March 19, 2021 - No.
Privatization of Public Infrastructure
Canada Infrastructure Bank
and Pay-the-Rich Schemes
Governments' Destruction of Forestry Industry and Natural Environment
No Going Back -- A Paradigm Shift in Forest Management
- Peter Ewart
to Extend Recall Rights for Vancouver Teachers
• Lively Rally in
Vancouver Supports Teachers at International Language Schools Canada
- Interview, Jean Ardila
Privatization of Public Infrastructure
The Trudeau government insists all loans from the Canada
Infrastructure Bank (CIB) for public works and services must include an
agreement to hand over local control and future revenue to a
public-private-partnership (P3). This demand for privatization is yet
another scheme to pay the rich. For the global monopolies and cartels,
P3s are a
guaranteed source of risk-free profit and a path towards greater
control of the economy.
The CIB has $35 billion in
public money available for infrastructure development and maintenance,
which municipalities, Quebec, the provinces and territories badly need.
The Trudeau dictate to "partner" with powerful private interests if
local governments want a CIB loan is a wedge into privatization of
existing and future public works with
the attendant loss of public revenue and control.
public works mean in practice that private interests expropriate as
profit a portion of the new value public sector workers create. This
expropriated added-value is lost to the public sector along with
control. With P3s both social wealth and control over the economy
become further concentrated in the hands of a few global
infrastructure, should be a major source of revenue for governments. By
adopting neo-liberalism, privatization becomes paramount
and governments seek revenue elsewhere, usually from regressive
taxation of individuals and user fees, and engage in cutbacks of social
programs and public services.
The crime involved is that public authorities of
a modern economy in a country as large as Canada do not need private
funding for planned public projects. They can raise money from public
banks and treasury based solely on the prospect of a return of those
borrowed funds from the future value workers produce at the planned
Trudeau Pressure to Privatize Mapleton Infrastructure
Some municipalities, even though eager for investment funds
for public infrastructure, are reluctant to directly "partner with
private business" within P3s despite the Trudeau government's
insistence. Numerous studies have shown P3s result in a burden on
public finances and a loss of local control.
many municipalities, the township of Mapleton, Ontario is in dire need
to upgrade its water and wastewater systems. The CIB, derisively called
the Bank of Privatization, offered a $20-million debt-financing package
but insisted on a P3 taking control of the waterworks. Even before the
deal was finalized, the Trudeau government began
promoting the Mapleton infrastructure "pilot project" of a CIB loan and
P3 as the new model for all other municipalities to follow. The package
was structured to ensure the P3 private "partner" could expropriate a
certain profit from the municipality's sale of water and gain control
over management. This would leave the local public waterworks
with a yearly loss of income and with less control to make changes.
After studying the CIB loan and P3 offer, Mapleton Township announced
that raising money on their own, presumably through a municipal bond,
would be less onerous and the municipality's public service would
retain control. It cancelled the CIB P3 deal but not without being
presented a $367,000 legal bill in connection with the process and no
offer of assistance from the federal government.
had been hoping the CIB would provide relief from the traditional
method of funding infrastructure investment through municipal bonds
arranged with private moneylenders. However, the Trudeau government
stipulation of introducing a P3 along with the CIB loan in effect means
jumping into bed with the same devil but in
Municipal bonds held by private
global moneylenders have been sucking the blood out of municipalities
for decades. Even facing this fate, some municipalities such as
Mapleton find it better to deal with the devil they know than the P3
parasites. At least they retain some semblance of local control and the
eventual loss of revenue through
interest payments has proven through studies to be less onerous than
begs the question why a federal public institution, the CIB, would
demand another public institution, a municipality, involve global
private partners when the entire deal could be consummated without
incurring debt to private lenders and with no loss of local control and
future revenue. Why would the CIB not
interest free loans where only administration costs are charged and
future repayment of the principal when the new or rebuilt
infrastructure begins producing value?
for this to work without loss to the federal government, it would have
to stop borrowing from private moneylenders itself and begin the modern
government practice of lending money to itself with repayment or
replenishing of coffers guaranteed from produced value as the economy
develops. But such a sensible new direction would
violate the neo-liberal demand that all economic projects whether
public or private must serve the private interests of the global
oligarchy and concentrate social wealth and power in fewer hands.
What the Trudeau liberals and CIB call their "innovative
financing model" is yet another pay-the-rich scheme to turn public
funds and projects over to powerful private interests. Even the $35
billion given to the CIB as a start-up fund is suspect as it comes from
the government's general revenue, which is being replenished with
borrowing from global moneylenders.
With all this
government borrowing from private interests and the proliferation of
P3s, public funds for social programs and infrastructure and any
subsequent public revenue disappear into the pockets of the rich. The
deficits and national debt escalate and the experts and media pundits
scream themselves hoarse yelling for cuts to social
programs, more and higher user fees for public services and greater
Local control over public
infrastructure created after years of nation-building is being lost to
nation-wrecking as the global oligarchs invade every cell of the
economy and suck out more and more value to fatten their pockets. This
leaves the local public authorities and the people with less money for
public works and social programs, and less
control over their lives, deepening a hole that is being dug for them.
