“other people’s shit on their heads”

Thanks to Purple Library Guy over at POGGE for the link to a powerful new Arundhati Roy interview at Zmag.org.  I admire Roy’s activism particularly in that she isn’t afraid to speak truth or, if she is, she doesn’t hold back from speaking it.

On India’s Growing Violence: ‘It’s Outright War and Both Sides are Choosing Their Weapons’

Arundhati Roy interviewed by Shoma Chaudhury

You have been traveling a lot on the ground — can you give us a sense of the trouble spots you have been to? Can you outline a few of the combat lines in these places?

Huge question — what can I say? The military occupation of Kashmir, neo-fascism in Gujarat, civil war in Chhattisgarh, MNCs raping Orissa, the submergence of hundreds of villages in the Narmada Valley, people living on the edge of absolute starvation, the devastation of forest land, the Bhopal victims living to see the West Bengal government re-wooing Union Carbide — now calling itself Dow Chemicals — in Nandigram. I haven’t been recently to Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, but we know about the almost hundred thousand farmers who have killed themselves. We know about the fake encounters and the terrible repression in Andhra Pradesh. Each of these places has its own particular history, economy, ecology. None is amenable to easy analysis. And yet there is connecting tissue, there are huge international cultural and economic pressures being brought to bear on them. How can I not mention the Hindutva project, spreading its poison sub-cutaneously, waiting to erupt once again? I’d say the biggest indictment of all is that we are still a country, a culture, a society which continues to nurture and practice the notion of untouchability. While our economists number-crunch and boast about the growth rate, a million people — human scavengers — earn their living carrying several kilos of other people’s shit on their heads every day. And if they didn’t carry shit on their heads they would starve to death. Some fucking superpower this.

NDP Colonialism in Northern SK

More taxpayer money will oh-so discreetly subsidize the wealthy resource industries — especially uranium mining companies — in our North.  It will also mean the narrow development of a labour force or labour force training imposed on desperate northern communities thereby limiting opportunities for northerners.

This NDP government seems to be creating its own slave labour force to work in uranium mining.

The government needs a complete and total re-adjustment.  It is so far removed from the grassroots of the province’s people.  Were none of them at the peace conference last month?  This initiative might sound good in news bites and campaign literature, but scratch the surface and you will see it as another nail in the coffin of the SK NDP.  Only fools increase investments in oil and gas and uranium mining when the environment is one of the biggest issues of the day!

It’ll be sad to live through the death of another NDP government in SK but I guess nothing was learned in the defeat to Devine’s Tories back in the day…

NORTHERN SASKATCHEWAN TO RECEIVE 650 TRAINING OPPORTUNITIES – Government News Release

News Release


November 22, 2006

Advanced Education and Employment – 841

NORTHERN SASKATCHEWAN TO RECEIVE 650 TRAINING OPPORTUNITIES

As part of the Province's $52.6 million training announcement, another 650
citizens in northern Saskatchewan will have an opportunity to receive the
training they need.

In total, 2,584 new opportunities have been created in Saskatchewan.

"The Government of Saskatchewan is delivering on its promise to expand
training opportunities to meet the demands of our province's vibrant and
growing industries and businesses," Premier Lorne Calvert said. "These
opportunities provide young people in every corner of the province with an
even brighter future – and more opportunities to learn, grow and prosper right
here at home."

The total training investment in northern Saskatchewan is $4.5 million and
will provide for training opportunities in the following programs this year
(with 10-20 training opportunities per program):

• Basic Education: 12 programs in various locations including Pelican Narrows,
Deschambault, Sandy Bay, Turnor Lake, Jans Bay/Cole Bay, Stony Rapids,
Weyakwin, Grandmothers Bay and Hall Lake;

• Academic Prep – Practical Nursing: 1 program in Pelican Narrows;

• Trades Preparation: 1 program in La Loche;

• Truck Driver Training: 3 programs in Creighton, Buffalo Narrows and La
Ronge;

• Heavy Equipment Operator: 4 to 6 programs in Pinehouse, Southend and at
least one in each of the Western, Eastern, Central and Athabasca regions;

• Diamond Drill Helper: 5 programs in Northern bush camp (location dependent
on industry);

• Diamond Drill/Oil Field Safety: 9 programs in various locations in the
Athabasca, Central and Eastern regions;

• Oil Field Safety: 3 programs in La Loche and Canoe Lake;

• Mineral Exploration: 3 programs in northern mine sites;

• Underground Mining: 1 program in McArthur River; and

• Slasher Certification: 4 programs in La Loche and Dillon, other locations to
be determined.

