July 28, 1999: Vote campaign reports

Here's a brief summary of events since our last update :

The federal government has made no formal effort to act on the endorsement given to it by Canadians and is, in fact, actively downplaying the Tobin tax motion. Although Finance Minister Paul Martin assured Halifax Initiative representatives, at a meeting in Washington in April, that he had raised the Tobin tax informally with Finance Ministers, actions in Canada and abroad reveals a failure of commitment and a betrayal of the democratic process.

In May, nations attending the preparatory discussions of the United Nations World Summit on Social Development praised Canada for its leadership in passing the Tobin tax motion, yet were met with stony silence by the Canadian delegation. The Canadian team had been instructed by the Finance Department NOT to raise the Tobin tax. Other governments and NGO participants were perplexed, particularly as the discussions were focusing on financing for social development. Why pass a motion only to ignore it?

In meetings with various Liberal MPs, Halifax Initiative member groups have learned that some feel that Canada can not follow up on the motion internationally without damage to its credibility. We believe their first concern should be the loss of domestic credibility that results from disregarding the will of Canadians.

At home, no action has been taken to advance the debate on a Tobin tax. No Parliamentary Committee has been directed to examine the feasibility of the Tobin tax, nor has any commission has been struck to investigate implementation. The federal government is clearly dropping the ball on the Tobin tax.

We urge you tourge you to read and sign the letter in the urgent action , to be forwarded to Finance Minister Martin (with a cc to the Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs) The federal government is undermining the democratic process and its own fragile credibility by ignoring the motion. They are counting on us not noticing.

Prior to the G8 Summit in Cologne, Germany in June, the Halifax Initiative circulated a letter to all G8 governments signed by 42 organizations in 19 countries. The letter called for the establishment of an International Commission of Inquiry on the system of regulation which is required to govern international financial markets. The Commission would address, among other issues, the feasibility, desirability and implementation of measures to control speculative capital flows.

The letter criticised leaders for calling publicly for the control of currency speculation, yet failing to include discussions on international measures to reduce volatile capital flows in the private debate on the "new financial architecture". Click here to view the letter.

In their final Communique, the Group of Eight endorsed temporary controls over short-term capital flows, agreeing on the need for developing countries to adopt controls as an "exceptional measure" while continuing to liberalize their economies to the free movement of capital. How nations can simultaneously open and close their borders to capital was not explained in the communique.

While the Canadian government does its best to ignore the Tobin tax, new and dynamic political movements are building in nations around the world:

  • in Brazil in May, over 100 Parliamentarians launched the Parliamentary Front for the Tobin Tax. The Brazilian Parliament will hold hearings in August. Lorne Nystrom will appear before the Committee.
  • in the UK, thousands of citizens have sent postcards to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon Brown, calling for the adoption of the Tobin tax.
  • in June, over 1,000 individuals representing organizations in 70 countries attended the ATTAC-France Conference on the Tobin tax. Delegates are developing a global petition on the Tobin tax to bring pressure to bear on Parliaments around the world. ATTAC's increasingly global campaign is only a year old - it has 100 chapters and 10,000 members in France alone.
  • the Finnish government has a chapter in their new administrative plan encouraging the promotion of the Tobin Tax by the national leadership. This creates a unique opportunity as the Finnish President is the current chair of the European Union.
  • Belgium's newly elected Finance Minister is in favour of a tax on excess currency speculation.
  • non-governmental organizations in the Netherlands are preparing a motion to their Parliament similar to the one passed in Canada.
  • a European coalition of development organizations (CIDSE- International Cooperation for Development and Solidarity) will hold an Expert Meeting on Taxing Excessive Financial Speculation in Antwerp in October. Leading academics will be joined by representatives from the UN, OECD, IMF, the World Bank as well as NGO representatives from leading organizations globally. Halifax Initiative has been invited to attend.

Halifax Initiative representatives presented Paul Martin with another 350 declarations when they met with the Finance Minister at the World Bank/International Monetary Fund Spring Meetings in April. Please keep sending in your signatures and share the Declaration with friends and colleagues. Copies of the Declaration can be found by clicking here.


Robin Round
Regional Coordinator
Halifax Initiative
Vancouver Office (604-915-9600)