Who’s renting the busses?

Well, I guess Dubya is flexing some muscle over PM Steve these days.

And, apparently, it’s all because of Maude Barlow and the Council of Canadians, the ones some radio personality around here is writing off as an extremist radicals. Now, I don’t know about you, but from my recollection of Maude Barlow the last time she was through here, she’s a pretty tame duck. And she tends to talk a lot of sense, most particularly on water and globalization, I had thought.

Now there’s this issue of North American Union aka Security & Prosperity Partnership aka deep integration. The idea’s been around for a long time, just not so brilliantly orchestrated or articulated. We’ve had “structural adjustment,” the Free Trade Agreement and NAFTA, just a few bits of the language global economics and capitalist ideology have thrown our way as they continue in their lust for more, their disgusting and immoral misuse of resources and promotion of rampant consumerism.

And PM Steve is priming Canadians to accept it while big business works behind the scenes to quietly make it happen. PMS (and a PM or two or more before him) also kowtows yet again to the President of the United States of America, allows the US Army to dictate security in our country! Again, I don’t know about you, but I know I don’t like it when a mucky-muck from another country, most particularly an aggressively violent other country is “protected” by a 25 km security perimeter from seeing what Canadians really think of him and his policies. I mean, is he worried that Maude might kill him? Now that is laughable!

What really gets my goat though is when friends of the mucky-mucks have the complete and utter stupidity to issue a challenge, as reported in the Ottawa Citizen:

“You can be sure it [security] will be pretty strong. I wouldn’t advise anyone to try to get through the 25 kilometres.”

Yet again, I do not know about you, but when I get challenges or threats sent my way by anyone, I get persnickedy. So, I’d like to try breaching the security area. I would. I hope some fine Canadian or group of Canadians charters a bus or organizes a train full of Canadians to get me and a whole lot of others to bring attention to this undemocratic and unethical attack on human rights and human security.

In the meantime, I guess I’ll write the letter The Council of Canadians are asking for (see below). And I’ll talk to a shwack of folks, too. If enough of us make noise, we might just succeed in getting that meeting cancelled. If not, I will see you on the bus or train.




ACTION ALERT: Stop SPP talks, consult with Canadians now July 12, 2007Dear activists,As reported on the front-page of the Ottawa Citizen and in numerous other media reports, “Police have derailed plans for a public forum on the Security and Prosperity Partnership that was to take place six kilometres from where the leaders of Canada, Mexico and the U.S. will gather next month for a summit.” (See Ottawa Citizen Police nix meeting near world leaders, July 12, 2007)The news report states, “The forum was scheduled for August 19, the day before Prime Minister Stephen Harper, U.S. President George W. Bush and Mexican President Felipe Calderon are due to start two days of meetings on the security partnership, a controversial initiative aimed at more closely aligning the three countries in a variety of areas.”

Frederic Castonguay, the municipality of Papineauville’s general manager, “confirmed he had been called by Mr. Guy Cote (of the Quebec provincial police), who told him that the police and U.S. army need the community centre as a base of operations for summit security.” Despite the fact that the Council of Canadians had paid its $100 deposit for the space, Mr. Castonguay said the police, “didn’t want us to rent it to anyone because they need the room there to put equipment and special vehicles. There was no choice.”

The Council of Canadians in coalition with other organizations, including the Canadian Labour Congress, the Canadian Union of Public Employees, the Communications, Energy & Paperworkers Union of Canada, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, Common Frontiers-Canada and the Quebec Network on Continental Integration, had planned to hold a public forum on the Security and Prosperity Partnership in the nearby community with Maude Barlow and a panel of writers, academics and parliamentarians. This public forum was intended to promote broader public awareness and citizen engagement on this important issue. An alternate location for the public forum is now being sought.

Linda McQuaig wrote recently in the Toronto Star, “Given the centrality of (national security and energy, as well as trade), one would have thought that any changes – especially changes that would make Canada more like the U.S. – should involve wide consultation with the Canadian people. But exactly the opposite is happening. The public has been completely shut out of the SPP process…No public consultations have been planned for Montebello. Indeed, security measures will ensure the leaders hear as little as possible from the people.”

For more information on the Council of Canadians campaign against the Security and Prosperity Partnership, along with a wide range of analysis and background materials on this issue, please go to IntegrateThis.ca.

Activists are encouraged to send their own version of the following message to Prime Minister Stephen Harper at pm@pm.gc.ca or click here to send a letter using the form on our website

Prime Minister Harper,

As a member of the Council of Canadians, I am calling on you to stop talks on the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America, including the upcoming leaders summit this August 20-21 in Montebello, and to consult with Canadians on this critical issue.

I was outraged to read that a public forum near Montebello with writers, academics and parliamentarians wanting to speak on this issue was blocked because the police and U.S. army wanted the community centre it was to be held at as a base of operations for summit security.

I am opposed to the SPP, which includes the no-fly list (the SPP states, “Develop comparable standards and procedures…for passenger screening”); pesticide residues (it says, “Work to resolve differences in pesticide maximum residue limits that may be barriers to trade…”); the tar sands (it calls for, “Greater economic production from the oil sands”); and civil rights (it calls for, “sharing of terrorist watch list data and the establishment of appropriate linkages between Canada, the United States and Mexico.”)

I also believe that the North American Competitiveness Council should be disbanded. Corporations such as Manulife Financial, Home Depot and Wal-Mart should not be shaping economic policy between Canada and the United States.

I urge you to keep the promise you made in your Throne Speech that “significant international treaties will be submitted for votes in Parliament.” I believe that the Security and Prosperity Partnership should be subject to public hearings, as well as brought to the House of Commons for a full debate and vote.

I look forward to your response.

<your name>

For more information about the Security and Prosperity Partnership, visit IntegrateThis.ca. We’ll post new information about the Montebello summit as it becomes available. Visit often for up-to-the-minute updates

With thanks to the good women and men at BnR and to The Council of Canadians for the links.


NAFTA superhighway heads north

First there was the North America SuperCorridor Coalition Inc. website to keep an eye on with their plan for the great transportation corridor from Mexico to Canada’s North, to speed up North American Union.  That plan is  moving forward full speed in the USA.  And now there’s another website to watch, the Ports-To-Plains Trade Corridor.

NAFTA superhighway heads north

Posted: June 21, 2007
1:00 a.m. Eastern


The Texas Department of Transportation, or TxDOT, is now moving to apply its four-football-fields-wide NAFTA superhighway plan of building new train-truck-car-pipeline corridors to the states of Oklahoma and Colorado in a design that stretches from the Mexican border at Laredo, Texas, to Denver, Colo.

The concept is for the states of Texas, Oklahoma and Colorado to apply the TTC toll road concept first developed by TxDOT for the more urban routes parallel to Interstate 35 (TTC-35) and along the route of Interstate 69 (TTC-69) into the largely rural areas along the Ports-to-Plains Corridor, creating what TxDOT calls “Rural Trans-Texas Corridors.”

To advance this plan, the Ports-to-Plains Trade Corridor Coalition, a trade association sponsored by the consulates of Mexico and Canada, along with the TxDOT and the Colorado Department of Transportation, is co-sponsoring a “Great Plains 2007” international conference scheduled to be held at the Adam’s Mark Hotel in Denver Sept. 19-21, 2007.

ACTION: Baird in Regina

The inbox is the source of all activity these days.  Check this out and then the following:

psst…pass it on…

Greet Federal Environment Minister John Baird

5:00 p.m. Wednesday, January 17, 2007
Canadian Italian Club
2148 Connaught Street, Regina

Bring banners, placards and noise-makers to make noise in support of a green Canada which meets its commitments to the Kyoto Protocol.

