Thursday, April 14, 2016

B.C. Legislature debates TPP

B.C. Liberals bully and sneak through motion

supporting proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership

By John Twigg

The B.C. Legislature today (Thursday April 14) voted 40 to 26 on a motion expressing the province's support for the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership even though there have been no public hearings on the complex and contentious trade deal, and despite an amendment by the New Democrats appealing for public hearings before such a vote.

Motion 11 was put on the Order Paper last October around the time of the federal election but was not introduced and called for debate until Premier Christy Clark somewhat suddenly did so on Wednesday (April 13) after Question Period, with the timing obviously related to exploiting the backlash against the federal New Democrats' convention in Edmonton having approved a call for party and public consultations on the so-called Leap Manifesto, an environmental initiative which contains numerous radical proposals against petroleum and pipeline developments in particular and industrial developments and job creation in general, apart from new "green" ones.

My recent analysis of that Leap Manifesto debate can be viewed here .

Clark's motion said:
Be it resolved that this House, acknowledging the importance of diversifying trade to create jobs for British Columbians, supports the Trans-Pacific Partnership because: the Trans-Pacific Partnership removes trade barriers and provides preferential market access for B.C. goods and services from all sectors including forest products, agrifoods, technology, fish and seafood, minerals and industrial goods, and through the transition support will be available to our supply-managed industries; the Trans-Pacific Partnership provides more access for service providers in professional, environmental, and research and development fields; and, ultimately, the Trans-Pacific Partnership will increase investment and create new jobs and opportunities for many British Columbians.

That motion was quickly amended by NDP Opposition leader John Horgan with the suggestion that the Legislature's finance committee have a "robust and transparent discussion and public consultation" on the matter, which said:

That Motion 11 be amended by deleting the text after, “Be it resolved that this House, acknowledging the importance of diversifying trade to create jobs for British Columbians, supports” and substituting, “referral to the Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services for robust and transparent discussion and public consultation on the long-term job creation and employment impacts for British Columbia of the Trans-Pacific Partnership.”

However the NDP amendment was defeated by a vote of 42 to 33 later on Wednesday afternoon after only a few speakers had spoken, suggesting that the New Democrats either were not prepared to filibuster against it and/or were strategically avoiding a prolonged fractious debate which would have caused themselves to become even more linked to the anti-jobs Leap Manifesto on which both Horgan and deputy leader Carole James had been excoriated over it at a B.C. Building Trades convention in Victoria (see Globe and Mail report here and Vaughn Palmer here ).

Debate on the main motion was adjourned at 7 p.m. Wednesday but when it resumed Thursday morning after Question Period it continued only until just before noon, at which point the Opposition (including Green Party leader Andrew Weaver) let the final vote be taken, with the result being 40 for the government versus 26 for the Opposition (including Weaver) but Clark and Independent MLA Vicki Huntington were away as were about 20 other MLAs.

Health emergency smokescreen?

To further smokescreen the somewhat sneaky, bullied and flawed TPP motion the Liberal government also chose today to announce a health emergency regarding a skein of drug overdose deaths involving fentanyl, which obviously is a serious problem but which also has already been in the news for several weeks and the preparations for the declaration apparently were in the works for several days.

Why would the Clark government want to smokescreen something supposedly as great as they claim the TPP is? Because it isn't great and actually it could become disastrous, maybe even worse than a few dozen drug deaths, because it could kill whole industries forever. Not to mention that the Liberals get many large donations from corporations that would benefit from the TPP.

The few New Democrats who spoke against the motion and thus against the TPP too did a decent job of exposing some of the TPP's alleged flaws (except Horgan, who gave short shrift and departed) such as noting that it deals with the United States and several Asian "tigers" but does not include China and may well be an American device to isolate China.

The gist is that the TPP will benefit mainly foreign interests doing developments in B.C., notably that they will be able to out-litigate local governments and regional districts on zoning issues, it will tend to encourage the export of jobs to low-wage jurisdictions [the same problem that Donald Trump is fighting and gaining huge support from in the U.S. Presidential primaries] and it generally would make Canada a safer haven for foreign capital and a tougher place for unionized and low-wage workers.

Weaver delivered key critiques

Instead it fell to Weaver to give a more detailed critique, which he did on the amendment Wednesday and the main motion Thursday, claiming it is "a cynical ploy to try to pin the NDP in British Columbia to their federal counterparts who enacted a study for two years about the Leap Manifesto."

"In conclusion, this deal is a bad deal for British Columbia. This deal is a bad deal for Canadians. This motion should not pass. This government should be ashamed of itself for bringing this cynical motion forward at a time when they hadn't even got the agreement to actually explore the details of," said Weaver.

Links to preliminary Hansard transcripts April 13 here  and today's April 14 here  . 

Premier Clark and other defenders such as the former federal Conservative government of Stephen Harper argue that the TPP will improve access to foreign markets for B.C. products such as seafood and resources but what the overall net effect would be is difficult to determine, and which may or may not be revealed in whatever public consultations process the new federal Liberal government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau eventually mandates pursuant to its recent preliminary sign-on to the document in principle.  

What will the TPP do to or for marketing boards? That isn't clear yet.

What will it do to intellectual property, copyrights and technology industries? That isn't clear either, though Weaver - an accomplished academic - believes it will be negative.

But what is clear is that it's a tough issue for the B.C. New Democrats, kind of damned if they do and damned if they don't, and the radical Leap Manifesto only makes that problem worse.

It also could be a good issue for the Clark Liberals, positioning them on the side supporting investment, job creation and exports even if or when the net benefits are negative over time. What matters to them most of all is the outcome of the next election in May 2017.

