2016-12-24

Christmas Letter '16

Nadolig Llawen! Merry Christmas! Buon Natale!

Christmas 2016.

From our home to yours, dear Family and Friends,

Again it is our pleasure to share a little bit of our lives over the past year at this very special time of year.  We hope you enjoy a full and restful Christmas/New Year season.  2016 has been very much a typical year for us, happy with very ordinary challenges.

Tina continues to take casual shifts, nursing at VGH  while she enjoys her retirement.  She also keeps up her cello lessons at the Delta Community Music School under the tutelage of Bo Peng, accepting gradually increasingly more challenging music to learn.  Although Tina intended to resume taking harp instruction as well, that just did not work out again for this year; perhaps in the new year.

With exercise and prescribed medication, Ted's health continues as stable, with only occasional colds and a few dental issues.  He continues to alternate 3 days of swimming (2500 m. in roughly 50 min.) with 3 days of cycling (16.4 km. in roughly 50 min.), sometimes substituting a good stiff walk (a little over 4.3 km. in roughly 45 min.).  In addition, Ted often walks Adam once or twice a day, depending on Angela’s working and studio activities.  With stops for sniffing and other doggy business, these walks do not constitute measurable exercise but can take an hour or more each.

Angela and her friends in the Dusty Babes Collective continue to work in their studio in south Surrey near White Rock. She spends much of Tuesdays to Fridays with her own works at the studio.  Angela left her part-time work at Spawts last spring.  Instead she added another part time position as Monday ceramics studio technician for the South Surrey Recreation Centre to her Saturday ceramics studio technician work for Vancouver’s West End Community Centre.  Tina and Ted both remain in wonder at the beauty of Angela’s ceramic creations which range from hand crafted ceramic buttons through cups and bowls of various sizes and exquisitely delicate ceramic sculptures to large vases. The Dusty Babes had two exclusive gallery showings of their ceramic art works, the first, in July, was their Vanity Publishing show at the Pop Up Newton Gallery in Surrey’s Newton town centre. This show emphasized the Dusty Babes more artistic ceramic creativity and included Angela's “Wallflowers,” a collection imaginative decorative ceramic flower sculptures dispersed across one wall of the gallery. This month their Comfort Show at Pop-Up-Town Gallery in White Rock featured their more functional, pragmatic, ceramic works, all presented for public sale. Angela included beautiful vases, mugs, and bowls. Their open house in October give the public opportunity to see their works in progress within their various studio spaces. Now, the Dusty Babes look forward to fulfilling their invitation to show at the prestigious British Columbia Gallery of Ceramics not yet scheduled in the new year.

Outside of her art, Angela has developed a growing interest in sophisticated board games with which she shares with her girlfriend, Christie, and English as a Second Language teacher whom she met a year and a half ago.

David continues his musical studies as a founding student in the new strings music program within the Music Department of Kwantlen Polytechnic University, commuting to the Langley campus.  His focus remains on his viola, giving him great success while he really enjoys his studies.  The strings program remains very small which means that no large ensemble (required by the Kwantlen Music Department) exists, so the university continues to send him and the cello students to play with the Trinity Western University Orchestra. This should change with the new term in January as KPU anticipates having enough string students to put together their own, rather small, large ensemble. Kwantlen also requires music students to participate in small ensembles and we enjoyed the end-of-term recitals and concert performances by David's string quartet (David, the cello student, a flute student from Kwantlen Music's wind program and a piano student from Kwantlen Music’s piano program) in April and by his two trios (one with David, a cello student, and a piano student, the other with David, the same cello student, and a harp student) at the end of term this month.  Outside university, David continues with private study on his viola with Robert Hirschhorn Rozak.

Although studying music at Kwanten, David continues private study on piano, at the Delta Community Music school, in Garth Preston’s studio.  He also continued to play with the adult Richmond Orchestra for the first half of the year but decided to focus more on his KPU musical studies and did not return to the orchestra when it started preparing for it's new season in September. With the change in KPU’s large ensemble for strings scheduling, he anticipates being free to take his viola to play and perform with the Stradivari Ensemble in the New Year.  We had a surprise when we attended the Vancouver Welsh Mens’ Choir/Winter Harp Christmas concert as one of the choir members approached David to join the choir.  He excitedly looks forward to giving this a try when the VWMC resumes rehearsals with the New Year.