"By providing 650 training opportunities in the Northern region, including
trades, health care and adult basic education, we're creating the
opportunities our young people need where they need them," Advanced Education
and Employment Minister Pat Atkinson said. "We're drawing a direct path
between the learner and the job, and creating the training opportunities
necessary to bring the two together."

"Northlands College works closely with business, labour and government in
helping build the economy of northern Saskatchewan," Northlands College CEO
Bill McLaughlin said. "The northern economy continues to grow and with that
growth comes an increase in employment opportunities and an ever-increasing
need for a larger skilled labour force. This new investment will contribute
directly to the development of a skilled northern labour force to address
current and emerging demand.

The $52.6 million total represents the greatest investment in training in the
Province's history.

-30-

For More Information, Contact:
Christopher Jones-Bonk Advanced Education and Employment Regina Phone: 306-798-3106 Bill McLaughlin Northlands College Air Ronge Phone: 306-425-4273

Vote CCFR in Regina

Vote for progress that considers people before profits.  Vote CCFR!


There is a better way…Vote CCFR on October 25th

In many ways, the Coalition for a Citizen-Friendly Regina has already succeeded – we’ve sparked a genuine debate about the choices we face, and about what sort of city we’d like to build. But the outcome of the municipal and school board elections on Wednesday, October 25 is incredibly important. Regina citizens can make a positive difference. Vote

Ten extremely qualified CCFR candidates are seeking your support, and a
number of the races are sure to be extremely close – 200, 100, even 20 votes
could tip the balance one way or the other. Your vote matters.

Even just two or three CCFR victories will ensure that voices of reason will
be able to make themselves heard in the next city council and public school board.

Polls are open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Wednesday, October 25. For information on where to vote visit the City of Regina election web page.

Encourage others to vote

Call three close friends and ask them if they’re planning on voting. Tell
them how you’ll be voting, and why. Encourage them to vote. If they don’t
have transportation, offer to drive them to the poll.

Celebrate with us

After the polls close on Wednesday evening, come out to the Exchange (2431 8th Ave.)  to join with other CCFR members to relax and celebrate our many victories.


TILMA not for SK!

Word has it that the Premiers of BC and Alberta are shopping their Trade, Investment, and Labour Mobility Agreement (TILMA) around to other provinces. Word also suggests that Saskatchewan Premier Lorne Calvert is considering the deal. Ellen Gould does trade research for the Council of Canadians and is currently working on a study of TILMA for the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA). Her notes will give you an idea of how horrid this deal actually is. Take a moment to let your government know that this is not a deal you want your province to be party to (SK contact info below). For more information on its impact on municipalities see this document (pdf).

The BC/Alberta Trade, Investment, and Labour Mobility Agreement
A Summary of Its Impacts by Ellen Gould
If the Campbell government was going to erase the border with Alberta, shouldn’t it have consulted with the province’s citizens first? The “Trade, Investment, and Labour Mobility Agreement” (TILMA) was signed by Alberta and BC in April 2006. It is posted on the Internet at http://tinyurl.com/krqrb. With no public consultation process, Campbell and Klein signed this agreement that (among other things):

– Allows private individuals to sue and get up to $5 million compensation for regulations, policies, and programs that “impair or restrict” investment, trade, or labour mobility. Alberta and BC will also be able to sue each other for any violation of the agreement. A three person dispute panel will have the power to make legally binding decisions that will compel these governments to change their policies, no matter how popular these policies are.

– Is a major step towards “deep integration” with the US. Complaints about differences in provincial regulations are made repeatedly by the US Trade Representative. At the most recent Pacific Northwest Economic Region conference, representatives of north western US states and BC and Alberta committed to explore the possibility of “expanding the B.C.-Alberta Trade, Investment and Labour Mobility Agreement (TILMA) /concept/ throughout the PNWER region.”

