The North American Competitiveness Council (NACC) was launched as part of the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP) in June 2006. It is the only formal advisory board to the SPP and is made up of 30 corporate leaders from Canada, the U.S. and Mexico with ten advisors from each of the SPP signatory states. A September 13, 2006 story in Maclean’s magazine describes NACC as a “cherrypicked group of executives who were whisked to Cancun in March by the leaders of Canada, the U.S. and Mexico, and asked to come up with a plan for taking North American integration beyond NAFTA.”
The NACC has become the concrete reality emerging from proposals by corporate think-tanks such the Canadian Council of Chief Executives (CCCE), the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) and the Consejo Mexicano De Asuntos Internacionels (COMEXI) to have a trilateral corporate body which would advise the three governments on issues ranging from military integration to securing energy resources to controlling migration. In Canada, for example, in January 2003, the CCCE (a CEO organization whose corporations administer in excess of C$2.1 trillion in assets and is the leading force in the Canadian private sector behind NAFTA) launched its North American Security and Prosperity Initiative with initiatives to increase investment and capital flows, integrate security agreements and military defence, and expedited means of resource (oil, natural gas, water, forest products) extraction. This has essentially become the template for the SPP.
In short, the NACC, representing private corporate interests, has been “institutionalized” as a policy-making body, thus formalizing and deepening the existing patterns of influence that corporations already have.
Harper appointed the Canadian membership of the NACC in June 2006: Dominic D’Alessandro (Manulife Financial); Paul Desmarais, Jr. (Power Corporation of Canada); David Ganong (Ganong Bros. Limited); Richard George (Suncor Energy Inc.); Hunter Harrison (CN); Linda Hasenfratz (Linamar Corporation); Michael Sabia (Bell Canada Enterprises); Jim Shepherd (Canfor Corporation); Annette Verschuren (The Home Depot); and Rick Waugh (Scotiabank).
THE HOME DEPOT:
“It was an intimate discussion. It was a lot of fun, there were no reporters, just a freewheeling discussion on the things that drive you crazy,” recalls Annette Verschuren, the president of Home Depot Canada, who flew in on Harper’s jet and said the PM was “very engaged.”
- A September 13, 2006 story in Maclean’s magazine
Founded in 1978, The Home Depot, Inc. is the world’s largest home improvement specialty retailer and the second largest retailer in the United States selling building materials, home improvement and lawn and garden products in addition to providing various services related to home improvement. In fiscal year 2006, this Delaware-based company’s sales were $90.8 billion and earnings, $5.8 billion. In recent years, Home Depot has come under fire from environmentalists as North America’s largest lumber retailer. In June 2007, Home Depot and other big home-improvement stores lobbied US Senator Johnny Isakson of Georgia to amend the Senate immigration bill so they would be free from having to provide shelter for day laborers.
CANADIAN NATIONAL RAILWAY (CN Rail):
In 1992 a new management team led by ex-federal government bureaucrats, Paul Tellier and Michael Sabia (Current President of Bell Canada), started preparing CN, a crown corporation at that point, for privatization by emphasizing increased productivity. This was eventually achieved in 1995. In the 2004 election, CNR was one of the top ten donors to the Liberal Party.
The benefits of agreements such as the SPP to transportation companies such as CN are no mystery. One of the anticipated developments with the creation of such “open trade zones” are immense trading corridors consisting of large highways and railway lines to facilitate the transport of materials either generated within the continent or to facilitate the movement of goods in a manner that bypasses the restrictions on shipping to particular areas. This includes transportation through the new Port of Prince Rupert container terminal, a new North American gateway for products and commodities moving to Asia. CN is also investing to transport resources from the oil sands in Alberta. In Western Canada alone, CN in 2007 plans to invest nearly C$350 million in track infrastructure.
