North American Union, Listeriosis, TILMA & the Stephen Harper Party

A trip through some blog posts has my neural pathways click-click-clicking! Be forewarned, this is a click-heavy post!

It all started with Alison@Creekside, talking about Stock Day and the hook-up with the Conference Board of Canada, Bell Canada, Microsoft and the RCMP for discussions on the server in the sky, that whacked-out plan for a surveillance society.  It’s a plan which flows from the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America (SPP), that nasty piece of work cobbled together by the US Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), the Canadian Council of Chief Executives (CCCE – those poor, poor millionaires) and the Mexican Consejo Mexicano de Asuntos Internacionales (Comex, a group sponsored by Exxon Mobil, and boasting affiliation with none other than Milton Friedman’s Chicago School of Economics).

After civil society defeated the Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI), a piece on the path to North American Union, the CCCE worked with the CFR and Comex on another way of making change.  They proposed, in 2003, the North American Security and Prosperity Initiative (NASPI) which identifed five key areas of work:

Wholehearted action on these began when the SPP agreement was signed by former Liberal Prime Minister Paul Martin, US President George W. Bush and former Mexican President, Vincente Fox, in 2005.  It has been lovingly tended by PM Harper, President Bush and Mexico’s President Calderon.

On my blogging journey, when I got to Larry Hubich‘s post discussing the Stephen Harper defence strategy that’s absent from the Conservative platform, I thought SPP.  He sent me over to Owls and Roosters, for more on the $490,000,000,000 defence plan.

In the sidebar at OnR, I noted a piece about TILMA, the Trade, Investment and Labour Mobility Agreement that puts investment ahead of people.  Get this!  A re-elected Stephen Harper government would force TILMA on the provinces.  From page 16 of Stephen Harper’s de-sweatered platform:

A re-elected Conservative Government led by Stephen Harper will work to eliminate barriers that restrict or impair trade, investment or labour mobility between provinces and territories by 2010… We hope to see further progress, but are prepared to intervene by exercising federal authority if barriers to trade, investment and mobility remain by 2010.

And guess where talk of labour mobility barriers first appeared.

Yup!  The CCCE! It’s in the section on regulatory efficiencies:

  • As part of this effort, three issues of significant sensitivity must be addressed: the use of trade remedies within a de facto integrated market; regulatory restrictions on access and ownership in major industries; and impediments to the mobility of skilled labour.

Given what’s happening on Wall Street right now, it would make more sense for Canada to race away from markets more integrated with the USA!  But Steve, like Noah of the Old Testament, is staying the course.  In fact, Canada should have run away from the North American integration a long while ago.  That might have prevented 20 recent deaths.  From the same regulatory/economic efficiencies section:

  • With respect to standards, inspection and certification procedures, our two countries should be able to apply a principle of “tested once” for purposes of the Canada-United States market. Examples of such areas are the consumer and industrial goods sector, food safety and pharmaceuticals.

Food safety, huh?

But wait! There’s more.

I had to travel back to Alison@Creekside, in 2006, where she quoted a Maclean’s article (note the changed URL),

This is how the future of North America now promises to be written: not in a sweeping trade agreement on which elections will turn, but by the accretion of hundreds of incremental changes implemented by executive agencies, bureaucracies and regulators.

Incremental changes, huh?

One more bit from that Maclean’s article.  Ron Covais, president of the Americas for the arms manufacturer, Lockheed Martin, and a former adviser to US Vice President, Dick Cheney, said of the 2006 SPP meeting, “We’ve decided not to recommend any things that would require legislative changes because we won’t get anywhere.

Democratic process is such a pain, isn’t it?

Government by stealth; the Stephen Harper Party’s strength.

Can you stand more, dear reader?

Go ahead, watch this without me; I’ve had enough for one day!

Crossposted at rabble.ca/election

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The SPP lacks democratic approval

Last summer, Linda McQuaig (Part I and Part II) spoke of the “sophistication” of the business elite in their soft-peddling of continental integration through the Security and Prosperity Agreement (SPP).  The deal has been kept quite quiet and the work of moving it forward is ongoing via various business leaders, politicians and bureaucrats.

