Our interests come last

Columnist Diana French says global and corporate interests are looked after more than Canadian and individual interests.

Before technology shrunk our world, individual rights and welfare meant something.

Mass production, mass communications, mass everything changed that.

Today, individuals don’t count for much.

Global interests come first, then the “good of the nation,” with provincial interests coming next. Local governments are in there somewhere but individual rights and welfare are at the bottom of the political pile. For instance, global interests are number 1 with the Enbridge pipeline proposal given that U.S., Chinese, French, Thai, Korean and Norwegian corporations (and maybe others) have vested interests (megabucks) in our gas and oil industries. Prime Minister Stephen Harper has indicated Canadian interests overrule provincial interests. Premier Christy Clark is making noises but the concerns of local governments, including First Nations, are low on the list, and tough titty on the individuals who live along the pipeline and tanker routes.

We already have the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), which let corporations sue nation states when they don’t like the rules. Canada has been sued, and has lost, a number of times. Canada is now negotiating to join the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), described as “bigger bolder and badder” than anything yet in terms of corporate rule. It could get rid of whatever sovereignty we have left. In the late 1990s a similar plan, the Multinational Agreement on Investment (MAI) was defeated by world-wide public outrage. In spite of Facebook and Twitter, TPP seems to be going unnoticed. I realize that as the planet gets crowded we have to sacrifice some of the individual freedoms we think we deserve. More people mean more rules. And, as a resource-rich country, Canada should share our resources. But who are we sharing them with? “Global” interests are corporate interests. Our sharing enhances the pocketbooks of their shareholders, not necessarily the lives of the ordinary people of the world, or even ours. Is this a good thing?

Diana French is a freelance columnist for the Tribune. She is a former Tribune editor, retired teacher, historian, and book author.

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