TO: AUDITOR GENERAL, SHEILA FRASER
ALL MEMBERS OF THE HOUSE OF COMMONS
On Tuesday, February 15th in the House of Commons Prime Minister Paul Martin responded to Auditor General Sheila Fraser’s charge that the establishment of “foundations” makes it impossible to account for Government spending. Martin made vociferous defence.
The Auditor General’s Report, Chapter 4, “Accountability of Foundations” is at http://www.oag-bvg.gc.ca/domino/reports.nsf/html/20050204ce.html. (link no longer valid.) The Reuters news report is appended.
This is what you should know, from my personal experience. This is NOT about “just a handful of “foundations”. The Auditor General’s Report is the tip of the iceberg. If I, one person in Canada living in remote old Saskatchewan know this much, figure out how much more there is to know. A head in Ontario or Quebec couldn’t hold it all.
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CONTENTS OF THIS POSTING:
(1) Government fronts are widespread and in the form of “foundations”, “corporations”, “grass roots community development co-operatives”, plus other words in French, Inuktituk, etc. They exist at the Provincial level equally with the Federal. They often come under the guise of “public private partnerships”.
(2) The process that is used: “Moving the Economy into institutions”, out of the reach of democratic control. Specific example to illustrate and understand the process.
(3) Accounting systems historically guard against human greed by having built-in safeguards to expose corruption. Government fronts do the opposite. They create a fertile field in which corruption flourishes. There is lots of money to attract the corrupt.
(4) Government is a dynamic system bound by the immutable laws of systems. How do principles of dynamic systems instruct us on this topic?
(a) FEATURES OF DYNAMIC SYSTEMS
(b) WHEN DO WE BECOME POWERLESS TO BRING ABOUT EFFECTIVE CORRECTIVE RESPONSE?
(c) THE APPROPRIATE RESPONSE TO CORRUPTION FOR ME, THE CITIZEN, IS …
(1) REUTERS NEWS REPORT, AUDITOR GENERAL’S REPORT
(2) THE FEAR-MONGERING TYPICALLY USED TO JUSTIFY GOVERNMENT IN BED WITH BUSINESS IT IS SUPPOSED TO REGULATE.
(1) GOVERNMENT FRONTS ARE WIDESPREAD AND IN THE FORM OF “FOUNDATIONS”, “CORPORATIONS”, “GRASS ROOTS COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT CO-OPERATIVE LTD”, “DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION” PLUS. THEY EXIST AT FEDERAL AND PROVINCIAL LEVELS OF GOVERNMENT.
I started watching them after my first shock in 1998. I will not provide examples of every one. There is no accountability because you cannot tell from the name that they are largely Government-funded. They are therefore an exercise in deceit.
Non-natives like to think the corruption is in “native organizations”. The amounts and extent are larger in non-native organizations.
a. WITNESS: GOVERNMENT INTERVENORS ON THE SIDE OF MONSANTO IN THE PERCY SCHMEISER CASE
AgWest Biotech Corporation – receives almost 100% of its operating funds from the Government of Saskatchewan. The Federal and Provincial Governments both have representatives on the Board of Directors.
BIOTECanada – “represents Canadian health care, agricultural, food, research and other organizations that are involved in biotechnology.” BIOTECanada is the Federal Government with support from some Provincial Governments.
When the Provincial and Federal Governments intervene in the Supreme Court on behalf of a biotech-chemical company, you know that the ability to regulate is severely compromised, maybe non-existent except through public pressure. It was an environmentalist in PEI, Sharon Labchuk, who forced the PMRA (Health Canada , Pest Management Regulatory Agency) to do something about false advertising by chemical companies; it is communities across Canada that are stepping into the regulatory void created by the Federal Govt putting pesticide bylaws into place.
John Kenneth Galbraith, “The Economics of Innocent Fraud: Truth for our Time“, 2004 states:
“As the corporate interest moves to power in what was the public sector, it serves, predictably, the corporate interest. That is its purpose. . . . One obvious result has been well-justified doubt as to the quality of much present regulatory effort. There is no question but that corporate influence extends to the regulators.”
Ursala Franklin, in her book “The Real World of Technology” revised edition, 1999. explains (page 117):
“… the ongoing provision of technological support structures has been accompanied by a neglect by governments of their traditional mandate to safeguard “the commons” … often infrastructures that are publicly funded have become .. venues of private and corporate profit. At the same time, those things we hold in common … such as clean air and uncontaminated water and natural resources, are less and less safeguarded by those who have been given authority to govern.”
(page 120): “What will it take to initiate genuine change?” … the crisis of technology is actually a crisis of governance. I say governance rather than government because I think the crisis is much deeper than the policies of any particular government … The real crisis, I think, can best be addressed if you ask yourself, “What is the task of the government in this real world of technology? What are the tasks for which we elect and pay governments? What do we expect them to do, rather than to say?” … Kids in school are taught that democracy means government by the people, for the people, but the major decisions that affect our lives, here and now in Canada, are not made by the House of Commons (INSERT: or Provincial Legislature) or as result of public deliberations by elected officials. I hold that, in fact, we have lost the institution of government in terms of responsibility and accountability to the people. We now have nothing but a bunch of managers, who run the country to make it safe for technology.”
(b) WITNESS HUNTER AND TRAPPER ASSOCIATIONS
This was my introduction. It’s small potatoes but the size doesn’t matter. The consequences and the extent do matter. For a short time I worked in the N.W.T. as an adult educator teaching accounting procedures. I was excited about the opportunity and interested in community economic development. Before going north I happened upon an inspiring report on the success of the Hunter and Trapper Associations. Every family in every community is a member. The Secretary Treasurer of the local HTA was in my class. The success was explained: every member is paid $75 every time they attend a regular meeting of the Association. The policy is uniform across the territories. At that time (1998-99) there was a lobby underway; the amount was not enough.
It is not community economic development that is being funded (the Hunter and Trapper Associations supposedly use their money to develop fly-in fishing and hunting, etc.) but drugs, booze and bingo. I asked where the money comes from. Sorry – I am not good at those long Inuktikut names – the money comes from essentially Government fronts – – you can’t tell by the name that the organization is funded by the Government.