David continues to enjoy writing, especially fiction, with which he extends his imagination.  The novel, The Sheltered Life of Betsy Parker, that he published last year as a digital copy has drawn ongoing interest and responses on the GoodReads literary sharing site. David received sufficient feedback that he made some significant revisions to the novel and published a second addition, now available both digitally and as hardcopy on Amazon. David has also taken two the events in the novel and written piano tunes attached to those events, drawing interest from his instructors at KPU. In the same way, one of David's written assignments this past term drew such interest that his instructor passed the work on to David's Music Technology instructor for development into a musical project in the new term starting in January.

David’s ASD remains a significant factor in his life, limiting his social connection among his contemporaries and gave him a crisis mental health issue late last spring. His ASD specialist psychiatrist and our minister at Ladner United Church, together, give David wonderful support in response through that issue. Tina and I feel deeply thankful that David continued connection with his ASD specialist psychiatrist while he had no significant ASD issues for psychiatric attention. Dr. Bailey was thus able to respond promptly when this issue arose.

Other than a few quick trips to Vancouver Island, we did not take a get-away this year.  On one off those trips we enjoyed visiting with Ted’s former schoolmates, Dick and Lynn Zandee at their beautiful home in Duncan.

This year brought few life events for us to mark, the one of significance being that Ted joined all other first-year Baby Boomers in celebrating his seventieth birthday in March.  We shared an early "Christmas" as Ted’s brother Norman and his wife Barbara prepared to leave for Australia for a Christmas visit with their son Gareth and wife Zoë at the University of Melbourne where Gareth works on a post-doctoral fellowship studying the effects of artificial lighting on cricket and other insect populations.

Looking beyond ourselves, Ted grows increasingly concerned with the direction Canada’s new federal government takes: not enough of the promised “real change” and too much keeping the troubling policies of the previous government.  This applies most particularly to the approach to so-called free trade treaties that are more accurately characterized as corporate protection deals containing the sovereignty attacking ISDS provision. Ted has written open letters to our MP, the Prime Minister, and other appropriate Federal ministers and Opposition critics and copied them to his blog.  We also share a certain unease with many around us at the result of the Presidential election among our neighbours to the south.

We share many Canadian’s concern for the plight of the many refugees from that horrible civil war in Syria.  Our congregation at Ladner United Church participates with many others across the country and added a third refugee family whom, with the previous two, we participate in giving financial support as they settle into their new lives.

Catinka, in her seventeenth year, remains very much queen of our house, while Angela’s ducks continue to hold authority over our back yard.  Sadly, we lost Tango this past autumn. At fourteen and a half years of age, his moult in August took just too much out of the old boy.  He recovered his full plumage but was just not quite the same drake, moving delicately with elderly caution until the morning when we found he had passed in the night.   Jemima and Rebeccah resumed their egg production with the new year, less heavily than last year, then slowed and stopped completely when they moulted with the end of summer.  They have not yet resumed resumed laying again.  Adam, Angela’s red haired standard poodle, has settled in as very much a part of the family, continuing to endear himself to us all.  He has quite the collection of “friends” that he loves to greet and engage in play when out and about, his favourite game being “Chase Me,” running in great circles centred on the one of us who is out with him while his “friend” chases him along an inner circle.  To Adam’s dismay, many of his “friends” give up on this game as he runs too fast for them.

Ted continues to seek players to experiment with his invented team sports of Two Ball and Delta.  Lacking sufficient contact of his own among sports minded youth, he continues to approach schools as their Physical Education and intramural sport programs likely offer the best chance of drawing sufficiently large groups of players together.  This remains disappointing as no schools have taken up either game yet, advising that they are preoccupied with implementing new province-wide Physical Education curricula.  Ted also keeps up his web presence for the games, periodically posting to the site blog, and on Facebook.  These continue to catch some attention world-wide, but he still awaits word of anyone actually playing either game.  You are most welcome to have a look and draw the games to the attention of sport minded people you may know.

And now we look forward to 2017.  Recent weeks, of course, have filled us with Christmas preparations.  We hope yours have gone well and we wish you a Merry and Blessed Christmas and all happiness in the New Year.

With our love,
Ted, Tina, David, and Angela.

P. S. That this letter arrives on Christmas Eve is entirely deliberate.

Blwyddyn Newydd Dda!                                   Happy New Year! Felice Nuovo Anno!

