Break Free from Fossil Fuels event: Action against Kinder Morgan in Burnaby

A number of COC members participated in today’s Break Free event. For more
amazing photos, including the kayak flotilla, go to the Greenpeace site at Thanks!

Penny Tilby

Break Free event -1

Break Free event -2

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Submit Comments on the Trans-Pacific Partnership

The Government of Canada has extended the deadline for people to submit comments on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). While there are many legitimate criticisms about the consultation process, this is the only opportunity for citizens to let the government know how they feel about this agreement. This agreement is a disaster for ordinary Canadians and for our democracy, so please take the time to voice your opposition to it. See below for information on how to submit your comments to the government and for a sample email submitted to the government. Note that your submission can be as short and simple as you like – the important thing is to let the government know, loudly and clearly, that you oppose the TPP. For more background on the TPP agreement, visit

How to submit your TPP comments to the government:


Ottawa, April 15, 2016 –

The House of Commons Standing Committee on International Trade is extending the deadline for Canadians to submit written comments on the topic of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement. Canadians who wish to provide a written submission in the context of the Committee’s TPP public consultation must do so before 23:59 EDT on June 30th, 2016.

The limit on the number of words for written submission has been removed. However, written submissions exceed 10 pages must be accompanied by a summary of no more than 1,500 words. The Committee may decide to translate, distribute and/or publish only the summary.

More information on the process for providing a written submission can be found in the Guide for Submitting Briefs to House of Commons Committees. Written submissions should be emailed to:

Canadians who wish to appear as a witness can make their request at any time during the study. They should provide their name and contact information to the Clerk of the Committee at: An invitation will be extended by the Clerk, on behalf of Committee members, to selected individuals and groups.

Sample Email:

Date: Wed, May 11, 2016 at 9:35 PM
Subject: Comments on the TPP

To Whom It May Concern,

I am writing to express my strong opposition to Canada’s participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

Once again, as with all the free trade agreements Canada has ratified, Canadians are being told that the TPP will mean significantly increased trade and jobs for our citizens. Yet, like all previous trade agreements, that is simply not true. The estimates of alleged trade and jobs increases have been overstated.

You would think that after more than thirty years’ experience with free trade agreements, the Government of Canada would realize that so-called ‘free trade’ agreements offer very few benefits to ordinary Canadians. Right from the first Canada-U.S. free trade agreement, we’ve experienced very few increases in trade or jobs as a result of the trade agreements. The only reason trade and jobs increased in the case of the Canada-U.S. deal and NAFTA was an extraordinarily low Canadian dollar that helped Canadian exports.

You would also think that the Government of Canada would admit, after all these years, that ‘free trade’ agreements really only benefit multinational corporations, and in most cases, foreign multinational corporations. These agreements are in fact more correctly characterized as ‘investors’ rights agreements’ than trade agreements, since they are much more focused on granting exceptionally broad rights to corporations and investors than on increasing trade.

There are so many problems with the TPP, but the worst of all is the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) section, which grants corporations the right to sue Canadian governments whenever they feel that their investments have been harmed in any way. Because the complaints are brought in private tribunals, rather than in Canadian courts, and the rules are conceived so as to subordinate Canadian domestic laws and regulations to the TPP’s corporate rights agenda, it’s a certainty that these tribunals will undermine Canadian governments’ ability to pass laws and regulations in the public interest. For example, if the government of Canada decides to freeze expansion of the tar sands in order to address climate change, a foreign corporation with a stake in the tar sands could sue and likely win a case against the Government of Canada in the private, unaccountable, undemocratic tribunal.

Because the TPP is such a far-reaching agreement, encompassing so many countries, its ISDS provision is a real threat to Canadian sovereignty and democracy. It would even likely have a ‘chill effect’ on any new laws or regulations in the public interest because governments would be wary of passing any measure that might incur a TPP challenge.

Beyond the democracy-undermining ISDS provision of the agreement, there are many more negative consequences of ratifying the agreement.

Analysts have pointed out that the patent provisions of the agreement will almost certainly increase prescription medicine costs for Canadians and our health care system.

Analysts also have predicted that restrictive copyright and internet provisions will reduce Canadians’ access to content online and undermine the principle of net neutrality. Even Canadian technology company executives have acknowledged that the TPP will have a negative impact on innovation in our internet-based industries.

The TPP is really a red herring. Canada already has relatively open trading relationships with the majority of TPP signatory countries. There is nothing to stop us from increasing trade with these countries within existing multilateral trade frameworks, so there is no need for the TPP.

The TPP is really just another device conceived by the U.S. and multinational corporations to further cement corporate rule around the world and to preserve the central role of the U.S. in the world economy.

There are no significant benefits to Canada of ratifying the TPP, only grave risks and known negative consequences. After thirty-plus years’ experience with other investors’ rights agreements, we have ample proof that these so-called ‘free trade’ deals are a Trojan horse that only expands corporate power while undermining our democracy and the power of our governments to act in the public interest.

