Integrate This! – SPP Watch Update

August 2, 2008

SPP Watch

SPP WATCH makes the links between daily news items, new government initiatives and the ongoing Security and Prosperity Partnership talks between Canada, Mexico and the United States. As well as regular SPP updates, we will continue to post new reports, interviews and multimedia presentations critical of what is sometimes called the “deep integration” of North America.

The Integrate This website will slow down over the summer as staff take their annual vacations and as Stuart Trew, the Council of Canadians researcher/writer who has been administering the site’s content, heads to Toronto to become the Council’s regional organizer for Ontario-Québec. We will continue to post news articles and important reports but not as frequently as we have been over the past eight months.

Harper launches major assault on food safety, fires government scientist; regulatory harmonization blamed
The extent of Harper’s current assault on Canada’s food and drug inspection system is about to dwarf any previous concerns we had with the regulatory harmonization of pesticide residues. The Prime Minister is simultaneously eliminating funding for BSE testing for Canadian producers, offloading federal research facilities to the private sector and academia, and firing government scientists who dare stand up against this widespread deregulation for the sake of corporate profits.

What’s good for U.S. energy security is good for the SPP
A recent U.S. statement confirms the ongoing push for greater North American energy integration that leaves Canada wide open for the worst of an energy gold rush.   In addressing the Subcommittee of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs in Washington DC, Daniel Sullivan (Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Economic, Energy, and Business Affairs) calls for more energy integration and dependence on market-based solutions in the face of rising oil and gas prices and the havoc this is wreaking on the U.S. economy.

Majority of Canadians would renegotiate NAFTA, says Angus Reid poll
You’d never know it from the lengths our federal and provincial governments are going to in defence of NAFTA, but most Canadians think we should renegotiate the free trade and investment pact, says a new poll by Angust Reid.

Plan Mexico, SPP about “armouring NAFTA,” says Avi Lewis
Journalist and human rights activist Avi Lewis, commented on Plan Mexico and the Security and Prosperity Partnership this week on U.S. radio program Democracy Now.

Put on the EDL brakes
From the speed at which provinces are introducing so-called enhanced driver’s licences, you’d think they were a universally acclaimed technology (Passport Alternative Approved In Sask. – B.C. and online editions, July 31). But as a public forum in Toronto this month showed, there is much skepticism among Canada’s privacy commissioners, consumer groups and the public.

Industry Week magazine contrasts European vs. SPP approach to chemicals regulation
A new article in Industry Week magazine offers an interesting and brief explanation of Europe’s new chemicals regulation laws (the Registration, Evaluation and Authorization of Chemicals (REACH) legislation), and how they differ from the North American approach being developed through the Security and Prosperity Partnership.

“Any harsh treatment endured by Khadr is Canada’s responsibility,” says lawyer Kuebler
As reported by CTV this week, new documents and video footage “suggest Canada was aware of the harsh treatment that Canadian terror suspect Omar Khadr was being subjected to in Guantanamo Bay at the hands of U.S. military interrogators.” But Prime Minister Harper still says the government knew nothing and has no intention of interfering, or in asking that Khadr be allowed to return to Canada.

For more information on the SPP, please visit www.IntegrateThis.ca.

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IntegrateThis! – SPP Watch Update

June 7, 2008

SPP Watch

SPP WATCH makes the links between daily news items, new government initiatives and the ongoing Security and Prosperity Partnership talks between Canada, Mexico and the United States. As well as regular SPP updates, we will continue to post new reports, interviews and multimedia presentations critical of what is sometimes called the “deep integration” of North America. The site is updated regularly so visit often.

Canada’s beef industry wants to adopt weaker U.S. feed ban rules
According to a Canadian Press article this week, Canada’s beef industry is pressuring the Canadian government to adopt weaker U.S. feed ban rules. (more…)

Ontario working on provincial ID card with Homeland Security approval
Mere weeks after learning that Quebec will be producing “enhanced driver’s licences” (EDLs) by years end to cooperate with U.S. border security demands, Canadian Press reports this week that Ontario will offer similar provincial ID cards for non drivers. (more…)