There are very solid people in these communities. But it is impossible for them to fight such a system. … Hard working people in the South pay high taxes to help “the less fortunate”. They haven’t enough left over to pay for higher education for their kids. Meanwhile their tax money contributes to the destruction of people’s lives. Because there is no accountability.
Think of the flow-through. I return South. I know a lot of people. They all know about this. I told a cousin who went with her Mother to the Casino in North Battleford. While there she started listening to a conversation going on behind her. The “councillor” explained to his companions, how when you’re running short of cash, you just “call a meeting of the Council”. “Pays a hundred dollars on the spot”. (People paid to attend meetings, same story as in the NWT.)
The following is a small example from the non-native community but it illustrates quite well how extensive the practices are, and the rationalizations. I know about the “grass-roots community development organization” (exactly how it was worded in the brochure) because I joined it. I’ve worked in bona fide community organizations. I became upset when I received notice of the Annual Meeting. The agenda was “meeting”. Bring your friends. Meeting at a downtown hotel. Free lunch and childcare. I had paid a membership fee of $2, a tooney.
The ostensible purpose of the programme was to partner local business persons with people who need support in achieving local economic activity, based on a very successful Cape Breton model. When I asked the head hauncho what was going on, he of course confirmed what I had figured out: he is a Government employee, this was not any “grass-roots” organization. It was the Government. With no accountability. The reason he offered for the all-day meeting at the Hotel with free lunch was that “no one would come if they didn’t get free lunch”. Again, people aren’t dumb. No agenda. For a full day, and you expect me to come?
The event generated glowing media reports of success: 50 people turned out! The creation of illusions that this thing is going somewhere. Ensures more money to mask incompetence and what tax-payer is the wiser?
Boy! I got busy, told the Hunter and Trapper story along with other examples of the same thing, provided the detail of the “grassroots” organization, wrote down all the reasons why this exacerbated problems instead of addressing them, sent it to the Premier (Romanow at the time). Didn’t hit his radar screen. Well then, surely former Premier Allan Blakeney, now at the University, would be concerned? I received a nice letter.
We have it from big, right down to small. Repeated reports, consistently. They never stop.
So WHY aren’t things changing? The next section is lengthy, but it provides the answer. All based on experience, from working on things that should not have been happening, figuring out why they were happening. Like roundup resistant wheat. Did not make one ounce of sense. Nobody wanted it. … (except who?) This should not even be an issue in a democracy. A HUGE effort had to be mounted. Why? understand the process.
(2) THE PROCESS THAT IS USED: “MOVING THE ECONOMY INTO INSTITUTIONS”, OUT OF THE REACH OF DEMOCRATIC CONTROL
SUBJECT: Water, Ownership of Seeds, Health Research Foundation, Crown Lands
This will be of interest to people outside Saskatchewan – “the process” is the same elsewhere.
1. FOUNDATION: UNDERSTAND THE PROCESS
a. INTENTIONS OF THE PLAYERS
b. A SMALL NUMBER OF PEOPLE MOVE THE AGENDA
c. HOW CAN WE DE-RAIL AN AGENDA THAT INJURES THE PUBLIC GOOD?
3. THE PROCESS: “MOVING THE ECONOMY INTO INSTITUTIONS”.
AS WE SAW IN:
a. OWNERSHIP OF SEEDS
b. THE HEALTH RESEARCH FOUNDATIONS
WE CAN NOW SEE IN:
c. WATER DEVELOPMENT
i. THE LOCAL POLITICAL SITUATION
ii. GOVERNMENT INVOLVEMENT
iv. HIGHLY SELECTIVE AND MISLEADING PRESENTATION OF INFORMATION = PROPAGANDA
v. LUDICROUS IDEAS COMPARIBLE TO “SEEDING” CLOUDS TO MAKE RAIN
vi. THE ACTION COMMITTEE ON THE RURAL ECONOMY (ACRE)
vii. SARM (Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities)
viii. FROM JOAN IN ALBERTA: THE SAME WATER DEVELOPMENT PROCESS UNDERWAY?
d. CROWN LANDS
Look back on our work. Find the patterns in:
– WATER DEVELOPMENT (Meridian Dam battle, and recently the Agrivision Corporation Conference “Drought-proofing the Economy”)
– OIL AND GAS DEVELOPMENT (Great Sand Hills battle, now put forward as “Crown Lands” (explained later in this email.))
– HEALTH (Romanow Healthcare Review battle to get “Prevention” addressed, and now the “Health Research Foundations” and the proposed changes to the Food and Drug Act.)
– PESTICIDES (Regina battle, now in Saskatoon and at Provincial level.)
– TRANSGENICS & OWNERSHIP OF SEEDS (roundup resistant wheat battle, now proposed changes to the Plant Breeders’ Rights Act).
When you recognize the pattern in one, you see PRECISELY the same process at work in the others. We each need to understand what is going on. It will be our un-doing if we don’t.
The process is one of “MOVING THE ECONOMY INTO INSTITUTIONS”. Which is to move exploitable resources out of the reach of citizens who interfere with the agenda of those who will use the resources to enrich themselves and their friends.
The following has a bias of Saskatchewan detail and experience, but the underlying process will be the same in other provinces. Each is a Manual on how to achieve more corporate domination of basic parts of what is “the commons”, that which belongs to all people and all species. It includes the allocation of tax money handed over by citizens to Government which is supposed to be for the advancement of the public good – not to serve corporate interests and individual greed, or lust for power.
a. OWNERSHIP OF SEEDS
Had we not worked on Roundup Resistant Wheat (the right of Corporations to appropriate seeds, the right of Corporations to pollute the environment with herbicide-resistant plants), I would not have understood the implications of the Federal Government’s Seed Sector Review and the proposed changes to the Plant Breeders’ Rights Act. I would not have been motivated to read the paper on the Ram’s Horn web-site, “The Real Board of Directors“, sub-title “The Construction of Biotechnology Policy in Canada, 1980-2002“, by Devlin Kuyek (86 pages).
Devlin Kuyek’s work turns the light on. There is a section on Health Canada and the Health Research Foundations, which makes them comprehensible. Look at Roundup Resistant wheat. How is Corporate ownership of seed achieved?
– Gut the public research function. This was done by cutting the funding to Agriculture Canada research stations and to Universities.
– Then cry loudly, “We haven’t enough money for research”, and promote “P3’s” (public-private-partnerships) as the panacea. What we discovered is that P3’s are not “Public Private Partnerships” but rather Partnerships between Big Government and Big Corporations that abuse the public interest.
John Kenneth Galbraith confirmed the P3 experience in his book, “The Economics of Innocent Fraud, Truth for our Time“, published in 2004. “The accepted distinction between the public and the private sectors has no meaning when seriously viewed. Rhetoric, not reality.” … “As the corporate interest moves to power in what was the public sector, it serves, predictably, the corporate interest. That is its purpose.” “One obvious result has been well-justified doubt as to the quality of much present regulatory effort. There is no question but that corporate influence extends to the regulators. …”
– legislation plays a large role. The Supreme Court decision on the Monsanto versus Percy Schmeiser pointed out the inadequacy of the Patent Laws of Canada: they do not distinguish between the ownership of mechanical devices and THE OWNERSHIP OF LIFE FORMS. The Supreme Court had pointed out the inadequacy of the Legislation well before Schmeiser, in the “Harvard Mouse” decision. The Government does nothing. EXCEPT that it had passed Bills C-22 and C-91 which “put into legislation a commitment on the part of the federal government … Higher drug prices were traded off for promised increased R&D spending on pharmaceuticals, which, given trends already present at that time, would mean more R&D on biotechnology“. (p.28, “The Real Board of Directors“.)
This is where we begin to understand the role of the Health Research Foundations. The connection is not surprising, given that the chemical companies are the flip-side of the pharmaceutical companies – one owns the other. In the legislative realm, on the chemical company side (herbicide resistant seed) we have the proposed changes to the Plant Breeders’ Rights Act. On the flip-side, pharmaceutical company interests will be served by the proposed changes to the Food and Drug Act. (If the changes go through, it will be up to consumers to prove if harm has been done by pharmaceuticals jointly developed by the Companies and the Government, licensed and ostensibley “Regulated” by the Government.)
– Use public money to further a privatization agenda. Bio-technology was never debated in Parliament or in the Legislatures or mainstream media. By far the majority of Canadians are opposed to foodstuffs such as wheat that has been engineered to be resistant to herbicides. In spite of that, “The Province established Innovation Place on the U of S campus in 1980, and has invested well over $700 million attracting agbiotech companies to Saskatoon“. The Federal Government has invested heavily. Huge amounts of public money and public researchers are used.
The transfer of genes between species is not restricted to agricultural crops. We discussed the documentary, “Life Running Out of Control” (German documentary maker of international repute, North American premiere in Saskatatchewan this February). Tax-payers are the enablers, or the serfs, providing the money to Government, thereby to Corporations, to make this all happen.
A major tool for accomplishing this task of “moving the economy into institutions” is through the use of what I have called “Government fronts”: Agwest Biotech, Biotech Canada, Health Research Foundations and so on. The money for biotechnology is moved from the Government to an outfit called Agwest Biotech. The citizen has no way of knowing that this is a Government organization. Agwest Biotech and Biotech Canada could intervene in the Monsanto vrs Schmeiser case on the side of Monsanto, with no public outcry because the public doesn’t know and there is no Government official that one can hold accountable. How the money is spent does not come under public scrutiny.
As you can see, it is very convenient to “move the economy into institutions”.
b. THE HEALTH RESEARCH FOUNDATIONS
What is currently happening in Health Canada is very much part of the transgenics agenda – biotechnology in pharmaceuticals/healthcare. The process is the same as used in Agriculture to create “the ownership of seeds”. Starve the Government research functions, weaken the Department, move in personnel sympathetic to industry, form “public-private partnerships” with transnational corporations, use public money to fund the partnership work which is out-of-the-control of democratic process, make legislative changes that favour the industry. The public good, the “commons” are sold off.
I accidentally stumbled into a meeting of the Health Research Foundation in December. I had not heard about the HRF’s. (I think there is one in every province.) The Provincial Minister of Health, John Nilson, welcomed the participants. He departed, leaving the power-point presentations to competent officials.
– I listened to a lot of vacuous hyperbole about how Saskatchewan lags behind all jurisdictions in health research. … It is not actually “vacuous hyperbole”. It is a standard tool: step 1, create fear.
– And then heard the wonderful panacea: health research is to be pursued through “partnerships”.
– and that a criterion for funding is the “POTENTIAL FOR COMMERCIALIZATION”.
Hmmm – familiar pattern?
Especially after Donna’s documentation about the cancellation of Health Canada research into childhood cancer, research that was poking into CAUSE, the alarm bells started ringing as I was listening to the “strategic plan” for the Health Research Foundation.
This was a meeting of health professionals, scientists, researchers, people from the pharmaceutical industry, and government officials. Fortunately, they did not identify me as a non-member. And I was first at the microphone after the Government presenter.
THE ARGUMENT PRESENTED TO THE HEALTH RESEARCH FOUNDATION
“The research that does NOT get done is often more critical than the research that DOES get done.”
There is a fundamental problem with the strategic plan for the Health Research Foundation which prioritizes “research that has the “potential for commercialization“.
I use two examples to illustrate the problem:
a) The MS Society does not do research into potential connections between MS and pesticides, in spite of the fact that Saskatchewan and Alberta have the highest incidence in the world, and Saskatchewan buys 36% of the pesticides sold in Canada – a connection is at least PLAUSIBLE, but there is no research. Why? The pharmaceutical/chemical complex of companies, through funding to the “disease” organizations, influences what research gets done.
The “potential for commercialization” exists in the “find a cure” approach.