Hansard Blues excerpt April 13

Hon. C. Clark: I rise today to move a motion in support of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a motion that asks and urges the federal government to implement it.
There are voices across this country today — we hear them loudly and clearly — that say no to all economic development. They say no to creating jobs for working people. They say no to deals like TPP. In the name of ideology, they claim that it's time to dismantle our economic foundation. But what they are really saying is no to working people, and they're saying no to jobs. If those voices had their way, this would be the first generation of British Columbians that left this province poorer than we found it.
I know that we can always do better. We always must strive as a government, and as a society, to do better. But the answer isn't to disrupt the free flow of ideas and the free flow of capital. It isn't to disrupt innovation and all of those things that happen in a functioning, capitalist system, where trade deals mean jobs.
In British Columbia, we know that international trade is the foundation of our prosperity. International trade is what creates jobs for people across our province, and it always has been. We are Canada's Pacific gateway, and our future is linked more that any other province in the country with what's going on in Asia.
For over ten years, we have focused on expanding our trade and investment ties in Asia, and it's worked. The results are clear. We have seen more opportunities, we have seen more wealth, and we have seen more jobs in every corner of this province — 72,000 jobs created over the last 12 months in British Columbia.
We are number one in economic growth in Canada, and that's as a result of the visionary work that the private sector and government have done together in opening up new markets, diversifying our customer base, diversifying the products that we sell to them. Whether it's sawmills or software, mining or medical technology, we benefit from trade. When I say we, I mean workers and families in British Columbia.
There are benefits to trade on both sides. We export clean technology to China. China uses that clean technology to make sure that they have less pollution, that they fight climate change — the same with Korea, the same with Japan, the same with countries around the world. The TPP is another great step
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to trade on both sides. We export clean technology to China. China uses that clean technology to make sure that they have less pollution, that they fight climate change — the same with Korea; the same with Japan; the same with countries around the world.
The TPP is another great step in the right direction for us — a level playing field for a market of 800 million people, a total GDP of $28 trillion, a $235 million boost to British Columbia's GDP, and thousands of jobs that go with that.
We know what happens when provinces rely too much on a single industry. We've avoided that in British Columbia by creating one of the of the most diversified economies in North America. And we know what happens when provinces and jurisdictions rely on just one trading partner. We've also focused on making sure that we diversify our markets. We know what happens when governments focus on growing the size of government, rather than growing the size of the economy.
We need to create jobs in British Columbia. We need to continue along that path if we want to leave our children richer than even we have been. British Columbia and Canada need to keep moving forward. We don't need to move backward. So let's encourage Ottawa to do its consultations, as they promised in their platform. Let's let them hear from Canadians. But at the end of that process, let's encourage them and urge them to move quickly on passing TPP, because it will be great for workers in British Columbia.
With that in mind, I introduce the following motion:
[Be it resolved that this House, acknowledging the importance of diversifying trade to create jobs for British Columbians, supports the Trans-Pacific Partnership because: the Trans-Pacific Partnership removes trade barriers and provides preferential market access for B.C. goods and services from all sectors including forest products, agrifoods, technology, fish and seafood, minerals and industrial goods, and through the transition support will be available to our supply-managed industries; the Trans-Pacific Partnership provides more access for service providers in professional, environmental, and research and development fields; and, ultimately, the Trans-Pacific Partnership will increase investment and create new jobs and opportunities for many British Columbians.]
J. Horgan: Once again, the Premier has called her motion today, absolutely convinced that she knows best. In this case, it's the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement.
The CEO of Ford of Canada has said: "There will be no positive outcome for Canadian manufacturing." But the Premier knows best. The former CEO of BlackBerry Canada said: "I actually think this is the worst thing that the Harper government has done for Canada." But the Premier knows best. The CEO of an investor in a B.C. tech start-up said: "Potentially dangerous for several innovative-driven sectors such as tech." But again the Premier knows best.
A Nobel Prize–winning economist has said: "The deal was done in secret, and with corporate interests at the table." Again the Premier knows best — which perhaps explains why the Premier is so comfortable with this. It's because there is an expert whose opinion she values more than all of these others, who said: "Ten years from now, I predict with 100 percent certainty" — 100 percent certainty — "that people are looking back, and they will say: 'This was a great thing.'"
The Premier supports that. That, of course, was Stephen Harper who said that some time ago. You might remember Stephen Harper. He was the Prime Minister of Canada. The public responded to his certainty by dispatching him to the opposition benches, and I expect that that may well happen to the Premier as well. But the Premier knows best — 100,000 jobs in LNG. Focusing all of her energies on one sector, the Premier knew best. "Debt-free in British Columbia" — the Premier knew best. A $100 billion….
Madame Speaker: Members.
J. Horgan: Thank you, hon. Speaker.
The Premier specializes in 100 percent certainty. That's how she rolls. That's why we have a dead-in-the-air prosperity fund that's being now populated by increases to MSP premiums, not
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J. Horgan: Thank you, hon. Speaker.
The Premier specializes in 100 percent certainty. That's how she rolls, and that's why we have a dead-in-the-air prosperity fund that's being now populated by increases to MSP premiums, not by revenues from LNG but from increased costs year after year after year that have been brought in by this government. Stephen Harper got his feedback on the TPP, and it was pretty clear.
On Monday in this province, the new federal government will be in Vancouver as part of their public consultation with Canadians to hear what we think about this important issue — what regular people think about this important issue. Regular people — people that the Premier doesn't spend having dinners at $10,000 a pop — ordinary folks. They're going to have their say, and it would be nice if the Premier agreed with that.
Madame Speaker: Members.
J. Horgan: Again, the Premier is going to leave that to the federal government. She is absolutely certain that she knows best about how we're going to grow our economy. I've seen that from her for the past five years. [Applause.]
I see almost all the seals are here today, and that was a resounding blast from those on the other side.
Madame Speaker: Hon. members, parliamentary debate is characterized by moderation.
J. Horgan: If the Premier wants to carry forward her 100 percent certainty that she knows best and that this is in the public interest, I'm proposing that she take the opportunity to actually ask the public what they think — not to come out of her private meetings and say: "This is going to be grand for everyone."
I'm hopeful that she'll support the following motion. I will move:
[That Motion 11 be amended by deleting the text after, “Be it resolved that this House, acknowledging the importance of diversifying trade to create jobs for British Columbians, supports” and substituting, “referral to the Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services for robust and transparent discussion and public consultation on the long-term job creation and employment impacts for British Columbia of the Trans-Pacific Partnership.”]
On the amendment.
J. Horgan: The motion speaks for itself. The federal government, as I said, is going to be here on Monday. They're having open hearings. They're going to talk to British Columbians to see how they feel about the TPP and whether it's going to be in the best interests of their sectors, of their communities, of their jobs.
The federal government understands that people have concerns and questions, and they need to be addressed. The certainty that the Premier has is not shared by the new government in Ottawa. They're going to go out and consult and talk to the people of British Columbia, the people of Alberta — right across the country — and that's as it should be.
A confident government would ask the people what they thought. A confident government would not just say: "I know best." A confident government would say to people: "What are your views? What do you think? I appreciate we've been here languishing on the government side for 15 years doing whatever the heck we want, but now we've decided we want to talk to you. We want to talk to you about how you feel about this motion."
When this motion was moved, I had a hope that the Premier would recognize that this was an opportunity for her and her colleagues to say to British Columbians: "We care about what you think. We care about your concern that other trade deals in the past have had a negative impact on job creation and a negative impact on their jobs."
B.C. is a trading province. We all understand that. There's great hope and potential and opportunity across the Pacific Ocean. I agree with that statement. But I'm not necessarily convinced that the CEOs, who sit down with the Premier and tell her that she should be 100 percent certain that it's in their interests, are speaking for the people of British Columbia.
With that, I'm hopeful that other members of this House will support this amendment and join with me in saying that the people in B.C. should have a say in the TPP, not just the Premier and the people she dines with.

Monday, April 11, 2016

NDP leadership change

Shocking ouster of Tom Mulcair

reflects deep divisions inside NDP

By John Twigg

It's an understatement to say the federal New Democratic Party reached a turning point Sunday at its convention in Edmonton with its ouster of Tom Mulcair as leader - it was more like an atom bomb.

