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The Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America (SPP) was founded in March 2005 at a summit of the Heads of State of Canada, the US, and Mexico. SPP is not an official treaty; it is not an official law; rather, it is being presented as a vague ‘diaologue based on shared values’. Therefore it has been able to escape any public scrutiny and will never be debated in the House of Commons. The North American Forum sponsored one of the various secretive meetings in Sept 2006 in Banff Springs. When asked by the media if he was in attendance, Stockwell Day refused to confirm he was there, but said that even if he was, it was a “private” meeting that he would not comment on.
The SPP is a NAFTA-plus-Homeland-Security model. The founding premise of the SPP is that an agenda of economic free trade and national security will result in human prosperity. Yet we know that the so-called “prosperity” of previous free trade agreements such as NAFTA have only brought corporate prosperity, with increasing rates of poverty and displacement for the majority of people.“Free trade” agreements include steps to further privatization, service cuts, and corporate tax breaks. “Barriers to trade” such as public services, labour standards, and health and environmental regulations are eliminated.Since the US-Canada Free Trade Agreement (FTA) in 1985, wage growth in Canada has been almost flat and the majority of jobs are un-unionized and part time. Since the implementation of NAFTA in 1994, the bottom 20% of Canadian families saw their incomes fall by 7.6%, while the top 20% saw their incomes rise by 16.8%. This is despite the fact that that most households are clocking in almost 200 hours more than nine years ago. Similarly in the US, according to Forbes Magazine, the largest employer is Wal-Mart, whose average wage is $7.50 per hour. In Mexico, the number of Mexicans living in severe poverty has grown by four million since NAFTA and the real value of the minimum wage has dropped by 23%. With the rise in agribusiness, more than 50,000 Mexican farmers are expelled from their lands annually. Many of these 1.5 million displaced Mexican farmers have migrated to North America to work in low-paying sectors such as construction, agriculture and factories.
“Corporate globalization for us is colonization continued without any letup.” – Sharon Venne, Cree lawyer.
We also know that 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. A September 2006 report in The Independent found that the “War on Terror” has “directly killed a minimum of 62,006 people, created 4.5 million refugees, and cost the US more than the sum needed to pay off the debts of every poor nation on earth.”
WHO IS BEHIND THE SPP?
In Canada, the major lobby for SPP comes from the Canadian Council of Chief Executives (CCCE), a CEO organization whose corporations administer in excess of C$2.1 trillion in assets. In January 2003, CCCE launched its North American Security and Prosperity Initiative to increase investment and capital flows, integrate security agreements and military defence, and expedited means of resource (oil, natural gas, water, forest products) extraction. With the launch of SPP in 2005, the North American Competitiveness Council (NACC) was created. The NACC is the only advisory group to the three NAFTA/SPP governments.
Harper appointed the Canadian membership of the NACC in June 2006: Dominic D’Alessandro (Manulife Financial); Paul Desmarais, Jr. (Power Corporation of Canada); David Ganong (Ganong Bros. Limited); Richard George (Suncor Energy Inc.); Hunter Harrison (CN); Linda Hasenfratz (Linamar Corporation); Michael Sabia (Bell Canada Enterprises); Jim Shepherd (Canfor Corporation); