The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is the one of the most recent of the neoliberal trade agreements being proposed. The final proposal was signed off in February 2016 in Auckland, New Zealand by 12 countries – Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the USA, and Vietnam, after 7 years of negotiation. It awaits ratification in each country. It is a companion agreement to the existing NAFTA agreement, and the CETA and TTIP agreements that Canada and the U.S. are respectively negotiating with the EU.
The agreement contains 30 chapters covering a huge array of issues. The claims of the agreement are, of course, to “promote economic growth; support the creation and retention of jobs; enhance innovation, productivity and competitiveness; raise living standards; reduce poverty in the signatories' countries; and promote transparency, good governance, and enhanced labour and environmental protections.” The TPP includes reductions in tariff and non-tariff barriers to trade, and like other modern trade agreements special measures to protect corporate property rights called an ‘investor-state dispute settlement mechanism’. It is a further effort to strengthen the internationalization of capital, under the aegis of what is commonly called neoliberal globalization. This is, in fact, quite far removed from the claims on enhancing living standards, creating jobs and so forth.
The point of the TPP is, in fact, not so much about trade – tariffs are already very low and can be overridden by changes in exchange rates to balance competitiveness. The TPP, and similar agreements such as NAFTA, and trade organizations like the EU and the WTO, serve as institutional and political mechanisms consolidating corporate property rights. In a sense, these agreements provide a legalistic framework – even a quasi-constitution – that increases corporate freedoms and limits democratic interventions that might challenge private property rights and freedoms, introduce environmental regulation, limit privatization, or limit corporate rights to close facilities.
If these agreements were simply an attack on ‘state sovereignty’, it would not explain why states have supported them. They are an attack on popular sovereignty in the form of democratic practices that seek to develop and extend popular rule and control. The TPP and other such agreements make it easier for states to do what they wanted to do anyways for corporations. But democratic processes hampered them. Now, states can simply say they ‘had no choice’.
The struggle against the TPP is a struggle to restore democratic choices and popular control. This is necessarily also an anti-capitalist struggle, and for an alternate world order.
Toronto — 14 October 2016.
Trade agreements are a weapon against communities! Community consent over corporate bullying! La lucha sigue; the struggle continues!
In 2008, after years of violence, conflict, environmental degradation, and water pollution at the hands of mining companies, then-president of El Salvador Antonio Saca stopped issuing new mining permits. This decision has widespread support in El Salvador; a recent poll of the University of Central America (UCA) indicates that that 79.5 per cent of Salvadorans are against any gold mining.
In 2009, after pleading with El Salvador to reconsider, OceanaGold (then called Pacific Rim) sued the whole country through an “investor-state dispute settlement” (ISDS) case at the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), the World Bank Group's arbitration venue. The charge? “Loss of potential profits.” These types of suits are increasingly possible under free trade agreements, including ones currently being negotiated by our government (for example: the TPP and CETA).
If OceanaGold wins, the Salvadoran people will be required to pay $250-million (US), a morally reprehensible demand. Already, in the seven years that this arbitration has gone on, $12-million (US) in legal costs have been incurred, which is enough to pay for over two years of adult literacy classes in El Salvador.
Civil society groups worldwide that support Salvadoran communities and organizations working on mining and environmental issues cheered today's decision by the ICSID tribunal that Pacific Rim/OceanaGold's $250-million lawsuit against El Salvador is without merit.
The Verdict Is In!
In a ruling released October 14th, the investment tribunal rejected the company's claims and ordered it to pay $8-million in legal fees and costs to the government of El Salvador.
“At a time of water scarcity, it is unconscionable for the global trade and investment regime to deny governments of water-stressed countries like El Salvador the policy space to protect local watersheds and ensure the realization of the human right to water,” says Maude Barlow, national chairperson of the Council of Canadians.
“Let us be clear: El Salvador has not 'won' anything in this arbitration. El Salvador had to pay more than $12-million just to defend itself. These legal costs are enough to pay for over 2 years of adult literacy classes for 140,000 people. At a minimum, OceanaGold should reimburse El Salvador for the costs of this suit, which never should have taken place. And it should also be responsible for the social and environmental damage left in its wake,” says Jamie Kneen of MiningWatch Canada.
Organized by Mining Injustice Solidarity Network. The rally was held across the street from Minister of International Trade Chrystia Freeland's office, Toronto.
Pipeline Protest, First Nations’ Uprising
“What white man can say I never stole his land or a penny of his money? Yet they say that I am a thief.” — Sitting Bull, Lakota Holy Man, Grand River.
