Terry Cottam, very active activist in the Ottawa area, creator of this
page and associated discussion groups, died on Friday, November 5'th.
Please see his
Welcome to the MAI-Not! Project. With the exception of the links above, it has been inactive since the OECD gave up on the MAI in October. For up-to-date news and action, see the MAI-not newsgroup, the world's largest, searchable, anti-globalization archive. If you wish to subscribe, click here. Also, visit the sites listed below. Most are still active.
The proposed Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI) would have crippled our governments' ability to implement laws in the public interest, by permitting foreign-based corporations to directly sue our governments for huge settlements through an unaccountable MAI tribunal. But is the MAI really on the rocks? What next: an "MIA" at the WTO? The IMF? Similar rules are still planned in other treaties. As we have learned, the "forces of darkness" don't ever give up. The Globe and Mail likened it to a high-powered game of marbles."
|The MAI-Not! Project, OPIRG- Carleton (Ontario Public Interest Research Group) 1125 Colonel By Dr., Room 326 Unicentre, Carleton University Ottawa, Ontario K1S 5B6 Tel (613) 520-2757, Fax (613) 520-3989||
OPIRG-Ottawa (University of Ottawa)
also supports and endorses this campaign!
Tel (613) 230-3076
The MAI would further cripple our respective Parliaments' ability to implement laws in the public interest, by permitting foreign-based corporations to directly sue our governments for huge settlements through an unaccountable MAI tribunal. The MAI was developed to enable investors in multinational corporations to discourage any legislation issued by national or even subnational governments that foreign investors perceive as against their profit objectives.
The MAI would contain no provision to make investors accountable to national governments. If the MAI were signed and implemented, it would establish corporations as our final legal arbiter, with elected governments as their compliant puppets. In the words of Renato Ruggiero, Director General of the World Trade Organization, "we are writing the constitution of a single global economy."
The MAI is being negotiated with no meaningful consultation with the public. The MAI draft text was leaked to the Internet in April 1997. This treacherous proposal has been flushed out of secrecy, and its proponents put on the defensive, by a network of citizens, grassroots and national groups, and even concerned governments.
Under the ensuing public outcry, as well as pressure from dissenting countries, the OECD has responded with more deception: They have postponed further "negotiations" until October, but meanwhile pursue informal one-on-one "consultations" with governments which are more difficult to monitor, in order to whittle down their growing lists of reservations. Meanwhile, corporate media such as the Financial Times and Globe and Mail have spread propaganda that "the MAI is dead." To counter this mass deception, citizens groups such as Friends of the Earth U.S. have issued reports analyzing the OECD's real intentions. As for Canada, our government may try to bypass Parliament -- unless citizens hold Parliamentarians accountable on the MAI.
Speaking of Parliament, here are the recommendations(including NDP and Reform minority reports and more) and the transcripts of the Canadian government MAI hearings from last November. The most critical recommendations (e.g., calls for an "impact analysis") were ignored by the Minister. But growing public pressure prompted a few "town hall meetings" in March, 1998 by some Liberal MPs to gauge which way the "MAI-not wind" is blowing.
FSA Update: House bill delayed until fall. The government has delayed implementing legislation to harmonize Canada's Bank Act with the Financial Services Agreement (FSA) to which Canada signed an agreement in principle on 12 Dec 1997. But we still must act now and adamantly oppose any attempt to bypass full debate in Parliament, a practice now well-entrenched by our bureaucratic elites. Officially the WTO Agreement on Financial Services, the FSA would not by itself enable the sell-off of our financial sector. First, the so-called 10 per cent rule limiting foreign ownership would have to go. Will Canadian banks, who now insist on mega-mergers, press for this sooner or later? Like the MAI, the FSA may unconstitutional as it would tie the hands of future parliaments, in this case permanently. Democracy Watch suggests questions to ask our Canadian MPs. Use our free fax link to fax MPs before they vote on implementing legislation related to the FSA. Also see our FSA page, now with hyperlinks to WTO and Canadian Government. Our MP survey also asks questions on the FSA.
NEW: here's an article summarizing our campaign, including our next step: anti-deception training. We offer several campaign tools, including our second petition and survey of MPs. They do not replace lobbying and fighting, but instead give them better aim, i.e "we want answers." This can help force the MAI back into the media spotlight, and stop the government from using deception to force through bad proposals. In short, if politicians and their media proxies try to "sell" the MAI, we can be ready.
Why are so many politicians deceiving us?
Authorities by nature condition people to blindly trust them. We protest when they predictably betray us, but the deception continues to grow because we fail to expect them to report their intentions or meet certain standards of performance. The consequence is a treadmill: more and more politicians rarely answer our questions because we don't expect it, and because it might affect their careers. Our response is to "hold them to account" to force valid answers on the MAI. Some scientists have noticed this pervasive conditioning to "trust the experts." They have drafted the precautionary principle that it's our duty not to wait for scientific proof to oppose the MAI or any proposal where harm may result. Proponents must publicly state the MAI's alleged benefits and hazards, so that the public may challenge their validity. So here's how you can help:
TOOL #1: Our second
"no answers, no MAI" nor any other investment treaty.
We sent over 2,000 signatures of our first petition to our Trade Minister, Sergio Marchi, challenging him to answer "Who would benefit from the MAI, and why should they? Who would bear what costs and risks, and why should they?" Here is the petition news release. His predictable response not only dodged these questions, but did not divulge other equally-treacherous investment initiatives. So our second petition repeats our questions and asserts, "no answers, no MAI, nor any other multilateral investment proposal. Please print and circulate this second petition! (If you have signatures on the old petition, you can send them also.) Try seeking answers to these two questions in all your lobbying, fighting and public education. The more we publicize his attempts to "sell" the MAI (or withhold information), the more it becomes discredited by his failure to give full answers.
TOOL #2: Survey
shows whether MPs are informing themselves or not.
Our MP Survey audits the behaviour of all MPs (including the Minister) so that we may see if MPs are even answering at all, then embarrass those who don't comply. We ask: "1. Have you read the draft MAI text? 2. How else are you informing yourself? 3. What is your position on the MAI? 4. How are you informing your constituents?" Here in Canada, we learned that the NDP are informing themselves on the MAI and Financial Services Agreement (FSA), but most Liberals and other MPs never answered; only 25 of 300 responded. Here are the survey results. We learned that MPs feel more pressure to answer if their constituents send the survey, rather than non-constituent citizens groups like us. In future, with cross-country organization, we could use this survey to expose such MP incompetence and deception, and further discredit the parties which support the MAI.
In New Zealand, where almost the same survey happened (without the FSA), some MPs tried to discredit the survey organizers. It yielded similar results (an update was posted on the newsgroup): just one party (Alliance) informing themselves. The remainder represent ruling elites that need to be embarrassed into answering on the MAI.
With these tools, and our letters, we stop supplicating to
The usual practice of demanding or urging "please say no to MAI" hurts our interests because then we have to argue our opposition. But if we say, "we oppose the MAI until you tell us where you stand and give valid reasoning." then we can stop debating or arguing with non-compliant politicians. Rather, we put the onus on them to answer the "who" questions: "Who would gain? Who would lose from the MAI?"
"Holding to account" aims for long-term results
When called to account, when forced to answer publicly, the politician is reminded that voters are still boss. Since no-one willingly reports bad intentions, this not only stops a bad proposal like MAI, but over time leads to a cycle of public answering:
a) watch-dog groups feed questions to the media
b) media question the politicians
c) politicians answer to the cameras
d) watch-dog groups validate the answers.
Here's a summary from Henry McCandless, a director of the APA:
"We must change fundamentally how we relate to people in authority. The days of elections giving power of attorney for four years are over. Elected and appointed officials have lost our trust, and must earn it back. They must tell us the reasons for what they intend... When we exact that answering from them and validate it, it's called holding to account. Informed, we can then approve what our decision-makers propose, alter it or stop it. It's a totally different way of thinking from our traditional supplicating, lobbying and fighting. It's time to stop abdicating and take back control."
For more information on accountability: Visit the websites for the Citizens Circle on Accountability and the Alliance for Public Accountability (APA). They've drafted principles of accountability which apply to the MAI. Here's a transcript from the Dallas MAI conference which explains how it could work against the MAI. The workshop proceedings on Deception in Government offers real-life examples and suggests what we can do about it.
Dictatorship to Democracy by Gene Sharpe is a complete online
book which explains how non-violent citizen action can topple the most
brutal dictatorship. It too offers practical suggestions on installing
rule by citizens.