Trudeau's Campaign Promise Evaporates
During the 2015 federal election, the Trudeau
campaigned on a promise that the CIB would assist municipalities to
build and maintain their needed infrastructure. Never once during the
campaign did Trudeau say that CIB loans would come with a P3 obligation
to hand over control and money to global private interests. After
becoming the party in power, Trudeau brought in Larry Fink, a leading
oligarch from the BlackRock investment cartel, and other oligarchs who
pushed and organized to open up municipalities and other parts of the
economy to global investors. They insisted and the Trudeau government
agreed that a P3 demand must be included with any CIB loan.
These demands and nation-wrecking practices run counter to
nation-building and the right of the people to control the economy and
all affairs that affect their lives.
The CIB was an
opportunity for something new, a public financing agency without a
direct connection to private moneylenders and their bloodsucking
interest payments through federal government borrowing and municipal
bonds. Such a new direction would entail public works financed through
government loans without the involvement of
private cartels as moneylenders or P3s. Control and profit from
realized infrastructure would stay in the communities and result in
greater revenue for the municipalities and lower user fees for the
people. Such a new direction was not to be and in fact the government
is making the situation worse.
The voices for a new
direction for the economy and nation-building are growing louder and
louder. Whose economy? The people's economy! Who decides? The people
decide! Who controls? The people control! Join the discussion and
movement for a new direction for the economy.
Governments' Destruction of Forestry Industry
and Natural Environment
The effects of climate change on the
forests, landscapes, jobs and communities of British Columbia are
increasingly evident across the province, including infestation by
insects such as the pine beetle (which has killed millions of hectares
of Interior pine forest), severe wildfires, drought, flooding, and
other problems. The
pine beetle epidemic alone has resulted in the loss of thousands of
forestry jobs and the closure of dozens of mills, and climate change is
having other negative effects on both the forests and economy.
to these threats, the provincial government released a "Strategic
Climate Risk Assessment" in July 2019 that identified 15 climate risks,
several of which "have the potential to create catastrophic impacts for
However, the government's Risk Assessment had one gaping hole.
Despite an abundance of evidence, it did not consider the impact that
clearcutting of forests and other current forest management practices
have on the severity and frequency of at least 9 of the 15 climate
risks identified. To address this gap, the Sierra Club BC commissioned
report by forest scientist Dr. Peter Wood titled Intact Forests, Safe
Communities and which has the aim of examining "the role that forest
management can play in either mitigating or exacerbating these risks."
The Sierra Club BC report begins by noting that over the last
century "forests in BC have been logged at an unsustainable rate" and
that, as a result, "only three percent of B.C.'s high-productivity
old-growth forests remain intact." These old-growth forests "create
their own cool, moist microclimate as they age and this helps prevent
fires." High, complex canopies of trees create shade and capture
coastal mist, "allowing the creation of deep moss beds and lush
understory vegetation with rotting biomass," all of which can lower
Spring temperatures in these forests by as much as 2.5 degrees.
In effect, old growth forests act as giant sponges, "readily
absorbing and retaining water, sheltering snow from melting, then
slowly releasing the water over a long period of time." This has
resulted in some temperate rain forests not experiencing forest fires
for several thousand years. Even in the dryer, more forest fire prone
forests of BC's
Interior, microclimates are created which retain moisture longer. A
U.S. study has found that "higher levels of forest protection were
associated with lower fire severity values, even though this was also
associated with higher levels of biomass and fuel loading." Besides
being more fire resistant, older, intact forests are less subject to
younger forests and, as a result, the ecosystems "contain high levels
of biodiversity, structural complexity, and soil development."
The report argues that clearcut logging destroys the existing
forest microclimate and exposes the forest floor to increased direct
sunlight resulting in more extreme temperatures and the drying out of
woody debris. As much as 40 to 60 per cent of a forest's biomass gets
left behind in the form of slash and even whole trees. Despite
this material can often sit on the ground for years. All of this dry
flammable waste seriously exacerbates forest fire risk as does wind
speed which is known to increase after clearcutting.
growth forests also pose a risk as they are more flammable than old
ones and these younger trees are more closely spaced together. To add
to the risk, forest regulations require that, after clearcutting,
forest companies must spray cutblocks with herbicides such as
glyphosate which kill hard wood species like aspen and birch. These
hardwoods are less flammable than softwood species and, if left
standing, can serve as effective forest fire "blocks."