Mulcair will stay on as interim leader (and thereby keep his salary) for at least some of the period up to two years before there's a new leadership convention, which extra time (it's normally one year) the party backroomers gave themselves (slyly but also wisely) in an emergency motion rushed through soon after Mulcair's support vote came in unexpectedly low at only 48% from about 1,750 delegates from across Canada, whereas most observers including Mulcair supporters were expecting around 70%.

That steep shortfall apparently included most of the disproportionate 365 delegates from Alberta where the party just elected its first NDP regime under Premier Rachel Notley, almost all of whom would have been annoyed to see Mulcair apparently endorsing the radical Leap Manifesto in an apparent cheap bid for votes at the expense of many thousands of jobs in Alberta (more below).

However the divisions over energy and climate policies in the Leap Manifesto were on top of many other divisions and single-issue factions now more evident than ever in the NDP such as age, gender, region and employment or union status, among others (sexual orientations, language, race, culture)!

Mulcair himself noted that problem right after his crushing loss in a much-repeated video clip; "Don't let this very divided vote divide us," he said, seeming to plea for common sense to somehow prevail.

Thus the lengthy wait to get a new leader could become problematic in the party's Parliamentary caucus, where there also are divisions, but it may be a benefit to the party because it could enable the leadership vote to be scheduled for long after British Columbia's election in May 2017, which suggests the federal NDP leadership convention probably will be held in the summer or fall of 2017, maybe even in Vancouver since that's where much of its strength is now.

But that delay also makes it more feasible for upstarts, newcomers and even outsiders to enter the contest and sign up supporters to try to kidnap the party and it gives more time for the same-old old-guards and power cliques to regroup and try to regain control and thereby hold sway in what becomes the party's next platform and campaign strategy - and candidate selections, hiring of consultants and specialists, advertising, social media messaging, donations-seeking etcetera, all of which they botched badly in 2015. [For those unaware, since I have international followers, the Mulcair NDP entered the 2015 federal election with high hopes of winning their first-ever majority but instead they blundered repeatedly in the campaign and instead fell to a low third place, an ignominious loss after such high expectations.]

Divisions over Leap Manifesto directions

Meanwhile the post mortems of what happened in Edmonton are revealing a party that is deeply divided about where the party's policy should be heading and how it proposes to get there, which seems to be its perennial existential challenge now made all the more obvious.

Is it a semi-organized cabal of single-issue activists, or is it a machine of smart and well-meaning people working together as a team to develop, sell and hopefully implement a real pragmatic and popular strategy for how to make things better in Canada for as many people as possible, from top to bottom everywhere?

The debate is particularly sharp over what the NDP should do with the radical Leap Manifesto that features a roster of drastic changes in energy policy as parts of an urgent attack on climate change but also has some less-reported social policy reforms such as improvements for aboriginal people, a universal basic annual income, local agriculture, home retrofits and so on which can be reviewed at this link here .

The manifesto itself was neither approved nor rejected at the convention but instead delegates voted to refer it to constituency associations for local debates on it, including public meetings with non-members - which was a clever ploy by its backers because the sense was that that approval meant it is a done deal and foregone conclusion, and Mulcair's apparent support for that may have been part of his downfall.

"Everyone knows there's no greater threat than climate change," Mulcair said (approximately) in a French portion of his final appeal speech to delegates on Sunday, which to me he seemed to not repeat in English and by which he seemed to be appealing for the Leap supporters to support him too, but probably in vain because heretofore Mulcair was among those advocating a business-like approach to governing which disastrously included his campaign stance in support of balancing the budget at any and all costs first [which by the way was the turning point in his election campaign downfall and not his malarkey about niqabs].

Mulcair's mealy-mouthed support of the Leap Manifesto probably reflected that it had been constructed well in advance by a who's-who of the NDP establishment, notably Avi Lewis, son of Stephen Lewis and grandson of David Lewis, Avi's wife Naomi Klein, a noted climate campaigner in her own right, plus a cabal of fellow-travellers and a coterie of accomplished economists on its website who came up with a recipe of ideas on how to pay for it all. And when it was posted online they did so in 12 languages!

Notley opposed Leap Manifesto

But all that was in sharp contrast to a rousing speech by Notley on Saturday against the Leap, which according to a Tyee report was quite well-received by delegates and was acknowledged by Mulcair.

"I am asking you to leave here more persuaded than perhaps some of us have been that it is possible for Canada to have a forestry industry, an agriculture industry, a mining industry and -- yes -- an energy industry... while being world leaders on the environment," said Notley, suggesting Alberta's path could be an example of a pragmatic, progressive route the federal party could follow in the future.

But when Notley said Alberta still needs new pipeline construction projects now in order to get its energy products sold at fair market value only about half of the delegates stood and applauded and the other half sat even though she had explained that tens of thousands of jobs are at stake as well as government revenues needed to pay for health and social programs.

When Vancouver Sun columnist Vaughn Palmer visited Jon McComb on CKNW this morning (April 11 6:45 a.m.) he mentioned that the problem is so serious that it might force the Alberta New Democratic Party to separate itself from the federal version, which is quite drastic but telling of how serious it is.

Michael Campbell's commentary this morning (April 11 8:25 a.m. on CKNW) also was on that conundrum and it was devastating against the folly of the majority of federal New Democrats who apparently want to shut down Alberta's energy industry for the sake of political optics and dubious climate science. His remarks can be heard here . But the gist is that most New Democrats are clueless about the financial and economic realities of it all.

However many New Democrats and other climate zealots such as in the Green Party probably will be willfully oblivious to such logic, perhaps some inclined to dismiss it as merely the blatherings of Gordon Campbell's biased brother.

But it's obvious that in this case - the NDP's energy policy - Michael Campbell is correct, and a series of disastrous election losses prove it, certainly including the Adrian Dix NDP loss in B.C. in 2013 (he weathervaned for and then against oil tankers), maybe a factor in the recent Saskatchewan NDP loss, and probably a goodly part of the federal NDP's loss under Mulcair in 2015. Perhaps also somewhat in Ontario, the Maritimes and maybe coming soon in Manitoba.

Late insert: B.C. NDP leader John Horgan has come out against the Leap Manifesto; see Globe and Mail report from April 11 here

The always-bang-on Bill Tieleman took a similar tack in his analysis in the Tyee, viewable here .

In the Times-Colonist, columnist Lawrie McFarlane surmised that the federal NDP is taking a huge leap off a bridge here and Les Leyne said the NDP is headed to a permanent third place here while reporter Cindy E. Harnett surveyed the reactions of Horgan and other Island New Democrats here

Climate alarmism is exaggerated in Canada

Why the New Democrats want to climb aboard the Climate Alarm Train is weird, especially when they profess to want to win elections, but also because the supposed science of global warming and climate change is far from being settled despite what some other zealots claim and proclaim.

First, there are few if any really serious climate crisises in Canada though there have been some manageable shifts needed, such as better forest fire suppression in B.C. recently, and plans to raise some dykes around Richmond even though sea levels have not yet risen anywhere near to what the alarmists warned of, and maybe some ocean acidification, but Tuvalu is still there, and winter Arctic ice is still impenetrable, and B.C.'s ski hills just had a great season, and the water reservoirs are mostly full.