2016-10-20

An Open Letter to My Prime Minister: CETA and other ISDS containing treaties

Dear Right Honourable Mr. Trudeau,

I am dismayed by the CBC News item last Thursday (2016, October 13) titled, "Justin Trudeau says CETA will test European Union's ‘usefulness.’”  As I contemplate this bit of news through the days following, I feel an increasing sense of distress that Canada's new government is prepared to follow the path set by our previous government in betraying Canada's sovereignty to Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) provisions in so-called trade agreements. This most certainly is not "Real Change" nor is it anything like ”Sunny Ways.”

In chiding European Union nations about hesitating to ratify the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) you reveal your intention that Canada should ratify this so-called free trade (but in reality, international corporate protection) agreement with its sovereignty deleting ISDS provision. This suggests to me that you also intend that Canada should ratify the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and continue to participate in Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), and the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA) secret negotiations, all of which include provisions for ISDS by which international corporations can turn to the International Centre for Settlement of Investor Disputes (ICSID) and sue Canada in SECRET TRIALS by tribunal outside of any national judiciary to overturn new law enacted out of our sovereign right to govern ourselves.

I write to call on our new government to reject these legacies of former Prime Minister, Steven Harper. They will block the “Real Change" for which Canadians voted. Canadians can do better than these dangerous, costly, and outdated bad deals that will kill jobs, undermine environmental protections, restrict free expression online, and, most seriously, erode our democratic rights, permitting international corporations to attack our sovereign right to govern ourselves. I was dismayed when Minister Freeland signed TPP on February 4th without the free and open consultation with Canadians you promised. On the other hand, although following the signing, I am thankful for the efforts of the House of Commons Standing Committee on International Trade to hear Canadians' thoughts; they have my submission.
During last Fall’s election, at the announcement of successfully completed TPP negotiations, no one within the Liberal Party of Canada raised Canada’s participation in this agreement with its sovereignty attacking ISDS provision as the fundamental issue it should have been. I really do not understand why our sovereignty did not take front and centre as THE issue through the election campaign. I asked my local candidates on more than one occasion to address the issue and subsequently also asked my new MP (to whom I could not give my vote in spite of her many other desirable and attractive qualities, as she would not address this critical issue), now one of your Cabinet Ministers. After all, if international corporations can sue Canada in SECRET when your new government takes action to correct the damage inflicted by the previous government, we will find ourselves impotent to act. Nobody has ever responded to my requests. I have no problem with free trade, as such and recognize the economic principle of comparative advantage; I do see that betraying Canada's sovereignty as entirely another matter.
Our previous government negotiated in secret, then signed CETA and secretly negotiated TPP which Minister Freeland has now signed. Both now await ratification. It had also signed other so-called free trade agreements, most notoriously they secretly negotiated, then signed, and eventually ratified the Canada-China Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPPA) which goes far beyond simply providing for freer trade but, in effect, diminishes Canada to a resource colony of the Communist dictatorship in Beijing for the next thirty years. With the inclusion of the ISDS provision, Chinese firms (which are merely arms of the Chinese Communist dictatorship) with investments in Canadian business now have the right to sue Canadian federal, provincial, and municipal governments in SECRET TRIALS if new environmental, labour, health and safety, business practice, etc. law impinges on their investment. That is to say, Canada now has to clear such new laws, regulations, and court judgments with Beijing in order to bring them into effect.
My understanding of the development process to produce these treaties and their ISDS provision content is that:
  • Negotiations towards these so-called free trade treaties are conducted in secret by government delegated negotiators, except that the only people outside of government who are granted access to Canada’s negotiators are representatives of international corporations, given equal standing at the negotiation table with nations and able to dictate provisions within the agreements, while the Canadian public remains completely uninformed of progress through these negotiations and that:
  1. wholly domestic Canadian businesses with an interest in how international trade may affect their own local business operations,
  2. organizations concerned about environmental issues and how international trade may impact the Canadian and worldwide environment,
  3. labour organizations with concerns about how international trade may affect working Canadians,
  4. Canadian agricultural organizations with concerns about Canadians’ capacity to feed ourselves while also trading internationally,
  5. organizations attentive to health and safety issues and concerned with the effect of international trade on those issues, and
  6. others with interest in the effect of international trade on Canadian society,
           all are prohibited the same access to Canada’s government trade negotiators;
  • Canada submitting to ICSID and its ISDS secret trials constitutes serious suborning of our sovereign right to govern ourselves;
  • ISDS proceedings, in effect, raise international corporations from being subjects of nations to non-territorial kingdoms, equal with, or even masters of, nations;
  • ISDS proceedings are conducted as SECRET TRIALS, utter anathema to a free and democratic society, never open and public;
  • Decisions by ICSID tribunals in ISDS suits cannot be appealed to a higher court;
  • ISDS suits occur in one direction only, corporations can sue nations but nations cannot sue corporations; and
  • ICSID tribunals made up of corporate lawyers (one selected by the suing corporation, one by the defending nation, and one so-called neutral, but all drawn from corporate legal practice and vested in corporate interests) can never actually be fair and impartial judges of ISDS suits.
As I understand it, the evil of ISDS lies in its capacity to defeat the sovereign right of nations to govern themselves through secret trials without recourse to appealAlthough the ICSID with its ISDS has existed for quite some time, I, along with most of the Canadian public, was not aware of this danger to Canada's sovereignty. This may, in part, result from international corporations only recently taking to exploiting ISDS to their advantage, challenging national governments more frequently than through previous decades. I did not recognize the danger back when NAFTA was negotiated, signed, and ratified.  Recently, I learned that, as a consequence of ISDS in NAFTA, Canada is already the developed nation most frequently attacked with ICSID suits, with one immediately a recent case in point, an ISDS judgment against the province of Ontario.  Only with publicity of controversies at the time of the Canada-China FIPPA announcement and eventual ratification did I came to understand the threat Canada faces. ISDS forms part of very many modern so-called free trade (but in reality, international corporate protection) agreements and through that provision international corporations now seek to detach themselves as subjects of nations and hold themselves as equals with, or masters of, nations and attack nations' sovereign right to democratically govern themselves.  This establishes a dangerous trend by which Capitalism degenerates toward Capital Feudalism:
  • Capital replaces land as the feu;
  • International banking replaces the Church as the outside power;
  • Non-territorial international corporations replace kingdoms as the fundamental holders of the feu;
  • Corporate CEOs replace kings as the authorities by which the feu gets distributed and to whom loyal attachment must return;
  • Major corporate internal divisions and subsidiaries replace baronies, earldoms, dukedoms, counties, etc. as subordinate holders of the feu;
  • Corporate vice presidents, very senior managers, and subsidiary CEOs replace the various Lords of the Realm;
  • Corporate managers and highly skilled technical professionals replace knights;
  • Contractors replace the freeman peasantry; and
  • Ordinary common working people are reduced to the new serfs;
  • All while the role of sovereign nations and democratic decision making diminishes into insignificance.
This trend must not be permitted as it reduces participating nations, Canada included, to resource and labour colonies of those corporations. For suborning Canada’s sovereignty to international corporations through ICSID, former Prime Minister Harper and those of his ministers involved in these negotiations should be called to answer to the charge of treason.
As a positive suggestion, may I offer that, instead of ISDS, Canadian operations of international corporations that find themselves at issue with our governments at any level should bring the matter to an open and public Canadian court within the Canadian judicial system for decision under Canadian law in the same way as wholly domestic Canadian corporations and Canadian citizens must do. If an issue exceeds the competence of Canadian courts, an international corporation should publicly request its home nation government (by home nation, I do not mean that nation within which an international corporation locates its corporate head office, I mean that nation in which the plurality of the corporation's equity capital ownership resides) to pursue the matter in an open and public international court on a sovereign nation versus sovereign nation basis that clearly holds international corporations as subjects of sovereign nations and not as equals with, nor as masters of, sovereign nations.
Please do the right thing and refuse to ratify CETA and TPP as each comes up for ratification unless the sovereignty-destroying ISDS provision gets stripped from these agreements and withdraw Canada from the secret TTIP and TiSA negotiations as long as they remain secret (after all you did promise to be open with Canadians) and also contain the sovereignty-deleting ISDS provision.
Please share your thoughts on this vitally fundamental issue in Parliament and publicly with voters all across Canada.
Respectfully submitted.

2016-08-05

Import Scam

Only on very rare occasions do I and any members of my family personally import anything from outside of Canada.  A long time ago, I imported an item from the United States.  In due course, the shipping carrier notified me that the item was about to cross the border and would have to clear customs.  There were duties and taxes due and the carrier advised me that they could submit the item to a customs broker to clear it on my behalf with my permission and for a fee or I could go to my nearest Canada Customs (as Canadian Border Services was then called) office and clear it myself, only having to pay the actual duties and taxes due.  Needless to say, I went to a Canada Customs office and cleared the item myself.

