A Fine State of Affairs


Our political leaders are engaged in nothing less than the systematic dismantling and restructuring of the socio-economic system that was built up in Canada over the past 60 years. Corporate Canada has all but succeeded in its mission to eradicate the Keynesian social welfare state in this country.

When it comes to Canada's future, the free market is to reign supreme, unfettered by government intervention and regulation. To paraphrase Maude Barlow of the Council of Canadians, the Canadian experiment of a "social nation state" is being dismantled in favour of a "corporate nation state."

The strategy of big business was to seize control over the levers of public policy-making at both national and provincial levels. Co-ordinated by the Business Council on National Issues, the country's leading corporate CEOs mobilized a powerful shadow cabinet in Ottawa to oversee and direct the basic reorientation of fiscal, economic, social, and environmental policy-making in Canada.

Nor was this political coup carried out through a sudden, dramatic action. It was gradually developed by the BCNI and its allies through a series of actions on multitude policy fronts over a period of no less than 20 years. Indeed, the turning of the millennium signals the dawn of a new political era, the age of corporate rule.

What seems to be emerging is a corporate state that is primarily designed to create the conditions necessary for profitable transnational investment and competition. This, in turn, calls for a more authoritarian model of government. For if the central task of this new corporate state is to facilitate profitable investment and competition, this in effect means that all the major sectors of a national economy and society- fiscal, monetary, industrial, resource, service, social, cultural, agricultural, trade, transportation, environment, entertainment, communications- need to be reorganized to serve these ends.

Just as the Keynesian state was organized around the theme of social welfare, so it can be argued that the new corporate state is being organized around a common theme: investor security. The prime focus is on security for profitable investment. For the state, the name of the game is to provide a secure place and climate for profitable transnational investment and competition. In other words, security for investors, but not citizens. Ottawa and the provinces are getting out of the business of ensuring that the basic economic and social needs of Canadians are adequately met, and instead are getting into the business of ensuring that corporations have the conditions they need to become more profitable and competitive.

This is what investor security means as an organizing principle for governments today.
The priority is on providing security for corporations, not for citizens, whose lot has become one of growing insecurity.

We are now living under a system of corporate rule that is dealing death blows to democracy in this country. What the Trilateral Commission targeted as "excess democracy" 20 years ago has all but been wiped out. Not only have citizens' rights been subverted in favour of investors' rights, but our society is rapidly moving in the direction where virtually only corporations can be said to have full citizenship status.

The state, both at federal and provincial levels, has restructured to primarily serve corporate demands for capital accumulation by securing a safe haven for profitable investment and competition.

Given the mastery which big business now has over the public policy-making apparatus in Ottawa, elected Members of Parliament have been reduced to a role of simply rubber- stamping the decisions already made by cabinet in the interests of the big business shadow cabinet.

When it comes to the major fiscal and economic issues of the day, citizens' organizations which collectively represent the majority of Canadians on these issues are summarily dismissed in Ottawa as "special interest groups" and deprived of any effective voice in the corridors of power.
The agents of corporate rule have dealt a heavy blow to the very heart of democracy: civil society

A special thanks to the newspaper Outreach, and to Tony Clarke the author of this article.