Which is not to say there haven't been any environmental problems in Canada because there have been, perhaps most notably how under-regulated fracking and general oil and gas drilling has polluted the groundwater in thousands of Alberta wells, and the similar pollution of drinking water around the tar sands, as well as Alberta's heavy (but not really damaging) emissions of CO2 from thermal power plants.

But energy is a complex and highly variable industry from dirty to clean coal, undisposable nuclear fuel, abundant natural gas, too much diesel used in remote communities, a gamut of petroleum grades and B.C.'s remarkably clean and renewable hydro-electric power, not to mention IPPs, solar, thermal, tidal and more.

While zealots may like a one-size-fits-all approach, the reality is that climate conditions can vary by location, situation, season and year, such as Australia being drier some years, the Arctic Ocean being more or less passable in different years, the El Nino and Blob effects being more or less pronounced, and all such variables being subject to irregular cycles related to a great many factors such as solar flares, the variations in Earth's orbit and tilt and lunar effects and factors science is only now discovering (such as a new discovery that there is a big valley on the surface of the sun, which appears to affect flaring).

Meanwhile the human impacts are variously exaggerated both under and over but the climate alarmists' general allegation that there has been too much increase in carbon dioxide emissions is patent nonsense if or when one realizes that it's still miniscule at only 0.04% of the atmosphere (up roughly 0.01% since the industrial revolution), and only about half of that comes from human activities, it's far less than has been the case in previous eons, it has some positive effects too (it's good for plants, and a bit of warmth helps in cold countries like Canada), and CO2 is not the main culprit in greenhouse-gas caused global warming (it's methane).

Local climate issues do need action

However there are some local climate situations that do demand a more urgent approach, such as reducing Beijing's over-dependence on dirty coal for both heating and cooking, which at some times of year requires drastic shutdowns of commerce, and Los Angeles and other large cities in the U.S. would noticeably improve their air quality if/when there was/is more use of electric cars and less use of thermal power.

In fact Vancouver is a good example of that because on a few days in summer the upper Fraser Valley has problems with inversions concentrating Vancouver's various emissions but most of the time there is no problem whatsoever yet the B.C. government and B.C. Hydro are still planning to shut down the gas-fired Burrard Generating Station in Burnaby for the sake of political appearances even though it provides an essential backup service to the whole provincial grid. Which would be irresponsible folly.

But then there is Rio de Janeiro's huge problem with untreated sewage, which has little climate effect, but is disgusting and dangerous to health. And then there is Victoria's modest discharges of screened and pre-screened sewage far out into a salt-water tide rip that has no health and climate impacts but still for the sake of optics cause the taxpayers to pay about $1 billion for a superfluous costly tertiary treatment system.

My point is that climate politics like many other environmental and economic issues is an area that needs to be treated with care and caution, not emotion and idealism, but the federal NDP and the B.C. NDP as well as the federal and provincial Green parties seem to have many members who believe as Mulcair claimed that urgent action against climate change should be the dominant issue now.

Furthermore, if or when there are some climate issues that need to be addressed, such as say converting remote aboriginal villages from diesel power to clean renewable sources (such as Hartley Bay on B.C.'s coast as reported recently by the Victoria Times-Colonist), then those situations need to be addressed within a proper balance of all other problems.

For example, Vancouver's iconic Bruce Allen on CKNW this morning noted that the world has a huge problem handling the trillions of non-recyclable cigarette butts now polluting cities all over the world, but little or nothing is being done about it.

In fact there are a great many threats facing Canada and the world now but few of them are appreciated yet and fewer still are being addressed, while many issues that aren't really problems are getting huge subsidies from governments and businesses to work away on.

Stephen Lewis gives policy recipe

An excellent survey of those problems was given somewhat ironically at the same federal NDP convention by Stephen Lewis (Avi's father), who used his extensive experience in global problems via the United Nations to give delegates of sort of Top Six list, in a speech transcript available here .

Stephen Lewis said he was ebulliently optimistic because of progress being made by and for feminism and electoral reform, he opposed Bill C-51 (about a security clampdown), supported universal health care, cautioned against international trade agreements in general and the Trans Pacific Partnership in particular (because it would kill too many North American jobs for the benefit of corporate profits) and he railed against arms sales (especially Canada's recent sales to Saudi Arabia), among other such topics.

In fact his elocution was so wise and learned that afterwards I suggested via Twitter that he (Stephen) should consider running to succeed Mulcair as leader, but only if he toned down the supposed urgency of addressing climate change and instead merely phase in the reforms in a more orderly manner (i.e. not throwing tens of thousands of Albertans out of work).

I have had no reply yet to that suggestion but it wasn't tongue-in-cheek because Lewis clearly has gained a rare awareness of social, political and economic conditions around the world and the New Democrats easily could do far worse, and probably will.

U.S. preparing to bomb in Syria

Meanwhile we see the little-noticed news that the U.S. is sending B-52 bombers to Qatar apparently in preparation for a massive bombing campaign against ISIS in Iraq and Syria, which move follows a recent warning to Americans in Damascus that they should leave the city as soon as possible.

Do you understand the significance of that? Few do, yet, but it portends a possible fulfillment of the Bible prophecy in Isaiah 17 that predicts Damascus will become "a ruinous heap".

Some parts of Damascus already are rubble but some are not but if or when it is demolished then it will be yet another sign that the dreaded World War 3 also known as Armageddon will soon be here and our focus on false problems like carbon emissions in Canada will be seen as the folly they really are, and maybe then mankind will turn to addressing the needs for mass improvements in how humans relate to each other.

It's a question of balance and perspective; yes carbon pollution should be abated, but so should taxes on health care, and carbon taxes on low-income families and schools and hospitals, and subsidies to frackers and so many other false economies.

And instead we need electoral reform, food production closer to home, a revived Bank of B.C. with its own new parallel currency, a new clean-fuel ferry from Gabriola to YVR, a universal income plan, universal child care and so many other good things such as outlined in Guy Dauncey's book Journey to the Future which envisions numerous transitions to a greener and more sustainable economy ( more info here ).

The point is that many things could and should be done to make things better in Canada but will the federal New Democrats learn how to do that? Probably not, though now with Mulcair departing there is at least an open door to sunnier ways and sunny days.


