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Friday, March 25, 2011

Call for Renaissance of the Bank of Canada

Dear COMER (Committee on Monetary and Economic Reform) colleagues, and advocates of monetary policy change and social justice for Canada,

I am writing to ask your assistance in an initiative to gain support for an urgently needed change in monetary policy for Canada. As you may be aware, I have been working for many years---ever since 1994 when I first learned about this possibility---to induce our federal government to use our publicly owned Bank of Canada to provide essentially interest-free loans to governments at all levels in this nation in place of the present practice of governmental borrowing at interest from private banks and other private money lenders. Reviving these powers of the Bank of Canada, which were used for public benefit from about 1935 to 1975, could save our governments some $60 billion in interest payments each year, freeing huge sums of funding to meet human and environmental needs, to eliminate gradually existing debt, and to avoid imminent devastating funding cuts and privatization of our highly valued social programs.

I am asking for your support not as individuals, but as activists working valiantly in many different public welfare organizations, to urge your organization(s) to endorse a "Call for Renaissance of the Bank of Canada". This "Call" has now been posted on the website of the Committee on Monetary and Economic Reform ( Using the website, your organization can sign on to endorse the "Call", and join other organizations in announcing publicly support for this urgently needed change.

My thinking in promoting this effort has been that many of the organizations working in Canada for public welfare are necessarily constantly pressing for public funding for the causes they espouse, whether they are working for improved medical care, or justice for native peoples, or poverty reduction, or environmental improvement, or responding to any of many other urgent needs. I have long been dismayed that such organizations have not pushed for the changes in monetary policy which could make abundant funding available to meet the whole range of social and environmental needs for which they advocate. If organizatiions could join in calling for these changes, perhaps they could have some significant political impact. When we get several organizations to endorse the "Call", we will start posting their names on the website. As this list grows we will be able to point to increasing understanding of monetary policy, and to support for returning to the creative 1935-1975 use of the Bank of Canada which is a key part of Canadian history.

Anything any of us can do to recruit organizations to endorse the "Call" will contribute toward our efforts to promote the changes in monetary policy that we need. With an election now imminent here in Canada, we have an opportunity to enable our organizations not only to request better funding, but also, through the "Call", to show that increased government funding is fully feasible even while deficits and debts are brought under control. This is a great educational opportunity as well as a means for exerting pressure on the electoral process. I will be doing all I can to recruit endorsements from the connections I have, local, provincial, and national. And endorsements from organizations of any size at any level, local to national, are welcome. Please take a close look at the part of the website dealing with the "Call". I ask your help in promoting it, as you are able. I am willing to coordinate this effort, with help from John Riddell on the technicalities of the website.

There is another opportunity we have to make creative use of the COMER website. When the Green Party at its convention last August passed a resolution calling for return to use of the Bank of Canada for public welfare, Elizabeth May, the Party Leader, asked us to provide information on this issue for Green Party candidates running for the federal Parliament. As some of you know from an e-mail I sent on March 21 to Elizabeth and copied to you, I have already referred her to the COMER website for information for GP candidates. If you have any ideas for strengthening the website for this purpose, please communicate your suggestions as soon as possible to Ann Emmett (, who is focussing on this issue. If you have not explored the website thoroughly lately, as I had not until recently, I can attest that it is well worth careful study. If we want to make use of it, we need to know how to direct people to the parts of it that promise to be most useful for them.

One additional matter. Ann called to my attention this morning a CBC report that describes an extraordinarily outrageous penalty fee extracted by Scotiabank for early termination of a mortgage. You can see it on the internet at "cbc radio" by typing into the search bar: "customer fee to pay out mortgage doubles". This information is very useful in showing how our banks are increasingly gouging us---in this case for $25,000. In the discussion following this CBC report, other people tell of similar experiences. This incident reveals the ever-growing abuses that result from control over our money system by privately owned banks.

Not since the Great Depression has the need for monetary policy change been more urgent than now. Just to our south in the U.S., state governments are claiming that public deficits and debts constitute a crisis justifying devastating attacks on public sector unions, on democratic institutions, and on public services. This is "disaster capitalism", as described by Naomi Klein in The Shock Doctrine, and we are in danger that right-wing governments here will follow suit and take similar actions. In order to prevent our bondage to our present money system from becoming even more devastating, we need to go on the offensive to transform it into a power for creative social change.

The COMER community appreciates all you do for social and environmental well-being, and hopes you find it possible to enhance your existing commitments by helping to work for transformation of our crucial money system.

Many thanks and all best wishes,

George Crowell

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