There seems to be a change is shipping carrier practice by which they have a very nice little (apparently legal) scam going for themselves.  Recently, my son took two imports.  The first, in May of this year, required a GST payment of $2.96, which was fair enough and anticipated.  The carrier arrived at our door unannounced with the item and a demand for immediate COD payment of $18.45, the actual GST due puffed up 623% by so-called processing and transaction fees plus yet additional GST greater than the original amount due.  Today, my son received the second import with $2.30 in GST due.  Again, the carrier arrived at our door unannounced with the item and a demand for immediate COD payment of $17.78, the actual GST due puffed up 773% by so-called processing and transaction fees plus yet additional GST greater than the original amount due.

With each shipment, the shipping carrier did not notify my son that the item was about to cross the border and would have to clear customs.  With GST due, the carrier never advised my son that he could either submit the item to a customs broker to clear it on his behalf with his permission and for a fee or go to our nearest Canadian Border Services office and clear it himself.  The carrier imposed a presumption that it should act on my son’s behalf without ever requesting his permission to do so and demanded exorbitant payment for that presumption.

I have written appropriate Federal Government Ministers with a request to address this scam and ensure that Canadians always have the option to self-clear imports through customs and are not faced with inflated ‘fees’ in excess of taxes and/or duties due on personal imports.

2016-06-07

Don't Dwown, Fly

David has combined his music and his writing.  He has the book at https://www.amazon.ca/Sheltered-Life-Betsy-Parker-ebook/dp/B01CN5FY6O and http://www.amazon.com/Sheltered-Life-Betsy-Parker/dp/1507500394.  It has been reviewed at GoodReads.

2016-06-06

More on ISDS in TPP and Other So-Called Free Trade Agreements

Canadians have been asked for our thoughts on the Trans Pacific Partnership and I submitted the following:

“O Canada,
We Stand on Guard for Thee,”
To Keep Our Sovereign Right to Democratically Govern Ourselves, Free from Attack Through ISDS in TPP.
A personal submission to the House of Commons Standing Committee on International Trade as it studies the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement to assess the extent to which the agreement, if implemented, would be in the best interests of Canadians.
I write to call on our new government to reject the TPP – it is a legacy of former Prime Minister, Steven Harper, that will block real change for which Canadians voted. Canadians can do better than this dangerous, costly, and outdated bad deal. It will kill jobs, undermine environmental protections, restrict free expression online, and, most seriously, erode our democratic rights, permitting international corporations to attack our sovereign right to govern ourselves. I was dismayed when Minister Freeland signed TPP on February 4th without free and open consultation with Canadians as Mr. Trudeau promised.
During last Fall’s election, at the announcement of successfully completed TPP negotiations, no one within the Liberal Party of Canada raised Canada’s participation in this agreement with its sovereignty attacking investor/state dispute settlement (ISDS) provision as the fundamental issue it should have been. I really do not understand why our sovereignty did not take front and centre as THE issue through the election campaign. I asked my local candidates on more than one occasion to address the issue and subsequently also asked my new MP, now a Cabinet Minister. After all, if international corporations can sue Canada in SECRET when the new government takes action to correct the damage inflicted by the previous government, we will find ourselves impotent to act. Nobody has ever responded to my requests. I have no problem with free trade, as such; I do see that betraying Canada's sovereignty as entirely another matter.
Our previous government negotiated in secret, then signed the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) and secretly negotiated the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) which Minister Freeland has now signed. Both now await ratification. It had also signed other so-called free trade agreements and brought Canada into the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), and the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA) secret negotiations, all of which include provisions for ISDS by which international corporations can turn to the International Centre for Settlement of Investor Disputes (ICSID) and sue Canada in SECRET TRIALS by tribunal outside of any national judiciary to overturn new law enacted out of our sovereign right to govern ourselves. Thus, Canada will have to clear such new laws, regulations, and court judgements with corporate head offices in order to bring them into effect and hope to remain safe from attack.
As I understand it, the evil of ISDS lies in its capacity to defeat the sovereign right of nations to govern themselves through secret trials without recourse to appeal. Thus, ISDS detaches international corporations from being subjects of nations to, in effect, non-territorial kingdoms equal with, or masters of, no longer fully sovereign nations while reducing participating nations, Canada included, to resource and labour colonies of those corporations. For suborning Canada’s sovereignty to international corporations through ICSID, former Prime Minister Harper and those of his ministers involved in these negotiations should be called to answer to the charge of treason.
If my understanding of this fundamental issue is not sound, please educate me and all Canadians as to just how it is that:
  • Negotiations towards TPP and similar so-called free trade treaties have not been, and are not being, conducted in secret with the only people granted access to Canada’s government trade negotiators being representatives of international corporations but rather, the Canadian public is openly kept informed of progress through these negotiations and that:
  1. wholly domestic Canadian businesses with interest in how international trade may affect their own business operations,
  2. organizations concerned about environmental issues and how international trade may impact the Canadian and worldwide environment,
  3. labour organizations with concerns about how international trade may affect working Canadians,
  4. Canadian agricultural organizations with concerns about Canadians’ capacity to feed ourselves while also trading internationally,
  5. organizations attentive to health and safety issues and concerned with the effect of international trade on those issues, and
  6. others with interest in the effect of international trade on Canadian society
           all also have the same access to Canada’s government trade negotiators;
  • Canada submitting to ICSID and its ISDS secret trials may not constitute suborning of our sovereign right to govern ourselves;
  • ISDS proceedings may not raise international corporations from being subjects of nations to, in effect, non-territorial kingdoms, equal with, or even masters of, nations;
  • ISDS proceedings may not actually be SECRET TRIALS, utter anathema to a free and democratic society, but be open and public;
  • Decisions by ICSID tribunals in ISDS suits may be appealed to a higher court;
  • ISDS suits may be in either direction to allow nations to sue corporations, not just corporations to sue nations; and
  • ICSID tribunals made up of corporate lawyers (one selected by the suing corporation, one by the defending nation, and one so-called neutral, but all drawn from corporate legal practice and vested in corporate interests) may actually be fair and impartial judges of ISDS suits.
If committee members cannot satisfy yourselves on every point above nor educate me and Canadians across the country on each point, and the government does actually ratify TPP to confirm the previous government’s abrogation of Canada’s national sovereignty, may I respectfully suggest that Liberal members cross the floor of the House of Commons to sit as independent MPs or with the one caucus that seriously strives to  retain our sovereignty.
I can only hope that this committee and Parliament will advise Mr. Trudeau and the government to do the right thing and refuse to ratify TPP and CETA as each comes up for ratification unless the sovereignty-destroying ISDS provision gets stripped from these agreements and that he withdraws Canada from the secret TTIP and TiSA negotiations as long as they remain secret (after all he promises to be open with Canadians) and also contain the sovereignty deleting ISDS provision.
Please share your thoughts on this vitally fundamental issue in Parliament and publicly with voters all across Canada.
Respectfully submitted by,
Edwin M. Hopkins,
4340 49th Street,
Delta, BC V4K 2S7,

2016, April 18.

I made my submission as a brochure, with text box items added:

First text box:
The now departed so-called loyal Conservative government secretly negotiated, then signed, and eventually ratified the Canada-China Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPPA) which goes far beyond simply providing for freer trade but, in effect, diminishes Canada to a resource colony of the Communist dictatorship in Beijing for the next thirty years. With the inclusion of the ISDS provision, Chinese firms (which are merely arms of the Chinese Communist dictatorship) with investments in Canadian business now have the right to sue Canadian federal, provincial, and municipal governments in SECRET TRIALS if new environmental, labour, health and safety, business practice, etc. law impinges on their investment. That is to say, Canada now has to clear such new laws, regulations, and court judgements with Beijing in order to bring them into effect.

Second text box:
Although the ICSID with its ISDS has existed for quite some time, I, along with most of the Canadian public, was not aware of this danger to Canada's sovereignty. This may, in part, result from international corporations only recently taking to exploiting ISDS to their advantage, challenging national governments more frequently than through previous decades. I did not recognize the danger back when NAFTA was negotiated, signed, and ratified.  Recently, I learned that, as a consequence of ISDS in NAFTA, Canada is already the developed nation most frequently attacked with ICSID suits. Only with publicity of controversies at the time of the Canada-China FIPPA announcement and eventual ratification did I came to understand the threat Canada faces. ISDS forms part of very many modern so-called free trade agreements and through that provision international corporations now seek to detach themselves as subjects of nations and hold themselves as equals with, or masters of, nations and attack nations' sovereign right to democratically govern themselves.
This establishes a dangerous trend by which Capitalism degenerates toward Capital Feudalism:
  • Capital replaces land as the feu;
  • International banking replaces the Church as the outside power;
  • Non-territorial international corporations replace kingdoms as the fundamental holders of the feu;
  • Corporate CEOs replace kings as the authorities by which the feu gets distributed and to whom loyal attachment must return;
  • Major corporate internal divisions and subsidiaries replace baronies, earldoms, dukedoms, counties, etc. as subordinate holders of the feu;
  • Corporate vice presidents, very senior managers, and subsidiary CEOs replace the various Lords of the Realm;
  • Corporate managers and highly skilled technical professionals replace knights;
  • Contractors replace the freeman peasantry; and
  • Ordinary common working people are reduced to the new serfs;
  • All while the role of sovereign nations and democratic decision making diminishes into insignificance.
This trend must not be permitted.