By the way on the weekend I Tweeted that one of the NDP's problems was that it has too much of a polyglot problem; I meant that as both metaphorically and literally but I did so BEFORE I noticed that the Leap Manifesto had been posted in 12 languages!
Here's what I posted: NDP has become a polyglot potpourri of diverse single-issue special interests, not a unified movement for socio-pol change


Tyee summary of NDP convention
Tyee summary

Notley defends pipelining
Notley defends

As New Democrat leader Tom Mulcair faces a leadership review at the party's convention this weekend, his biggest competition may be the premier of the host province.
Alberta Premier Rachel Notley's speech to convention Saturday galvanized a contingent of western New Democrats, making the case that it's possible to have a thriving energy sector while also taking a progressive approach to climate change.
And she made a plea to New Democrats across the country not to turn their backs on her province's energy industry.
"I am asking you to leave here more persuaded than perhaps some of us have been that it is possible for Canada to have a forestry industry, an agriculture industry, a mining industry and -- yes -- an energy industry... while being world leaders on the environment," Notley said.
It was a rousing speech that echoed the energy of Notley's momentous May 2015 win, and a change of pace following a number of sombre and reflective sessions earlier in the weekend on the party's dismal 2015 federal election results.
In her speech, Notley framed Alberta as an example of a pragmatic, progressive route the federal party could follow in the future.
She said the Alberta New Democrats campaigned on a progressive platform and then implemented it after being elected, listing off the change from a flat tax to progressive, the removal of corporate party donations, and the investment of $34 billion into infrastructure.
She reaffirmed her commitment to implementing a $15 minimum wage and her dedication to public services, health care and education by removing the $1.5 billion in cutbacks the Conservatives had planned in the wake of a low price of oil.
But the speech also delineated some clear tensions and challenges for the federal NDP ahead.
"In electing a progressive NDP government last spring, the people of Alberta took away one of your favourite enemies," Notley said. "There's no climate-change denying, science-muzzling, regressive Tory government here anymore."
A difficult debate
The party is now caught in a difficult debate over the energy sector and progressive climate solutions, with the presence of 350 Alberta delegates at convention and a vocal provincial New Democrat government caught with unemployed Albertans in the resource sector.

The challenge was demonstrated in the divided reaction from delegates when Notley uttered one word: pipelines.
As the premier made her argument that her province needs pipeline construction to put hard-luck Albertans back to work, around half the delegates opted to sit, while others stood in applause.
It's a debate that has snaked its way into this convention held in the heartland of Canada's resource sector. Tomorrow, delegates will face the question of if and how to support the Leap Manifesto, a sweeping strategy for climate action that Environment Minister Shannon Phillips on Friday called a "betrayal" of Albertans who voted for Notley's New Democrats.
The difficult situation that Alberta's NDP government faces -- 60,000 people laid off in the resource sector in 2015, coupled with pressure to implement climate change solutions -- came as a surprise to some delegates from across the country.
"As an Ontarian, coming here and learning more about what's going on here in the prairies has been beneficial," said Ben Diaz, a delegate from Ottawa.
Diaz said conversations with prairie representatives on how the question of LEAP affects the Notley government has given him pause on the manifesto he was ready to support.
"What happened here with now Premier Notley has given the party an opportunity to reflect on the prairies and how they fit in the larger party, and the voice they have on some of our policies," Diaz said.
Deputy Premier Sarah Hoffman said she's hopeful the convention will show delegates the challenges that the Notley government faces, and said that Edmonton is a good place to host these discussions.
"People east of Ontario don't necessarily hear what we're doing out here in Alberta," Hoffman said. "Hopefully the 4.4 million people here are a little less strange" to New Democrats across Canada, she said

    Misc Tweets

  1. John Twigg Retweeted Michael Geoghegan
    good analysis but it omitted sevral other key factions in divisive espy feminists, LGBTQ, pot legalizers, labor
    John Twigg added,

  2. pays price for weak campaign platform due to his failing to control single-issue activists and alarmists inside
  3. John Twigg Retweeted James Laxer
    This is a good sign that populist anger vs rich-get-richer cld soon be felt at ballot boxes all over the world
    John Twigg added,

  4. In reply to
    Oh no! Didnt you hear et al say that is the most urgent issue now in

you shld consider running for leader but only if you tone down climate alarmism, phase in yes mad panic no

CBCTV just showed images of massive "hole" in surface of sun; another new proof that "solar variation" cld be main factor in ?

More Tweets viewable via @TwiggJohn

Feedback welcome at

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Panama Papers DT16-020

Panama Papers prove inequalities

are a worsening global problem


By John Twigg

These are dark days we are into now, and they're probably going to get darker.

The latest proof of that is the so-called Panama Papers, which prove beyond a shadow of doubt that many very wealthy and influential political leaders and many corrupt business people and even criminals have been routinely hiding billions or maybe trillions of dollars worth of cash and securities in various tax havens, some of it legal but immoral and hypocritical, and some of it illegal tax-dodging and criminal money-laundering.

The leak to journalists by unidentified sources of millions of pages of confidential documents from a heretofore obscure law firm in Panama (Mossack Fonseca) was quickly called "the biggest leak in the history of data journalism" by Wikileaker Edward Snowden whose 2013 dump of damning documents from the U.S. National Security Agency was the previous champion leak (see biography on Wikipedia).

Why is that Panama leak a new proof of a darkening cloud in world affairs? Wouldn't its rays of sunshine be something to celebrate? Well no, because the incident reveals there has been and still is a great deal of corruption and deceit and hypocrisy among the very wealthiest elites in the world and that now-more-obvious truth will surely feed an even greater backlash against those elites than the ones we have already been seeing in various global movements and especially in the U.S. Presidential campaigns of Republican hopeful Donald Trump and Democrat Bernie Sanders, both of whom have been attacking the excessive self-serving actions of Wall Street corporate insiders and gaining votes by doing so.

Interestingly, Sanders had warned against Panama specifically back in 2011, as seen in the Tweet of a link to a video about the Panama fiasco and some Canadians such as Green Party leader Elizabeth May did so too (more below).

Leaks prove elites' corruption is widespread

Whereas Snowden's information proved that the United States government and its Five Eyes partners were routinely spying on all citizens, which ranges from defensible through questionable to plain wrong depending on the circumstances, the Panama Papers instead prove there was widespread willful wrongdoing by hypocritical leaders whose apparent tax evasions have deprived their home governments of huge sums of much-needed revenue.

“This is not just about a few names, a few individuals. It’s about a system. It’s about how the wealthy and powerful use the offshore system,” said Michael Hudson, senior editor at the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), which published the documents.

The team of about a dozen staffers soon learned the papers shed light on an underground economy in which powerful people were hiding cash in offshore havens around the world, so they enlisted the help of more than 370 journalists in more than 70 countries from more than 100 news organizations to dig through the data, and used a double-password and encrypted website to share documents and discuss findings.

The information about a few world leaders that was leaked Sunday is only the beginning of what insiders say will be hundreds more examples of corruption and hypocrisy to be revealed in coming weeks and months including about some 300 Canadians now being researched by the CBC, which was an early participant in a long-clandestine exercise in investigative journalism, and apparently various taxation bodies including the Canada Revenue Agency also will be beginning probes.

Tax havens found around world

And Panama is only one of dozens or even hundreds of such tax havens around the world, many of them very old and established (e.g. Switzerland, British Virgin Islands) and many of them new and edgy or iffy, such as Panama, also known as a key conduit for cocaine and maybe other drugs and drug money from Colombia. (For a profile of such tax havens, see this Google search here .)

