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Secretive trade treaty

While the Canada-China investment treaty will likely be our most significant treaty since NAFTA, Stephen Harper plans to sign it into law as early as Nov. 2, without any public consultation, any consultation with First Nations, any Parliamentary debate, or even a single vote in the House of Commons. I do not accept such blatant disrespect for either the will of Canadians or for our democratic institutions.

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Sadly, in addition to the anti-democratic process to approve this agreement, I am most concerned with its content. The Canada-China investment treaty will allow investors (including Chinese state-owned enterprises such as CNOOC or Sinopec), to claim damages against the Canadian government in secret, for decisions taken at the municipal, provincial, territorial or federal level that result in a reduction of their expectation of profits. Even decisions of Canadian courts can give rise to damages.

Realizing what the Conservatives were attempting to do, and realizing that we will be bound by this destructive agreement for up to 31 years, Elizabeth May on Oct. 1 made a request in the House of Commons for an emergency debate to allow Canada's democratically elected members of Parliament to study the implications of the Canada-China investment treaty. That request was denied.

Crucially, this is not a partisan issue, and it is only by coming together to stand up for Canada that we will succeed in stopping this agreement.



Important for access

Re: Solving a non-problem (Letters, Oct. 24). I feel the planners who foisted these traffic circles on the residents of River Heights never reviewed the importance of Grosvenor Avenue as an access route to the neighbourhood.

Not too many years ago, the city disallowed left turns during set times on Academy Road. This was to encourage drivers to use Corydon and Grosvenor avenues as access routes. Fair enough.

Then the city got a whack of money from the feds. Did they paint lines on streets to create bike lanes? Did they put up "share the road" signs or more four-way stops? No. They put in the traffic-calming circles.

Have they seen how the buses on Route 68 have to manoeuvre? Have they seen these things in winter?

I have a modest solution. Fire all the planners who put this project forward, and after applying the "keep it simple, stupid" principle, start again.




Because I think the traffic circles on Grosvenor Avenue are a blight, I have been doing further research on design specs, etc. Did you know that if you Google "world's smallest traffic circle," an image of one of the Grosvenor circles comes up? Tourist attraction or not?

Just hope all those tour buses can make it around without incident.



Rude awakening

We just received our annual home-insurance policy and found out the NDP is now taxing insurance-policy premiums. Not only is this provincial government spending like there is no tomorrow, but they are unable or unwilling to do anything to stop this insanity.

Unfortunately, there is only one source of revenue, and we taxpayers are it.



Draconian penalties

Re: Trade pact too secretive (Letters, Oct. 22). Another trade pact Canada is clamouring to join is the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), with talks also being conducted in secret. Leaked documents reveal a disturbing picture for the average Internet user. The TPP chapter on copyright protection spells out draconian penalties for innocently clicking on the wrong link, say, for example, a copyright-protected video on YouTube: a $10,000 fine for a first "offence," and a "three strikes" provision that would require ISPs to ban triple "offenders" from Internet access for life.

Signatories to this agreement would be required to modify domestic copyright legislation to concur with the penalty provisions of TPP. It is also worth noting that entry by Canada into this agreement would be irrevocable. I find it telling that the European Parliament has voted overwhelmingly against the TPP.

It's amazing these negotiations are getting almost no exposure in the media, even though they promise to radically change how ordinary people conduct their affairs online.



Other programs can help

Gord Flaten's Oct. 19 column, More mediation could help unclog the justice system, makes sense to me.

If the courts are clogged, why not let Mediation Services or other diversion programs deal with the cases that are appropriate for their victim and offender programs?

I was a volunteer in Mediation Services' victim-offender program in the 1990s. At the time, the Crown consistently referred cases for mediation. According to Mediation Services' annual report, referrals from the Crown have consistency declined over the past three years. That does not make sense to me.

Is it the Crown or is the justice minister who is unwilling to divert cases to diversion programs?



Lost in translation

Regarding the graphic accompanying your Oct. 25 story Can you say that in Tagalog?, I have no idea how "Winnipeg is my home" translates into Punjabi, Tagalog, Ukrainian, Chinese or German.

But as a French person, I know that it isn't "Winnipeg est ma maison." Ma maison is my house. My home is "ma patrie."



Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 30, 2012 A11

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