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The Progressive Economics Forum

The Devil is in the Budget Implementation Act

Ah. For the good old days. When a Budget Implementation bill lived up to its, err, billing.  You know, stuff from the budget was in the bill.  Other stuff was dealt with in other bills where stuff could be properly debated.

Nowadays, you never know what you’re going to get when you open your Bill C-10 goody bag.  Take the most recent edition of C-10 (new, improved, and condensed to just 551 pages of dense legal text that no one in their right mind would read without the help of a team of lawyers).

Let’s get a taste of what this bag of tricks and treats has brought us:

Oh, what have we here — a bright green (with dollar signs) proposal to lift foreign ownership limits on domestic carriers from the current 25% to as high as 49%.  Where’s that in the budget? Hmmm.  Anyway, it’s just in time too because Air Canada just lost three quarter of a billion bucks.

Oh, and what’s this bright shiny tasty looking treat (strangely enough, it too is green and comes with dollar signs affixed) : can it be? Yes, major changes to the Navigable Waters Protection  Act (goodbye pretty fish, hello industrial muck) that environmental groups, paddlers and others have been resisting for years.  Tucked away nice and safe and deep in the heart of the goody bag where no one will look.

Oh, and what is this:  a repeal of Section 18.2 of the Income Tax Act (this change actually was in the budget plan but you had to look really hard to find it — go to page 325) that will cost the feds, oh close to $200 million in foregone revenue for 2012 – 14 and who knows how much going forward.   And wait, what are these regulatory changes buried in the back of C-10?  Shouldn’t they have been eliminated along with the repeal of Section 18.2.  I smell something fishy…Hmm…

Well, that’s enough candy for this post.  Don’t want to over-do it you know. More tomorrow and later in the week.

Comments

Comment from Leigh Thomson
Time: February 14, 2009, 7:43 am

excellent work Arun, thanks !

Comment from Leigh Thomson
Time: February 21, 2009, 9:13 am

On the changes to the Navigable Waters Protection Act in the link you’ve provided,

“(3) If the Minister considers that the work would substantially interfere with navigation, the Minister shall direct the local authority, company or individual to

(a) deposit all plans in the local land registry or land titles office or any other place specified by the Minister; and

(b) provide notice of the proposed construction and the deposit of the plans by advertising in the Canada Gazette and in one or more newspapers that are published in or near the place where the work is to be constructed. ”

A company can interfere with Navigable Waters, as long as they post a notice in the Gazette and a local paper, with a 30-day comment period. Forget Parliament. Forget public governance. This is how democracy and ‘consultation’ work in the Harper/Iggy vision- just read the Gazette and you’ll catch some hints, if you are lucky to catch it at the right time. Even then, your submitted comments can be ignored. I cringe to think of how often I got sucked into this comment-submission game in past years.

The changes to the Act extend the reach of governance by private P3 finance in water ‘works’.

Key changes include a number of exceptions to the public trust in water allowing new build/operate dams, canals, and diversions (including ballast a.k.a. bulk water transfer). In the context of the Build Canada Fund and other clauses in the Budget, as noted elsewhere on this blog, these involve P3s and private finance.

Changes allow dams which are privately owned to be sold (eg. those currently owned by Macquarrie and others; the Bullfrog Power greenwash game promotes private power/hydro/water ownership, by the way- e.g. Macquarrie is a participant with its Lake Superior water works/dams.)

Changes to the Act allow sale and transfer of water works, which includes access to and control of water data. Think of the implications of this given NAFTA investor rights provisions.

Changes also allow prosecution of anyone who interferes with this giveaway of our water infrastructure. Nice example of a tightening chain around the neck of those forced to blow up the balloon of private water investors.

Changes also remove any liability from those tasked with implementing these regs.

Basically, the changes to the Navigable Waters Act which the Harper government has introduced and which the Liberals have rubber-stamped, will eliminate the public trust in water which was established in the Magna Carta (and prior), and will eliminate Indigenous rights to water.

It was the NDP who introduced a motion to exempt water from NAFTA, which a majority in the House passed at the time (couple summers ago). All the Harperites refused to vote to protect water. en masse. They want to direct more water to tar sands extractions, and south for private profit.

A number of Liberals at the time voted to exempt water from NAFTA too. What the heck are they doing now? Propping up Harper.

So at this point I’m supporting the NDP. From what I’ve seen of the Green Party, although they have good sentiments, they don’t seem to understand clearly the mechanisms of how environmentally-destructive games get played out, particularly via exceptions in new regs, given current investment realities.

The private financiers and their cohorts have become very adept at making regulations look and sound good. They are neither. This is where ecology and economy hit the wall together.

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