Tag Archives: postaday

In support of Chief Theresa Spence and #IdleNoMore

Chief Theresa Spence (detail). Photo by Regina Notarsandsnobelomonte Southwind

Chief Theresa Spence (detail). Photo by Regina Notarsandsnobelomonte Southwind

From The Guardian: “The grassroots IdleNoMore movement of aboriginal people offers a more sustainable future for all Canadians. Canada’s placid winter surface has been broken by unprecedented protests by its aboriginal peoples. In just a few weeks, a small campaign launched against the Conservative government’s budget bill by four aboriginal women has expanded and transformed into a season of discontent: a cultural and political resurgence.”

“I won’t soon forget this clash between these two very different kinds of resolve, one so sealed off, closed in; the other cracked wide open, a conduit for the pain of the world.”

“Termination in this context means the ending of First Nations pre-existing sovereign status through federal coercion of First Nations into Land Claims and Self-Government Final Agreements that convert First Nations into municipalities, their reserves into fee simple lands and extinguishment of their Inherent, Aboriginal and Treaty Rights. To do this the Harper government announced three new policy measures…”

“@PMHarper has been completely silent about Chief Spence and Idle No More, while cracking jokes about everything from the CBC to Chinchillas. (Update: Just after 4p.m. EST today, @PMHarper Tweeted “mmm… bacon,” accompanied by a video clip from the Simpsons. No, seriously.)”

“First Nations officially put Prime Minister Harper on notice. They plan to file a legal injunction to stop him from ratifying FIPA, the secretive and extreme Canada-China investors’ deal.”

It’s worth noting that, unlike former PM Paul Martin (quoted in the Guardian article), PM Harper is on record denying colonialism in Canada: “We are one of the most stable regimes in history. There are very few countries that can say for nearly 150 years they’ve had the same political system without any social breakdown, political upheaval or invasion. We are unique in that regard. We also have no history of colonialism.” He made the comment at a press conference at the G20 Pittsburgh Summit in September 2009; it’s quoted in Colonial Reckoning, National Reconciliation, a special 2009 issue of English Studies in Canada 35.1 (2009).

(Emphasis added; thanks to WG for this reference.)

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An overview of current threats to balanced copyright and a free Internet

This blog, 17 Jan. 2012

This blog, 17 Jan. 2012

Under neoliberal hegemony, the critical decisions of state governance continue to retreat from the formal, public political sphere to the private corporate sphere of lobbying and trade negotiations. That retreat deliberately makes it harder to detect and track political-economic transformations; however, the present freedom of the Internet goes far to bring some of these to light. Which is likely why the Internet itself is such a major target for increasingly restrictive and repressive political and economic regulations.

This post just presents a summary of those major current threats to Internet freedom and balance in the copyright regime; they represent an array of policies, trade and vendor agreements, legal practices, and digital techniques. The list does give more attention to threats and issues facing Canada specifically. If you know of other such threats, please feel free to comment below.

This is already a lot to keep track of, but what else is this list missing?

The Trans-Pacific Partnership: not in Canada’s interests

As Ottawa trade expert Peter Clark observes of the Harper government’s neoliberal agenda, when it comes to international trade – in CETA, FIPPA, and the TPP – “everything is on the table” (69, my emphasis).

Clark has posted a detailed, plain-speaking, and highly critical analysis of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a USA-led, Pacific-rim trade negotiation to which Canada has been admitted … as a “second-tier” participant with no say in whatever the deal ends up demanding. A self-professed advocate of free trade, Clark nevertheless roundly criticizes the TPP here, mainly for its considerable imbalance – in favour of interests that are not Canada’s own (24).

In trade agreements, the devil is always in the details – and when it comes to the TPP, the devils travel in packs.

The TPP has been widely criticized by copyright experts (like Michael Geist) for leaked draft chapters concerning its intellectual property regulations: “The TPP could result in extra-territorial application of U.S. laws, particularly in the Intellectual Property area, including criminalization of non-commercial infringement” (Clark 26). The TPP has also been criticized for its extreme and anti-democratic but all too typical secrecy, and for the uncertainty over what exactly Canada stands to gain at the table here – relative to what it stands to lose.