Historically and currently, CN Rail has been the target of various indigenous blockades. CN is currently suing three activists from the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory for over $ 100 million Their lawsuit is about intimidating and marginalizing effective indigenous organizers, who are active in the legitimate defence of their land and livelihood against the project of Canada’s ‘nation-building’ and resource extraction. CN, for example, is the largest rail carrier of forest products in North America, a vast majority of which is extracted from traditional indigenous territories.
Manulife Financial is a Canadian-based financial services group and the largest life insurance company in Canada. It is the 2nd largest public company in Canada, and the 6th largest life insurance company in the world based on a market capitalization of approximately $60 billion. It is operating as ‘Manulife Financial’ in Canada and Asia, and primarily through ‘John Hancock’ in the United States. Funds under management by Manulife Financial and its subsidiaries were Cdn$414 billion (US$355 billion) as at December 31, 2006. In March 2007, Manulife CEO D’Alessandro spoke against a tax measure aimed to prevent companies from writing off the costs incurred to finance overseas expansion, which was designed to close a loophole affecting offshore tax havens.
POWER CORPORATION OF CANADA:
Incorporated in 1925, Power Corporation of Canada is a diversified international management and holding company with interests in companies that are active in the financial services, communications and other business sectors. Power controls some of Canada’s biggest blue-chip companies, including the Investors Group, the country’s largest mutual fund dealer, and investment firm Mackenzie Financial. It owns insurers Great-West Lifeco, Canada Life and London Life. Together with its subsidiaries, London Life and Canada Life, Great-West sells insurance to more than 12 million Canadians. Power Technology Investment Corporation is a wholly owned subsidiary of Power Corporation which invests in the biotechnology and technology sectors. In addition to its investments in Neurochem Inc. and Adaltis Inc., two public companies based in Montréal. Power owns several Quebec newspapers, including La Presse. It also holds substantial positions in Chinese airlines and telecom firms and has large stakes in the world’s leading entertainment company, Bertelsmann, as well as a big piece of one of Europe’s largest oil producers. In 2003, Power Corp. reported annual revenues of $16 billion.
Power Corporation of Canada made headlines in 2005 when it was revealed that the man handpicked by the UN secretary general to probe the UN’s scandalized Oil-for-Food program, Paul Volcker, had not disclosed to the UN that he was a paid adviser to Power Corporation. This was a clear conflict of interest as Power Corporation had ties to the French oil giant, Total, which was being investigated under the Iraq Oil-for-Food program for lucrative contracts to develop and exploit the Majnoon and Nahr Umar oil fields in southern Iraq.Most currently, Total is building a pipeline in Eastern Burma that has caused the violent relocation of thousands of people and is being built using forced labor. The Total/UNOCAL Yadana natural gas pipeline is one of the largest sources of revenue for Burma’s despotic regime.
Former Liberal Prime Minister Paul Martin has served as an Executive to Power Corporation and former Conservative Prime Minister Brian Mulroney was Power’s “labour-relations” lawyer. The son of family head Paul Desmarais Sr., Andre Desmarais is married to the daughter of Jean Chrétien. John Rae (brother of Bob Rae) is a Senior Power Corp. executive who organized two out of three of Jean Chretien’s successful election bids. In the 2004 election, Power Corp. was one of the top ten donors to the Liberal Party.
GANONG BROTHERS LIMITED:
Ganong Bros. Limited is Canada’s oldest candy company; founded in 1873. With its head office located in St. Stephen, New Brunswick, the corporation also has offices in Moncton, Toronto and Vancouver. Its largest sales volume is from boxed chocolates and it currently exports to the USA and United Kingdom. Ganong employs about 400 people.