There is no “potential for commercialization” for research directed at “cause”.
b) This is most egregious. It is about childhood cancer. Childhood cancer has escalated by 25% in 25 years in Canada. There is a photograph taken of 8 teen-age friends from the hamlet of Furdale south of Saskatoon. Three of these children were diagnosed with cancer. Two are now deceased. A 4th friend (not in the picture) was diagnosed this summer past.
Health Canada WAS doing research. One of their main objectives was to collect information on geographic region & cancer site of the patients. The data from at least one of the Furdale children was targetted for inclusion in the study. Guess what? the funding was cut. There is obviously no “potential for commercialization”.
The Government of Saskatchewan, through a vehicle called “the Health Research Foundation, will use my money to fund research that has the “potential for commercialization”, research that will benefit the pharmaceutical companies who won’t then have to pay to develop their bio-tech drugs. You want me to pay for it. While the Governments stop funding the research that will lead to a reversal in the numbers of children that get cancer? (Canadian Childhood Cancer Surveillance and Control Program (Health Canada) – because it addresses the CAUSES of the cancer, but has no commercial value? …
ANYTHING that has to do with REMOVAL OF CAUSE does not have POTENTIAL FOR COMMERCIALIZATION. Meanwhile the rate of childhood cancer in Canada has escalated by 25% in 25 years; the trend will continue and escalate DUE TO A POLICY DECISION OF GOVERNMENT TO PURSUE “PUBLIC-PRIVATE PARTNERSHIPS” AND CONCOMMITANT HEALTH RESEARCH THAT HAS THE POTENTIAL FOR COMMERCIALIZATION.
Aaach! There is a stream of expletives I would like to use. This is criminal behaviour.
(Documentation of the fate of the Canadian Childhood Cancer Surveillance and Control Program (Health Canada), (INSERT hyperlink )
The research agenda for health is very much about funding bio-tech (pharmaceutical) – just like the changes that gutted the research at Ag Canada research stations was about handing the seed sector (“the commons”) over to transgenic/chemical transnational corporations (P3’s – we can afford to hand over billions to these transnational corporations, but we cannot afford to fund the public research function). Have to have “matched funding” – so it’s taxpayers that foot a large part of the bill for the development; the regulatory function disappears. This is very serious stuff.
The contract with Monsanto continues in spite of the outrage it represents.
Today’s status quo has been developing since the early 1980’s. Michael Wilson (Government of Brian Mulroney) was an initiator and continues to be. Under Chretien the process intensified. The depth of collaboration between biotech and Government is deep. Tax-payers are paying for “Life Running out of Control“. In plant transgenics the chemical companies have received incredible amounts of Government money (documented in “The Real Board of Directors“). Their owners, the pharmaceutical companies, through the Health Research Foundations are now onboard for the dole, too.
When I fit Donna’s story – cancer research which would have looked at cause, discontinued funding – into the picture that “The Real Board of Directors” paints, I am called to arms. Just as bio-tech domination leads to herbicide-resistant crops with NO consideration given to nutritive value, impact on environment, etc. etc., health research based on “matched funding” with “the potential for commercialization” will ensure a continuing and rising stream of patients for the “medicare system” because it does not address the causes of disease.
The “Real Board of Directors” is very well documented. The manner in which everything fits together is insidious.
The funding that happens through bodies whose names give no clue that Government is the main funding source happens big time through countless organizations.
c. WATER DEVELOPMENT
i. THE LOCAL POLITICAL SITUATION. Agrivision Corporation, ACRE.
A 3rd parallel where exactly the same thing is being attempted is in water. I will use the local names to illustrate the point that a small number of dedicated people typically carry the agenda forward. Others follow like sheep.) As Red Williams (President) said at the Agrivision conference, the agenda is to “move the economy into institutions” (institutions like AgWest Biotech where citizens have no influence).
Here is where the Saskatchewan Council for Community Development(SCCD) comes in. The Federal Government has a funding programm called CARDS (the Canadian Adaptation and Rural Development Program). The GOVERNMENT does not administer the public money, which is “a $240 million, four-year fund”. Who does? “Industry-led adaptation councils” in the provinces. In Saskatchewan, CARDS money is administered by SCCD, the Director of which is Linda Pipke. I met Linda when she sat down at the same table as me, at the Agrivision Conference.
Agrivision received in the neighbourhood of $300,000 from CARDS to do the 50-year plan for the development of the water resource in Saskatchewan. I am told that they also received money ($298,000) from PFRA (Federal Govt).
As Red Williams stated at the conference, there will be a “Comprehensive Water Development Corporation” and a “Water Council”. Red’s friend, Wayne Clifton (Clifton and Associates, an engineering company) was at this conference and has been designated to head up the Water Council. At last year’s conference Wayne gave the presentation about all the water in the underground aquifers that is waiting to be developed. (But could not provide any information about the Government’s knowledge of recharge rates, especially under conditions of climate change, or about whether it has some means of measuring even current withdrawal.) Clifton provides the water engineering for Florian Possberg’s hog barns (Big Sky Pork Production which has 75% of its financing supplied by the Government). Florian sits on the Board of Directors of Agrivision and heads the Business Development function of the ACRE (Action Committe on Rural Economy) Committee.
(INSERT: by 2010 Clifton was writing the new regulatory regime for the Sask Department of Environment.)
ii. GOVERNMENT INVOLVEMENT
At the Agrivision Conference, personal and SPECIFIC endorsements and congratulations from Federal Finance Minister Ralph Goodale and Prime Minister Paul Martin were projected on the big screen, with apologies from Ralph that he couldn’t be in attendance. (when I say “specific” I mean that time was taken to record a message from both the Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance, specifically for this occasion.) Red Williams is well-connected to the Liberals, he’s the President of the provincial Liberals.
Clay Serby, (NDP) Provincial Minister for Rural Revitalization gave the luncheon address; he is very supportive of the work of Agrivision as witnessed here, and again at the ACRE meetings where he and Red were present.
Doug Matthies, Deputy Minister of Agriculture, sits on the Board of Directors of Agrivision Corporation.