The TPP is not all about sandals, diapers, detergents and cucumbers. In some ways it is about how we live, our healthcare, access to medicare and our way of life. It is about how we preserve our heritage and culture. And it is about how those whose ideas shape so many things are properly compensated for their achievements. … At this point, participation in the TPP raises more questions for Canada than it answers. As noted, with Japan as a participant there could be real gains. Without it, TPP as currently envisaged would more likely be a gift to Washington with benefits to Canada being marginal and illusory. Fortunately for Canada, Trade Minister Ed Fast has made it clear that Canada will not accept bad or unbalanced trade deals. Break a leg, Minister. (13, 18, my emphasis)

Critiques aside, there are a number of resources to take action against the TPP. There’s a Facebook Stop the TPPA page, and the Stop The Trap website, which focuses on the TPP’s copyright chapters, features a petition that now shows over 120,000 signatures.

As Canada’s neoliberal government ramps up its ecologically hazardous sell-out of Canadian resources, its Orwellian rewriting of Canadian history, its systematic attack on working people, and its dismantling of Canadian sovereignty, Canadians need to do all we can to send the message to Parliament that these are massive political risks it takes at the price, ultimately, of its own credibility and power to govern.

How you know you’ve arrived as a popular culture scholar

When a reader likens your work to porn. (Favourably.)


The work in question is my chapter in the new collection Selves and Subjectivities: Reflections on Canadian Arts and Culture, edited by Manijeh Mannani and Veronica Thompson, out now from AU Press – in purchasable print and free, Open Access e-book formats.

“By examining how writers and performers have conceptualized and negotiated issues of personal identity in their work, the essays collected in Selves and Subjectivities investigate emerging representations of self and other in contemporary Canadian arts and culture.”

Open letter to Canada Trade Agreement Secretariat, about the FIPA Canada-China trade deal

Dear Canada Trade Agreement Secretariat,
I am writing to state my strenuous opposition to the FIPA Canada-China trade deal, and my just as strenuous opposition to the undemocratic manner in which it has been negotiated, with neither meaningful public consultation nor meaningful parliamentary debate.
FIPA represents a reckless compromise to Canada’s resource sovereignty, environmental protections, and even our very democracy. It must at least be subjected to meaningful analysis and debate, and not be forced as an inordinate political, economic, and ecological burden on our children and grandchildren.
Sincerely,
YT

Send your own message to Canada’s Trade Agreement Secretariat via this link.

For the facts about FIPA, the @leadnowca and @sum_of_us campaigns have produced a website, and this fact sheet (click for full-size printable PDF):

Flash fiction, science fiction, and the shape of things to come

I’m pleased to see that one of my flash fiction tweets for the CBC “Tweets from 2112” contest made the adjudicators’ all-stars list in the Environment category.

I don’t have anywhere near the time I’d like to devote to writing fiction and poetry, so I’m not above hyping either flash fiction generally (see Jeff Noon for an exemplar of the form) or this particular honourable mention, especially since the event was run by Canadian SF luminary Robert J. Sawyer, with adjudicators from SF Canada.

“Tweets from 2112” was organized as a contest, but took shape as an absorbing (=distracting) literary experiment in collective speculative fiction. I submitted several flash fiction tweets to it, but the one chosen for the all-stars list is the one I’m happiest with as a self-contained narrative…and as a flash back from the kind of future I can’t help imagining as most plausible.

Here are the others I wrote, reports from possible futures all contingent on the particular present (as Frederic Jameson theorizes what SF does).

These other submissions are maybe more satirical than science-fictional; as the contest developed, I couldn’t resist leveraging the contest tag, once it was trending, to do some consciousness-raising too, in this case about the urgent issue of #FIPA, the secretive, $64 billion, 31-year trade deal between Canada and China, which stands to get Royal Assent anytime now without so much as a single minute of debate in Parliament – despite the repeated questions of opposition MPs and several citizen petitions, the biggest of which now has over 70,000 signatures. FIPA is basically a trade treaty that commits Canada to exporting more climate change in the coming decades. As David Suzuki explains it:

Why would anyone want to sell out our interests, democratic processes and future like this? And why would we put up with it? On the first question, Gus Van Harten, an international investment law professor at Osgoode Hall Law School [and an outspoken critic of FIPA], told Desmog Blog we must consider the possibility that government and industry know that changes in attitudes about fossil fuel extraction “may lead to new regulations on the oil patch, in that, climate can’t just be wished away forever, and that governments might take steps to regulate the oil patch in ways that investors wouldn’t like.” He continues, “If you bring in a lot of Chinese investments, and you sign the Canada investment deal, you kind of get the Chinese investors to do your dirty work for you.”
In other words, as the world recognizes the already extreme and increasing consequences of global warming and shifts from wastefully burning fossil fuels to conservation and renewable energy, tar sands bitumen may soon become uneconomical. The goal is to dig it up, sell it and burn it as quickly as possible while there’s still money to be made. It’s cynical and suicidal, but it’s the kind of thinking that is increasingly common among those who see the economy as the highest priority — over human health and the air, water, soil and biodiverse ecosystems that keep us alive.

