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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Intel Strike: Bill C-51, Codex and the SPP

June 23, 2008

This excellent commentary by Dana Gabriel was posted on Intel Strike on June 19th, 2008. It accurately explains Bill C-51, its ramifications for users of herbal supplements and vitamins, and its blending with the SPP agenda. Bill C-51 would bring sweeping changes to our Canadian Food and Drugs Act.

Outlawing vitamins while fast-tracking potentially dangerous new pharmaceuticals? This is outrageous!

On April 8, 2008, Canada’s Health Minister introduced Bill C-51 which proposed sweeping changes to the Food and Drugs Act. The Canadian government has since been forced to make amendments because of intense grassroots pressure. There are fears that this Bill could lead to some vitamins, herbs, minerals, and dietary supplements no longer being available in the country. Through the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP), Canada, the U.S., and Mexico are already busy harmonizing food and drug regulations into a North American Union structure. Some have suggested that this Bill would also bring Canadian law into compliance with the Codex Alimentarius Commission. Bill C-51 has the potential to take away the rights of people to freely choose natural medicine as an alternative to expensive drug-based products and treatments.

Bill C-51 will further encroach on civil liberties and increase police state measures. There is reason for concern because of the Bills ambiguous language in regards to raids and seizures. It has been referred to as a police state bill masquerading as a health bill. It will make it easier for Canadian officials to seize natural health products and remove them from store shelves. It grants inspectors the power to raid homes and businesses without a warrant and the power to seize bank accounts and property. Some might recall that in the early 90’s, the FDA engaged in paramilitary raids on American health food stores, holistic treatment centers, and other nutritional supplement businesses. This behavior created such a public outcry and backlash, leading Congress to pass the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) to protect the right of American consumers to purchase and use nutritional supplements.

If the Harper Conservative government thought that they were going to quietly pass Bill C-51, were they ever wrong. When word hit the Internet and blogoshere that up to 60% of natural health products currently sold in Canada could be outlawed, it sparked a swift and strong public reaction. In Bill C-51, the word drug has been replaced with “therapeutic products” and gives the government broad reaching powers to further regulate their sale. Health Minister Tony Clement has vowed to change the parts that lumped natural medicines in with pharmaceutical drugs. This includes a clearer definition of natural health products into the Food and Drugs Act. There has been other amendments made, but there are still many concerns surrounding Bill C-51. It might be safer to do away with it in its entirety and start from scratch.

It is the SPP working groups that are harmonizing regulations and laws, writing out policy initiatives and recommendations. They are the real power, laying the foundation for a North American Union. Part of the SPP calls for the “Identification and appropriate adoption of best practices in maintaining the safety, efficacy and quality of pharmaceutical products.” NDP MP Peter Julian said in the House of Commons that, “Bill C-51 would limit access to many health products and allow the fast-tracking of new drugs that have not been proven safe. Bill C-51 blends in with the SPP agenda, which is about harmonizing regulations across the board with the United States, resulting in lower standards.” There are fears that Bill C-51 will bring about a more U.S. style approach to food, drugs, and consumer product safety. This includes turning more power over to the drug companies with increased reliance on their testing and research. These same drug manufacturers would themselves be more responsible in fast-tracking the drug approval process and further looking after any safety concerns once the drug has hit the market. Under the Trilateral Cooperation Charter, the FDA is also working with Canada and Mexico in further harmonizing regulations between the three countries.

It is not just through the SPP and the Trilateral Cooperation Charter that the harmonizing of food and drugs is being achieved. The Codex Alimentarius Commission which is part of the United Nations is setting international guidelines for food products including dietary supplements. They are using muscle provided by the World Trade Organization to undermine and bypass domestic laws. Section Six of CAFTA talks about using the Codex codes as the regulatory standard for all signing nations. It is through the Codex guidelines that vitamins, minerals, and other natural supplements could become limited and even banned. Some fear that Bill C-51 is an attempt to place Canada under Codex control.

Many argue that Bill C-51 is unnecessary, and that there are already laws in place to protect consumers from natural health products. It’s not about keeping Canadians safe, it’s about further harmonizing our health and safety regulations into a North American Union. How can fast-tracking potentially dangerous new drugs and at the same time outlawing some beneficial natural medicines be good for anyone? One must understand that it is also about ensuring huge profits for Big Pharma. Bill C-51 should be rejected on the grounds that it threatens the ability of Canadians to choose alternative health products and treatments.

STOP Bill C-51 — Sign the PETITION: http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/stopbillc-51/