Canada and Canadian ISDS losses - described as the "gold rush in the ISDS industry" - figure prominently in the film :
"Canada is the only western country that has ever accepted ISDS with the United States. We're actually one of the most sued countries, always by US companies, because we signed one treaty that allowed ISDS with the United States.
And ultimately it only exists because at some point everyone expects the public will have to pay."In 1989 not a single lawsuit was filed; by the end of 2014 there were over 600:
"It's a new way to access public money."The film traces the story of the two Nova Scotia lobster fishermen who fought for five years and successfully turned back US corp Bilcon's bid to build a basalt quarry on environmental grounds, only to have the ISDS tribune rule against them. Bilcon sued for US $300M over future financial loss on a quarry they hadn't even started building. As lobsterman Kemp Stanton remarks :
"If you can make US$300 million and not have to build the quarry, it'd be stupid to build it."And because ISDS litigation costs US$4-8 million, New York lawyer Selvyn Siedel brokers deals between "those who want to sue and those who want to invest in such litigation - litigation funders". A whole new industry model with returns of $20M of taxpayer money on an initial $5M investment. US litigation financiers have seen their own profits rise 900% by fuelling more corporations to launch more cases against sovereign governments over domestic policies :
"The litigation funders are the ones greasing the wheels of this system"as they did against the easy pickings of Spain and Greece during their financial insolvencies, using shell companies in Luxembourg, phantom mailbox companies with no employees, to sue their own governments for lost profits.
In Germany, the government of Hamburg gave in to a German corp suing them for $1B through a New York company rather than face the loaded odds of an ISDS tribunal. Liberal Marc Lalonde was president of that ISDS tribunal, working alongside US Republican Larry Craig.
Sylvan Seidel in New York sees a new business opportunity in these lawsuits - bundle them as investment stocks :
"Banks, hedge funds and insurance companies are investing in this growing market. It's like a casino and the party for litigation funders is not over yet. As this grows, more corporations launch cases against governments."
CETA, TPP, TTIP - they're all trojan horse casinos designed to enable the arbitration industry to change laws in sovereign states while bleeding the public purse.
Good doc. h/t Murray Dobbin who circulated the link to it last night.
The Osgood Hall law prof featured in the doc wrote a Tyee column last month on the TPP :
Gus Van Harten : Seven Ways TPP Favours Mega-rich Foreign Investors, Not Canadians