April 15, 1999: Vote campaign reports

Congratulations to everyone who made the historic passage of the Tobin tax motion possible!   
By a resounding two-thirds majority, the parliament of Canada became the first in the world to declare its intention control speculative capital. We all deserve to celebrate this important victory - when we engage our democracies our ability to make change is made possible.  The success of the Tobin motion campaign, along with last year's MAI victory, provides ample evidence that citizens working together can take on economic globalization.

Our task now is to keep the campaign alive, both at home, and internationally. 
A list of how the MPs voted follows this update. Please check to see how your MP voted. Write him/her a congratulatory (or otherwise) letter and ask what they will be doing next to act on the mandate provided by the vote. It is not yet clear what the federal government plans to do regarding the motion. Neither of the House of Commons Standing Committees on Finance nor Foreign Affairs have yet been instructed to investigate the tax. These all-member committees hold public hearings and produce reports in order  to advise Parliamentarians on critical issues.

Write Minister Martin a congratulatory letter as well, and call for public hearings and an international conference on the Tobin tax. Ask him how he will be acting on the motion internationally.

Write your bank manager and cc your letter to the President of the Bank.  Let them know that you are a supporter of the tax and part of a movement that collectively has millions of dollars sitting in their institution. Find out what their position is on the tax and why.( As you may have noticed, the financial community was not impressed by the vote. The March 24  Financial Post called the supporters of the motion " well-meaning but economically challenged" - they neglected to mention that  we base our work on that of James Tobin - a Nobel laureate in economics...).

Write the Governor of the Bank of Canada, Gordon Theissen. He doesn't like the tax and is convinced it won't work. He may be trying to convince Minister Martin that the tax is not feasible and should be dropped. Let him know you think otherwise. 
His address is:
Bank of Canada
234 Wellington
Ottawa, ON
K1A 0G9
I was in Bangkok when I received the news of the vote and announced it to over 300 academics, NGOs and Parliamentarians from over 75 countries to a round of cheers! We were all attending a conference sponsored by leading Southern research and advocacy NGO, Focus on the Global South entitled "Econonomic Sovereignty and Globalizing World". Financial transaction controls figured prominently in our discussions.

The next morning, 20 NGOs and Parliamentarians from 14 countries held the inaugural meeting of the International Tobin Tax Network. What became apparent is that interest in the Tobin tax is high and there is much work happening at the country level:

Two Philippine Parliamentarians were inspired by the Canadian victory and will draft their own House Resolution based on the Canadian one. They have comitted to linking with supportive Parliaments including the ASEAN Regional Parliament and the Asia Pacific Parliamentary Union; 

  • A UK NGO will launch its Tobin Tax Campaign this week and will host a tour by Lorne Nystrom next week. On April 20, Mr. Nystrom will brief the European Parliament in Brussels on the Tobin tax, his motion and next steps, he will then go to London to meet UK MPs;
  • In Brazil, a coalition of organizations has engaged 45 Parliamentarians in its campaign on currency controls. Official public hearings on capital flows will be held this summer;  
  • The Austrialian Parliament  will launch a Parliamentary Inquiry into the impacts of  international currency trading this week.  Australian NGOs are planning to appear and recommend the Tobin tax;  
  • Over 200 Spanish groups are engaged in the "Citizen's Right to Basic Income" Campaign, which  is inviting politicians to rethink the Tobin tax from a revenue generation perspective;  
  • French NGO ATTAC - "Association pour une Taxation des Transactions financières pour l'Aide aux Citoyens", which has offices in Brazil and Quebec, will hold a conference which will include discussion on the Tobin tax following the G8 Summit in June. ATTAC also has an excellent web site ( www.attac.org) which links all major sites on the Tobin tax.  
  • In Belgium, 100 organizations developed a financial sector campaign ( which includes the Tobin tax) and presented it to all parties forresponse. Four parties have integrated recommendations on currency controls in their party platforms. Elections will be held in June;  
  • A Finnish network has conducted a Tobin feasibility study and is working to build support in the European Parliament.

Additionally this month, 15 US groups have struck at Tobin Tax Advisory Committee to share information and develop strategy. Many are working in support of Congressman Bernie Sander's Global Sustainable Development Bill which includes the Tobin tax.

In the coming months, the Halifax Initiative will be working with Parliamentarians and citizens groups around the world to build an International Parliamentary Caucus on the Tobin Tax. Interested elected representatives will be invited to lend their names to a world-wide call for the development of a Tobin tax.

We will also be building support for the Tobin tax by linking with interested citizen's groups around the world.  If have contacts within yourorganization working in other countries or with other groups working internationally that may be interested in the tax, please have them contactus for more information on the campaign (In Ottawa - 613-789-4447, halifax@web.net or in Vancouver 604-915-9600, rjr@web.net).

Next week, the Halifax Initiative will be in Washington for the Annual meetings of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund where they will be meeting with institutional representatives from around the world.  Discussions at these meetings among bankers, bureaucrats and governments will focus on measures to prevent the next financial crisis.

Also next week, we will be holding discussions with staff from the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Department of Finance in Ottawa onCanada's position to the upcoming G8 meeting in Cologne.

On behalf of the Halifax Initiative, I want to thank everyone for making this campaign a success beyond our wildest dreams. We will continue to keep you apprised of developments both at home and internationally and urge you to continue to participate. 

Please also continue to forward the Citizen's Declarations on the Tobin Tax. We will do a regular drop onto Mr. Martin's desk to remind him that the task is not over though the motion is past.

With sincere thanks for an incredible victory,

Robin Round
Regional Coordinator
Halifax Initiative