Premiers Charest and Doer to address 2008 NASCO conference; progress made to Ontario-Quebec trade corridor
Quebec  Premier Jean Charest will give the closing address to the 2008 NASCO conference starting today in Guanajuato, central Mexico, and is expected to describe his vision for continental economic integration, according to La Presse canadienne today. Manitoba Premier Gary Doer will give an opening address to the conference, giving the annual meeting to discuss North American trade corridors a distinctly Canadian feel. (more…)

B.C.-Washington State “enhanced driver’s licences” are “very invasive,” says Ontario privacy official; Province to hold public hearings July 16
According to the Montreal Gazette today, “While Quebec’s privacy commission is being kept in the dark on a proposed enhanced driver’s licence (EDL), or Permis de conduire plus, Ontario’s Information and Privacy commissioner, who has been part of the EDL process in that province since 2006, is calling a public forum on the issue for July 16.” (more…)

NAFTA+ business plans hurting Mexican workers, says journalist
An essay in the Fort Worth, Texas Star-Telegram this weekend by Mexican journalist Anne Vigna describes the impact NAFTA has had on workers in her country. While uglier than Canada’s free-trade history with the United States, the reality is similar in many ways. (more…)

Does Ignatieff support a Canadian energy strategy?
In his Globe and Mail column today, Lawrence Martin asks how much sense it makes that “energy-abundant” Canada imports 40 per cent of its oil from foreign markets. He also reports that Liberal Michael Ignatieff is wondering the same thing. (more…)

For more information on the SPP, please visit www.IntegrateThis.ca.


MADRE: The US-Colombia Unfair Trade Agreement

April 2, 2008

This info and action alert comes from MADRE:

The US-Colombia Unfair Trade Agreement: Just Say No!

Link to petition: http://madre.kintera.org/petition

With Congress back in session, the Bush Administration is pushing hard to pass another trade agreement based on the failed NAFTA model, this time with Colombia. The Administration is in a race against public opinion, which is quickly turning against the kind of neoliberal trade deals that have worsened poverty and inequality in every country where they have been implemented and led to a massive loss of jobs in the United States. The proposed Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Colombia promises more of the same. The deal will also strengthen Colombia’s government, which is responsible for severe human rights violations.

With more and more people–in Latin America and in the US–becoming aware of the repercussions of unfair trade rules, now is the time to take action and demand change.

Please sign our petition asking Congress to vote No on the US-Colombia FTA. Let your representatives know that a vote for this trade agreement is a vote for:

1. Worsening Rural Poverty and Hunger

The FTA cuts tariffs on food imported from the US but benefits only the few Colombian farmers who export to the US. Moreover, the deal bars the Colombian government from subsidizing farmers, while large-scale US corn and rice growers enjoy billions in subsidies. These double standards guarantee that US agribusiness can undersell Colombian farmers, who will face bankruptcy as a result. Many of Colombia’s small-holder farmers are women and Indigenous Peoples who are losing their livelihoods and being forced off their lands.

2. Fueling Armed Conflict and Drug Trafficking

The intertwined crises of poverty, landlessness and inequality are at the root of Colombia’s 50-year armed conflict. The FTA will further concentrate wealth in the hands of a few while worsening poverty for millions of people. Many Colombian farmers, whose livelihoods will be destroyed by the FTA, will be compelled to cultivate coca (the raw material for producing cocaine) to earn a living.

Continuing a trend begun in the wake of 9-11, the US has cast the FTA as a matter of its “national security,” and the Colombian government has followed suit by treating anyone opposed to the deal as a terrorist. Colombia’s workers, Afro-Colombians and Indigenous Peoples have taken a clear position against the FTA. Their peaceful protests have been met with severe repression, including murder.

3. Repressing Labor Rights

Colombia is already the world’s deadliest country for trade unionists, with more than 2,000 labor activists killed since 1991. The FTA does not require Colombia to meet international core labor standards; it merely calls on the government to abide by its own weak labor laws. Without enforceable labor protections, the trade deal will put more workers at risk. US workers’ power to negotiate better wages will also be weakened by a deal that allows corporations operating in Colombia to keep labor costs down through sheer violence.