Given Paul Martin’s and Ralph Goodale’s big screen performances, there is significant Federal Government support (politically) for Agrivision’s plans for the “development” of the water resource in Saskatchewan. The “development” agenda is being promoted, not under the auspices of a Provincial Government Department that can be held to account, but through Agrivision Corporation. Business interests are represented, with access to large amounts of public funding.
(You can understand my relief, The Provincial Government through Ministers Prebble and Forbes (SaskWater and Sask Watershed Authority) are now pro-actively fighting the influence of Agrivision.)
CONFLICTS-OF-INTEREST abound. As we have seen in our work, this is a common characteristic of “moving the economy into institutions” process. The final question I got to ask (before access to microphone was blocked) was to Clay Serby (Provincial Minister for Rural Re-vitalization and luncheon speaker), about the Govt officials who sit on the Board of Directors of Agrivision Corporation alongside industry people they are supposed to regulate and who have a large vested interest. This was after Clay’s speech, the first half of which was about the necessity to separate the water developers from the regulatory function (rhetoric in light of the facts).
Excerpts from the Agrivision Corporation Web-site:
Agrivision Board of Directors . . .
C.M. (Red) Williams PAg, President
Neil Ketilson, General Manager Sask Pork (intensive livestock operations)
Stuart Kramer, President Sask Water
Doug Matthies, Deputy Minister Saskatchewan Agriculture, Food & Rural Revitalization (Sask Ag and Food signs the permits for Intensive Livestock Operations; Sask Environment’s participation is pseudo.)
Florian Possberg, President Big Sky Farms is the “entrepreneur” behind Big Sky Pork Production (intensive livestock operation). He has just under 5% equity. The Government has a 75% interest, depending on how you calculate their participation. Big Sky is also called a Crown Corporation. I have been at conferences that have Government funding and where Florian has been introduced as the wonderful “entrepreneur”, setting an example for economic development through his company “Big Sky”.
We don’t hear the same rhetoric any more. People like Isabel Muzichuk, Elaine Hughes and Cathy Holtslander are adept at calling the farce in front of an audience.
Later, you will see the same names related to the “ACRE Committee” – Clay Serby, Red Williams, Florian Possberg, Linda Pipke. They appear to be the active members. I attended the ACRE meeting in Unity, SK. Williams and Pipke were 2 of the 5 presenters, Serby attended. Possberg was one of the presenters in Tisdale and Yorkton. Do I beat them up because they give their time? No. The problem is their agenda, well-intentioned (?) as it might be.
iv. HIGHLY SELECTIVE AND MISLEADING INFORMATION = PROPAGANDA. NO ACCOUNTABILITY.
At the Agrivision “Drought-Proofing the Economy” Conference Graham Parsons gave the main presentations about the water resource. (He is an economist.)
The credibility of the information supplied by Dr. Parsons is dependent upon an ignorant audience.
Just one example (question I asked of him): “You have a graph which shows the fluctuation in the water levels of the South Saskatchewan River in the period 1912 to present. The graph shows declining fluctuation which you present as a positive consequence of a large dam on the River. (aside: Agrivision is promoting dams and irrigation.)
What is the change in VOLUME of water in the River over the same period?
Response from Presenter Graham Parsons: yes, the fluctuations have declined, etc.
Questioner (me) interrupts: I did not ask about fluctuation, I clearly asked “What is the change in the VOLUME of water?
Response from presenter Graham Parsons: he never did answer the question.
The answer is that over the period 1910 to present, the volume of water has decreased by 80%. The flow level is 20% of what it was in 1912. (UPDATE: in the fall of 2010 the graphs show that the volume of water is now at 16% of what it was in 1912.)
Several other questions from others and myself drew attention to the selective nature of the information presented, all of which contributed to a very skewed understanding, provided by an “expert”, as newspaper reports referred to Graham Parsons. It amounts to propaganda. It’s okay for me: I’ve worked on water issues and know truth from fiction. But an intention to deceive is not okay. Perhaps it is only ignorance. Neither is that okay.
Agrivision Corporation gets a lot of money from Governments. Radio advertising is expensive. They’ve got the money to run ads on rural radio stations. Can anyone be held responsible for the propaganda they spread?
The opportunities they are creating for “equity interests” in water? Backed by the Federal Government? Public-Private-Partnerships, “win-win relationships?
d. CROWN LANDS
Red Williams is co-chair of the Crown Lands Sub-committee of ACRE and gave its presentation at the Unity meeting I attended. The Summary Recommendation put forward by ACRE (November 2004) for Crown Lands: “… The subcommittee recommends that Crown land that is not held for important policy reasons be sold, or treated as a commercial asset.”.
In elaboration, “Acre recommends the Crown land inventory should be divided into two categories …”. “Land that is deemed surplus” is recommended to be disposed of. The remainder of the land “Should be administered by one government agency mandated to use the land to facilitate economic activity while ensuring it is protected and preserved for future generations …. adequate resources must be provided to the agency in order that the true potential of the portfolio be achieved. …” (I will be accused of quoting out of context, no doubt!)
Alas for me! when I see “the process” in biotechnology, then see the same thing in healthcare, the agenda repeated in water … whoa! Consolidation in one agency sounds like a first step toward “moving the economy into institutions” – this time the resource is Crown Lands. The talk about provision of “adequate resources” adds to my suspicion that Red is repeating the “move the economy into institutions” approach he is attempting for water development.
Here’s the clincher that Red heads the Crown Lands Sub-Committee for a reason:
I was very curious about one of the recommendations (#8 The Provincial Lands Act, Item h): “Provide authority to acquire lands that are deemed to be in the public interest.” ?? Doesn’t the Government already have the authority to expropriate land? I didn’t have to ask the question. Another woman put the question, “What is the reason for this recommendation?”. Red’s ego got the best of him. His response was “That item is there because I want it there!” It was kind of him to explain: land will be required for the reservoirs created by the dams, and their drainage areas. (It will be public money, of course, that will buy the lands.)
I note that not at this meeting, but at the Agrivision Conference Red explained that there would be room for “equity interests” in the reservoirs. (Remember, these people are well connected to Ralph Goodale Minister of Finance, and through him, Paul Martin. They are getting Federal Government money to promote “equity interests” in water which is part of “the commons”.) Al Scholz (Executive Director of Agrivision) attended the press conference on the Water Conservation Plan yesterday (as did Red). I overheard media interviews with Al where he waxed enthusiastically about “public private partnerships” in the water development agenda.
Public Private Partnerships = “Foundations”, Corporations”, etc. with no accountability. You and I haven’t a clue it’s our tax money pushing the agenda.
Red specifically mentioned the Great Sand Hills (GSH) – the problems for development, while addressing the Committee’s recommendations for Crown Lands. (we have fought hard in the GSH against re-zonings which allow the oil and gas industry to do piece-by-piece encroachments into critical habitat for endangered species.) It would suit the oil and gas companies to have the Crown Lands administered by one “institution” (AgWest Biotech parallel).
I do not claim that change is not needed, holding desperately to a status quo. What I am saying is that the process vis-a-vis biotechnology in Canada is wrong – it’s not the way things are done in a democracy. It is wrong in relation to healthcare. I will fight to ensure that it does not get repeated in the development of water and crown lands.
We fight relentlessly, and for years, to force the Government to do the right thing, to look after the commons. That is what they are elected and paid to do. The issues consistently come down to one thing: corruption.
In a corrupted system you can never win.
(3) Accounting systems historically guard against human greed by having built-in safeguards to expose corruption. Government fronts do the opposite. They create a fertile field in which corruption flourishes. There is lots to money to attract the corrupt.
The corruption is ABSOLUTELY PREDICTABLE. Read Jane Jacobs “Systems of Survival, the Moral Foundations of Commerce and Politics“. Societies have evolved two sets of morals (after all the big universal ones like “do unto others”), one for the “guardian” or Government sphere and the other for the “trader” or business sphere. Societies have to understand the distinction between the two sets of morals.
The morals serve a purpose. They have evolved to be different because the purpose they serve is different. Jacobs is not the only thinker who explains this to us. You cannot mix the two together. We have been told over and over: the consequence is corruption. Precisely.
The consequences of various forms of corruption in a society are simply too debilitating for the practices to be tolerated. At one time the citizenry of Uganda participated in and enjoyed the fruits of its well-functioning society. We fool ourselves if we think we are immune from the same fate as Uganda.
(The item below, dynamic systems, explains the principles.) There is ample evidence that Canada today is an African country in its system of governance. Jacobs’ work makes clear the inevitability and the consequences (corruption and poverty walk hand-in-hand because money that should be used to further the public good is misappropriated).
(4) HOW DO PRINCIPLES OF DYNAMIC SYSTEMS INSTRUCT US ON THIS TOPIC?
(a) FEATURES OF DYNAMIC SYSTEMS
It is important to understand this. Hence the detail.
All systems have feedback mechanisms. The purpose of the feedback is to generate corrective action to bring a system that is off-kilter back to stability. If the problems in a system are left unattended, over time the system disintegrates. If feedback is responded to with an inappropriate corrective action, the system will disintegrate. Stability is returned when there is appropriate action taken in a timely way.
Feedback mechanisms work the same whether the dynamic system is in the economic, environmental, living organism, government, or human sphere. In business, falling net income tells the owners that something is wrong. They might respond with attempts to increase sales, which may or may not be the “appropriate” response. If costs are running out-of-control, the response would be the wrong one, and the system would continue to deteriorate.
Falling revenues in the Atlantic cod fishery led the Federal Government to invest more money. Bigger trawlers meant that fishermen could travel further afield and cover more territory. More money kept more people in the industry. The response was inappropriate. The problem was declining cod stocks; additional money meant they were hammered further. Ten years after the moratorium (the correct response, but taken too late), the cod fishery showed no signs of recovery. And other interdependent fisheries show signs of trouble. A once-dynamic ecological system is no longer, because the feedback information was misused. (Jacobs uses this example in “The Nature of Economies“. I lived in N.S. over the period of time that saw the collapse of the once-healthy and valuable cod fishery.)
The human body is a dynamic system full of feedback mechanisms. I am told when my bladder is full and requires emptying. I respond in an appropriate and timely way. A headache tells me I require rest, or that I’m trying to do too many things, or that I’ve eaten food to which I am allergic. It tells me there is corrective action to be taken to return my body to stability. If I ignore the feedback, fail to deal effectively with the causes, my body will continue to send the flashing red warning signals that something is wrong. If corrective action is not taken in a timely fashion, the body will send ever-louder signals that something is wrong. Conditions become chronic, disease sets in. The once-dynamic system weakens and deteriorates. At some point conditions become irreversible.
How do we respond to feedback? Among the inappropriate responses are:
– ignore it
– discount it
– make the wrong response (“Forget about cause. We’ll find a cure for (cancer or whatever)”
– respond, but too late.
Like the cod fishery, or as in business, we don’t have the power to change the rules of dynamic systems. Anywhere you look, the rules are the same and they govern. There are books that describe dynamic systems.
I have made reference to one rule, but it so important that it needs to be high-lighted: the longer the feedback goes unattended, the harder it becomes to return the system to stability. Simple corrective action will work when the system is slightly out-of-whack. Drastic action is required if you wait too long to do anything.
People will say the second world war HAD to be fought, which means that war is justified in some circumstances. That is true. BUT. It is only true in situations where the response to the feedback in a (political) system is not taken in time, or when the wrong response is used. People have waited until the only corrective action available to them is the DRASTIC measure.
War is an example of drastic action necessary because people did not respond in a timely and appropriate fashion to the feedback they were receiving about the political system. “Nip it in the bud” is the sound policy!
The other lesson reinforced by the Altantic Cod fishery and worth spelling out: once you cross over the hump, the system starts caving in on itself with increasing speed. You can’t know when you’ve reached the hump (“tipping point”). There is no chance of retrieval after the hump. (continued in first paragraph below.)
(b) WHEN DO WE BECOME POWERLESS TO BRING ABOUT APPROPRIATE RESPONSE IN A TIMELY WAY? SOME THOUGHTS
(You might like the documentary “Blue Eyed”. “Blue Eyed” will tell you more about powerlessness than I can convey.)
1) You have no power to return a system to stability AFTER it reaches a critical point. Beyond that point the powers of disintegration are of sufficient size and momentum that they cannot be reined in or overcome. The forces in the system that could normally move the system back to stability are too weak to overcome the forces of disintegration. In the work on the Great Sand Hills we learned that when the critical point has been passed and the system has begun collapsing, the speed of collapse accelerates as the system caves in on itself. True not only in an ecological system but also in a system of governance. ” … system collapse caused by each succeeding effect interacting with others and introducing “feedback” into the processes so that the effects become progressively more intense as they become more numerous (each new effect would be greater than its predecessor, even if the action was not).” (A straw placed on a camel’s back will have little effect. But the last straw, even though it is the same weight and placement as the first, will break the camel’s back.)
How do you know when the critical point has been reached? … Depending on the value of the system, the cost of ignoring the feedback in order to determine the critical point, is too high. You run the risk of losing the whole system.
2) The documentary “Blue Eyed” shows that you are powerless in a political system if you do not have support. It seems obvious. But people in a majority or “power” situation usually have little comprehension of the truth experienced by the minority “powerless as individuals” and its implications for everyone in the society. (We share information to gain support and thereby power to get appropriate and timely response. It is essential to do so.)
3) Does being right, true or honest give you power? No. The rules of dynamic systems are mechanical. “Right” and “wrong” are factors that apply in a different realm. In the case of Monsanto and attempted bribery that was the subject of a Senate Hearing, it is substantiated: those who do the right thing are often the ones who suffer. We know the Government continues to fund Monsanto – the wrong-doers are rewarded.
A corrupt regime rewards corruption and thereby reinforces corrupt behavior.
It is a cancer which grows. Lobby and fight for the right as hard as you want, the more corrupt the regime, the less power you have. Look in Africa.
Stated in terms of dynamic systems: Government is a dynamic system. We know the feedback in Canada: scandal after scandal. If we don’t gain the power to bring the ship back to stability, it will flounder. And eventually sink. (Aaah – but it would be so nice to ignore the feedback!)
4) Networking in Canada is premised on the power of information. We have learned how to get information into the hands of many people. We have learned that we are NOT powerless if we can counter the control that companies and the government have over information. Through “spin doctors”, “communications specialists”, and “advertising executives” we are fed propaganda and outright lies. (There was an incident in the fight against the Meridian Dam where the Government put out a press release. The credibility of the press release was dependent upon the public not knowing the actual set of circumstances. When you knew the truth, which we did, then it was easy to see how misleading “the truth” presented by the Government was. This is our own Government, (expletive deleted). We countered by documenting the two “truths” side-by-side, and then suggesting to the Government officials that they write their own press releases instead of assigning them to “communications specialists”. The communications specialists contribute to the cynicism about Government because there are informed and intelligent people who see through the propaganda.
5) You are powerless if you buy into a myth of powerlessness fed by the society. You cannot discern what is a lie if you are uninformed or gullible and if you are disconnected from your intuitive powers. It is simply not smart to be those things which young women have traditionally been taught to be: “cute” and not competent in “male” activities. Male and female, we are all taught to “be nice”. “If you can’t say something good about a person, don’t say anything at all.” We are programmed to conform. Don’t rock the boat. Engage with your television set. Have low expectations of ourselves, or of our governments, and of our neighbours. …. All these serve the goals of those who will benefit from our complacency. (The role of low expectations in the creation of powerlessness is addressed in “Blue Eyed”.)
6) You are powerless if you don’t think for yourself. You lose power when you become dependent. Making you dependent works to the advantage of those who would have power. So beware! Especially if the offer is a financial reward.
7) You lose power if you do not know that boundaries are okay and necessary. Sometimes you have to draw your line in the sand. And stick by it if you are to survive. We can recognize the value of “Compromise” but you are:
– feeding your own weakness if you do not know when and how to draw your line in the sand.
You can compromise yourself all the way to hell and war.
A society that buys into the myth of “compromise” as an over-riding virtue is more easily manipulated. So beware of the motives of others if you are attacked for being “single-minded” or “unwilling to compromise”. Compromise sometimes falls into the category of an “inappropriate response” to the feedback a dynamic system is sending out. You have only to look at World War II to know that.
If we understand the system we can know the path to trod.
(c) THE APPROPRIATE RESPONSE TO CORRUPTION IS …
Scandal after scandal. Understandable and predictable when Government fronts are used to funnel money to places where there is no accountability.
We don’t require more feedback. We need to take the appropriate corrective action right now, today. I don’t know how far along the path to disintegration we are. Citizens today are making huge efforts to bring about correction. If the system does not respond, drastic action is required. What’s drastic? My tax money enables the corruption. I won’t be paying taxes?!
We have a well-established history of Government policy that has been disastrous. Just one among many examples: WITHOUT the mountain of “Economic Analysis” used to justify the abandonment of rail-based transportation infrastructure in favour of trucking, people KNEW intuitively that it was wrong-headed policy. Think of the costs of that one policy alone, to the environment, to tax-payers and to the health of rural communities in Canada.
If we have learned the lessons of our history, it is that wrong policies MUST be fought, and they must be won. Too much is at stake, especially in today’s world, to lose even one of the smaller battles that cumulatively will bring about a change in direction.
I hope this information will be useful to you (Auditor General Sheila Fraser) in your efforts to serve the public interest.
APPENDED (1 of 2): REUTERS NEWS REPORT
(link no longer valid)
Ottawa Rapped for Stashing Billions in Foundations
Tuesday, February 15, 2005 4:47:48 PM ET
By David Ljunggren
OTTAWA (Reuters) – An official report on Tuesday rapped Ottawa for parking billions of dollars in secretive foundations, dealing another blow to a minority Liberal government already under fire for mismanaging public funds.
Auditor-General Sheila Fraser said she was concerned that Parliament and government had little say over the running of the largely independent foundations, which have received C$9 billion ($7.3 billion) since 1997. More than C$7.7 billion of this has yet to be spent.
Fraser’s regular reports have immense political weight. A year ago she plunged the government into a protracted crisis by revealing that C$100 million in public sponsorship funds had been funneled to Liberal-friendly advertising firms.
Anger over the scandal cost Liberal Prime Minister Paul Martin his parliamentary majority in an election last June.
The 15 foundations are arm’s-length corporations that the Liberals set up in the years after 1997 to provide long-term funding for university scholarships and to boost research as well as develop technologies to help the environment.
Fraser said in a report that the foundations — which do not report to Parliament through a minister — were largely unaccountable and she added it would be hard to discover whether the money was being misspent.
Asked whether she thought possible wrongdoings in the foundations would ever become public knowledge, Fraser told a news conference: “No, I’m not convinced that would happen”.
She added: “These are very large sums of taxpayers’ money … and we truly believe that the accountability to Parliament is inadequate.”
When Finance Minister Ralph Goodale brings down his next budget on Feb. 23, he is expected to report a healthy surplus. Opposition parties fear he could park some of this in new foundations designed to fund expensive Liberal promises from last June’s election campaign, which include the creation of a C$5 billion national day care system.
“(The report) indicates the government has learned nothing from the sponsorship scandal. That scandal happened because the Liberals stashed millions away from the watch of Parliament,” said Stephen Harper, leader of the opposition Conservatives.
“Now we have, even after repeated warnings, billions of dollars continue to be hidden away in these unaccountable foundations,” he told Parliament.
Fraser also said her office should be put in charge of auditing the foundations. The government said it disagreed with her conclusions and felt there was already adequate oversight.
Although the auditor-general’s office has been complaining about the foundations since 1999, Fraser said the government’s reaction was still unsatisfactory and noted there was no effective ministerial oversight of the bodies.
“The outcomes or benefits for Canadians resulting from billions of dollars transferred to foundations were not adequately reported,” she wrote. She also noted that it was almost impossible for the government to retrieve funds from the foundations if spending priorities changed.
© Reuters 2005. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of Reuters content, including by caching, framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Reuters. Reuters and the Reuters sphere logo are registered trademarks and trademarks of the Reuters group of companies around the world.
APPENDED (2 OF 2)
PPP’s (P3s) are usually associated with projects such as water supply (Hamilton example), and Toll Highways. Our work on RR wheat has been a lesson on how P3s work in reality (not as in the rhetoric).
IS the relationship of the Govt of Canada with companies like Monsanto a P3 (PPP or Public Private Partnership)? … I don’t see a distinction between the production of concrete objects such as water infrastructure and highways, and investment in research, so to me the relationship with Monsanto IS another example of a P3. In the end there are products (research, RR canola, RR wheat) through a collaborative and integrated effort between industry and government.
This “partnering” between Government and business is not in the public interest. The Government loses its ability to regulate. Systems of both governance and business become corrupted.
What I see is the wielding of fear as an instrument of coercion. … Turn this over to corporations or you will lose your healthcare and social programmes (Government can’t afford both). Corporations are on the “leading edge”, not Governments, so we HAVE TO go this route or we will languish in poverty. OTHER COUNTRIES will take our markets so we have to do this.
The attitude is also based on ignorance. (Not that I have a corner on the truth!) Refer to author Jane Jacobs, “Systems of Survival: a Dialogue on the Moral Foundations of Commerce and Politics“. We fail to distinguish between the functions of Government and Commerce at our peril. P3s fly full in the face of this wisdom.
In the promotion of P3s, the critical questions are not discussed.
Real cost information is not disclosed. In Hamilton, a City Councillor has to pay $2800 to obtain actual costs of the contract between the City and the company to which the water service has been contracted. In P3s, as with Government funding and promotion of genetic manipulation, there has been a paucity of public disclosure, debate and decision. Government and big business have worked together, made P3s a reality. It is delivered to you and to me, a fait accompli.
CANADIAN COUNCIL FOR PUBLIC-PRIVATE PARTNERSHIPS
I was told that the Government of Canada has a Department or agency for the promotion of P3s. I do not know if there is such a Department. If not, there may as well be one, based on the web information for the Canadian Council for Public-Private Partnerships. See the list of “Public Members” and the “Sponsoring Companies”. This is “the spin” and hype used:
http://www.pppcouncil.ca/aboutPPP_why.asp (Link no longer valid)
In an increasingly competitive global environment, governments around the world are focusing on new ways to finance projects, build infrastructure and deliver services. Public-private partnerships (PPP’s or P3’s) are becoming a common tool to bring together the strengths of both sectors. In addition to maximizing efficiencies and innovations of private enterprise, PPP’s can provide much needed capital to finance government programs and projects, thereby freeing public funds for core economic and social programs.
Three countries stand out as world leaders in the number and scale of PPP’s – the United Kingdom, Australia and the United States (primarily in water & wastewater), although many other countries have successfully implemented PPP projects and are benefiting from the results. What tends to distinguish the leader countries (UK and Australia) is that PPP activity is conducted through a comprehensive government program rather than on a one-off basis as we have tended to do in Canada and the USA.
Canada has developed considerable expertise in the PPP field, both domestically and internationally, and increasingly this is being done through coordinated provincial programs. A recent Council publication entitled “100 Projects: Selected Public-Private Partnerships Across Canada,”shows that PPP’s have become a successful vehicle to deliver public services in over 25 distinct sectors, at all levels of government. Canada has many high profile projects, such as the Confederation Bridge, Highway 407 Electronic Toll Route, Moncton Water Treatment Plant, St. Lawrence Seaway Commercialization, Kelowna Skyreach Place and Bruce Nuclear Power Plant lease. They demonstrate that PPP’s continue to be valuable contributors to our country’s economic health.