Whose Security? Whose Prosperity? Council gears up to protest the SPP

This is the Council of Canadians latest E-Newsletter. It deals with the SPP and Council actions across Canada:

E-Newsletter, July 2007

Whose Security? Whose Prosperity? Council gears up to protest the SPP in Ottawa, Montebello, and across Canada

The RCMP and the U.S. Army won’t keep us down

Who’s afraid of the growing debate over the SPP? Apparently, the RCMP and the U.S. Army. So they’ve decided to block the Council of Canadians from holding a public meeting on Aug. 19 near Montebello, Quebec, where we planned to host a lively discussion among academics, activists and politicians on the Security and Prosperity Partnership, the secrecy behind it, and its implications for Canadians’ health, security, environment and civil liberties.

This certainly doesn’t give us any more confidence in the process being used to implement the SPP – away from Parliament and the public. In fact, it makes us even more determined to mobilize people in Ottawa, Montebello and across Canada from Aug. 19-20.

A few days ago, the Council was informed that we would not be allowed to rent a community centre in Papineauville, Quebec on Aug. 19. Apparently, the RCMP, the Sûreté du Québec (SQ) and the U.S. Army informed the town’s general manager that the Council “is an activist organization opposed to the summit and that it would not be wise to have us set up in the community centre,” said Brent Patterson, the Council’s Director of Campaigns and Organizing.

We had reserved the space, so we could hold a public forum on the eve of the so-called Security and Prosperity Partnership Leaders’ Summit.

“It is deplorable that we are being prevented from bringing together a panel of writers, academics and parliamentarians to share their concerns about the Security and Prosperity Partnership with Canadians,” said Patterson. “Meanwhile, six kilometres away, corporate leaders from the United States, Mexico and Canada will have unimpeded access to our political leaders.”

As well as being shut out of Papineauville, the Council of Canadians has been told that the RCMP and the SQ will be enforcing a 25-kilometre security perimeter around the Chateau Montebello, where Stephen Harper will meet with George W. Bush and Felipe Calderón on August 20 and 21. According to officials in Montebello, there will be checkpoints at Thurso and Hawkesbury, and vehicles carrying more than five people will be turned back.

But the Council of Canadians isn’t giving up! If anything, this has made us more determined than ever to get the word out about the SPP, and mobilize people all across Canada from Aug. 19-20. An alternative location for the public forum is already being sought in Ottawa.

Click here to read about protest plans in Ottawa/Montebello, and here to find out what you can do to mark our National Day of Action to Oppose the SPP on August 20th. Also, check out last week’s front-page article in the Ottawa Citizen.

To sign up for email updates as plans for the summit progress, click here.

Meanwhile, here’s what’s new at the Council of Canadians:

Council reaches out to U.S. allies to stop the SPPCarleen Pickard, the Council of Canadians’ B.C./Yukon Regional organizer, just returned from the U.S. Social Forum in Atlanta, Georgia, where she joined with U.S. activists to support the right to water and oppose the SPP.

From June 27 to July 1 close to 9,000 people converged in Atlanta, with the mission of proving that, “there is an active movement in the U.S. opposing U.S. policies at home and abroad,” according the USSF’s mission statement.

Says Carleen: “After five days, an opening march thousands-strong through the streets of Atlanta, hundreds of workshops, dozens of protests and discussions covering indigenous rights, immigrant rights, post-Hurricane Katrina reconstruction, women’s rights, workers’ rights and war and occupation, we left rejuvenated, educated and inspired by the amazing work being done by our allies in the United States and with a firm commitment to work together the build a better world.”

Carleen participated in several workshops, co-leading discussions with U.S. and Mexican allies about the right to water, and the fight against the Security and Prosperity Partnership.

Click here to read more about the U.S. Social Forum.

Photo: Carleen Pickard (left), with Judy Rebick and Kevin Millsip at the U.S. Social Forum in Atlanta in June.

What’s the deal? Council hits the road in Ontario to lead the fight against TILMAIf you haven’t heard about TILMA yet, you’re not alone. Which is exactly why the Council of Canadians was on the street this June to warn Ontario about the dangers that TILMA poses to local democracy.The Alberta-B.C. Trade, Investment and Labour Mobility Agreement is essentially a corporate bill of rights that allows private investors to challenge any provincial or municipal rule, regulation or bylaw that they feel hurts their profits. It was signed without public knowledge or legislative debate in April 2006. But opposition has been building ever since, with dozens of municipalities in both provinces passing resolutions against TILMA.

Ontario is seriously considering signing on to TILMA, so the Council of Canadians decided to hit the road to get citizens debating the agreement now – before it’s too late.

On June 18, Eduardo Sousa (Ontario/Quebec Regional Organizer) and Carleen Pickard (B.C. Yukon Regional Organizer) embarked on a six-day Ontario-wide tour to stop TILMA, working with local chapters along the way.

“Premier McGuinty is discussing TILMA with Alberta and British Columbia and is looking at signing a similar deal with Quebec,” said Eduardo prior to embarking on the tour. “And the signing of TILMA is on Conservative leader John Tory’s electoral platform. There is an urgent need for public debate on TILMA in Ontario.”

From Toronto to London, and from church rooms to council chambers, the momentum behind this chapter-organized tour grew with every stop. Carleen inspired each group with her stories about successful opposition against TILMA out west, and with just how effective the Council of Canadians’ campaigning has been. Eduardo helped Ontario activists brainstorm ways to take on TILMA in their communities.

If you are concerned about the potential impact of TILMA in your community, contact the Regional Office closest to you, and we’ll help connect you with the resources and contacts you need to get started.

Visit the Council of Canadians’ website, to learn more about TILMA and what you can do to help stop it in its tracks.

Photo: Eduardo Sousa at the London & Regional Social Forum, with members of the local chapter.

Action Alert: Stop SPP talks, consult with Canadians now!When we sent out the word that the RCMP and the U.S. Army had forced us to cancel our public meeting in Papineauville, Quebec on Aug. 19, we were immediately flooded with emails from supporters, asking what they could do to register their complaint about the situation. If anything, this has solidified the burgeoning movement against the Security and Prosperity Partnership, underscoring the secret nature of the SPP negotiations, and the need for citizens to take action.We hope to see you in Ottawa and Montebello from Aug. 19-20, or at one of the many events that will be held in communities across Canada at the same time. But in the meantime, you can send a letter to Prime Minister Harper from our website, registering your opposition to the SPP, and demanding that the issue be brought to Parliament and the public for a full debate.

Make this a summer of actionIf you have some time on your hands this summer, consider joining the nearest chapter of the Council of Canadians. This is the best way to connect with other activists and concerned citizens in your community. Council chapters host public forums, potlucks, community picnics, demonstrations, film nights, and so many more activities. If there isn’t a chapter near you, contact our closest Regional Office, and we can hook you up with other local activists, or give you the tools to start a new Council chapter.

Join the Council of Canadians today!Founded in 1985 by a handful of citizens including Farley Mowat, Pierre Berton and Margaret Atwood, the Council of Canadians is Canada’s pre-eminent public watchdog organization. The Council receives no money from government, corporations or any political party. To preserve our complete independence, we ensure that almost all our revenue comes from generous individuals like you. Join the Council today, and help us prove that a better Canada is possible.


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