SUNCOR ENERGY CORP.:
Suncor is an integrated energy company, with corporate headquarters in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. The company explores for, acquires, develops, produces and markets crude oil and natural gas, transports and refines crude oil and markets petroleum and petrochemical products. Besides Suncor’s Oil Sands business, their Natural Gas business, based in Calgary, Alberta, explores for, acquires, develops and produces natural gas and natural gas liquids from reserves in Western Alberta and Northeastern British Columbia. In addition, Suncor’s indirectly wholly-owned U.S. subsidiary, Suncor Energy (Natural Gas) America Inc., acquires land and explores for coal bed methane in the United States. Suncor’s third business, Energy Marketing and Refining – Canada, headquartered in Toronto, Ontario, refines crude oil at Suncor’s refinery in Sarnia, Ontario. Suncor’s fourth business is Refining and Marketing – U.S.A., headquartered in Denver, Colorado.
Richard George is the president and chief executive officer of Suncor Energy Inc. Mr. George is also a director of the U.S. offshore and onshore drilling company GlobalSantaFe Corporation. He served as chairman of the Canadian Council of Chief Executives from 2003 to 2006. In addition to a base salary of $1,117,077, Mr. George received an annual incentive of $2,000,000 for 2006. Moreover, compared to other energy producing nations, Canada has the lowest taxes on oil in the world—-just 23 cents per barrel—-which guarantees that most of the money earned goes in the pockets of overpaid CEOs, corporations and shareholders.
The company is focused on developing one of the world’s largest petroleum resource basins – the Athabasca oil sands. Oil sand operations currently produce around one million barrels a day. For Suncor, that means gross revenue from oil sands of nearly $6 million a day. By 2015, according to industry forecasts, the oil sands will account for at least one-fourth of North America’s oil production, expected to produce 3 million barrels a day by 2015.
The oil sands mines have become the largest contributor to Canada’s increase in greenhouse gas emissions and environmental organizations are calling for a moratorium on the growth of the mines. Alberta accounts for about 40% of Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions. Six of the top 10 emitters in the country are based in Calgary, including TransAlta, Syncrude Canada Ltd., Suncor Energy Inc. and Petro-Canada. Yet the SPP calls for a fivefold increase in tar sands production in Alberta and an alternative to the Kyoto Protocol since the oil sands are a clear violation of Kyoto commitments. Furthermore, the oil sand mines are being carved out of Canada’s vast Boreal forest, a continental swath of timber and wetlands that ecologists say helps reduce global warming.
Suncor and other companies exploiting the tar sands are calling for the expansion of the temporary foreign worker program as a means of securing hyper-exploitable labour that will ensure higher profits. Foreign worker programs across North America have documented widespread abuse, including being tied to the employer who “imports” them; facing deportation if they assert their rights; and exploitative working conditions including low wages and long hours with no overtime pay. In April 2007, for example, two migrants workers died and four others critically injured at an oil sands project run by run by Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. The Alberta Federation of Labour reported that the workers who called to report the accident to the union subsequently had their cellphones confiscated.
Indigenous communities around the tarsands, including the Lubicon, Dene, Mikisew Cree, have been actively opposing the projects. The Dehcho First Nations has been opposing the 1,200-kilometre Mackenzie Valley pipeline and industrial development on their unceded traditional territories. The Lubicon Nation has also seen their traditional lands overrun by massive oil and gas exploitation which has destroyed traditional lands and ways of life. The Lubicon Nation has been seeking a land rights settlement with the federal and provincial governments for years, yet corporate development has continued unabated. The Lubicon Nation estimates that over $13 billion in oil and gas resources have been taken from Lubicon Traditional Territory since oil and gas exploitation began 26 years ago. Native residents of Fort Chipewyan, a village of 1,200 on the shores of Lake Athabasca, have experienced abnormally high rates of rare cancers. Recently, the alarming levels of toxic chemicals in the air, water and soil near Sarnia were exposed when it was found that these chemicals were likely contributing to the skewed gender balance in the Aamjiwnaang First Nations reserve near Sarnia.
Linamar is a diversified global manufacturing company of highly engineered products, especially of autoparts. The Company conducts its operations in five geographic areas, Canada, the United States, Mexico, Asia Pacific and Europe. Linamar’s four largest customers in 2006, as measured by consolidated sales, were the General Motors group of companies (“GM”), DaimlerChrysler AG (“Chrysler”), Caterpillar Inc. (“CAT”) and Ford Motor Company (“Ford”). The Company’s Canadian segment accounted for approximately 74% of total revenues. Linamar generated sales of close to $2.3 billion in 2006. Linda Hasenfratz, CEO of Linamar, is a strong supporter of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and supports “unregulated free trade”. Linamar is aiming to expand to Asia, expecting 300 million to $500 million in annuals sales in Asia within five to seven years with plants in China and South Korea.
BELL CANADA ENTERPRISES:
As at December 31, 2006, total assets of BCE were $42.9 million of which $42.6 million, or 99.3%, were in the form of cash and cash equivalents and temporary investments as well as accrued interest. Only approximately 46% of BCE employees are represented by unions and are covered by collective agreements. According to BCE, Cost reductions from efficiency-related process improvements in the past year were driven primarily by: “workforce reductions stemming from greater use of outsourcing and other productivity initiatives” among other methods.
Michael J. Sabia is President and Chief Executive Officer of BCE Inc. and Chief Executive Officer of Bell Canada. He is also Chairman of the Board of Bell Aliant Regional Communications, as well as director of BCE Inc., Bell Canada and The Thomson Corporation. Before joining BCI, Sabia was an executive of Canadian National Railway Company where he had a major role in privatizing the company. Prior to that he held a number of senior positions in the Canadian federal government, including Director-General of Tax Policy in the Department of Finance and Deputy Secretary to the Cabinet (Plans) in the Privy Council Office.
In 2003 before the Elections act changed to reduce direct Corporate donatiaons, Bell Canada and Bell Canada Enterprises were in the Top 50 donators to the Conservative party. In the 2004 election, Bell Canada was one of the top ten donors to the Liberal Party.
Canfor is a Canadian forest products company based in Vancouver, British Columbia, involved primarily in the lumber and panels business, with production facilities in British Columbia, Alberta, Québec and the United States. Canfor is the largest spruce-pine-fir (“SPF”) lumber producer in the world. Softwood lumber production facilities are located in British Columbia, Alberta, Québec and the United States. Canfor also holds approximately 10.9 million cubic metres of annual harvesting rights under its forest tenures.
As an industry, forestry and logging has been never been sustainable. Currently, more than 80% of the BC timber harvest continues to be derived from primaeval frontier forests, including future logging within the 20 million acre tract of endangered temperate Great Bear Rainforest. Furthermore, despite the fact that over 97% of British Columbia land is unceded Indigenous territory, Canfor maintains that the province of British Columbia owns approximately 95% of all timberlands in the province and is empowered to “grant various forms of tenure and to regulate forestry operations”. Canfor has also been a strong proponent of the US-Canada Softwood Lumber Deal.
Former Liberal and now Conservative Cabinet Minister David Emerson is a former Canfor CEO. Mr. Shepherd is the current C.E.O. of Canfor and also sits as a Director on the Council of Forest Industries, B.C. Progress Board, Canadian Lumber Trade Alliance Incorporated, Vancouver Board of Trade, The Center for Paper Business and Industry Studies, Canadian Council of Chief Executives, University of Northern British Columbia, and is Chairman of the Forest Products Association of Canada.
The Bank, and its affiliates, have almost 12 million customers in some 50 countries, which provide a wide range of banking and financial services, either directly or through subsidiary and associated banks, trust companies and other financial institutions. In the fiscal year ended October 31, 2006, the Bank’s net income available to common shareholders was a record $3,549 million, an increase of $365 million or 12% higher than 2005. The Bank’s International Banking business line operates in more than 40 countries and includes operations in the following geographic regions: the Caribbean and Central America, Mexico, Latin America, and Asia. In Mexico, Grupo Financiero Scotiabank Inverlat, S.A. de C.V. is the sixth-largest financial group in the Mexican banking system.
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