August 23rd, 2007

Gordon Campbell is probably scratching his head. The Trade, Investment and Labour Mobility Agreement (TILMA) he signed with Ralph Klein in April 2006 was supposed to be a hit. It didn’t matter that neither premier consulted with their electorates or even their respective legislatures before inking the deal, which drastically changes the economic landscape in British Columbia and Alberta by significantly reducing the scope of democratic governance and significantly increasing the power of corporations. No, Campbell and Klein were men of action, or so they thought, and their mission to unshackle corporate Canada from the burdens of provincial regulation was supposed to spread across the country like wildfire. In fact, quite the opposite is happening. Saskatchewan and Manitoba are turning their backs on TILMA, and municipalities in Alberta and British Columbia are in full rebellion against the agreement’s enormous legal scope. More recently, despite heavy corporate and federal government lobbying to take TILMA national, a premiers’ meeting in Moncton, New Brunswick could only agree to study the possibility of adopting some of TILMA’s language into the Agreement on Internal Trade.

Car sharing provides cheap wheels
The average annual cost of driving even a small car is now somewhere around $10,000, according to the Canadian Automobile Association. As a result, car ownership is making less and less sense to many people, especially those who live in the city and can bike or grab a bus. And yet, there are times when having a car – or at least access to one – is still a bit of a must. That's why more and more urban drivers are looking at car-sharing services that allow drivers to rent cars by the day, or even the hour. Unlike a carpooling system, where a few people show up each morning and drive to work together, car sharing involves joining an organization that owns vehicles scattered throughout a city. Members pick up cars from various locations across town and return them to the same spot. You book online or by phone, pay an hourly rate to use the car, and then return it to its designated parking spot when finished. There are no worries about leasing, insurance, maintenance, or the price of gas. You've got to be organized though. The car must be returned within the reservation time or else somebody who's booked it after you might be left waiting. You can, however, extend things if there are no requests following yours.

Why shouldn't prostitutes get real benefits? Co-op brothel would offer fair wages, medical benefits, charity
Prostitution is an ethical and legal brain-buster that vexes a lot of people -- from police to politicians to feminists who deplore the idea of men buying women's bodies for their own lustful ends. But Jody Paterson, a former newspaper editor turned crusading advocate for sex-trade workers, looks at it this way: Prostitution isn't going away. So why not run it like a proper business with skilled employees and satisfied customers? Now Paterson -- the former managing editor of the Victoria Times Colonist newspaper (where she still writes a weekly column) -- wants to set up Canada's first not-for-profit, co-operative brothel in Victoria.

Two local credit unions merge
About 1,000 customers of the Peterborough Industrial Credit Union can now consider themselves Kawartha Credit Union members. A merger of the two was agreed to Tuesday, said Kawartha Credit Union CEO Robert Wellstood. The deal, which closes Sept. 14, includes about $4.1 million in assets from the closed-bond Peterborough Industrial Credit Union, including the High Street location and the facility inside the Pepsico plant. Wellstood said customers will be issued new bank cards and can continue using their old cheques. "What's really motivating the transaction is the current environment. Smaller financial institutions are finding it hard to grow. It is a very competitive industry," Wellstood said. Peterborough Industrial Credit Union has its roots in the old Outboard Marine Corporation Employee's union and the Quaker Credit Union which merged many years ago, Wellstood said.