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.


Tomgram: Dilip Hiro: The Energy Reality We Face

July 18, 2008

Last week, after hitting $146 a barrel, the price of crude oil took a sudden, two-day, $9 plunge, based in part on comments by Iranian President Ahmadinejad that an attack on Iran was unlikely and on a mid-Atlantic turn north by Bertha, the season’s first significant hurricane, away from the oil-rig and refinery rich Gulf of Mexico. It was just long enough for pundits to wonder, hesitantly and somewhat wistfully, whether the global economic bad weather had finally hit the oil market, and whether lowered demand meant that a new (downward) trend was on the way. That was, of course, before the Iranians started lobbing missiles, and traders got edgy about a promised week-long strike at Brazil’s state-run oil giant Petrobras and the kidnapping of at least one foreign ! oil worker in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria. By Friday, the “trend” was toast and the price of a barrel of crude had briefly crested above $147.

Get used to it. As Middle Eastern (which means “oil”) expert Dilip Hiro indicates, we’ve definitively entered the era of no-relief-in-sight and there’s no turning back now either. The author of a vivid history of oil in our world, Blood of the Earth, The Battle for the World’s Vanishing Oil Resources, Hiro considers why the present oil shock can’t be compared to the three shocks that preceded it and then explores just where the planet is likely to look in the medium term for energy (and global warming) relief.

Energy is obviously going to remain fiercely at the heart of our problems, locally and globally, indefinitely. Tomdispatch plans to respond to this essential reality with a range of different perspectives on energy in the coming year. Tom

The Current Oil Shock

No Relief in Sight
By Dilip Hiro

When will it end, this crushing rise in the price of gasoline, now averaging $4.10 a gallon at the pump? The question is uppermost in the minds of American motorists as they plan vacations or simply review their daily journeys. The short answer is simple as well: “Not soon.”

As yet there is no sign of a reversal in oil’s upward price thrust, which has more than doubled in a year, cresting recently above $146 a barrel. The current oil shock, the fourth of its kind in the past three-and-a-half decades, and the deadliest so far, shows every sign of continuing for a long, long stretch.

The previous oil shocks — in 1973-74, 1980, and 1990-91 — stemmed from specific interruptions of energy supplies from the Middle East due, respectively, to an Arab-Israeli war, the Iranian revolution, and Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait. Once peace was restored, a post-revolutionary order established, or the invader expelled, vital Middle Eastern energy supplies returned to normal. The fourth oil shock, however, belongs in a different category altogether.

Click here to read more of this dispatch.


The Rising Price of Fuel – Toronto Public Forum

June 22, 2008

Pollution Probe will be hosting a Public Forum on The Rising Price of Fuel: What will it Mean for Consumers, the Auto Industry and the Environment?

When: Monday, June 23rd from 7 – 9 PM (refreshments at 6:30 PM)
Where: Delta Chelsea Hotel at 33 Gerrard St West, Toronto, Rossetti Room (Yonge and Dundas subway station)

Opening remarks will be from Bob Seguin, Assistant Deputy Minister, Ontario Ministry of Economic Development and Trade and the Forum will be moderated by Michael Hlinka, Daily Business Reporter, CBC One’s Metro Morning.

Panel Presentations will be from David Greene, Oak Ridge National Laboratory; Ken Kurani, Institute of Transportation Studies, University of California; and Richard Cooper, Executive Director, J.D. Power and Associates Canada.

There is no admission fee and registration is not necessary.

For more information, please contact Rebecca Spring at rspring@pollutionprobe.org or 416-926-1907 ext. 238.

Please pass this message on to your friends.

Thank you.

Jessica Fracassi, Communications & Membership Director
Ontario Clean Air Alliance
402-625 Church St, Toronto M4Y 2G1
Phone: 416-926-1907 ext. 245
Fax: 416-926-1601
Email: jessica@cleanairalliance.org
Website: www.cleanairalliance.org



The Ontario Clean Air Alliance is a diverse, multi-stakeholder coalition of approximately 90 organizations including cities, health associations, environmental and public interest groups, corporations, public utilities, unions, faith communities and individuals.  The OCAA’s short term goal is to achieve the complete phase out of Ontario’s four coal-fired power plants by 2010.  Our long term goal is to ensure that all of our electricity needs are met by ecologically sustainable renewable sources. Our partner organizations represent more than six million Ontarians.

Interested in donating to the OCAA? Please click here to find out how.

To subscribe to this list please visit http://www.cleanairalliance.org/bulletins_email_signup.


Tomgram: Michael Klare, The Pentagon as Energy Insecurity Inc.

June 16, 2008

If you thought things were bad, with a barrel of crude oil at $136 and the oil heartlands of our planet verging on chaos, don’t be surprised, but you may still have something to look forward to. Alexei Miller, chairman of Russia’s vast state-owned energy monopoly, Gazprom, just suggested that, within 18 months, that same barrel could be selling for a nifty $250. Put that in your tank and… well, don’t drive it. It will be far too valuable.

Think of Miller’s sobering prediction as, at least in part, a result of the Bush administration’s attempt to “secure” the Middle East and the oil-rich Caspian basin by force in two failing wars (and occupations). Now, imagine for a moment, what his price scenario might be if, as journalist Jim Lobe — never one to leap from rumors to sensational conclusions — recently suggested, forces in the Bush administration (and in Israel) in favor of launching an air campaign against Iran are gaining strength. Just the suggestion last week by Shaul Mofaz, an Israeli deputy prime minister, that an attack on Iran is “unavoidable” if that country doesn’t halt its nuclear program — “If Iran continues with its program for developing nuclear weapons, we will attack it. The sanctions are ineffective.” — helped send the price of crude oil soaring. Imagine what an actual air attack might do.

You know that old joke: military justice is to justice as military music is to music; well, someday, not so far into the future, a similar, though far grimmer joke, is likely to be made about Washington’s attempts to secure the U.S. oil supply by military means. In the meantime, Michael Klare, author most recently of Rising Powers, Shrinking Planet: The New Geopolitics of Energy, considers the madness of Washington’s long-term militarization of oil delivery and the devastating oil wars that have resulted. (His previous book, Blood and Oil, by the way, has recently been turned into a documentary film. Check it out.) Tom

Garrisoning the Global Gas Station

Challenging the Militarization of U.S. Energy Policy

By Michael T. Klare

American policymakers have long viewed the protection of overseas oil supplies as an essential matter of “national security,” requiring the threat of — and sometimes the use of — military force. This is now an unquestioned part of American foreign policy.

On this basis, the first Bush administration fought a war against Iraq in 1990-1991 and the second Bush administration invaded Iraq in 2003. With global oil prices soaring and oil reserves expected to dwindle in the years ahead, military force is sure to be seen by whatever new administration enters Washington in January 2009 as the ultimate guarantor of our well-being in the oil heartlands of the planet. But with the costs of militarized oil operations — in both blood and dollars — rising precipitously isn’t it time to challenge such “wisdom”? Isn’t it time to ask whether the U.S. military has anything reasonable to do with American energy security, and whether a reliance on military force, when it comes to energy policy, is practical, affordable, or justifiable?

How Energy Policy Got Militarized

Click here to read more of this dispatch.


Tomgram: Michael Klare, America Out of Gas

May 15, 2008

These days, the price of oil seems ever on the rise. A barrel of crude broke another barrier Wednesday — $123 — on international markets, and the talk is now of the sort of “superspike” in pricing (only yesterday unimaginable) that might break the $200 a barrel ceiling “within two years.” And that would be without a full-scale American air assault on Iran, after which all bets would be off.

Considering that, in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks, oil was still in the $20 a barrel price range, this is no small measure of what the Bush administration years have really accomplished. Today, it’s hard even to remember not 9/11, but 11/9 — November 9, 1989 — the day that the Berlin Wall fell, signaling that, soon enough, after its seventy-odd year life, that Reaganesque Evil Empire, the Soviet Union, was heading for the door. In 1991, it disappeared from the face of the Earth without a whimper. Until almost the last moment, top officials in Washington assumed it would go on forever; and, when it was gone, most of them couldn’t, at first, believe it. Soon enough, however, the event was hailed as the greatest of American triumphs — “victory” not just in the Cold War, but at a level never before seen. Finally, for the first time in history, there was but a single superpower on the planet.

At the dawn of a new century, the administration of George Bush the younger, packed with implacable former Cold Warriors, came to power still infused with that sense of global triumphalism and planning to rollback what was left of the old Soviet Union, an impoverished Russia, into an early grave.

Almost seven and a half years later, as Michael Klare so vividly indicates below, an observer might be pardoned for wondering whether there hadn’t been two super losers in the Cold War. Had the Soviet Union, the weaker of the two great powers of the second half of the last century, simply imploded first, while the U.S., enwreathed in a cloud of self-congratulation, was almost unbeknownst to itself also slowly making its way toward an exit? And, as a final irony, Klare — author of the not-to-be-missed new book Rising Powers, Shrinking Planet — points out, energy has refloated Russia, even as it’s sinking us. Tom

Portrait of an Oil-Addicted Former Superpower

How Rising Oil Prices Are Obliterating America’s Superpower Status

By Michael T. Klare

Nineteen years ago, the fall of the Berlin Wall effectively eliminated the Soviet Union as the world’s other superpower. Yes, the USSR as a political entity stumbled on for another two years, but it was clearly an ex-superpower from the moment it lost control over its satellites in Eastern Europe.

Less than a month ago, the United States similarly lost its claim to superpower status when a barrel crude oil roared past $110 on the international market, gasoline prices crossed the $3.50 threshold at American pumps, and diesel fuel topped $4.00. As was true of the USSR following the dismantling of the Berlin Wall, the USA will no doubt continue to stumble on like the superpower it once was; but as the nation’s economy continues to be eviscerated to pay for its daily oil fix, it, too, will be seen by increasing numbers of savvy observers as an ex-superpower-in-the-making.

Click here to read more of this dispatch.