Saturday, July 14, 2007

TILMA Blues: Dissecting Canada for Easy Digestion

B.C. Premier shines spotlight on free trade

Progress has been 'slow' on efforts to remove inter-provincial barriers, he says


July 7, 2007

IQALUIT -- It wasn't even on the agenda, but the seemingly dry subject of provincial free trade stole some of the spotlight at a meeting between western premiers yesterday.

"When are we going to decide we are a country? When are we going to decide that the free movement of goods and people and services is something that is part of what a national identity should be?" British Columbia Premier Gordon Campbell told reporters after the annual conference wrapped up in Iqaluit.

He was flanked by the other three western premiers and three territorial leaders also in attendance. All wore seal-skin vests given to them by the Nunavut government, which hosted the event.

Mr. Campbell said Canada's premiers identified interprovincial trade as a key economic issue a decade ago, but have only made "slow progress on it" since.

B.C. and Alberta signed a first-of-its-kind interprovincial trade agreement that began coming into effect this spring. The deal, which is opposed by unions in both provinces, aims to slash trade barriers and red tape and increase labour mobility in a bid to create the country's second-largest economic trade zone, behind Ontario.

Both governments were confident that the Trade, Investment and Labour Mobility Agreement would become an example for the rest of the country. However, no other provinces have acted on it or joined it.

Both Manitoba Premier Gary Doer and Saskatchewan Premier Lorne Calvert have serious reservations about signing an agreement such as TILMA.

However, Mr. Doer said issues such as increasing labour mobility between provinces is critical, and he expects major progress will be made at a meeting between the premiers next month in Moncton.

While the western premiers couldn't agree on everything, they said they made progress on long-standing issues such as native relations and northern devolution. The politicians have jointly asked the federal government to start up devolution negotiations as early as this fall.

A devolution agreement with Ottawa would put the Northwest Territories and Nunavut on a more equal footing with the provinces. Those territorial governments would finally be able to manage public lands and natural resources. They would also be entitled to resource-revenue sharing with the federal government.

Yukon already has a devolution deal with Ottawa that took effect in 2003.

Nunavut Premier Paul Okalik said the politicians also made strides on climate change. He said they discussed alternative energy sources and sharing research about the consequences of climate change.

"We can't stop what's happening now, so we have to reform our ways and prepare ourselves better," he said.

Next year's western premiers conference will be held in Saskatoon, and Mr. Calvert said Prime Minister Stephen Harper was welcome to attend.

Relations between Mr. Calvert's government and Ottawa have been strained recently over the issue of resource revenue. Mr. Harper even travelled to Saskatchewan this week - while Mr. Calvert was in Iqaluit - and told reporters the provincial government was "ungrateful."

Mr. Calvert said yesterday the Prime Minister was simply trying to divert attention from breaking a promise about reforms to the federal government's equalization program.

Provinces sluggish on free-trade agreement: B.C., Alta.

Last Updated: Friday, July 6, 2007 | 4:52 PM CT

The premiers of Alberta and British Columbia say they're frustrated with delays in getting other premiers to sign on to an interprovincial trade agreement.

Ed Stelmach and Gordon Campbell, both speaking Friday at the end of the western premiers' conference in Iqaluit, said they want the other provinces to agree to the Trade, Investment and Labour Mobility Agreement (TILMA), which both provinces signed last year. It came into effect April 1.

"We have to deal with issues that are trade barriers within the country of Canada," Stelmach said. "They're significant, they're impeding trade, they're increasing costs. And we want to take this agreement further and we've had, of course, interest paid by other premiers."

TILMA allows businesses, tradespeople and professionals to work and move back and forth across provincial borders with less red tape.

Under the agreement, businesses in the two provinces don't face duplicate registration requirements, and occupational standards for professionals like engineers and teachers are harmonized. As well, government procurement is more open to suppliers in both provinces.

But some provinces, like Saskatchewan, have expressed concern that by signing on to TILMA, they may lose control over what happens within their boundaries.

Saskatchewan's New Democrat government is concerned the province's Crown corporations could be hurt by the deal, as it would give all companies equal status in applying for government contracts. And just last week, the Opposition Saskatchewan Party announced it would not sign onto TILMA if elected, saying the deal may take away too much power from the provincial government.

Other jurisdictions are concerned that businesses registered in one province may have to be recognized in another.

But Campbell said all provinces identified the free movement of goods, labour and services as an issue more than a decade ago, so he doesn't understand why there's been so little movement in making TILMA a countrywide agreement.

"I'm proud of the fact that we've got TILMA signed between Alberta and British Columbia, and I think it's time for us to decide whether we're a country or not," Campbell said.

"I think it's ridiculous that someone can be trained as a teacher in Manitoba and isn't able to teach in British Columbia."

All of Canada's premiers will discuss the standardized accreditation and mobility of labour at the Council of the Federation meeting next month in Moncton, N.B. At the meeting of the council, which brings together premiers and territorial leaders to deal with "collaborative intergovernmental relations," Campbell and Stelmach said they'll try to convince everybody to consider signing on to the agreement.

All the western and northern premiers ended the Iqaluit meeting Friday with promises to work together on issues such as climate change, education and infrastructure.

TILMA opposition encouraged
Northern Sentinel

By Tom Fletcher

Opposition critics are urging municipalities to keep the pressure on the B.C. government over its new trade deal with Alberta.

NDP municipal affairs critic Charlie Wyse and economic development critic Jenny Kwan have sent a letter to local councils across the province, the latest step in a campaign against the Trade, Investment and Labour Mobility Agreement (TILMA), which went into effect in April. The letter accuses the B.C. Liberal government of giving contradictory answers on the key question of whether municipalities will be open to bylaw challenges or financial penalties from Alberta businesses demanding equal treatment.

Economic Development Minister Colin Hansen has rejected suggestions that TILMA could affect local bylaws governing things like building heights, billboard sizes, noise levels or pesticide use if local rules were stricter than those in Alberta.

The NDP's letter notes that while a B.C. government backgrounder states "municipalities are not required to defend their own measures or pay monetary awards," it gave a different answer in response to a legal opinion obtained by the Union of B.C. Municipalities (UBCM). There it said: "The course of action that the Province would take in any dispute proceeding involving municipalities would depend on the particular circumstances of the dispute."

Hansen has also promised that the Union of B.C. Municipalities will be represented in discussions to clarify grey areas during a transition period that ends in April of 2009. And it appears that significant grey areas remain.

"The agreement is vague and there are no precedents, so one of the issues for councils and boards is the uncertainty that surrounds TILMA," lawyer Donald Lidstone wrote in his analysis for the UBCM.

Lidstone said the key issues relate to tendering for municipal work, whether business regulations will be harmonized, municipal assistance to local business, and "the remote possibility that a regulatory (including land use) bylaw might have the effect of restricting or impairing an investment in British Columbia by an Alberta investor."

Wyse said in an interview the transition period means municipalities have time before they must open up bidding for major goods, services and construction contracts, but bylaws they pass now will soon fall under TILMA rules.

The NDP letter says TILMA is the latest in a series of moves by the B.C. Liberal government to restrict local government control. Others include:

• the 2003 Significant Projects Streamlining Act, allowing the government to overrule local authorities on projects deemed "provincially significant."

• the 2006 legislation taking independent power projects out of the hands of local authorities. Energy Minister Richard Neufeld defended the move, saying projects such as wind and small hydroelectric power are a key part of B.C.'s energy plan and should be handled provincially, like mines and power dams.

• Bill 11, passed this spring, "allows the provincial cabinet to bypass regional districts and create 'instant' municipalities in rural areas to promote resort development," the NDP letter says.

• Bill 36, yet to be passed by the legislature, restructures the Lower Mainland transportation authority, removing day-to-day control from a board made up of municipal politicians.

Caelie Frampton
TILMA Campaign Coordinator

Want to learn more about TILMA and how we can join together and stop this new trade agreement?
Visit: .

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Bush Flirting with Nuclear Armageddon

Putin ‘Narrowly’ Averts US Nuclear Armageddon

By: Sorcha Faal, and as reported to her Western Subscribers
[for complete article links, please see original here.]

Russian Military Analysts are reporting today that this past weeks ‘Sudden-Summit’ between Presidents Putin and Bush in the United States has ‘narrowly averted an American nuclear Armageddon’ in which the Americans were planning a massive atomic strike upon Iran.

Putin was advised immediately prior to the ‘Sudden-Summit’ by Russian Military Commanders that the United States had issued the orders for a nuclear strike on Iran, and which has been further confirmed by the Washington Times News Service, and as we can read:

"International radio operators picked up large numbers of coded Air Force communications being sent around the world on June 26 that indicated some type of military activity was about to take place.

A U.S. military official said the radio traffic was monitored from the Air Force Global High Frequency System (GHFS) that some observers regarded as "extraordinary" because of the unprecedented length of messages. They were sent to Air Force commanders at Andrews Air Force Base; Wideawake Airfield on Ascension Island; Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska; Andersen Air Force Base, Guam; Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii; Lajes Field in the Azores; Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska; Salinas Air Base, Puerto Rico; Thule Air Base, Greenland; and Yokota Air Base, Japan. All are sites of GHFS ground stations.

The messages appeared to be emergency action messages, coded communications sent by the Joint Chiefs of Staff to U.S. Air Force strategic nuclear forces.

The messages sent June 26 included 174 characters, much longer than normal 30-character messages, and amateur radio monitors say they have not seen the size of this message since the 1991 Persian Gulf War."

Upon his learning of the Americans planned nuclear attack on Iran, Putin ordered an ‘immediate’ flight change to the United States while he was in route to Guatemala for the 2014 Olympic Games announcement, of which Russia was announced the winner.

These reports state that Putin was ‘blunt’ with the American War Leader Bush in stating that any nuclear attack upon Iran’s nuclear facilities, being built by Russian nuclear engineers and technicians, would be viewed by Russia as attack upon Russia itself.

These reports further state that the planned American nuclear strike upon Iran was to coincide with Israel’s long-planned invasion of Syria, and which their military forces are currently massed in what is described as the largest ‘war games’ on the Golan Heights since Israel’s capturing of this Syrian territory during the 1967 Six Day War.

Russian political analysts state the War Leaders of the United States are ‘frantic’ to engage the entire Middle East in Total War as the support for their present wars has eroded their standing among their citizens with over half of the American people are now calling for the impeachment of both President Bush and his Vice President Cheney.

Of great concern to the American War Leaders, also, is the impending invasion of Iraq by fellow NATO Member Turkey, and as we can read as reported by the International Herald Tribune:

"Turkey's government and military have agreed on detailed plans for a cross-border operation against Kurdish rebels based in northern Iraq, the foreign minister said Friday.

Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul urged the United States and Iraq, which oppose a Turkish military move into Iraq, to crack down on rebels of the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK. But he said Turkey was ready to stage an offensive if necessary.

"We have decided how to act, everything is clear," Gul told private NTV television. "We know what to do and when to do it," he said without providing details."

To the greatest concern, however, facing the American War Leaders is the fast coming implosion of their economy due to the massive strain of their war budget, and which is now approaching $1.4 trillion, and which has destabilized the World’s banking system leading many experts to believe the American banking system will be the ‘first to go’ and could likely lead to a Global Depression.

Sadly though, it is acknowledged in these reports that Putin’s ‘warnings’ to Bush this past week resulted in a delay only of the Americans planned attacks against Iran, and which the American War Leader ‘strongly suggested’ that if Putin was concerned about Russian casualties in Iran perhaps they shouldn’t be their in the first place.

As the World continues its mad plunge towards the nuclear abyss, one can only wonder what could possibly stop this insanity from happening.

© July 7, 2007 EU and US all rights reserved.

[Ed. Note: The United States government actively seeks to find, and silence, any and all opinions about the United States except those coming from authorized government and/or affiliated sources, of which we are not one. No interviews are granted and very little personal information is given about our contributors, or their sources, to protect their safety.]

Keeping Smaller Smaller

Record Group Lets Small Webcasters Pay Lower Rates
By Reuters.
LOS ANGELES - A group backed by the record industry that collects Internet music royalties said on Tuesday it would defer new copyright-payment rates for small Webcasters who claim the new payments would bankrupt them.

SoundExchange, which collects and distributes royalties from Webcasters and satellite radio, said the offer was for Webcasters with revenues of $1.25 million or less.

SoundExchange’s latest efforts follows mounting pressure and activity in Congress, where legislators have introduced bills to annul the pending royalty rate increase, which they say threatens the fledgling industry.

Saying it was seeking to address “alleged weaknesses in the small Webcasters’ businesses,” SoundExchange will defer new sharply higher royalty rates for these companies set by the U.S. Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) on May 1, 2007, that would be retroactive to January 1, 2006, and effective through 2010.

“Although the rates revised by the CRB are fair and based on the value of music in the marketplace, there’s a sense in the music community and in Congress that small Webcasters need more time to develop their businesses,” said John Simson, executive director of SoundExchange, which collects royalties on behalf of artists and big music companies like Warner Music Group Corp. and Vivendi’s Universal Music.

But an advocate for Internet radio operators on Tuesday criticized the offer by SoundExchange. “A proposal like this would doom small Webcasters and kill large Webcasters,” said Jake Ward, of the SaveNetRadio Coalition.

Ward said by deeming a Webcaster large and subject to the higher rates, due to its popularity, ignores the fact that many of these larger sites are still small, struggling companies.

“It would also force small companies to stay small,” he said, noting that certain companies might seek to stay below the higher rate levels. “There’s no question that Webcasters with government-set revenue caps would invest less, innovate less and promote less.”