Feedback from our readers

Dec 032012

New role for CIDA would facilitate Canadian businesses setting up shop abroad.

by David McFarlane

About a month ago, the Harper government dropped the first shoe of its new foreign policy — economic agreements with the 3rd world and China. The latter will be at our expense but it looks as though our agreements with developing countries will be at theirs.

Canadian mining companies are implicated in dozens of cases of human rights and environmental abuses: Dorato Resources in Peru, Barrick Gold in Tanzania and New Guinea; Centerra in Kyrgyzstan; Excellon in Mexico; Hudbay Minerals in Guatemala. There are others.

If the Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement we signed with China is any measure, the agreements we are signing in Africa and South America will allow Canadian mining companies to run roughshod over other peoples’ rights and their environment.

Now the other shoe has dropped. CIDA (the Canadian International Development Agency) will be funding non-government organizations like World Vision to work with Canadian businesses who want to set up shop in other countries.

The idea is to use the connections that NGOs have in those countries to help Canadian corporations hit the ground running. The theory is that NGOs will also teach them to behave.

If that’s the theory, it’s not working. Some $50 million has gone into this effort since the Conservatives came to power. And now citizens of the nations in which our mining companies operate are looking to the courts for help. The Q’eqchi’, a Mayan people from Guatemala, have even filed suits in Ontario courts for shootings and rapes at HudBay’s former mining project in El Estor.

Forced displacement, rape, murder, environmental degradation trail the industry like the chains on Marley’s ghost in A Christmas Carol. NGOs might have the knowledge to make Canadian companies better corporate citizens, but not the clout. Instead, they are being used to polish the tarnish growing on our international reputation.


Nov 032012

Trade deal with China more than worrisome.

by David McLaren

I am a veteran of the free trade battles of the 1980s and I’ve got the political scars to prove it. NAFTA’s been in effect for some 18 years now, but I still don’t know whether it’s a good deal. I do know that of the 16 trade disputes we launched under NAFTA, we’ve lost every one. US companies, however, have won most of theirs and they’ve taken home $170 million of our money in compensation.

So when I look at the deal our PM signed with China in September, I worry. And you should too.

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Sep 042012

Re: Alberta clashes with BC Premier

from CalgarySandy

I have thought about this for a while, thinking at first that BC should get something out of this dangerous pipeline being driven through multiple mountain ranges and protected lands. A share in the profit from Alberta goes against the constitution. Resources belong to the province not the the whole country, though the Federal Government has tried to over turn this around in order to grab the income from the provinces.


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Aug 272012

I hope Mulcair wins.

From: Anita Romaniuk

I agree wholeheartedly with this article. I voted for Thomas Mulcair first and Nathan Cullen second. If Mulcair was that hard to get along with, why do over 40 MP's support him, including supporters from BC, Ontario, and Atlantic Canada.

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Aug 222012

The situation is positively Kafkaesque.

From: David McLaren, Neyaashiinigmiing ON

What is making governments in the West so afraid of information?

Britain has platoons of police surrounding Ecuador's embassy in London lest Julian Assange tries to make a break for it. The PM is threatening to storm the place — an act of war by the way. Not that Ecuador would win, but still.

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Jul 272012

Reader doesn't like term "Harperite".

From: Carol Crocker, Brampton, ON

Ever hear of getting more attraction with honey? I agree with most of what you write, but, I don't like seeing the government called "Harperite" Cabinet. I think it takes away from the seriousness of the issues. Just my 2 cents worth.

All the best,



Jul 242012

Banking industry has failed citizens in many ways.

From: Lorraine Bell

I have long been an advocate of the Co-operative movement. I also believe that many Canadians would be receptive to strengthen this movement when they become aware of its advantages.

The banking industry has failed citizens in so many ways. Witness the mess the financial system is in at this time. Not only have the perpetrators not been bought to justice, but all evidence suggests that we may be looking at another crisis. This must stop. Our hard-earned monies should not be subject to the whims of a group who take advantage of loopholes in our laws. It is always the honest workers who bear the brunt of the lawlessness of Big Business.

I look forward to seeing a much stronger Co-operative movement. It is the only way working people have to protect their finances.

Jun 182012

Dear Editor,

The Commissioner of Lobbying has continued the partial enforcement
of federal lobbying disclosure rules by finding Keith Beardsley,
former deputy chief of staff for Prime Minister Harper, guilty of
violating the Lobbyists' Code because he lobbied without registering
within 5 years after leaving his job.

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Jun 122012

From: David McLaren

"Are you, or have you ever been, a member of the Communist Party?"

With those words Republican Senator Joe McCarthy set off a 10-year witch hunt in the US for just about anyone whose political colour was a redder shade of pink. He was finally censured by the Senate but not before he ruined a lot of lives and dealt a body blow to democracy in the USofA.

Whenever I came across the old news reels of that time, I thanked God I didn't live in a country that would permit that sort of bigoted, callow, scape-goating attack on its own citizens.

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Jun 062012

And most of the tawdriness was on the American side.

From: Rodney Dickinson

Re: Dennis Gruending's article Harperites glorify the War of 1812 to promote militarism to a peaceful nation.

There may be some truth in Dennis Gruending's and others' claims that the Harper Government may wish to use the War of 1812 to prepare the way for some new militaristic ventures. Canada's modern military history had resolved itself into United Nations peacekeeping until a little more than ten years ago, and would that that was still our military role. But a combination of United States pressure, to which our Governments often succumb (and I admit I am at a loss always to discover the way to plausibly resist those pressures), and a military naivete that the Conservative, gun-loving mind often exhibits, shifted that peace-keeping tradition to one of active involvement in far-away conflicts.

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