For all these reasons, I urge you to NOT ratify the TPP agreement. Canada must not become entangled in yet another disastrous investors’ rights agreement.

Finally, I want to say how disappointed I am that the TPP consultation process so far seems to have been largely a sham. A ‘town hall’ meeting at UBC included a panel of academics sympathetic to the agreement and no one from the many organizations that oppose the agreement. A recent public hearing in Vancouver received many applications for participation from civil society groups, such as Leadnow, and from individuals, yet no Leadnow representative was invited to the hearing and the people invited were skewed towards industry-types and others who support the agreement. Only a handful of people were invited overall. What a travesty!

Despite my deep scepticism about this consultation process, I hope that you will heed the will of Canadian citizens and NOT ratify the TPP.


Norman Hill

Vancouver, BC


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The BC and Yukon annual Regional Meeting, 2016

On the April 16th and 17th weekend representatives from COC Chapters around the province met in Vancouver for our annual Regional Meeting. On the Saturday, there was a Teach In on the Trans Pacific Partnership with a very impressive panel of speakers addressing the impact this agreement would have on aboriginal rights, health care, income inequality, labour, water and the struggle for climate justice around the world. We also heard from Dr Shiv Chopra who has been touring the country alerting Canadians to the dangers agreements like the TPP pose to our food supply and therefore our health. This Teach In was open to the public as well as our members which allowed for some networking among people working on these issues.

On the Sunday the meeting was for COC reps and dealt with the issues being worked on by various chapters as well as the challenges our Chapters face in translating the broad campaigns the Council addresses to action we can take at the local level.

Emma Lui, the National water campaigner, currently based in the Vancouver Regional office brought us up to date on the many water related issues and actions taking place across the country.

Our chapter is focussing for the next few months on two major issues: ways to raise awareness about the TPP, and the campaign to stop private for profit medical clinics.

If you would like more information about the Vancouver/Burnaby Chapter we can be contacted at

Penny Tilby

Annual Regional Meeting

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The TPP and the Liberal’s “consultation” process

As some of you may be aware, the Federal Liberals are conducting consultations with the public re the new trade agreement, the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). A number of COC members attended a rally outside the hearings at the Radisson Hotel in Richmond this past Monday (April 18th), protesting both the agreement itself and the fact that the consultation process is such a sham. Only 12 people were allowed to speak to the committee though almost 200 signed up requesting to appear. After this one day in BC the committee moved on to other provinces for less than one full day of consultation in each place.

Here is a link to an article written by Meghan Sali from Open Media who did manage to speak for all of the five minutes she was allowed.

We would encourage you to go to the trade campaign section of the National website at to see how you can send your thoughts about the TPP to the Federal Government. It is important that they do not take these pathetic consultations as the final word on what citizens think about these corporate rights agreements.

Penny Tilby
Chair, Vancouver-Burnaby Chapter


The hearings were held at the Radisson Hotel in Richmond. Brenda Sayers talking to anti-TPP demonstrators.

Rally outside the hearings.

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Large ‘donation’ raises questions about charity

Mark Zuckerberg’s recent donation of a large amount of Facebook stock has been praised by a number of people, but rather than deserving praise, Zuckerberg’s action should cause us to ask serious questions.

Why is that a tiny percentage of people in our society should be allowed to accumulate obscene amounts of wealth (in the tens of billions of dollars), when others work two or three jobs and struggle to make enough money to get by?

Why do we allow private corporations to profit so much when their profits depend on public media or infrastructure? The government regulates other communications, such as radio, TV, and phone companies, but has mostly not regulated or charged Internet companies for use of the publicly invented Internet.

Why do we let private companies pay little or no tax? Facebook is worth billions, but allegedly has paid very little corporate tax in many countries.

Why are we so thankful when the rich give to charity? Shouldn’t things like education, health care, and social services be provided by the government to all citizens, rather than left to the whim of the rich?

And why, when the wealth of the extremely rich is often based on the exploitation of workers, the use of tax avoidance schemes, and the privatisation of public goods (such as natural resources, public research, or the DNA of Earth’s plants), should the rich get to choose who to give money to rather than our elected leaders? Chances are the charity of the rich will benefit causes that serve their interests or their ideology rather than the public interest.

Critics have even pointed out that Zuckerberg’s donation may have had uncharitable motivations:

‘This time around, it is more about cold, hard cash-management and future business opportunities. As the New Yorker notes, philanthropists “Zuckerberg and [Bill] Gates are placing some very large chunks of wealth permanently outside the reaches of the Internal Revenue Service.” The magazine adds that, “The size and timing of the tax benefits to Zuckerberg and Chan are uncertain, but they are likely to be large.”’

– Nancy Hanover

At a time when people are finally starting to realize the injustice of huge income and wealth inequality in our society, and some politicians are calling for more taxes on the very wealthy, the charity of Mark Zuckerberg or other extremely wealthy people should not be praised so unconditionally. Instead we should call on our governments to raise taxes on corporations and the rich so that they pay a fairer share, which would allow us to fund necessary social programs that would benefit everyone.

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