A Leaf from Canada's Leap Manifesto

A Leaf from Canada's Leap Manifesto
Richard Hil

30 July 2016

I’ve learned a few things about Canada since arriving here nearly two weeks ago.
For one thing it treats so called illegal migrants like other countries do, by locking them up, often for years, in so called detention centres (read prisons). One fellow, from South Africa, has just been released after serving over a decade behind razor wire. There are over 10,000 migrants banged up in these centres.

Now I understand that the Canadian government is considering even more draconian laws designed to virtually throw the key away.  The other thing I’ve (re)discovered is that Canada, like its southern nieighbour, is a low wage economy, with inequality deeper than ever. Sound familiar?

Organized labour has been under assault and union membership has declined over recent years. This is in part because of the rise of what Chomsky and others refer to as the globalised “precariat” – casual or short contract workers in non or low unionized settings who fear for their jobs because of debt and competition from cheaper sources of labour in other countries. In real terms, most workers have experienced a significant drop in income, probably not dissimilar to the 45 percent drop experience by American workers from the 1970s to the early 2000s and beyond. This phenomenon is repeated across western nations, as Pikerty and many others have pointed out. Diminished organized labour has to some extent allowed corporations to get away with systemic exploitation and gargantuan rip offs. They’ve also been buttressed by governments who support so called free trade agreements which, in fact, favour corporations over small holdings and localised enterprises.

I met a supporter of the Leap Manifesto – a brilliant statement of intention from a mob of Canadian activists hailing from various quarters. It’s so worth a read – the manifesto that is. Also worth considering are the many actions taken by corporations under the North American Free Trade Agreement  where corporations, through their highly paid lawyers, have taken legal actions against Canadian governments when legislation or trade practices interfere with profit maximization.

Have a look at the Leap Manifesto website and keep an eye out for how the TPP unfolds in the Australian context.