This included a positive suggestion:

Third text box:
Instead of ISDS, Canadian operations of international corporations that find themselves at issue with our governments at any level should bring the matter to an open and public Canadian court within the Canadian judicial system for decision under Canadian law in the same way as Canadian corporations and Canadian citizens must do. If an issue exceeds the competence of Canadian courts, an international corporation should publicly request its home nation government (by home nation, I do not mean that nation within which an international corporation locates its corporate head office, I mean that nation in which the plurality of the corporation's equity capital ownership resides) to pursue the matter in an open and public international court on a sovereign nation versus sovereign nation basis that clearly holds international corporations as subjects of sovereign nations and not as equals with, nor as masters of, sovereign nations.

2016-04-12

Cancer

Shall we see how substantial this video series might be?  It is free to view but does require registration.

2016-02-23

On the Naming of Extended Family Relationships

Within a family pet disagreements may exist.  These disagreements may never attain resolution but family members find certain fun in discussing and perpetuating them.  My father and mother kept one such pet disagreement over the relationship naming of members of our extended families.  Mum referred to various distant relatives as cousins of varying degrees, while Dad referred to similar distant relatives as uncles/aunts or nephews/nieces of varying degrees while cousins of any degree must always be generational contemporaries and only share equal numbers of steps back to a common ancestor.  Periodically they simply enjoyed trying to persuade each other of the correctness of each understanding of how to name these more distant family relationships.

Although born and raised Canadian, Mum was actually using the American conventional system of naming family relationships as illustrated by this table of consanguinity:


This system for naming family relationships does contain a significant logical flaw.  Consider yourself as attending a family reunion at which a centenarian reminisces to a mother holding a newborn baby.  Very possibly, by this table, that centenarian and that newborn babe-in-arms could both be your first cousin thrice removed, an obvious absurdity.  This results from giving relatives who are generationally senior to oneself and relatives who are generationally junior to oneself the same relationship name as pointed out on this highlighted table of consanguinity:


Dad's contention as to how extended family relationships should be named derived from his experience growing up in Wales before emigrating to Canada.  In fact, he argued that the naming of relationships beyond those of close family members had been invented in Wales.  Whether that last is actually true, I do not know.  When I attempt to reconstruct what I think Dad intended to describe into a table of consanguinity, I find a far more logical system for naming family relationships:


To Dad, when you attend that family reunion and witness the centenarian reminiscing to the mother of the newborn, that centenarian would be your second great grand aunt while the newborn babe-in-arms would be your second great grand nephew, absurdity removed.  In addition, the "... removed" modifier ceases to have any function and disappears.

Thus, I tend to side with Dad in this family pet disagreement and wish that the Welsh table of consanguinity could be conventional.

2016-01-26

An Open Letter to My MP Before February 4th

Dear Ms. Qualtrough,

I am dismayed to learn that the government of which you are a part may sign TPP on February 4th.  This without the free and open consultation with Canadians that Mr. Trudeau promised.

During last Fall’s election, at the announcement of successful completion of TPP negotiations, none of you, your leader, nor the Liberal Party of Canada raised Canada’s participation in this agreement with its sovereignty attacking investor/state dispute settlement (ISDS) provision as the fundamental issue it should have been.  I really do not understand why our sovereignty did not take front and centre as THE issue through the election campaign and I asked you on more than one occasion to address the issue before the vote.  After all, if international corporations can sue Canada in SECRET when the government of which you are a part takes action to correct the damage inflicted by the previous government, then we will find ourselves impotent to act.  I have no problem with free trade, as such; I do see that betraying Canada's sovereignty as entirely another matter.