4. Exacerbating Climate Change and Threatening Biodiversity

The FTA will increase logging in the Colombian Amazon, weakening the rainforest’s capacity to stabilize the Earth’s climate. Under provisions sought by the US, corporations that have bought the rights to a country’s forests, fishing waters, mineral deposits or oil reserves can totally deplete these resources, with grave consequences to ecosystems and the many species that inhabit them. Small-scale farmers and Indigenous Peoples who depend directly on these natural resources will be the first people to suffer.

5. Subordinating National Sovereignty to Corporations

By allowing corporations to sue governments for passing laws that could reduce profits, the FTA erodes Colombia’s prerogative to regulate foreign investment and undermines citizens’ chances of improving health, safety and environmental laws. In anticipation of the FTA, the US pressed Colombia to pass a law that would expropriate land from Indigenous and Afro-Colombians and allow multinational corporations to gain control of millions of hectares of rainforest. The forestry law was part of a series of constitutional “reforms” undertaken to meet the conditions of a US trade agreement. In January 2008, Colombian civil society won an important victory: the forestry law was struck down as a violation of Indigenous rights. Had the FTA already been in place, US corporations would now be allowed to sue the Colombian government for “lost future profits.”

6. Deteriorating Public Health

By extending patent rights on medicines produced in the US, the FTA hinders the use of far cheaper generic drugs and puts life-saving medicines out of reach for millions of Colombians. Women, who are over-represented among the poor and primarily responsible for caring for sick family members, are particularly harmed by this provision.

7. Loss of Vital Public Services

The FTA requires the Colombian government to sell off critical public services, including water, healthcare and education. Elsewhere in Latin America, this kind of privatization has resulted in sharp rate increases by new corporate owners that deny millions of people access to essential services. Women are hardest hit because it is most often their responsibility to meet their families’ needs for such basic services.

8. Harming Indigenous Women

The FTA would enable corporations to exploit Indigenous Peoples’ traditional knowledge by allowing companies to patent seeds, plants, animals and certain medical procedures developed and used by Indigenous women over centuries. Under the FTA, Indigenous women could lose access to important medicinal plants and agricultural seeds unless they pay royalties to patent holders. Indigenous women’s role as the protectors of their community’s natural resources and traditional knowledge would be eroded, threatening Indigenous cultures and women’s status within the community.

There Are Viable Alternatives to Free Trade Agreements

Despite more than a decade of failed NAFTA-style trade deals, the US continues to insist that its trading partners adhere to rigid neoliberal economic policies. But Latin America’s social movements are articulating viable alternatives for regulating trade and economic integration in ways that benefit women, families, communities and the environment. The women of MADRE’s sister organizations in Colombia and throughout Latin America affirm the need for Fair Trade Agreements that:

1. Are negotiated through democratic processes with effective participation from communities that will be impacted, including women’s organizations.
2. Ensure that life-sustaining resources such as water, food staples and medicinal plants are guaranteed to all people and not reduced to commodities.
3. Ensure that access to basic services, including health care, housing, education, water and sanitation, are recognized as human rights that governments are obligated–and empowered–to protect.
4. Institute the region’s highest, rather than lowest, standards for labor rights and health, safety and environmental protections.
5. Adopt principles of “fair trade,” including social security and development assistance programs that protect small farmers and workers and that recognize the economic value of women’s unpaid labor in the household.
6. Require foreign investors to contribute to the economic development of the communities where they have a presence.
7. Promote policies that respect local cultures and collective Indigenous rights and that preserve traditional agricultural techniques and biodiversity in agriculture and nature.
8. Recognize the links between economic growth, environmental sustainability and building peace.

VIDEO: Trading Democracy for Corporate Rule

March 4, 2008

Trading Democracy for Corporate Rule

I urge ALL Canadians who care about our democracy and sovereignty to watch this outstanding video. All it takes is 10 minutes of your time.

10 minutes

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sp5HOLvKn2I&eurl=http://iam.bmezine.com/?agnostic

Also at http://www.canadiansnanaimo.org/

Could be subtitled “Giving Away Canada’s Sovereignty”


Upcoming Events: Oppose the SPP!

July 27, 2007

BUSH IS COMING to Montebello, Quebec

to talk FEAR, MONEY and FORTRESSES

with HARPER and Mexican President CALDERON

GIVE THEM THE WELCOME THEY DESERVE!

Find out More about the SPP – A Plan for Continental Integration

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PUBLIC FORUM – SECURITY AND PROSPERITY FOR WHO?

Building an opposition to the Security and Prosperity

Partnership of North America

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*Linda McQuaig – Author, Holding the Bully’s Coat: Canada and the US Empire

*Paloma Villegas – Organizer, Member of No One Is Illegal – Toronto

*Rogelio Cuevas – Mexican Activist, Member of OCAP

*Hassan Yussuf – Secretary-Treasurer, Canadian Labour Congress

Wednesday, August 1st, 2007

7:00 PM

Steelworkers Hall

25 Cecil Street (South of College, East of Spadina)

Toronto

By Donation!

Toronto Stop the SPP Committee: a coalition of groups and individuals working together to raise awareness and to oppose the SPP summit in August 2007.

Contact: torontostopthespp@riseup.net

The public forum is a space in which Toronto residents can learn more about the Security and Prosperity Partnership and the implications of continental integration. The event is part of the mobilization against the SPP leading up to the tri-state summit in Montebello, Quebec on August 20-21.

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OPPOSE THE SPP

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August 19 and 20, 2007

Ottawa, Montebello, and locally

Get on the Bus!

To get on a bus from Toronto to Ottawa (August 19)

OR

To get on a bus from Toronto to Ottawa and then travel on to Montebello

(August 19-21). Cost: $60-$90 sliding scale (with donations we hope to offer subsidies soon).

Contact: E-mail your name, phone number and e-mail address to

bushbus2007@gmail.com. Please specify whether you wish to go to only to the Ottawa demonstration on the 19th OR to Ottawa and then to Montebello or the day of action on the 20th.

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Info: torontostopthespp@riseup.net

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MORE INFORMATION ABOUT OPPOSITION TO THE SPP:

http://www.psp-spp.com

http://www.nowar.ca

http://www.canadians.org/integratethis/

http://noii-van.resist.ca/

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What is the Security and Prosperity Partnership?

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The Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America (SPP) was established in March 2005, at a summit of the Heads of State of Canada, the US, and Mexico held in Cancun.

The SPP is not an official treaty; it is not a law that will be debated in the House of Commons. As such, it has been able to escape public scrutiny, and has been negotiated by business and government representatives at meetings from which the press are excluded.

The founding premise of the SPP is that an agenda of economic free trade and national security will result in prosperity.

But prosperity for who?

Since the North American Free Trade Agreement was implemented in 1994, it has brought wealth only to corporations and to a slim business class, while increasing poverty and displacement for the vast majority of people.

In Mexico, NAFTA has created a 6 million job deficit, and is responsible for the displacement of millions of farmers who have left their homes to find work elsewhere in the borderland maquilas, and in the US and Canada.

Meanwhile, the ‘War on Terror’ and the beefed-up national security apparatus has exacerbated insecurity and brought terror on the lives of millions of people locally and globally through immigrant raids, border militarization, foreign troop occupations, and repression of civil liberties and resistance movements.

The SPP is backed by a number of large US and Canadian corporations that profit massively from the occupations of Afghanistan, Iraq and Palestine, as well as the war being fought against migrants on increasingly fortified, armed and surveilled borders.

The North American Competitiveness Council (NACC) was created in June 2006, one year after the SPP was launched so that corporate business leaders could advise government leaders of the three states and effectively direct the SPP process. The NACC ensures that the SPP process will carry on regardless of which political parties take power in Canada,

Mexico or the US. Harper appointed the Canadian members of the NACC in June 2006. They include the CEOs and Presidents of Home Depot; Scotiabank; Bell Canada Enterprises; Manulife Financial; Power Corporation of Canada; Ganong Bros. Limited; Suncor Energy Inc.; CN; Linamar Corporation; and Canfor Corporation.

US membership in the NACC includes the following corporations: Chevron; General Electric; Ford; General Motors; Lockheed Martin; Campbell Soup; Wal-Mart; FedEx; UPS; Merck and Co.; and Proctor & Gamble.

What does the SPP do?

The SPP uses the language of fear and terror to promote border militarization, the criminalization of migration, privatization and theft of indigenous land and resources, repression, impoverishment and displacement, and cooperation in wars and occupations that will further enrich these corporations.

Some of the initiatives being undertaken within the framework of the SPP include:

* The expansion of temporary worker programs to facilitate the exploitation of immigrant workers and drive down wages across the board.

* Adopting coordinated border surveillance technologies. Major contracts are given to military suppliers;

* Coordinating no-fly lists between the three countries;

* Increasing the use of biometric data, including digital fingerprinting to track refugee claimants across the three countries.

* Further integrating refugee policies. The Safe Third Country Agreement, implemented in December 2004 between the US and Canada, has resulted in at least a 40% decrease in refugee applications in Canada. Under the United

States-Mexico Voluntary Repatriation Program more than 35,000 persons have already been deported.

* Integrating US and Canadian military and police training exercises, and the expansion of The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) into a multiservice joint naval and land Defense Command.

* Harmonizing health and environmental regulations to lower standards and developing of a North American alternative to the Kyoto Protocol.

* Privatizing Mexico’s nationalized oil sector;

* Increasing production in Alberta’s oil sands five times over;

* Pushing for full exploitation of Canadian energy resources in areas where it is already being actively opposed by the Lubicon, Dene, and other indigenous communities.

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Take Action to Oppose the SPP!

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Demonstration in Ottawa

Sunday, August 19 @ 12:30PM

Demonstrations in Montebello

Sunday, August 19 @ 6PM

Monday, August 20 @ 12PM

Gather at the Chateau Montebello (or as close as possible)

And be on the look out for local actions

On the the National Day of Action against the SPP

Monday, August 20


SPP and Sierra Legal Defence Fund

July 24, 2007

This Media Release from the Sierra Legal Defense Fund was sent out last year: April 4, 2006! Our government completely ignored it:

MEDIA RELEASE

Canada, Mexico and U.S. breaking NAFTA promises
Complaint highlights Canada’s failure to respect environmental commitments

April 4, 2006

TORONTO – Sierra Legal Defence Fund filed a formal complaint with Canada’s Auditor General this past week seeking an investigation into the Government of Canada’s failure to abide by the environmental commitments it made when signing the North American Free Trade Agreement with the United States and Mexico.

When NAFTA was being negotiated, concerns were raised that the agreement would lead the countries to neglect their environmental laws and result in a further environmental degradation across the continent. In response, the countries signed an environmental side agreement in 1994 that established the North American Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC). The CEC is one of the world’s first institutions created specifically to address the environmental impacts of economic integration and free trade and to enhance environmental protection and cooperation.

“Canada, Mexico and the U.S. made a promise to the citizens of North America that free trade would not come at the expense of the environment,” said Randy Christensen, lawyer with Sierra Legal. “The Commission for Environmental Cooperation is a critical part of that promise, yet the governments almost immediately began conspiring to undermine this important watchdog agency and are now poised to sidestep these commitments completely by negotiating new agreements like the ominously opaque Security and Prosperity Partnership agreement.”

The complaint was filed as Prime Minister Harper, President Fox and President Bush met in Mexico to discuss economic and security arrangements, including the controversial Security and Prosperity Partnership. “It is deeply troubling that Canadians are being forced to accept further economic and legal integration with the U.S. and Mexico given the string of broken promises from the last round,” continued Christensen.

The SPP negotiations are seeking agreement on issues of transboundary environmental impacts, water quality, air quality, endangered species and water stewardship – all the subject of the promises made in the NAFTA environmental side agreement. Unlike the CEC however, the SPP contains no commitments to the principles of openness, transparency, public involvement or protection of the environment. The SPP’s objective of “prosperity” means that environmental standards are likely to be lowered to promote trade, rather than harmonized upward to protect the environment.

The CEC agreement committed the parties to prepare “state of the environment” reports, publish non-compliance information and create an agreement on transboundary environmental impact, but these promises remain unfulfilled. Sierra Legal’s submission to the Auditor General asks the federal Minister of the Environment, Rona Ambrose, to respond in writing to several allegations concerning Canada’s failure to uphold the North American Agreement for Environmental Cooperation and fulfil its commitment to support the CEC.

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To download a copy of the petition to the Auditor General, please follow this link. For further information please contact:

Sierra Legal Defence Fund
Randy Christensen, Staff Lawyer (604) 685-5618 ext. 234