The Panama Papers quickly caused the resignation of Iceland's embattled prime minister, Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson, after it became apparent he had negotiated a government bailout of a bank while secretly owning shares in it, but there probably will be many more casualties, perhaps even British Prime Minister David Cameron whose family was found in the papers to have holdings in tax havens run through Panama though Cameron said he personally did not have any such holdings.

While it should be acknowledged that shell companies and holding companies can be quite legal and acceptable, such as used by soccer star Lionel Messi, the new leaks reveal that many of the users of such funds involve corrupt people hiding money away from their governments' reaches, and that's a big problem for the world going forward.

Leaks could influence Brexit vote

The case of the United Kingdom is especially relevant in part because PM Cameron is trying to persuade citizens to vote to stay in the European Union in a referendum scheduled for June (also known as Brexit) but now his already-dubious credibility has been further weakened and the voices of populist pro-exit leaders have been strengthened, which could destabilize world affairs and restructure who really runs Europe.

But much more than that is involved, especially that the Panama Papers example could fuel renewed calls to break down the so-called City of London which is a tax-free and under-regulated business district whose controversial autonomy goes back centuries and whose denizens have long been suspected of corruption. (see copy of profile at link above and bottom of this essay)

That is more or less what the website on April 5 alleged are sordid betting games engaged in by members of White's Club inside the City and probably by other old-money interests in London and from around the world:

.      Abel Danger (AD) claims that the late Ian (‘Panama Papa’) Cameron taught his son David Cameron how to run a tax-haven money-laundering service by providing death-pool bettors with the future times of death of victims or the weight of carbon to be saved at mass-casualty events.
2.      AD alleges that in 1994, Ian Cameron – the former Chairman of White’s Club – ordered his son to leave Treasury and help Serco sell NPL cesium-fountain clock data on snuff-film or mass-casualty events to shareholders including Saudi Arabia and the Cameron drug-hub banker, HSBC.
3.      AD claims that White’s uses Serco-mentored 8(a) clocks and Clinton Foundation's donors including the government of Saudi Arabia, as a “cut out” death-pool bookmaker to spot-fix the times and weight of carbon saved at mass-casualty events and attribute attacks to ISIS.

Snowden briefed SFU event

Coincidentally Snowden on Tuesday told a public meeting in Vancouver (done by Skype from Russia) that the key point in the Panama leaks is that they reveal a culture of corruption among world leaders. He participated in a 90-minute question-and-answer public meeting with a full audience in Vancouver's Queen Elizabeth Theatre which was organized and also video-streamed by Simon Fraser University's Public Square program ( info here ) with the support of  SFU president Andrew Petter.

A similar theme was seen in remarks by SFU professor Lindsay Meredith on GlobalBC TV Tuesday morning ( viewable here ), predicting that "things are going to heat up a whole bunch" and noting that the Panama case "is the tip of an iceberg" and that the problem is ubiquitous.

"We're in a new trend of looking for jurisdictions where the 1% can hide money," said Meredith, an economist who frequently is quoted by Vancouver media, explaining that such people sometimes will hide money behind a double firewall, meaning that an account in Panama could lead to another one in BVI.

Meredith also mocked the efforts of the Canada Revenue Agency, alleging the way it tracks down tax avoidance has become a joke after its staff was gutted by the Harper Conservatives a few years ago.

Name withheld of offending bank

That ties in with news that FINTRAC, the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada, had just levied its first fine in 16 years against a Canadian bank, which it did not identify, for failing to report suspicious transactions; it levied a $1.1-million penalty for failing to report a suspicious transaction and various money transfers.

Though that was billed as a warning to thousands of other businesses to be more vigilant against cash flows possibly linked to terrorism, money laundering and other crimes, the failure to even name the institution raises the question of just who is being protected and suggests the government realizes that naming participants might also encourage even fewer voluntary disclosures from banks, insurance companies, securities dealers, money service businesses, real estate brokers, casinos and others under the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act.
“The reporting to us is absolutely critical. Without those reports, Fintrac is out of business,” spokesman Darren Gibb told the media on Tuesday, promising that FINTRAC will be extra-diligent going forward.

Backlashes of Biblical proportions?

There is more good background below, generally showing that this problem is not new, but what IS new is the proof that such tax avoidance is both real and widespread, and the backlashes against the wealthy could be vicious and eventually cause wealthy people to throw their gold and silver into the streets and thereby fullfil Bible prophecies in Lamentations 4:1, Ezekiel 7:19, Zephaniah 1:18, Zechariah 9:3 and James 5:3.

As a longtime Bible student I had often wondered how such dire circumstances would come about and I presumed it would be because all forms of money would become worthless in a post-apocalypse world but now I realize it may become a defensive tactic by the rich to rid themselves of things sought by marauding hordes and thereby maybe save their own lives rather than die trying to protect their hoarded wealth.

Would mobs of starving humans really become so animalistic? Maybe so, judging from a Tweet posted by Vancouver Sun religions writer Doug Todd noting that a survey done for The Association of Religion Data Archives or @ReligionData found that "Nearly two-thirds of Americans say exists because it benefits the rich and powerful."

In other words, many ordinary people were already angry at the way the rich have been arranging things so they could keep getting richer while the rest struggle ever harder and now the Panama Papers probably will increase their anger.

Solution seen in creation of money

So what should be done instead?

Senator Bernie Sanders recently Tweeted that "Americans deserve a Federal Reserve that works for the middle class. To get there, we must close the Wall Street-Washington revolving door." and while probably that would be helpful I don't think it addresses the root of the problem, namely that it wouldn't break the big-banks-and-old-money monopoly on the creation of currency, but that could be done in America by restoring the power of Congress to issue currency outside of the bankster-owned Federal Reserve system - something that President Jack Kennedy was in the process of doing until he was assassinated in Dallas.

Canada interestingly is one of the very few nations in the world not controlled by the global banking cartel, because the Bank of Canada has the power to issue currency - except that former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau agreed under pressure from those banks in about 1974 to cease issuing fiat currency and instead join the club of nations buying their money and their bonds from private-sector money-lenders and money creators.

Justin Trudeau eyes new bank for infrastrucure

That sounds like a simple enough fix but history teaches that anyone daring to challenge the global money cartel soon gives up or comes to a bitter end. Nonetheless Prime Minister Justin Trudeau - Pierre's son! - has been openly musing about reversing his father's mistake, perhaps initially by empowering the Bank of Canada to finance new infrastructure projects, which would be a great start and a good thing.

And British Columbia on its own account could do a similar thing by reviving the Bank of B.C. and empowering it to issue a new parallel currency, which is something I have been advocating for years but which no political parties so far have had the courage to adopt.

Perhaps some readers still here this far will still be skeptical of such seemingly outlandish claims but really it shouldn't seem strange because it is a very old problem that goes back hundreds and thousands of years, past the British imperialists selling drugs in Hong Kong and Shanghai in the 1800s and all the way back to Jesus overturning the tables of the money-changers in the Jerusalem temple about 2000 years ago, as reported in Matthew 21:12, Mark 11:15 and John 2:15.

