September 20, 2017

Photo by Andrew Harrier/ Bloomberg.

As the third round of NAFTA negotiations come to Ottawa this September 23-27, here are five things Prime Minister Justin Trudeau should be thinking about:

1- Why the rush?
US President Donald Trump wants a NAFTA 2.0 deal to be concluded by the end of this year. That's roughly a four-month negotiation period (in contrast to other 'free trade' deals that can take eight years or more to negotiate). The government should take its time and not be rushed into a deal on someone else's timeline.

We are deeply concerned that rushing the negotiations will result in a deal that has not been thoroughly studied, whose full implications are not known, an agreement that lacks the due diligence of sober and second thought, and that is very likely not in the best interests of people and the environment.

September 19, 2017

Chapter activist Ann Pohl at anti-fracking protest, June 2013.

Houston-based SWN Resources has dropped its lawsuit against Harcourt, New Brunswick-based Kent County chapter activist Ann Pohl.

In November 2013, CBC reported, "SWN Resources Canada is suing 13 anti-shale gas protesters for damages it claims it has suffered as a result of protests in New Brunswick. The company has lost $650,000 since the protests began, according to an affidavit by Christopher Cainsford-Betty, a staff operations geophysicist for Southwestern Energy Company, the parent company of SWN. Every hour the machines and crews aren't working costs a minimum of $5,000, according to the eight-page affidavit."

The respondents included Pohl, Suzanne Patles, Rachel Daigle, Lorraine Clair, Jim Pictou, Seven Bernard, Jason Okay, Greg Cook, Wilhelmina ('Willi') Nolan, Melanie Elward, Jean-Sebastien Theriault, John Doe and Jane Doe.

Then on September 14 (almost four years later), Pohl received a letter from SWN saying they are prepared to drop the lawsuit against her.

September 19, 2017

This past July Desjardins announced a moratorium investment in, and financing of oil pipeline. This decision reflects a growing movement pushing the financial sector to cut times with Big Oil.

And it is gaining traction.

According to a recent report, Banking on Climate Change, the world’s biggest banks have reduced lending to extreme energy projects such as coal, tar sands, LNG and offshore drilling, by billions of dollars. 

Desjardins is deciding whether to make their ban permanent by September 29th. Doing so will impact Kinder Morgan (Desjardins has a $145 million commitment to the project they need to drop) and is more bad news for Energy East.

September 17, 2017

Finance Minister Bill Morneau, House of Commons Finance Committee chair Wayne Easter

Changes to the tax system proposed by the Liberal government on July 18 are expected to be hotly debated when Parliament resumes sitting this week.

As reported by the CBC, the proposed changes include:
- Eliminating income sprinkling, which allows incorporated small businesses to shift income to family members who don't necessarily work for them.
- Eliminating the ability to convert a corporation's earnings into capital gains, which are taxed at a lower rate.
- Reducing the use of private corporations to make passive investments in stocks and real estate.

The Toronto Star reports, "Taken together, the package could save Ottawa hundreds of millions of dollars annually."

Halifax-based Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives economist Lars Osberg says, "What these measures are designed to do and do do, is tax very aggressive tax avoidance at the top of the income distribution."

September 17, 2017

CTV reports, "Hundreds [more accurately thousands] of people gathered in Toronto’s Queen’s Park on Saturday [September 16] to protest the ongoing humanitarian crisis facing Myanmar’s Rohingya minority. Roughly 40 per cent of Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslim population -- some 400,000 people -- have sought refuge in Bangladesh in recent weeks, fleeing violence widely blamed on Myanmar’s military that has seen entire villages razed and countless people killed. The United Nations has called the longstanding crisis in Buddhist-majority Myanmar a 'textbook example of ethnic cleansing'." Photo by Sid Lacombe.

In late-2016, Reuters reported on "the systematic confiscation of land [in Myanmar] from farmers by the army and the placing of that land in the hands of crony companies close to the military junta that ruled Myanmar for half a century." That article noted, "The vast majority [of the three to five million acres of land] was taken in the 1990s and early 2000s, amid a military-led transition from socialism to a market-driven economy."