Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Meanwhile, Back At Home

While the Gong Show unfolding in the U.S. will likely continue to preoccupy a great many of us in the weeks, months and years to come, we would be remiss to ignore disquieting occurrences in our own country. Many of these occurrences are unfolding under the blinding glare of our prime minister's sunny smile; indeed, many of them are being orchestrated by Mr. Trudeau, under the not-so-subtle aegis of his neoliberal agenda.

One of these issues is the Infrastructure Bank Trudeau is establishing, one that seeks to meld public and private money to finance projects. The key question one must ask, of course, is what is in it for the institutional and consortia investors he is trying to attract. Kate Chucng, a Toronto Star reader, recently raised a very pertinent point.
So the federal government plans to start an “infrastructure bank.” But we already have one. It’s called the Bank of Canada, and it was set up for this very purpose.

The Bank of Canada exists to make low-interest loans to all levels of government. So why are they wanting to borrow at high interest rates from private investors? Could it be that the 1 per cent controls the government?
It is a question all of us should be asking.

In his column today, Paul Wells writes about a meeting the prime minister and nine of his ministers had on Monday in Toronto at the Shangri-La, where they were guests
of Larry Fink from New York’s humongous BlackRock investment firm, pitching Canada as an investment destination to some of the deepest pockets on the planet.

Around the table were all your favourite emissaries from global capital. The Hong Kong Monetary Authority, with $360 billion (U.S.) in assets. Norway’s Norges Bank, which may be the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund, though it’s hard to tell and the Norwegians hope to keep it that way. The Olayan Group from Saudi Arabia, with assets somewhere north of $100 billion. Singapore’s Temasek Holdings, closer to $200 billion. The Qatar Investment Authority. The Lansforsakringar, which is Swedish for “If you have to ask, you can’t afford it.”
Interestingly, for a government that promised openness and transparency,
the whole day happened behind closed doors and surrounded by heavy security.
This kind of secrecy and preferred access, so typical of the former Harper regime, should cause all of us concern:
The novelty of it all, and the long trains of zeros and commas following all these visitors around, has generated a very large amount of skepticism among the relatively few Canadians who’ve been following this project so far. How will the investors generate returns? Toll roads? Jacked-up hydro rates? What kind of bargain is it if Canadians pay for all this fancy new stuff through their daily out-of-pocket expenses, rather than through their taxes?

Nearby, at Nathan Phillips Square, the Ontario Public Service Employees Union was staging a protest of the whole business. “When people find out how much of their money private contractors are skimming off the top, they don’t want anything to do with it,” Smokey Thomas, the OPSEU president, said in a news release.
There is no philanthropy in business. Everything is done with an eye to the bottom line. This fact alone should give Canadians deep, deep cause for concern over the direction our 'new' government is taking us in.


  1. Plus ca change, Lorne, plus c'est la meme chose.

    1. Sadly, that seems to be becoming increasingly apparent, Owen.

  2. Now now. If God hadn't intended us to get fleeced, he wouldn't have made us so damned wolly.
    (Bet Simon will be *all over* this one)

    1. It does sometimes seem, Les, that we have a kind of 'Kick Me' sign ingrained in our DNA.

  3. The domestic and global corporate elites know that with Trudeau neoliberalism is good for at the least 3 more yrs.

    I don't know if Trudeau even knows what neoliberalism really means, but he wears it like a crown as he travels the world vocalizing his magical thinking, that Canada is open for business.

    I get the sense that Trudeau, when it comes to the corporate elite,feels like he has something to prove. Maybe as he gives away the control of Canada's wealth, he wants them to see how business savy he really is. I'm just speculating of course, but I'm trying to understand what motivates this guy.

    I see a smugness about him now, when he deigns to speak to Canadians about what he is doing, as if our questions are interrupting or taking him away from his serious work of "growing the economy."

    He's off to Cuba as he said "to walk in his fathers shoes." Should be quite a show.

    Canadians who think that they have to worry about Trump as president, are wrong. It's Trudeau they have to worry about.

    1. Well-said, Pam. It's almost as if we are experiencing the misdirection that illusionists rely on for their success.