For the past few months, an encampment has sprung up on the banks of the Cannonball River in North Dakota in opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline. The resistance has been led by the Standing Rock Sioux opposed to the routing of the $3.8-billion pipeline transporting oil from the Bakken oil fields through burial grounds and sacred sites under the Missouri River. Any break in the line would do enormous damage to the water supply and the historical territories of the Sioux. Hundreds of First Nations and tribes from across North America, and also from other parts of the Americas, have lent their support to the struggle and come to Standing Rock. There has also formed a united front from some 50 First Nations against further pipeline development that would add to the development of the fossil fuel industry and the problems of climate change.
This is a struggle for climate justice, First Nations sovereignty and land rights, and the ecological protection of the land and water against capitalist development. It follows on the struggles of the Lummi Nation to stop a massive coal port development and protect fishing rights, the opposition of the Lax Kw’alaams First Nation against the Petronas LNG plant on the coast of British Columbia, and a series of other struggles against pipeline developments in Canada and the USA.
This has motivated The Treaty Alliance Against Tar Sands Expansion, and the campaigning work of the Indigenous Environmental Network.
The warrior spirit at Standing Rock is a critical drum beat inspiring other social and class struggles demanding an alternative.
|LS #||Date Published||Title|| |
||23 October 2016
||The Building Storm Against the TPP
|The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is the one of the most recent of the neoliberal trade agreements being proposed. The final proposal was signed off in February 2016 in Auckland, New Zealand by 12 countries – Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the USA, and Vietnam, after 7 years of negotiation. It awaits ratification in each country. It is a companion agreement to the existing NAFTA agreement, and the CETA and TTIP agreements that Canada and the U.S. are respectively negotiating with the EU.|
||16 October 2016
||Canadian Mining Corporations in Latin America: Solidarity Rally
|In a ruling released October 14th, the investment tribunal rejected OceanaGold's claims and ordered it to pay $8-million in legal fees and costs to the government of El Salvador. This solidarity rally was in held in Toronto, 14 October 2016.|
||9 October 2016
||The Struggle at Standing Rock: Pipeline Protest, First Nations' Uprising
|For the past few months, an encampment has sprung up on the banks of the Cannonball River in North Dakota in opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline. The resistance has been led by the Standing Rock Sioux opposed to the routing of the $3.8-billion pipeline transporting oil from the Bakken oil fields through burial grounds and sacred sites under the Missouri River. The warrior spirit at Standing Rock is a critical drum beat inspiring other social and class struggles demanding an alternative.|
||2 October 2016
||Facing the Anthropocene
|Science tells us that a new and dangerous stage in planetary evolution has begun, the Anthropocene, a time of rising temperatures, extreme weather, rising oceans, and mass species extinctions. Humanity faces not just more pollution or warmer weather, but a crisis of the Earth System. Presentation by Ian Angus recorded in Toronto, 25 September 2016.|
||25 September 2016
||Free Public Transit
|Public transit lies at the intersection of several critical social struggles today. Affordable (or free) public transit is an important mechanism for redistribution, and particularly targets low income women and people of colour. This video mostly focuses on Tallinn, Estonia, and includes interviews with international activists. Video produced by Revo Raudjarv for Tallinna Televisioon (2015).|
||18 September 2016
|Even as labour in the developed world seems to be in retreat, industrial struggle continues elsewhere, and with particular force in the Global South. In Southern Insurgency, Immanuel Ness provides a thorough and expert perspective of three key countries where workers are fighting the spread of unchecked industrial capitalism: China, India, and South Africa. Recorded in Toronto, 8 September 2016.|
||28 August 2016
||Why Media Democracy?