In fact the charging of interest or usury is anathema in The Bible, at least for lending between Israelites, as seen in Exodus 22:25, Lev. 25:35-37, Deut. 23:19-20, Psalm 112:5, Ezek. 18:8, Matt. 5:42 and Luke 6:34-38. But nowadays excessive interest costs are ubiquitous, the anger of the payers is rising and now they have the Panama Papers to prove that the problem is vile and wrong.

Below is more background on this general theme:

comments welcome below or in feedback to


Panama Papers Foretold

By Crawford Killian on The Tyee April 5

But why bother to buy a scrapbook of ancient columns when you can read Capital in the Twenty-First Century? For one very good reason.
Because Thomas Piketty follows the money. He goes into the tax archives of the last two centuries, and he has become the greatest economic detective the world has ever known. He has tracked the wealth of the rentier class since Napoleon -- the families of the "independently wealthy" who live off the income paid them because they own moneymaking enterprises and land.
In one column, published five years ago on April 5, 2011, Piketty offers what is almost a throw-away line: "... at the world level, the net financial position is negative over-all, which is logically impossible unless we assume that on average we're owned by the planet Mars. More likely, this contradiction suggests that a nonnegligible share of financial assets held in tax havens and by nonresidents is not correctly reported as such."
In other words, every country in the world is losing money, and therefore losing tax revenue. The implication is that every country is making up for the loss either by taxing its poorer residents more than they should be, or by cutting social services.
Five years later, almost to the day, the Guardian and the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung broke a major global scandal: the Panama Papers.

Full article )


By Don Melvin on CNN

There may be one more victim of the Panama Papers scandal -- the old order. Politicians like Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn in the UK, and the U.S. presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, among others, have been telling receptive audiences that the system is rigged. It favors the wealthy, they say.
The message is that what the wealthy are doing is not illegal, but it should be.
And it appears that the body politic, or a significant portion of it, is boiling mad. Hearing that many rich people take advantage of legal tax avoidance techniques that are not available to the hoi polloi may not sit well
If the revelations appear to confirm that the system is rigged, that it unfairly benefits the wealthy, that anger could grow and the numbers of disenchanted voters could increase.
The Independent newspaper in Britain ran an article Tuesday headlined, "The Panama Papers could hand Bernie Sanders the keys to the White House."
That may seem fanciful, and Sanders is still a mighty long way from the Oval Office.
But the larger point is well taken: At least some people these days are fed up with the old order. And these revelations will not make them any happier.


From the BBC April 5:

The fallout starts: Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson is this the first of many?

Icelandic Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson resigned on Tuesday. Gunnlaugsson had been under pressure to step down since leaked documents hacked from a Panamanian law firm revealed his links to an offshore company, triggering protests.
Now the question who's is next? How far will the damage spread?
The answer could be, quite far. This is the biggest leak in history -- one that dwarfs the amount of data released by Wikileaks in 2010. Reports say that 12 current or former heads of state are mentioned.
The more than 11 million documents, which date back four decades, are allegedly connected to Panama law firm Mossack Fonseca. The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists reports that the law firm helped establish secret shell companies and offshore accounts for global power players.
A second question is to what extent, in an era of rising middle-class discontent, this will fuel further anger among those who see themselves as carrying a disproportionate share of the burden in supporting a system that seems to them unfair.
Among those who could be affected:

British Prime Minister David Cameron

Cameron is already in a bit of trouble. His gambit about guaranteeing a referendum in which voters could choose to leave the European Union has split his Conservative Party, and he may yet wind up on the losing side of that vote.
And, in an ea of slim budgets and calls for ordinary people to tighten their belts, he is viewed by some as posh and privileged.
Now come reports that, according to the ICIJ, Cameron's late father, Ian, used the services of the Mossack Fonseca law firm to avoid having his investment fund, Blairmore Holdings Inc., pay any UK taxes.
For a leader who has called on ordinary people to tighten their belts because government does not have the tax revenue delivery everything it used to, the revelation -- while not including any allegation of wrongdoing by the Prime Minister -- is unwelcome, to say the least.
When asked about the reports, the Prime Minister said, "I own no shares, no offshore trusts, no offshore funds, nothing like that. And so that, I think, is a very clear description."

Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko

According to the ICIJ, in August 2014, as Russian troops were rolling into Eastern Ukraine, Poroshenko became the sole shareholder of Prime Asset Partners Limited, which Mossack Fonseca set up in the British Virgin Islands.
A Cyprus law firm representing the newly acquired company described it as a "holding company of Cyprus and Ukrainian companies of the Roshen Group, one of the largest European manufacturers of confectionery products."
The previous president, Viktor Yanukovych, was reviled for having used government money to build a palace on 350 acres or riverfront land, complete with a shooting range, an equestrian venue, a tennis court, and a pier for yachts.
The problem for Poroshenko potentially hiding his holdings and avoiding taxes -- even if he did so legally -- is that when you replace a kleptocrat you are supposed to be a man of the people.
Besides, Ukraine needs tax revenue; the country is perpetually asking other countries for financial help.
A spokesman for Poroshenko said that creation of the trust and related corporate structures had no relation to political and military events in Ukraine.

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif

Three of the Prime Minister's children have been named in the documents as linked to offshore companies that owned properties in London, according to local news organizations.
Some opposition leaders have called for Sharif to be investigated regardiing his family's "wealth stashed abroad." The Pakistani newspaper The News has reported that Sharif's sons Hussain and Hasan, and his daughter Maryam, were linked to several offshore companies.
Hussain has said all the business affairs were legal.
But legality may not be the point. For the leader of a country where the average income is less than $5,000 a year -- a country that badly needs inward investment -- having money stashed abroad probably sends the wrong signal.

Russian President Vladimir Putin

The Guardian newspaper in Britain is reporting that "a network of secret offshore deals and vast loans worth $2 billion has laid a trail to Russia's president, Vladimir Putin."
Although Putin's name is not specifically mentioned, allegedly involved are many members of his inner circle, who have become, the Guardian said, "fabulously wealthy." And the documents suggest that the Putin's family has benefited, the newspaper reported.
So is Putin in trouble? You must be kidding. He is exception that proves the rule.
The all-purpose, and generally effective, response has already be trotted out: The Kremlin called the allegations "a series of fibs" aimed at discrediting Putin ahead of elections.
"Putin, Russia, our country, our stability and the upcoming elections are the main target, specifically to destabilize the situation," said a Kremlin spokesman, claiming many of the journalists involved in combing through the Panama Papers are former officers from the U.S. State Department, the CIA and special services.