“Green is the colour,
The climate is the game
We’re all together
and reducing is our aim
So let’s all work to stop climate change
Saskatchewan Green Greeters is our name”

(adapted w/o permission)

Info gathered from here

Thank the Minister of Pollution

First, take a moment to thank our Minister of Pollution for doing nothing on the Environment portfolio. She has two email addresses This one. And this one. And then read this, from MediaScout:

by Ceri Au
October 25, 2006

There was a time, not too long ago, when environmentalists were stereotyped as a collection of misfits and outcasts who lived on the peripheries of modern society. In other words, they were barefoot hippies who ate granola and wore hemp. Those days are over. Now politicians and common citizens alike recognize that environmental degradation is a serious issue with large-scale ramifications not only for the planet, but also for “the American way of life” as US President George Bush is apt to call rapacious consumerism. When the World Wildlife Fund released it’s ecological report card yesterday, ranking the current state of ecological decay in 150 countries, it only added more statistical data proving our green home is quickly becoming a sooty wasteland devoid of natural resources. But like an environmental Cassandra desperate to be believed, the WWF has moved away from its traditional overload of depressing information and is trying to appeal to the average consumer with a simple message: By 2050, the world will require double the amount of resources required to sustain current consumption levels. In short, without serious change the prospect of future generations living healthy, prosperous lives is grim.

The WWF report uses an “ecological footprint” measurement to compare environmental damage in various countries. And when it comes to Canadian responsibility, our collective hands are soiled. The National focuses on the country’s unenviable fourth-place ranking in a list of the world’s worst polluters (behind the United Arab Emirates, the US and Finland). According to WWF botanist and zoologist Steven Price, Canadians are bad environmental performers; over-heating their homes in winter and over-cooling them in summer. Price argues it’s important for Canadians to make greener choices as consumers, such as buying green energy derived from solar and wind power. Yet despite North America’s current high-octane consumption habits, the economic growth of developing nations such as China and India is also becoming a concern for environmentalists. In developing countries, the side-effect of rapid industrialization is often a trail of unchecked ecological destruction. But until a company can commodify sustainable living like a hip new soft-drink, or until the size of an ecological footprint becomes an embarrassment to public officials, greener living will continue to be a tough sell to North Americans and the rest of the global community.

So, that’s two addresses. This one. And this one.

NAFTA Highway, the Regina Route

Hundreds have visited my earlier post on the NAFTA Highway, a free trade corridor running from Mexico, through the USA, and north into Canada quietly promoted by Dubya. It’s time for an update, particularly now that there’s a local tidbit tying into Regina’s municipal election this fall.

The recently revised map of the NAFTA Corridor shows the NAFTA Highway passing through Saskatchewan. Just what we need, eh? More trucks on our already overburdened highways, more emissions, more carcinogens, more garbage, etc. It seems that City Hall, the Regina Economic Development Authority (RREDA) and Sask Industry and Resources have bonded to ensure that Regina is a stop on the road. And they’re insisting it will mean increased prosperity for Saskatchewan, particularly if we establish a Multimodal Terminal Site.

Googling multimodal terminal site produces 575,000 results, so to summarize, it is a place where modes of transportation converge: trains, planes, and automobiles. Regina is perfect, they say, because it’s on the route from the west coast to Chicago and it’s a very cheap place to do business. And isn’t that what it’s all about for these folks — the bottom line? There’s a suggestion that little Regina, Saskatchewan could become even richer by becoming a value adding distribution hub for imported goods. In other words, the guts of a computer are manufactured with slave labour, which fits nicely into the global economy, the pieces are shipped here in containers, put into a case, and labeled Made In Canada to take advantage of NAFTA’s free trade provisions.

And we all make big bucks! It’s the latest get-rich-quick scheme.

You can download a PowerPoint presentation from the Initiatives dropdown on the RREDA website. It’s only 46 pages long, part of their sell to Sask Industry and Resources (the folks who bring you uranium mining) to bring them onboard. A fine-tuned and much abbreviated version was presented to the Executive Committee of Regina’s City Council in July 2006 (available from the City Clerk’s Office). Besides suggesting that the idea is the best thing since the personal computer, they site a need for Inland Rail-Truck Ports (transfer nodes), call for the re-development of the CPR Yards, and for the development of a ‘west side’ multimodal terminal in Regina because apparently, there is an ideal multi-modal location available.

City Hall fell for it! With provincial government support, no less. Not surprising with this bunch of right-wing and pseudo left-wing old boys.

So, City Hall intends to develop Regina’s southwest, near the airport, thereby limiting any future expansion of the airport. 90,000 square meters of retail space, some light industrial, and a bit of residential housing has received the green light.