McQuaig’s focus is North American Energy Security which, in essence, is an agreement that Canada guarantee an energy supply to the USA.  The catch is that we must do that before we take what we need!  Why would Canada agree to ensuring the US supply before ensuring our own?  As McQuaig says, there are about 10 years of regular oil supplies left in Canada.  Are we too nice, offering it to the US first?  Or, too stupid?  Yes, there’s the Alberta tar sands, but that über project has garnered a huge outcry from ecological organizations, northern peoples, environmentalists, and even a few politicians, such as former Alberta premier, Peter Lougheed and the Mayor of the Alberta boomtown, Fort McMurray.

Are we, as Canadians, really prepared to give over our own energy security, the ecological integrity of our beautiful north and the well-being of our northern and First Peoples so that the business elite can continue to line their own pockets?  Do we really want to continue fueling the USA’s wars?  Furthermore, are we willing to let this carry on without the due process of our democratic institutions?

In August 2007, Prime Minister Harper refused to accept letters on this matter from 10,000 concerned Canadians.  In the April 2006 Throne Speech, Mr. Harper promised to present “significant international treaties” to a vote in Parliament.  In the last session, he did not do so.  Did he lie to Canadians?  And why, as we learned from US President Bush’s State of the Union Address earlier this week, is our Prime Minister is continuing to forge ahead with the SPP?  He has plans to meet with Presidents Bush and Calderon this April in New Orleans.  But he will do so without the consent of the Canadian people, despite promises — not to mention the obligation — to do so!

Should you so wish, you can tell the Prime Minister how you feel about this lack of democratic process.  The Council of Canadians have been following the developments on the SPP very closely.  It was the organization that forced some media attention onto the issue last summer.

If we truly treasure democracy then we are obliged, as responsible citizens, to speak out when it is being circumvented or abused.  This, I think, is one of those times.  If you do nothing else, at least inform yourself on this important issue.  It will change your life, one way or the other.

The Security and Prosperity Partnership Agreement: Fortress Jellybean

The Regina Mom’s  been down with bronchitis for over a week but is back to blogging, albeit lightly for now.  Here’s the essay on the Security and Prosperity Partnership I promised.  An edited version of it was published in the November/December issue of Canadian Dimension magazine.

Fortress Jellybean: Selling North American Integration to North Americans

Bernadette L. Wagner

The meeting of the Three Amigos (President Bush, Prime Minister Harper, and President Calderon) to further discuss the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP) in Montebello, Québec in late August  appears to have been a bust for them and a victory for civil society.  At least from a public relations perspective. Around 2000 protesters, having been harassed by the RCMP on behalf of the US military and having worked through issues around what the protest would look like, crashed the corporate party and made headlines which cast citizen protest in a good light.  The Three Amigos’ condescending remarks about the protest and the Sûreté du Québec’s (SQ) agent provocateurs’ attempt to provoke violence at the demonstration ensured the SPP a place in the consciousness of Canadians.

What is the SPP?

The SPP follows the path to deep integration which began with structural adjustment programs of the 80s, followed by the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the USA and Canada and the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which were to be followed by the Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI) and the Free Trade of the Americas Agreement (FTAA).  The FTA went ahead thanks to Mulroney, even though the majority of Canadians had not voted for him.  NAFTA went ahead thanks to Chretien, even though he had stated during the election campaign that he was opposed to it. The MAI was
stopped dead in its tracks by civil society, as was the FTAA. All are part of global capital’s greed. And all would see a deeply integrated Mexico, Canada, and the United States — a North American Union.

And, this time, every aspect of the social, economic, security, and institutions of all three countries is included in the deal.  According to a Freedom of Information request released to the US citizen watchdog agency, Judicial Watch, health care, labour standards, border security, military procurement policy, bulk water exports, all natural resources and corporate licensing ­ to name a few ­ are under attack. Trilateral working groups have been established to determine how it happens and to ensure it does happen.

That this ³partnership² has been conducted without public input, with absolutely no respect for the democratic process, by the leaders of three unpopular governments, and with the input and direction of business groups, is reprehensible. The North American Competitiveness Council (NACC), an organization of overpaid CEOs and Presidents and Vice Presidents of Boards of Directors, is a major player in formulating the SPP.  The NACC has representatives from each country and its role is to guide the governments on issues such as border regulation and competitiveness and to meet regularly with security and prosperity ministers.