Celebrities, movie stars and sports heroes

Those caught up in the controversy include not only politicians but film and sports stars, as well. Among those mentioned are soccer star Lionel Messi, according to reports.
The European football club Barcelona has promised to give Messi legal and financial support as the Argentine international star considers whether to sue over the leak.
But here -- more than for politicians -- the idea that nothing illegal has been done may save the day. Politicians owe their countries. They ask sacrifices of their citizens.
Star athletes over the years have frequently declared themselves residents of tax havens, without losing any popularity.
Many tennis luminaries, for example, have declared themselves residents of Monaco. One cannot help but wonder whether Monaco's lack of an income tax plays a role.
Still, the high incomes of top actors and sports starts are essentially a transfer of wealth from from people of generally modest means, who buy tickets or products endorsed by the stars, to people who are in general wealthier than they are. It remains to be seen how much patience the public will have for financial shenanigans, even legal ones.

The old order

There may be one more victim of the Panama Papers scandal -- the old order. Politicians like Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn in the UK, and the U.S. presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, among others, have been telling receptive audiences that the system is rigged. It favors the wealthy, they say.
The message is that what the wealthy are doing is not illegal, but it should be.
And it appears that the body politic, or a significant portion of it, is boiling mad. Hearing that many rich people take advantage of legal tax avoidance techniques that are not available to the hoi polloi may not sit well
If the revelations appear to confirm that the system is rigged, that it unfairly benefits the wealthy, that anger could grow and the numbers of disenchanted voters could increase.
The Independent newspaper in Britain ran an article Tuesday headlined, "The Panama Papers could hand Bernie Sanders the keys to the White House."
That may seem fanciful, and Sanders is still a mighty long way from the Oval Office.
But the larger point is well taken: At least some people these days are fed up with the old order. And these revelations will not make them any happier.


21m21 minutes ago
revelations have only just begun, investigative editor says


33m33 minutes ago
Why Are We Letting Tax Cheats Rob Canada?

"Offshore and taxation lobby is the most powerful in this country”:

  1. Chris Aikman Retweeted Green Party Canada
    Also Elzabeth May's warning:
    Chris Aikman added,


Money Laundering and the City of London’s “Crime Scene”: Haven of Tax Havens for the Mega-Wealthy
First published in March 2016
When it comes to The City of London, the term ‘tax haven’ is not describing all that it should. It doesn’t just shield the mega-wealthy from paying their fair dues it goes further and offers a departure from the rule of law as you would know it. Secrecy is its raison d’être. These secrecy laws do not benefit the local people living in its jurisdiction but only those individuals and corporations with enough money and with something to hide.
The reality is that the City of London caters for those above the law, it operates on the basis of bypassing democratic society as a whole. This has come about over time where an extraordinary ‘gentlemens agreement’ has stood the test of time. The head of state and his/her governments have the need of large loans for wars and the like, the City, in exchange for such commodity has extracted certain privileges the rest of the population do not enjoy. The end result over the centuries is that it now has its own financial jurisdiction to do pretty much as it pleases.

A ‘watchman’ sits at the high table of parliament and is its official lobbyist sitting in seat of power right next to the Speaker of the House who is “charged with maintaining and enhancing the City’s status and ensuring that its established rights are safeguarded.” The job is to maintain order and seek out political dissent against the City.
The City of London has its own private funding and will ‘buy-off’ any attempt to erode its powers; any scrutiny of its financial affairs are put beyond external inspection or audit.
For over a hundred years the Labour party tried in vain to abolish the City of London and its accompanying financial corruption. In 1917, Labour’s new rising star Herbert Morrison, the grandfather of Peter Mandelson made a stand and failed, calling it the “devilry of modern finance.” And although attempt after attempt was made throughout the following decades, it was Margaret Thatcher who succeeded by abolishing its opponent, the Greater London Council in 1986.
Tony Blair went about it another way and offered to reform the City of London in what turned out to be a gift from god. He effectively gave the vote to corporations which swayed the balance of democratic power away from residents and workers. It was received by its opponents as the greatest retrograde step since the peace treaty of 1215, Magna Carta. The City won its rights through debt financing in 1067, when William the Conqueror acceded to it and ever since, governments have allowed the continuation of its ancient rights above all others.
The City effectively now stands as money launderer of the world, the capital of global crime. It is the heart and engine of the offshore haven, with Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man its european collection centres, the caribbean and others hoovering up billions of American dollars from all over the globe. Whilst there are good and legal reasons for offshore accounts, It has a dark and shadowy client list; terrorists, drug barons, arms dealers, politicians, corporations and companies, millionaires, billionaires  – most with something to hide.
The Independent newspaper reported last July that The City of London is the money-laundering centre of the world’s drug trade, according to an internationally acclaimed crime expert. In addition, every notable financial expert now agrees that due to incredibly lax financial laws by the British government, the London property market is built largely on the laundered money of crime from all over the world involving hidden tax havens, most of which are British.
Her Majesty’s British Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies make up around 25 per cent of the world’s tax havens, which are now blacklisted by the European Commission and now ranked as the most important player in the financial secrecy world.
Tax havens featured on the EC’s blacklist of June last year include Anguilla, Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, Montserrat and the Turks and Caicos Islands to name just a few and each is inextricably linked to the City of London’s crime offices.
The consequence of its operations is that money laundering is now at such levels and so widespread that the authorities have recently admitted defeat in its battle of attrition by stating openly it has been completely overwhelmed and lost control. Keith Bristow Director-General of the UK’s National Crime Agency said just six months ago that the sheer scale of crime and its subsequent money laundering operations was “a strategic threat” to the country’s economy and reputation and that “high-end money laundering is a major risk”.
In the meantime, the City of London remains politically immune and acts with criminal impunity as it sucks up what is now understood to be trillions in illicit and ill-gotten gains. Bankers and hedge-fund operators dodge the authorities with particular skill sets honed over a millennia, especially HMRC.
It is of no coincidence that this small area of britian, just 1.2 square miles has the highest pay in the land and the third lowest council tax for property anywhere in the United Kingdom. A £20 million mansion costs less than £1,000 a year in council tax.
At the last census, its population stood at just 7,325, its employees stand at 414,600, nearly 40 per cent of them in financial services. Nearly 17,000 businesses are registered there, 2,700 are finance and insurance based and just over 45 per cent are foreign owned entities. HSBC’s organisation is the ninth largest bank in the world following four Chinese and four American banks located down the road in Canary Wharf.
This tiny island haven, with its own borders and police force sits within the Isles of Britain as an international hub, the tax haven of all tax havens. Make no mistake, the banks use offshore business organisations to escape regulation and the grip these organisations have over an ever weakened and corrupt political class is utterly astounding. The Conservative party is literally bankrolled by bankers and hedge funds. Half of the wealthiest hedge fund managers in the land pay millions each year to the Tories – what do they expect back from their investment? Perhaps the hundreds of millions of stamp duty exemptions and taxes hedge funds no longer have to pay. This is just the tip of the iceberg.
This is neoliberalism out of control. The legislators have capitulated to its power. Democracy is systematically deconstructed in favour of the corporations. In the legislators place, people powered organisations emerge such as Tax Justice Network, Democratic Audit, New Economics Foundation to name a few who operate in an arena of social justice in an attempt not to stifle capitalism, but to level the playing field a bit.
Graham Vanbergen