Prior to colonization, Indigenous people frequently used fire
as a tool to reduce forest fire risk and maintain biodiversity, as well
as to grow medicinal and food plants. The report points out that,
although fire regimes can play an important role "in maintaining
ecosystem health for many types of forests," they should happen in
Indigenous decision-makers and benefit from the incorporation of their
traditional knowledge in forest fire management.
logging, especially on steep slopes, also impacts the ability of a
watershed to moderate the flow of water, and can result in severe
erosion, flooding, and landslides. The massive flooding of the
community of Grand Forks in 2018 is a recent example. The degradation
of community water supply is another result of clearcutting, as
happened to the southern Interior town of Peachland. Erosion and
landslides muddied and degraded Peachland's water for months which
previously was provided by natural filtration. As a result, the town
was forced to pay $24 million for a water treatment plant. Under
Canadian law, communities do not have a right to clean water and
companies aren't legally required to consider downstream impacts such
as flooding when they harvest trees in watersheds." This legal
exemption remains in effect when logging on slopes and near community
watersheds is increasing. In that regard, to see the full extent of
logging across the province go to: the "Seeing Red" maps on the
Conservation North website.
Among its recommended actions, the Sierra Club BC report calls
for engagement with Indigenous decision-makers in a
government-to-government process as well as revising all legislation
using the lens of the B.C. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous
Peoples Act. It also recommends a "cumulative impacts approach" that
takes into account
the impact of forestry operations, as well as mining, agriculture and
other industrial sectors. It calls for the immediate protection of the
small amount of intact old-growth forest still remaining and that
second-growth forests be managed to restore resilience and recover
through selective logging, thinning, brush removal and new silviculture
as alternatives to clearcutting. All of this will "enhance the total
carbon carrying capacity of these forests and their role in fighting
Above all, the report recommends
moving away from a timber-centric paradigm and towards a prioritization
of ecosystem health and biodiversity (with timber as one of the many
benefits), and that this prioritization be enshrined in legislation.
In reviewing the report, one thing is clear. We need healthy
forests for there to be secure jobs and stable communities, as well as
realizing the many uses and values of the forest resource. Achieving
these aims is possible but it requires a new direction.
Extend Recall Rights for
Jean Ardila is Director,
Bargaining Unit 1, Education and Training Employees Association (ETEA)
Workers' Forum: We are
here at the International Language Schools Canada (ILSC) Vancouver
location where there was a very successful rally this morning. What are
the demands of the ILSC teachers?
Ardila: I have been a teacher at ILSC Vancouver for
17 years. I am the Director of Bargaining Unit 1 which represents the
teachers here. We held the rally today to tell ILSC to extend recall
rights for its teachers. Besides former and current ILSC teachers,
colleagues from other schools and other supporters were here as
Ardila addressing the rally at ILSC in Vancouver on March 16.
want ILSC to agree to extend our recall rights for as long as it takes
for the school to be back to full operation. In our contract we have a
provision for recall for 12 months and that was because our industry is
somewhat cyclical and historically there is a slowdown in enrollment
from November to March and teachers can be laid off for
several months. This language was not meant to deal with the
extraordinary circumstances caused by the pandemic. About 99 per cent of
our students are international students doing immersion courses,
preparing to go into post-secondary schools in Canada or elsewhere.
Because of the travel restrictions enrollment is down about 90 per
cent. A few
of our teachers were already laid off at the end of 2019 or beginning
of 2020, as usual, so their 12 months has already expired and they have
been terminated. By the end of April we could lose 31 teachers. We had
77 teachers at the start of the pandemic.
What has been the response to your campaign?
Today was our first physical manifestation. We have a marvelous online
social media campaign with a petition at change.org and a Facebook
page, Friends of ILSC Teachers Vancouver, where lots of long time
teachers and students, some from as long ago as 20 years, are posting
photos and messages of support. Speakers at
the rally today pointed out that we teachers have been the main factor
in the success of ILSC as a leading English Language school in North
America. The school was founded in Vancouver and it is our work that
has made it possible for the school to expand to Toronto, then
Montreal, now Australia and India.
What is the situation in other schools?
All the other language schools in Vancouver with ETEA contracts have
extended recall rights. In Toronto last June ILSC agreed to extend the
recall rights of our colleagues there who are members of the Ontario
Secondary School Teachers' Federation. What we are asking for is an
extension until international students are
able to fly into the country and things are back to the way they were
at the school.
What are you asking the community to do to support you?
We call what ILSC is doing COVID opportunism. We are teachers who have
been here for 10 to 18 years or more. We are in our seventh collective
agreement and because we have advocated for ourselves we have five to
six weeks paid holidays, extended benefits. We have a 10-stage pay
grade and many are at the top
level. By terminating teachers the school wants to wipe out all of
that. They have told the union in writing and told the teachers who are
being terminated that they can reapply for their jobs and will start
all over again, with a probation period, entry level wages and
benefits. With our campaign we are affirming our rights as workers, as
this school and calling on ILSC to do the right thing.
March 17 we have an informal mediation under the auspices of the BC
Labour Relations Board to hear the union's complaint that the company
is violating Section 54 of the Labour Relations Act which requires them
to negotiate a readjustment plan and act in good faith. We will see if
ILSC has heard our message or we have more work to
We want people to keep signing and circulating
the petition and posting on the Facebook page and we will keep everyone
informed about developments and further actions.
support the ILSC Teachers:
and circulate the petition.
Visit and post on the Friends of ILSC Vancouver Teachers Facebook
or Instagram pages.
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