FIPA thus points to a compromised, colonized future for Canada’s energy industry, a dire, costly future for the nation’s democracy and resource sovereignty, and a further diminishment of Canada’s standing in the international community. It is not the Canada I would leave to the next generation, whose survival, never mind prosperity, deals like FIPA squander and endanger.

Which is why I find it hard to imagine a world in 2112 that isn’t fundamentally post-apocalyptic, finally laid waste by corporate greed that now seems bent on its own ultimate collapse, on the cannibalizing of its own institutions, before we can collectively imagine a different future, another world. These are dangerous, precipitous days, on the cusp or arguably even already past the tipping point of globalized climate catastrophe. In this context, science fiction has important consciousness-raising work to do, in ringing the alarm now sounded far and wide by the genre’s present preoccupations with (zombie) apocalypse and post-apocalypse.

Which brings me to a short hypothesis about science fiction’s projecting power. Setting aside, for the moment, the critical consensus (following Jameson) that science fiction is best understood as a literature of commentary on the present, not the future, what nevertheless can we see of the genre’s power to project if not predict the shape of things to come?

Take “cyberpunk” for example. As the most popular science fiction of thirty years ago, this subgenre might reasonably be said to have projected an accurate image of today’s globalized, corporate-ruled, digitally networked, and simulacrum-haunted world.

Now take “post-apocalypse” for another example: it’s arguably, at present, the most popular subgenre of science fiction today. What might post-apocalypse, the most popular science fiction of today, project about our world thirty years from now?

We need to heed these reports from our possible futures, lest we find ourselves doomed to produce them.

Work Cited
Suzuki, David. “China deal and budget sacrifice democracy to short-term goals.” David Suzuki Foundation 25 Oct. 2012.

Open letter to #HOC International Trade Committee: The #FIPA Canada-China trade deal needs study and debate

To: House of Commons International Trade Committee – Rob Merrifield (rob.merrifield@parl.gc.ca), Ron Cannan (ron.cannan@parl.gc.ca), Russ Hiebert (russ.hiebert@parl.gc.ca), Ed Holder (ed.holder@parl.gc.ca), Gerald Keddy (gerald.keddy@parl.gc.ca), Bev Shipley (bev.shipley@parl.gc.ca), Devinder Shory (devinder.shory@parl.gc.ca)

Subject: Please support MP Don Davies’ motion to study and debate the Canada-China FIPA treaty

Dear Members of the House of Commons International Trade Committee,

This Thursday, October 25th, NDP International Trade Critic Don Davies will put forward an important motion to conduct a full study of the Canada-China FIPA trade treaty, and to call for postponing its ratification until it gets proper study and parliamentary debate. I am writing to ask you to support that motion.

I understand the House has been debating a trade deal with Panama, worth $213 million, since the spring. This FIPA treaty, worth an estimated $64 billion and to be in force for decades, demands study and debate in its own right.[1] FIPA could compromise the Canadian government’s ability to set policies in the public interest; it exposes taxpayers to expensive litigation and damages; and international investment treaty expert Gus Van Harten suggests that it may even be unconstitutional.[2] A recent Angus-Reid poll shows three of four Canadians oppose foreign governmental control of our resources.[3]

I urge you to support Mr. Davies’ motion, in the interests of Canadian democracy and resource sovereignty.

Thank you for considering this encouragement from a concerned citizen.

Sincerely, [YT]

References:

[1] May, Elizabeth. “The threat to Canada’s sovereignty – what we are giving to China.” Island Tides. 18 Oct. 2012. Web.

[2] Van Harten, Gus. “Canada-China FIPPA agreement may be unconstitutional, treaty law expert says.” Vancouver Observer 17 Oct. 2012. Web.

[3] Beers, David. “Three of four Canadians against ceding control of resources to foreign governments: poll.” The Hook 20 Oct. 2012. Web.

(Thanks to Thomas Mulcair for today’s #FIPA update e-mail, from which I’ve adapted some wording here.)