indigenous, and working far from home.  

The Rarámuri found in Baja California Sur, for example, hailed from the small town of Creel, Chuhuahua. They were then supposedly sent to Comondú by a company called Corporativo El Cerezo Sociedad Agrícola. The head offices for this company don’t actually exist: the address is simply a piece of land, a former hacienda owned by former president Vicente Fox and his two brothers.

Thursday, 5 March 2015

For the record: Justin Trudeau believes in the Red Cross

A recent opinion piece by Carol Goar in the Toronto Star, titled Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau is running out of second chances, expressed concern that the leader of the Liberal Party of Canada was a serial blunderer and, in effect, unfit to be Prime Minister of Canada.
Mikhail Kasyanov meets with Chrystia Freeland, 
Justin Trudeau, and Marc Garneau

The list of gaffes would be enough to warrant its own Wikipedia entry: his embrace of Tory turncoat Eve Adams; getting caught moonlighting as a well-paid public speaker while an MP; expressing his “level of admiration” for China’s “basic dictatorship”; his expulsion of 32 senators from the Liberal caucus without warning or consultation; his bold lie when pledging to allow “open nominations for all Liberal candidates in every single riding in the next election”; his arbitrary removal of Liberal MPs’ right to vote according to their consciences on moral issues.

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Liberal Party of Canada: Since our role is to govern, why oppose?

One of the criticisms of the Liberal Party of Canada (LPC) over the years, from both inside and outside the party, has been that the LPC, in seeing itself as the “natural ruling party”, had grown complacent. The narrative being built by Justin Trudeau is that those days are over: only hard work and direct appeals to the Canadian people will earn their trust. Nothing can be taken for granted.
The Liberal Party of Canada's new look

Yet, in positioning the LPC as a “government in waiting”, Mr. Trudeau has deferred to the policies of the Conservative party to such an extent that, should the Liberals form the next government, we can expect little more than a changing of the guard. In effect, Mr. Trudeau seems to believe that Canadians want a different Conservative party to rule. The problem isn’t the content, it’s the style. Give it a softer touch, and there should be a smooth ride to power.

It will fail, and Stephen Harper will be elected to a minority government. But more on that later.

Saturday, 14 February 2015

Torex Gold subsidiary denies making payments to Mexican cartel

Press reports in Mexico have accused Minera Media Luna, a Mexican mining subsidiary of Toronto-headquartered Torex Gold Resources, of paying one million Mexican pesos a month (about C$ 84,000) to a henchman for La Familia Michoacana, one of Mexico’s most violent drug cartels.

The reports cite as a source an anonymous member of the Community Police in Nuevo Balsas, within the municipality of Cocula in the state of Guerrero, near the company’s Morelos Gold Property, which includes the  El Limon-Guajes project (under development) and the Media Luna project (in an advanced stage of exploration). The accusation is that Uriel Vences Delgado, also known as “La Burra” or “El 50”, received the payments through two Mexican representatives of the Canadian company: Carmelo Navarrete and José Luis Peralta.

Thursday, 29 January 2015

Mazatlán mayor informs youth delegation they have impunity to drink and drive

In Mexico impunity is not only a privilege, it is also a gift. If you know the right people, and are in the right place, those in power will sometimes bequeath you the right to do as you please.
Carlos Felton: Partier in Chief

Carlos Felton, the mayor of Mazatlán, in Mexico’s Sinaloa state, drove that home recently when he told hundreds of young people at the Second National Congress for Innovation in Education that, as visitors in his town, they could avoid a breathalyzer test if they flashed their Congress membership card.

“Don’t forget to enjoy some good scallops with a Pacifico beer,” he told the kids. “If you are stopped for a breathalyzer test, just pull out your card from the Second National Congress for Innovation in Education.”

Friday, 16 January 2015

Saudi Arabia is (not) so gay! John Baird sentenced to 600 word lashes

In Canada it is not libelous to call someone a homosexual, for the simple reason that homosexuality is nothing to be embarrassed about – it is, quite rightly, considered neither a good nor a bad thing. It just is.
Baird: playing it safe in Ottawa

In that respect, the notion of “outing” a gay person in Canada becomes somewhat moot, because sexual preference is no longer such a big deal. For example, Canada’s Foreign Affairs minister, John Baird, is a homosexual. That’s hardly news, which might be why not a single major media outlet in Canada, including the CBC, reports this fact. However, there is a political angle: the Conservative party would rather not broadcast Mr. Baird’s sexual orientation for fear of losing support among its socially conservative base.

That’s a political choice that might be craven, but hardly the end of the world. That said, Mr. Baird is minister of Foreign Affairs, which complicates matters given that many countries around the world have strict laws against homosexuality. One of the worst offenders is Saudi Arabia, where homosexuality is illegal and can be punished by life in prison, or even death.