– Goes far beyond NAFTA in enabling commercial interests to sue for regulations they don’t like. NAFTA allows private investors to sue under NAFTA’s Chapter 11, but TILMA allows these suits over “any matter regarding the interpretation or application of this Agreement.” While TILMA restricts compensation to $5 million, private interests could all line up to get compensated once one complaint has been successful. This will force governments to change their policies. Alberta’s Minister of International and Intergovernmental Relations, Gary Mar, Alberta Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, told the Richmond Chamber of Commerce in June 2006 that the TILMA dispute process is “everything Canadian business asked for”.

– Massively deregulates. The agreement says in Article 3 that there shall be “No Obstacles” that would impair or restrict “trade through the territory of the Parties, or investment or labour mobility between the Parties” and that “Parties shall not establish new standards or regulations that operate to restrict or impair trade, investment or labour mobility.” There are some exceptions allowed for in the agreement, such as water, but these are to be reviewed annually to reduce their scope.

All government regulation will be affected because any regulation could be seen as in some way restricting investment. And even if a regulation fits with one of the objectives TILMA accepts as being legitimate, it can still be successfully challenged if it is not the least restrictive way to achieve the objective.

– Recognizes only certain government objectives as legitimate. Among the objectives not recognized as legitimate are the preservation of agricultural land, the conservation of heritage sites, the maintenance of scenic views, or the promotion of small business, neighbourhood or rural development.

Some examples of regulations that would be vulnerable to challenge on the grounds that they are not based on “legitimate objectives” and restrict investment are the Agricultural Land Reserve, municipal bans on billboards, municipal development restrictions to maintain the quality of neighbourhoods.

– Makes BC and Alberta regulations the same. Aside from some exceptions, BC and Alberta will have to “mutually recognize or otherwise reconcile their existing standards and regulations”. As well, they are barred, forever, from establishing “new standards or regulations that operate to restrict or impair trade, investment or labour mobility.” These binding obligations lessen the value of the right to vote in each province.

– Covers all government “entities” – Crown corporations, local governments, school boards, universities, private agencies on contract with the government – and subjects their policies to potential challenges. Although there is supposed to be a consultation process in a two year transition period, the agreement already requires that none of their measures is “amended or renewed in a manner that would decrease its consistency with this Agreement.” This means local governments, for example, could have their decisions challenged as of April 2007.

– Eliminates political choice. TILMA commits all future BC and Alberta governments to automatically support expansion of trade agreements. It commits all future BC and Alberta governments to promote cross-border transfers of energy, including to the US.

– Will allow all purchasing decisions by provincial governments, local governments, Crown Corporations, school boards, and universities to be challenged and overturned for purchases costing as little as $10,000.

– Bans government support for rural development, small business, and economically depressed regions. Targets any agricultural support. Government assistance that “distorts investment decisions” is a violation of the agreement.

– Undermines the democratic process in each province by granting political rights to non-citizens. Each provincial government, as well as local governments in each province, will be obligated when they are doing anything that might be covered by TILMA to “provide the other Party [BC or Alberta] with an opportunity to comment on the measure, and take such comments into consideration.”

In other words, the governments of BC and Alberta have created greater rights for interests outside of their provinces to intervene in the legislative process than they have guaranteed for voters in their own provinces. This is especially ironic given the lack of consultation British Columbians and Albertans were afforded in the creation of TILMA.

– Is being promoted on a false basis. Alberta and BC politicians are selling the agreement on the claim that supposedly show “billions” could be saved by eliminating so-called inter-provincial trade barriers. These claims have been repeatedly debunked by economists. Real barriers to inter-provincial trade are minimal. The claims about inter-provincial barriers are really an attack on government’s right to regulate. And the labour mobility provisions in the agreement will be achieved as part of a cross-Canada effort that will see professional requirements harmonized by 2009.

Premier Calvert

Clay Serby Minister of Economic and Co-operative Development

Eric Cline Minister Responsible for Investment Saskatchewan Inc.

Harry Van Mulligan Minister of Government Relations

UPDATE: See what Relentlessly Progressive Economics has to say about TILMA.