What are the origins of the SPP?

In 2004 the Washington-based Council on Foreign Relations summoned an elite group of politicians and corporate leaders from the three countries to “develop a roadmap for the future of the North American community.”  This resulted in a Task Force on the Future of North America.  Former Deputy Prime Minister of Canada, John Manley, together with Tom d’Aquino, head of the Canadian Council of Chief Executives (CCCE) co-chaired the task force.

In their official statement issued in March 2005, the co-chairs proposed “the creation by 2010 of a community to enhance security, prosperity and opportunity for all North Americans,” where “the boundaries of the community would be defined by a common external tariff and an outer security perimeter.”

This agenda strongly resembles the Security and Prosperity Initiative sponsored by the CCCE in 2003. Shortly after 9/11 Canadian business associations together with right-wing foundations and think-tanks launched a round of discussions aimed at obtaining from Washington more secured access to U.S. markets in exchange for satisfying the U.S.¹s heightened defence, border security, water and energy concerns.

There can be no doubt that in Canada the deep integration agenda is driven by big business and that whatever distinctions that may have existed between Canadian and foreign corporate capital are now trivial at best. Canadian capitalists have as much interest in securing their position in the U.S.A. as U.S. capitalists have in securing their future in Canada.  Surrendering sovereignty over immigration policy, foreign policy and water and other resources, is of minor concern to them.

The SPP was officially launched by Paul Martin, Vincente Fox and George Bush at their summit in Waco Texas in March 2005. One of Steven Harper¹s first steps as head of this country¹s new minority government was to renew Canada¹s commitment to the SPP at the March 2006 summit in Cancun with Bush and Fox.  The three leaders announced the creation of the North American Competitive Council to set out priorities and recommendations for improving North American global competitiveness. The SPP now constitutes the organizational framework for deep integration initiatives, including ten ministerial  implementation working groups.  In June 2005 the first SPP report released work plans for nearly 100 initiatives.  So despite the fact that little seems to have been accomplished at Montebello, the SPP marches on.

Public protest at Montebello

Given that  the Montebello protest occurred on a workday and that the venue was not reachable by any mode of public transportation, it’s significant that the 2000 who made their way to Montebello did in fact do so. This, especially so, when they were greeted by equally as many dressed and trained in the code of male violence, as well as bulldozers, water cannons, military helicopters, etc. Neither the over-the-top demonstration of force nor the heat of the day prevented the singing and dancing, walking and marching, speaking and shouting in opposition to the SPP.

When three demonstrators picked up rocks and retreated behind police lines Union leader, Dave Coles, reminded them it was to be a peaceful demonstration. As the rock holders were taken down by the police, caught on camera by many, it was noted that the soles of their boots were identical to those of the SQ.  Later, the SQ, under pressure from the media and progressive organizations, admitted their officers had infiltrated the demonstration but claimed they were not agent provocateurs.

When asked point blank about the SPP being a precursor to North American Union (NAU) President Bush dismissed it as a conspiracy theory.  This, despite more than 20 years of the Americanization of Canada and documents pointing to it.  Harper referred to the demonstration as ³sad² presumably because his handlers had suggested only a hundred protesters were present. He went on to denigrate the protesters concerns by saying, “A couple of my opposition leaders have speculated on … superhighways to the continent – maybe interplanetary, I’m not sure,” in his attempt to dismiss the NASCO Corridor, formerly known as the NAFTA Superhighway, which has its own website.  He carried his arrogance even further by asking, “Is the sovereignty of Canada going to fall apart if we standardize the jellybean?” This, a direct reference to one of the business leaders present at the summit, the head of the candy manufacturing company, Ganong’s, who had complained about differing standards on jellybean manufacturing on the continent.

All opposition parties are critical of the SPP in one way or another, and could quickly bring down the Harperites.  On the SPP, the NDP is leading the charge.  New Westminster MP, Peter Julian, revealed a deregulation effort in about 300 public policy areas, but the NDP seems hesitant to make this an election issue.  Even the Liberals, who once embraced deep integration, are having second thoughts about it with Stephane Dion at the helm.  But then
the Liberals always campaign from the Left. The Bloc Québecois are eager to see the Harper government defeated, particularly over the Afghanistan issue.

