British Columbia has no limits on political donations, leading critics to say...
British Columbia has no limits on political donations, leading critics to say the provincial government has become a lucrative business dominated by special interests. As the premier of British Columbia, Christy Clark is on the public payroll, pulling down a salary of 195,000 Canadian dollars in taxpayer money. But if that were not enough, she also gets an annual stipend of up to 50,000 Canadian dollars — nearly $40,000 — from her party, financed by political contributions.
Personal enrichment from the handouts of wealthy donors, some of whom have paid tens of thousands of dollars to meet with her at private party fund-raisers? No conflict of interest here, according to a pair of rulings last year by the province’s conflict-of-interest commissioner — whose son works for Ms. Clark.
How many shell companies exist in Canada? How many legal trusts? Who are the beneficial owners protected by such unnecessary veils of secrecy? No one knows because in most cases there is no legal requirement to disclose actual ownership even to regulators. In fact, more information is required to get a library card than to set up a company in most jurisdictions in Canada. What we do know is that Canada ranks near the bottom among our OECD partners in terms of corporate disclosure requirements to fight money laundering and tax evasion. A recent report from Transparency International detailed the dismal situation and why our country has become a haven for dubious offshore property speculation.
Wall Street is currently basking in a vigorous “Trump rally,” with the Dow rising more than 1000 points since the election. The rally is driven by analysts who are salivating over the future prospect of sweeping deregulation of many markets. But there is also chorus of concern from dozens of financial experts, that the global financial markets are “whistling in the graveyard,” acting in a classicly irrational manner. Experts cite a host of issues both financial and geopolitical, among them Trump’s intention to exit TPP, NAFTA, and the COP21 Climate Agreement. Combined with rising geopolitical tensions with China, North Korea, and Iran, a perfect storm of global uncertainty and instability is forming.
Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. Presidential election has evolved into a genuine and unprecedented national crisis. The Electoral College meets December 19th. Over the years, the Electoral College has deteriorated into a quant rubber-stamp of each state’s elector outcome. Some states have even passed laws that prohibit electors from changing their votes. However, this is patently un-Constitutional and not the intent of The Founders. Alexander Hamilton wrote in the Federalist Papers that the intent was for the Electoral College to be a check on exactly the situation we are facing. Meanwhile, a group of electors has demanded that the CIA share its evidence with the Electoral College.
Reading this article today, I am dumbfounded that Anbang managed to get this far in the purchase of B.C. commercial real-estate without red flags going up. This mysterious Chinese company, Anbang Insurance Group has attracted the attention of The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Fortune Magazine, and government authorities in the United States and other countries. A months-long investigation by the New York Times revealed an extremely opaque structure, empty offices, obscure shareholders, and extensive political connections to the Chinese elite. Anbang has all the earmarks of Chinese money laundering, corruption at the highest levels, and mysterious shell companies. It is a cautionary tale for Canadian authorities fretting over foreign real-estate buyers and skyrocketing real-estate prices.
Britain can be proud of itself. Once again, it had already shown the world the way. In propelling Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage to triumph on 23 June, it demonstrated well before 8 November that Donald Trump was nothing new. In fact foolishness, vulgarity, inconsistency, and irresponsibility seem actually to be British inventions that have been painstakingly copied – once more – by the Americans. The age of such drab characters as Margaret Thatcher and David Cameron is over. No more, it appears, must we suffer leaders equipped with a brain and a sense of the common interest. The hour of the political clown has come.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership began modestly years ago with New Zealand and a few other southeast Asian countries and mushroomed into a Pacific regional plan as the cornerstone of Obama’s pivot towards Asia. It has attracted the ire of both left-wing progressives and now Donald Trump, who has announced his intention to cancel U.S. participation in TPP. The criticism has ranged from it being part of the New World Order conspiracy to loss of jobs, damage to the global environment, and a host of other issues. It is considered to be a crucial factor in the populist revolt against so-called “free” international trade, and the rise of protectionism. Regrettably, it will likely go ahead in some form, regardless, with China in the leadership role, not the United States. The probable consequences of this are grave
Italy, Austria, and France, in that order, are the next dominos likely to fall in the global wave of populist political sentiment. Italy and Austria will both go to the polls on the same day next month, December 4th, for somewhat different reasons, but with both outcomes likely to advance the political forces on the right in Europe. In Austria, it’s expected that Norbert Hofer of the Freedom Party will prevail. That would make him the first elected far-right leader in Western Europe since 1945. Italy’s vote is a referendum initially scheduled for the fall. On the table is a package of constitutional reforms that Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has proposed to streamline lawmaking, but it is increasingly being seen a plebiscite on Renzi’s government, which it appears he may lose, causing his government to fall, and creating an opportunity for the far right to form a new anti-immigration government. In the upcoming 2017 Presidential election in France, ultra-nationalist Marine Le Pen is seen as the possible front-runner.
We are now seeing the first indications of the consequences of a Trump withdrawal from the international community. China has seen an opportunity to displace the United States and to advance China’s own aspirations to take a more aggressive and visible leadership role in the COP21 agreement. The simultaneous announcement of the de facto death of the TransPacific Partnership (TPP) has also opened a new opportunity for Chinese hegemony in the Asian economic and geopolitical world. Regardless of the Trumpist views on climate change and foreign trade, we are proverbially cutting off our noses to spite our faces.