But what came to light this week is most interesting. A chunk of that land, some 34 lots, is owned by Mayor Pat Fiacco and his family, the same Mayor who supported the closure of three inner city neighbourhood libraries, the Dunlop Art Gallery and the Prairie History Room, just a few short years ago.

It seems easy to conclude that Mayor Pat Fiacco, along with the gang who gathered in Banff this past week to discuss A Vision for North America, A North American Energy Strategy, Demographic and Social Dimensions of North American Integration, and Opportunities for Security Cooperation, is nothing more than a patsy for US President George W. Bush, offering our taxpayer-funded roads and services to help multinational corporations pump cheap, tariff-free goods into the U.S.

And, he stands to financially gain from it.

Mayoralty Candidate, Jim Holmes, endorsed by the Coalition for a Citizen-Friendly Regina, has expressed grave concerns about the impact of this expansion on Reginans.

Four new intersections, at least one, if not two, new interchanges, and a new expressway would
all be required to service this new development. All this would have to be paid for out of a
budget that is already $30 million in infrastructure deficit.

He also suggests Fiacco should divest himself of any interests in the land in question. Fiacco, on the other hand, claims it’s an attack on his family and that Holmes is pretty scary stuff.

Yeah, right, Pat. More like you’re just a little scared you got caught, eh?

As local musician, Dave Lang, points out, it’s not the first time in Regina’s history that men have gained from land activities in Saskatchewan’s capital city. Ever hear of a chap named Dewdney?

Meanwhile, it seems the NAFTA highway keeps growing and growing! A U.S. Conservative weekly reports that there is Yet Another NAFTA Super-Highway being built in the USA. Alas and alack, Congress is in denial about it. In fact, folks from the US House of Representatives are coming north, visiting Politics’n’Poetry to get information about it (or so Site Meter data suggests).

I suppose this post could simply be my little welcome to them.

With thanks to Dave Mitchell and Trish Elliott for their breaking local news and to Jim Elliott for sending some valuable information my way.

UPDATE 1:35PM:  Thought I’d add a link to this article to give a US perspective.  And a link to this, an entirely different perspective.






Dangerous goods

At rabble.ca I found the link to a Guide to Less Toxic Products, one section of which provides information on

Common Hazardous Ingredients in Personal Care Products

More than 5,000 ingredients are allowed for use in personal care products. Many are identified by government agencies as hazardous, but many others remain untested. Some ingredients with known health hazards are very common in personal care products, both conventional products and alternative ones.  We are providing information on some of these common ingredients. In preparing this guide, we screened products and chose those which had the least amount of these hazardous chemicals for our Best and Good sections.

DEA, TEA, MEA – Diethanolamine (DEA), triethanolamine (TEA), and monoethanolamine (MEA) are hormone disruptors. They are also known to combine with nitrates to form cancer-causing nitrosamines. If a product contains nitrites (used as a preservative or present as a contaminant not listed on labels) a chemical reaction can occur either during manufacturing or after a product is made. There is no way to know which products contain nitrosamines because government does not require manufacturers to disclose this information on the label. 

The guide lists several more and is well worth a look.  The ingredients are common to shampoos, soaps, make-up, hair care products, etc. that many use daily.  I’m going back to have a look at the other sections.
Any chance the Harper will address this in his Ambrosian environmental policy?

While corporate revenues top seven billion she steals

While corporate revenues top seven billion she steals

a moment alone where music blares, cubes

tinkle glass, and balls clack on green tables.

She tries to find solace in her away from home

break, a quick trip to the mall

to the new Winners, looking for wooden blocks,

finding two sets: one letter-stamped with faded primaries

the other, factory-carved, bright, bold characters,

both stickered Made in China where, she knows, gears and buttons

churn out purchases, plastics, assorted other toxins, and

more of what she thinks she just might need…

And she never says stop. Enough. No more.

No more of the bore. No more more-more bore,

cuz she’s hooked on the rush of the buy,

the eightball in the corner pocket, the next fix —

convinced this is freedom of choice:

two sets of educational blocks.

An earlier version of this poem was published in In Medias Res, St. Thomas More College, University of Saskatchewan, Fall 2004