Why is it that the Hupacasath First Nation seems to be the only group in Canada willing to make some noise about the China-Canada Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement, a sort of NAFTA on steroids that would strip all Canadians of the right to do business in the interest of local, regional, provincial or national well-being, that well-being to be sacrificed on the altar of corporate profits? A story from the CBC outlines the concerns that the Port Alberni/West Coast First Nation has about lack of consultation and the potential impact on the 300-member group (does this sound like something out of The Mouse That Roared?), with the understanding that these impacts will equally affect all Canadians. The agreement is essentially a complete surrender of sovereignty and a charge toward economic oblivion, yet Canadians can’t seem to get terribly worked up about this latest attack on Canada from within, courtesy of the Harper government, with the connivance of sundry provincial administrations, a bought off press and a distracted citizenry. Pretty sad stuff.
News footage showing the gathering around a roaring fire when there is a burning ban in effect doesn’t arouse a great deal of sympathy, and the media don’t o much to paint a positive picture of those traveling to join the host. There are legitimate concerns about the park resources being overwhelmed and about some of the folks being insanely unprepared for conditions at the northern end of Vancouver Island. The sad fact is that there aren’t likely a lot of communities hereabouts that would offer an alternative without some up-front money for services and damage deposits, funds unlikely to be forthcoming from the Rainbow Family. I guess, since this gathering won’t inject millions of dollars into the local economy, that most communities would rather they just not hold the gathering at all, even in the case where people might approve of some of the RF outlook. So BC Parks Service has closed Raft Cove Provincial Park and will station personnel on site to ward off any new arrivals. Cited as reasons for the closure were concerns about public safety, specifically that of the campers who seemed ill-prepared for the hardships they would face. There were also worries about damage to a sensitive local environment.
However, it might seem somewhat hypocritical of the authorities in light of what is a major part of the activity that sustains communities all up and down Vancouver Island, and the manner in which that business gets conducted (see below).
There have been a lot of letters to the editor of the local papers about the cost of firefighters’ salaries, with some going so far as to suggest that this is one of the items on the city budget that is likely to lead us to a Detroit-style bankruptcy. The final straw was an op-ed in the Globe and Mail wherein Margaret Wente bemoaned the trend to becoming a nation of $100k firefighters, part of her argument centering on how cushy a job it is hanging around the firehall, doing 24-hour shifts where nothing happens and then going off to work another job so as to further feather the nest. I think she mentioned Owen Sound as a community that was bending under the pressure of salaries paid to these ne’er-do-well layabouts. I suspect that a certain amount of the local outrage is focused on anyone who has a better job than the complainer, or someone who feels that his property taxes just don’t represent good value for money. However, the jealousy and pettiness that underlines many of the complaints belies the worth of the work done by firefighters when called upon to get dirty, to get hot, to face fatigue and danger while working to save life and goods in situations where ordinary citizens are neither trained nor equipped to do the job. There is a certain amount of background noise, mostly emanating from some regional jurisdictions, but mostly from the provincial government, about the monetary value of work done by public servants in general, this coming from people, mostly politicians, who benefit hugely from the public purse, and who sit in the legislature for a miniscule portion of the year. I find it particularly appalling that citizens would call for the conversion of full-time fire fighting jobs to volunteer positions, implying that these folks should do the work for no pay. I would propose, rather, that those who perform volunteer firefighting duties be converted to at least part-time salaries, or perhaps some fee-for-call-out scheme. This should apply to all first-responders, ambulance drivers, first-aid attendants, auxiliary police, or anyone else who performs a valuable service for the community. Where do we get the money? Start taxing capital at the same rate as labour: with trillions stashed in offshore havens, there is a large pool of capital cannibalizing the work that people do without creating real value or building an economy where people willing to work can make a decent living.
(Photos are from the PAFD site)
Ring Of Fire
MM&A today filed for bankruptcy protection. This is the legal was of the principals in a company walking away from the consequences of acts brought on by the actions of their company. This is the result of laws defining limited or non-public liability. The shareholders may or may not have done well with this outfit,I suspect management did all right, the railroaders probably made enough to get by, but perhaps not enough to be really committed to the job and the company, but the people of Lac Mégantic are going to be left holding the bag, along with the Province of Québec and the citizens of Canada as a whole. The whole system works in favour of the investing class and, unless criminal responsibility can be established, it seems reasonable to assume that the railroaders will be looking for work, the shareholders will get what value hasn’t already been sapped out of the corporate structure, and the mucky-mucks will join some of their other friends on another corporate management team. It seems unlikely that there will be much left to pick over by the residents, either through compensation or lawsuit, and I wish them the best of luck dealing with the insurance folk. Any time anyone who has worked in management says the words “transparency” and “accountability” you can bet that they are talking about what they get from others. Make no mistake, this ought to be construed on several levels as a criminal act, it’s just that there will be no culprit because the law forgives MM&A its trespasses before they’re ever committed, if I read the signs right. Read Greg Palast.
Please have a look at:
Agugst 6, 1945:
Talk about your revised baselines, how about a world without nuclear weapons and the attitudes they represent. People will invent all manner of deviltry, often because someone else might otherwise do it first, and once something is invented, of course, it has to be tried, not just in the New Mexican desert, but, what the heck, let’s let it loose on a real city. What the heck, we’ve already firebombed Tokyo with a cool 100,000 casualties, why not go for the whole enchilada. Anyone less than 70 years old has lived his whole conscious life under this cloud, and we’re piling on even more disastrous potential with each passing year. There’s something seriously wrong, and we can’t seem to even contemplate the solutions.
Have a nice day.