|That the North American media is dominated by corporate monopolies serving capitalist interests and squeezing out critical voices is to state the obvious. The state media in Canada provide only the slightest respite from pro-business reportage. Media concentration in Canada is now the highest for the major capitalist countries. The same corporations who control TV and radio also own the major newspapers, but they have also bought up the smaller local media scattered across the country as well. The need for a vibrant, radical media democracy movement has never been more imperative in Canada.|
||21 August 2016
||Canadian Mining and Popular Resistance
|Canada is one of the world's centres of the mining and extractive sector. Toronto is the centre of the trade in mining stocks and in financing mining operations. Canadian mining capital operates in more than 100 countries and is among the top five world producers of potash, uranium, nickel, gold, platinum, aluminum, diamonds and steel-making coal.|
||14 August 2016
||Oppose the Energy East Pipeline
|TransCanada’s Energy East project is the largest tar sands pipeline proposed yet. Stretching from Alberta to New Brunswick, Energy East could carry over 1 million barrels per day of tar sands crude to the Atlantic coast. Despite TransCanada’s promises that Energy East is for domestic gain, they are making plans to export the vast majority and leave us to bear the real costs of climate change, spills and clean-up.|
||7 August 2016
||Palestinian Solidarity Struggles
|The state of Israel was just served notice by Black Lives Matter (BLM) in a big way. The human rights movement pummeled Israel for its decades long oppression of the Palestinian people in its new platform. In a show of solidarity between black Americans, who have bravely struggled against centuries of discrimination in the U.S., Black Lives Matter has reached out to their Palestinian brothers and sisters by embracing the Palestinian call for justice and freedom.|
||31 July 2016
||The Struggle over Site C Dam and the Peace River
|The energy from Site C is not needed: After 28 days of hearings and review of 28,000 pages of documentation, the Joint Review Panel concluded that BC Hydro has failed to prove that we need Site C. Further, they emphasized that because there are significant adverse effects, justification for the project must rest on an unambiguous need for the power.|
||24 July 2016
||Before '68: The Left, Activism and Social Movements in the Long 1960s
|Ernest Tate and Phil Hearse present Revolutionary Activism in the 1950s and 1960s. Ernest Tate's memoir is an important contribution to the history of the left in Britain and Canada during a unique period. Recorded in Norwich, 13 February 2016.|
||17 July 2016
||Whose Right to the City?
|Earlier this year, the journal Alternate Routes organized a conference on the theme 'Sub/Urbanizing Austerity: Impacts and Alternatives.' The following presentation is from panel four of the conference: 'Whose Right to the City?' Moderated by Carlo Fanelli. Presentations by Jeff Noonan, Josephine Watson, and Paul Bocking. Recorded in Toronto, 18 March 2016.|
||10 July 2016
||Low Waged Work, Social Reproduction and the Promises/Perils of Participatory Budgeting
|Earlier this year, the journal Alternate Routes organized a conference on the theme 'Sub/Urbanizing Austerity: Impacts and Alternatives.' The following presentation is from panel three of the conference: 'Low Waged Work, Social Reproduction and the Promises/Perils of Participatory Budgeting.' Moderated by John Shields. Presentations by: Meg Luxton and Patricia McDermott; Bryan Evans; Laura Pin. Recorded in Toronto 18 March 2016.|
||3 July 2016
||Canada Since 1960: A People's History
|Canadian Dimension magazine (CD) is this country's oldest Left publication. In this new book, Canada Since 1960: A People's History, 25 authors evaluate how CD discussed diverse subjects over a span of 50 years: 50 Years of Class Struggle; 50 Years of Art and Culture; 50 Years of Making Socialism; 50 Years of Rebelling Youth; 50 years of Anti-Racism, Human Rights and Immigration advocacy! Recorded in Toronto, 7 June 2016.|
||26 June 2016
||Class Struggles, TO
|A panel of activists and historians (Joan Sangster, Bryan Palmer and Gaetan Heroux) on the struggles of women and the poor in the city's history. Recorded in Toronto 9 June 2016.|
||19 June 2016
|The art-activism of Condé and Beveridge symposium brought together participants from diverse communities and working sectors -- practicing artists, community activists, union members, educators and students. Recorded in Toronto, 28 May 2016.|
||12 June 2016
||The BJP and the Crisis of Liberal Democracy in India
|Since the election of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in May 2014, there has been an unprecedented onslaught on workers' rights along with a well-planned assault on democratic institutions, academic-cultural centres, intellectuals, left, progressive and secular groups, religious minorities, women and marginalized sections across India. Given the rise of fascist challenge it is even more urgent to rethink the approach and methods in the working class movement. Recorded in Toronto, 26 May 2016.|
||29 May 2016
||Crackdown on BDS: Criminalization of Dissent?
|On February 18, 2016 Canadian parliament passed a motion condemning “any and all attempts by Canadian organizations, groups or individuals to promote the BDS [Boycott Divestment Sanctions against Israeli apartheid] movement, both here at home and abroad.” Recorded in Toronto, 26 April 2016.|
||8 May 2016
|A new generation of activists working for economic and environmental justice, and against war and poverty, confronts critical questions. Why is the world so unjust and crisis-prone? What kind of world should we fight for? How can we win? In this panoramic yet accessible book, Umair Muhammad engages with these and other urgent debates. Recorded in Toronto, 22 April 2016.|
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