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LETTER: Chapter activist embraces “interest group” description for the Council of Canadians

Brockville, Ontario chapter activist Jim Riesberry writes in the Recorder and Times:

In the Jan. 26th ‘Point of View’ editorial, Derek Gordanier, managing editor of the Recorder and Times, expressed the view that the city council’s failure to ask for exemption for Brockville from CETA was a smart move. We won’t know whether or not it was a smart move until we have lived with the agreement for a few years, and then it will be too late.

Mr. Gordanier referred to the Council of Canadians that presented the option to city council as an “interest group”. I like that description. It is indeed an interest group – a group of ordinary citizens interested in the wellbeing of Canada and Canadians, people who believe that there is more to democracy than just voting once every four years.

Members of the Council of Canadians, like me, believe we have the obligation and right to be educated about the issues, and to then express our views to others and to those in power. We are interested in our governments hearing voices other than those of corporate lobbyists.

We are interested in city councils not losing some of their decision-making powers to international agreements. Toronto, Hamilton, London and Victoria are some of the 39 cities that have asked for exemption.

We are interested in keeping our health care public, free from profit-making privatization and a two-tier operation. We are interested in stopping CO2 emissions that are creating global warming that threatens our civilization.

We are interested in keeping all our lakes and rivers protected from pollution, including The Great Lakes and their basin.

We are interested in the deliberately-created decline in our democracy, and so we speak out about proroguing, omnibus bills, and the transfer of power to international agreements, tribunals and corporations.

The list of our interests goes on: fracking, First Nations, Canadian sovereignty, our global reputation, fair trade, etc.

We are interested in keeping the feet of our PM, MPs, MPPs and councillors to the fire, so that they serve us, not an ideology called neoliberalism that says governments must favour the rich, corporations and financiers so that we can get trickle down benefits. What has trickled down to us are cut backs in our social programs and environmental protections, stagnant wages, lost jobs, debts and the greatest inequality since the Great Depression.

Jim’s letter can be read at http://www.recorder.ca/2013/02/06/letters-to-the-editor-feb-6-2013. The Recorder and Times has a circulation of about 10,000 readers.

To join our “interest group” please go to http://canadians.org/join/index.html. In 2011, Jim also wrote, “Being part of a chapter is important to me because it gives me resources from the national and regional offices which informs me on various important social justice issues. It brings information and impact to the local community which it would not receive otherwise.” To join a Council of Canadians chapter, please see http://canadians.org/chapters/index.html.