The now departed so-called loyal Conservative government negotiated in secret, then signed and eventually ratified the Canada-China Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPPA) which goes far beyond simply providing for freer trade but, in effect, diminishes Canada to a resource colony of the Communist dictatorship in Beijing for the next thirty years. With the inclusion of the ISDS provision, Chinese firms (which are merely arms of the Chinese Communist dictatorship) with investments in Canadian business now have the right to sue Canadian federal, provincial, and municipal governments in secret trials if new environmental, labour, health and safety, business practice, etc. law impinges on their investment. That is to say, Canada now has to clear such new laws, regulations, and court judgements with Beijing in order to bring them into effect.

Similarly, that government negotiated in secret, then signed both the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), both now awaiting ratification. It also brought Canada to participate in the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), and the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSAsecret negotiations and has signed other so-called free trade agreements, all of which include provisions for ISDS by which international corporations can turn to the International Centre for Settlement of Investor Disputes (ICSID) to sue sovereign nations, Canada included, in secret trials by tribunal outside of any national judiciary to overturn new law enacted out of a nation’s sovereign right to govern itself. Thus, Canada will have to clear such new laws, regulations, and court judgements with corporate head offices in order to bring them into effect and hope to remain safe from attack.

As I understand it, the evil of ISDS lies in its capacity to defeat the sovereign right of nations to govern themselves. With its secret trials and no recourse to appeal, the ISDS provision raises international corporations from the subjects of nations to, in effect, non-territorial kingdoms equal with or superior to no-longer fully sovereign nations while reducing participating nations, Canada included, to resource and labour colonies of those corporations.  For suborning Canada’s sovereignty to international corporations through ICSID, former Prime Minister Harper and those of his ministers involved in these negotiations should be called to answer to the charge of treason.

I have deliberately placed links throughout this letter to commentary by others, both domestic and international, on the danger of these modern so-called free trade deals with their inclusion of ISDS through the ICSID.  If my understanding of this very fundamental issue is not sound, please educate me and your constituents as to just how it is that:
•Canada submitting to ICSID and its ISDS secret trials may not constitute suborning of our sovereign right to govern ourselves;
•ISDS proceedings may not raise international corporations from being subjects of nations to, in effect, non-territorial kingdoms, equal with nations;
•ISDS proceedings may not be SECRET TRIALS, utter anathema to a free and democratic society, but be open and public;
•Decisions by ICSID tribunals in ISDS suits may be appealed to a higher court;
•ISDS suits may be in either direction to allow nations to sue corporations, not just corporations to sue nations; and
•ICSID tribunals made up of corporate lawyers (one selected by the suing corporation, one selected by the defending nation, and one so-called neutral, but all drawn from corporate legal practice and vested in corporate interests) may be fair and impartial judges of ISDS suits.

Instead of ISDS, Canadian operations of international corporations that find themselves at issue with our governments at whatever level should bring the matter to an open and public Canadian court within the Canadian judicial system for decision under Canadian law in the same way as Canadian corporations and Canadian citizens must do. If an issue exceeds the competence of Canadian courts, an international corporation should be required to publicly request its home nation government to pursue the matter in an open and public international court on a sovereign nation versus sovereign nation basis that clearly holds international corporations as subjects of sovereign nations and not as equals with sovereign nations.

I can only hope that Mr. Trudeau will do the right thing and refuse to ratify TPP on February 4th and CETA when it comes up for ratification unless the sovereignty destroying ISDS provision gets stripped from them and that he withdraws Canada from the secret TTIP and TiSA negotiations as long as they remain secret (after all he promises to be open with Canadians) and also contain the sovereignty deleting ISDS provision.

If you cannot educate me satisfactorily on every point above and the government of which you are a part does ratify TPP to confirm the previous government’s abrogation of Canada’s national sovereignty, may I respectfully suggest that you resign your position in cabinet and cross the floor of the House of Commons to sit as an independent MP or with the one caucus that seriously strives to retain our sovereignty.

Please share your thoughts on this vitally fundamental issue in cabinet, in caucus, and publicly with your constituents.

Thank you for your attention,
Edwin M. Hopkins,

Cc: The Delta Optimist, The Council of Canadians, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Minister of Foreign Affairns Stéphane Dion, Minister of International Trade Chrystia Freeland, Interim Opposition Leader Rona Ambrose, NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair, Green Leader Elizabeth May.