The time is ripe for social and environmental movements to work together with organized labour to make deep integration and the SPP an issue in the next election.  This Security and Prosperity Partnership must be ended.

The North American Competitiveness Council: A Who’s Who

Canada

Dominic D¹Alessandro (Manulife Financial); VP, Canadian Council of Chief
Executives.
Paul Desmarais, Jr. (Power Corporation of Canada)

David Ganong (Ganong Bros. Limited); Director, Sun Life Financial; Director,
Conference Board of Canada; Chairman, New Brunswick Business Council.

Richard George (Suncor Energy Inc.); Honourary Chair, Canadian Council of
Chief Executives; Director, GlobalSantaFe Corporation (U.S. offshore and
onshore drilling company).

Hunter Harrison (CN); Former President and CEO, Illinois Central Corporation
and Illinois Central Railroad Company; Member, Canadian Council of Chief
Executives.
Linda Hasenfratz (Linamar Corporation); Chair, NACC; Director, CIBC;
Director, Royal Ontario Museum.

Michael Sabia (Bell Canada Enterprises); Chairman, Bell Aliant Regional
Communications; Director, Thomson Corporation; (Has also worked for CN
Railway, federal Department of Finance and the Privy Council Office).

Jim Shepherd (Canfor Corporation); Director, Vancouver Board of Trade;
Director, Asia Pacific Trade Council.

Annette Verschuren (The Home Depot); Director, Canadian Council of Chief
Executives; Director, Habitat for Humanity; Chancellor, University College
of Cape Breton.

Rick Waugh (ScotiaonBank); Director, Institute for International Finance;
Member, Chairman’s Advisory Council for the Council of the Americas; Member,
International Monetary Fund Capital Markets Consultative Group.

Mexico

José Luís Barraza Gonzalez (Consejo Coordinador Empresarial); President, Council of Administration of Companies; CEO, Grupo Impulso, Realiza & Asociados, Inmobiliaria Realiza and Optima; Former VP for the promotion of economic development in the state of Chihuahua.

Gastón Azcárraga Andrade (Consejo Mexicano de Hombres de Negocios); CEO, Mexicana de Aviaci√≥n; CEO, Grupo Posadas; Director, ING Mexico; Director, Holcim-Apasco; Advisor, National Tourism Council.

César de Anda Molina (Avicar de Occidente); Former President, National Union of Poultry Producers; Former VP, International Relations, Farming National Council.

Valentín Díez Morodo (Consejo Mexicano de Comercio Exterior); Member, Mexican Business Council; President, Mexican Institute for Competitiveness; President, Iberoamericana University; Director, Grupo Financiero Banamex; Director, Mexichem; Director, Kimberly Clark de México.

Jaime Yesaki Cavazos (Consejo Nacional Agropecuario); CEO of several poultry companies.

Claudio X. González (Centro de Estudios Económicos del Sector Privado); Director, Kellogg Company; Director, The Mexico Fund, Inc.; Director, Banco Nacional de Mexico; Director, Grupo Televisa and Telefonos de Mexico; Chairman and CEO, Kimberly-Clark de Mexico .

Guillermo Vogel (Tubos de Acero de México); Vice Chairman, American Iron and Steel Institute; Vice Chairman, Tenaris; Chairman, North American Steel Council; Director, Amazonia; Director, Instituto Latinoamericano del Fierro y el Acero; Director, Citibank-Banamex; Director, HSBC Bank Mexico.

León Halkin (Confederación de Cámaras Industriales); Former President,Confederación de Cámaras Industriales; Chairman and CEO for four industrial and real estate market companies.

Tomás González Sada (Grupo CYDSA); Member, Vitro Corporativo S.A. de C.V.; Chairman, Mexican Institute for Competitiveness.

Alfredo Moisés Ceja (Finca Montegrande); President, Council of the Mexican Association of Coffee Exporters; Vice President, International Commerce, National Agricultural Council.


United States

Lou Schorsch (Mittal Steel USA); CEO, Ispat Inland; Co-author, Steel: Upheaval in a Basic Industry.

Joseph Gilmour (New York Life); Former Senior Vice President, Canada Life; Fellow, Society of Actuaries.

Rick Wagoner (General Motors); Trustee, Duke University; Member, Board of Dean’s Advisors, Harvard Business School; Director, Catalyst; Chairman, Society of Automotive Engineers.

William Clay Ford Jr. (Ford Motor Co.); Vice Chairman, Detroit Lions, Inc.; Chairman, Detroit Economic Club.

Raymond Gilmartin (Merck); Director, Microsoft Corporation; Director, General Mills Inc.

David J. O’Reilly (Chevron); Committee Director, American Petroleum Institute; Director, Peterson Institute for International Economics; Member, World Economic Forum International Business Council; Member, JPMorgan International Council; Member, American Society of Corporate Executives; Member, Trilateral Commission.

Jeffrey R. Immelt (General Electric); Director, Catalyst; Director, Robin Hood; Director, The Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

H. Lee Scott (Wal-Mart); Director, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.

Robert Stevens (Lockheed Martin); Former Director, Monsanto Company.

Michael Haverty (Kansas City Southern); Chairman and CEO, Kansas City Southern De Mexico.

Douglas R. Conant (Campbell’s Soup); Previous involvement with
General Mills, Inc., Phillip Morris Companies, Inc. (Kraft); Former President, Nabisco; Director, Applebee’s International, Inc.; Vice Chairman and Trustee, The Conference Board.

James M. Kilts (Gillette); Former CEO,
Gillette Company; Former President and CEO, Nabisco; Former President and CEO, Kraft Foods; Former President and CEO, Altria; Director, The New York Times; Director, Metropolitan Life Insurance; Director, MeadWestvaco; Member, International Advisory Board, Citigroup.

Herman Cain (Whirlpool); CEO and President, THE New Voice, Inc.; Director, AGCO, Inc.; Director, Aquila, Inc.; Director, Reader’s Digest; Director, Hallmark Cards; Member, National Commission on Economic Growth and Tax Reform.

Resources


1. *Report back from Montebello: The politics of corporate party crashing* Joel Davison Harden

2. *SPP: Opposition lining up. Montebello proved ‘deep integration’ should be a big election issue.* Murray Dobbin, The Tyee

3. *Buzz Hargrove letter to the PM: Stop the Security and Prosperity Partnership* Buzz Hargrove

4. *Meet the Powerful Business Members of the North American Competitiveness Council * The Hill Times EMBASSY REPORT, Embassy, June 13th, 2007

5.  *Canada and Bush’s North American Union Project* Rodrogue Tremblay

6. *Montebello and the SPP:Seriously Principled People Protest! * Larry Kowalchuk, Act Up in Sask (Sask IMC)

No One Is Illegal Vancouver http://noii-van.resist.ca/?p=438

The Hill Times

Thanks! And Homework for Mandryk

Thanks to all who have stopped by for making the launch of The Regina Mom a great success. Within the first 48 hours of existence the blog received more than 500 visits! At the time of this writing, more than 1000 have clicked in.  I had no idea!

Thanks, especially, to Kevin O’Connor, the CBC Sask web guy who dubbed me The Regina Mom, and to Kerry Benjoe, who wrote a wonderful piece about me for the Leader-Post.  Only one thing to clarify there.  My kids are into music and the outdoors, not sports.  Nevertheless, thanks to the Leader-Post for paying attention.  Here’s hoping I’m not their token feminist and that they feature other progressive women in their pages!

And while we’re on the topic of the Leader-Post, I must say to Murray Mandryk, before you write off the left as too radical because they have actually done the work of connecting the dots, you need to learn a tad more about the Security & Prosperity Partnership (SPP).  I know it’s busy being a writer, but, well, shouldn’t the Leader-Post be a bit more fair in sharing all sides of the story?  There is a lot of information out there, not just the select bits that fit with the Leader-Posts ideological mandate.

So, if I might be so brazen a woman as to suggest homework, well, I suggest starting here, at the horses’ mouths, the US-based Council on Foreign Relations.  I don’t know about you, but it makes me nervous that anyone from the USA has anything to say about Canada’s policies.  So, after that lengthy document take a trip here and pick out all those pieces written by Alison @ Creekside.  She’s a woman who does amazing research!

I’ll provide my own commentary on the SPP once I’m over this cold/flu thing that has me down.