Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Justin's Secrecy

There will always be those unable to see beyond the obvious when it comes to Justin Trudeau. His sunny smile, his platitudinous assurances that we can have our pipelines and climate change remediation simultaneously, and his opaque insistence upon the necessity of an Infrastructure Bank seem to carry the day for some, apparently happy to suspend whatever critical-thinking capacities they may possess.

Unfortunately, this blanket belief in Trudeau's sincerity means that his neoliberal agenda is being under-scrutinized by the public. One of its most egregious manifestations is the secrecy around which the government has hired consultants to study the deliverance of our airports to private interests.

H/t trapdinawrpool for his twitter alert about the following:
A secretive project to generate billions of dollars from the sale of major Canadian airports is pushing ahead with the hiring of consultant firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).

The firm is to "act as a commercial adviser assisting with additional analytical work with respect to advancing a new governance framework for one or more Canadian airports."
The shield of secrecy was peeled back only due to a freedom-of-information request from the CBC, coupled with some stellar sleuthing. The very fact that this project was withheld from public eyes is the first red flag.

But wait! There's more!
The new contract follows a report delivered last fall by Credit Suisse Canada on how Ottawa might gain billion-dollar windfalls through the sale of its interests in Canada's Big Eight airports and 18 smaller airports. The eight are in Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal, Calgary, Edmonton, Ottawa, Winnipeg and Halifax.

Credit Suisse was hired by CDEV, [Canada Development Investment Corp.] acting on behalf of Finance Canada, in a contract announced in a terse two-sentence release on Sept. 12.

The Crown corporation and Finance have since refused to release the Credit Suisse report, the contract terms or even the cost to taxpayers, despite requests by an opposition MP and by journalists.
And, again typical of the neoliberal orientation, private entities were given veto power over the release of information:
... the contracts with Credit Suisse and PwC contain clauses that give the firms vetoes over the public release of any information, including the cost of the work.
Why should any of us be bothered by any of this? There are many reasons, but Craig Richmond, the president and CEO of the Vancouver Airport Authority, recently addressed one of them when he said,
... prices for airlines and passengers would only increase as for-profit entities seek to make back their investments.

[He understands] the attraction of a one-time big profit for Ottawa, but "that's like selling the furniture in your house to cover your credit card debts."
Mr. Trudeau's government euphemistically refers to this whole process as "asset recycling." Those less enamoured of the Prime Minister and his band of sunny men and women, I suspect, would call it something else entirely.


  1. There are some assets which must be owned by the public, Lorne. But, these days, it seems that everything is up for sale.

    1. Here in Ontario, Owen, Kathleen Wynne's sale of 60% of Hydro One has taught us to be very wary of the neoliberals, given their obvious contempt for the concept of publicly-owned assets.

  2. Great. Government cannibalizing the nation state. With each passing day the Dauphin comes to more closely resemble Thatcher or Reagan instead of his father. It's too bad for Harper that he was so wooden and non-photogenic.

    1. You are right, Mound. In many ways, the difference between Trudeau and Harper is merely skin-deep.

  3. Well, this is the usual way corporatism works. Change a capital investment into an eternal loan with rent due sharpish at the beginning of each month, paid for by the citizens. When paper money is abolished in the next five to ten years (already started as an experiment in India by withdrawing low-denomination notes to see what happens - disaster - but who cares, they're brown people and not in the West; full story on the Indian site last fall, studiously unread by white men in the West of all political persuasions), we'll be well on the way to mere electronic representations of our paid-for labour. Every transaction under full surveillance by our masters, no under the table cheapy house-painting, no cash at the farmer's gate for decent veggies and real eggs, taxes paid in full, citizens in thrall, and so on. It'll be sold as the Bright New World, like a super-duper schmarty-phone. All will cheer at how advanced we are.

    No wonder Bitcoin thrives.

    But as Amazon flogs groceries online, takes over Wholefoods, ruins supermarkets, what happens to old people? I see it all the time when I run from my rural lair into Halifax, old ladies carrying full shopping bags miles. Halifax is a food desert city, bus routes are organized at right angles to where people live to get to a supermarket, that is, they are 100% utterly useless. These old folks don't have PCs or even mobile phones. They're screwed in our brave new world, slain on the fields of corporatism. I drive them if they'll accept a lift, those old gals still dressing up to look presentable, living on OAP and a supplement if they're lucky, trying to keep up appearances. Makes me weep in frustration. The destruction of civil society on the bed of profits and eff-you attitude.

    Don't know if JT has the brains to understand the consequences of flogging off public property, or doing the Canadian internal equivalent of an ISDS governed free trade pact called the Infrastructure Bank, I really don't.

    But Morneau does, look at that Economic Council of his, set up in February last year with all the corporate and university academic wannabe rich types "advising" him. Telling him, more like. A $1 a year each, such noble types donating their valuable time, reduced to eating sandwiches from the caff at their Ottawa meetings in order to do their bounden duty for Canada, chaired by a man from a big accounting firm. It was then that I knew we were truly effed, seduced by hair and a smile.

    Nothing has occurred in the last 18 months to make me change my mind at the neoLiberal's canny backing of JT, the intellectual waif with an aw shucks um and an ah at public speaking events that makes people buckle at their knees in abject adoration. Behind his back, the people that matter are planning ways to pilfer our back pockets.


    And we love it!


    1. If you don't mind, BM, I would like to feature your incisive, lacerating analysis in a separate blog post, probably tomorrow.

  4. .. there's a certain 'contempt' condition that seems to infect elected public servants who are paid by taxpayers. I have zero problem identifying myriad examples.. and yet there are some political parties more infected than others.

    The phenomena or sickness crosses borders with ease and easily spreads into schools of higher learning, bureaucracies, religions, mainstream media, banks, stock markets, talk shows, news etc.. We're getting the full Monty currently via the Khadr Scandal.. the holier than thou legal proclamations from Lord Scheer, the onerous Peter Kent and our dear Ms Rempel. Trudeau tends to work the higher road to good advantage

    To the south we have a fraudulent fop named Trump lecturing us on his genius.. and the integrity of his freako children in a strange new language only his base can untangle. Its essentially impossible to limit the damage & confusion as captured & ignorant fake public servants spew & spout to lazy, even dirtbag sensationalizing media.

    While main media churns.. remember how many salaried lawyers & consultants & mercenary lobbyists are grinding away daily.. tens of thousands.. along with 'outside lawyers' contracted @ 500 per hour. An internal 'study' re who can produce medical pot, sell off an airport or ten, build a Site C ? Or why buy 85 F-35's ? Childs play when you control government.. even if you can't pay those public servants in an efficient timely manner

    1. Until and unless the greater public is prepared to start thinking for themselves, Salamander, the abuses you describe will continue unabated. It seems that far too many are happy enough to accept without question government pronouncements, whether they come from the deranged Trump or the extremely photogenic Trudeau.

  5. I don't think Canadians realize the magnitude of betrayal that Trudeau has embarked on with his neoliberal policies.

    His operating in secrecy has become his MO.

    Do Canadians realize that it is Canadian sovereignty that is at risk?

    He has not been given the mandate to sell our public assets, such as airports. He has not been given the mandate to put 35B of tax payers money into creating an infrastructure bank.

    He has not been given the mandate to expand the Canadian military to the tune of 30B over 10 yrs. Why? So we can fight America's wars? Since when did Canada decide to become a militarized country?

    One just has to look at the U.S. to know the necons are running the show, both militarily and economically. So too in Canada.

    The fact that Trudeau is now making decisions and implementing his neoliberal policies behind closed doors, tell us everything we need to know about him. He is a man who is attempting to put one over on Canadians.

    If he genuinely believed in the worth of his policies, he would not have to implement them in secrecy. The only thing worse then a liar is a coward and Trudeau is both.

    If we do not vote him out in the next election, then this country is doomed. Doomed by a man with very little intellectual credibility and lacking in courage because the truth means nothing to him. A smiling con, that says and does what he is told to do. It won't be Harper that has destroyed our democracy, it will be Trudeau who destroys Canadian democracy as he sells control of Canadian wealth to the highest bidder.

    There is one promise that Trudeau wants to keep. By his own words he wants to make Canada the FIRST post nation state.

    We must make sure that this is a promise we will not let him keep.

    1. As always, Pamela, well-said. You mentioned, among the other things for which he has no mandate, that Trudeau is expanding military expenditures significantly. Linda McQuaig wrote on that very issue in yesterday's Star, equating those expenditures with his efforts to appease Trump: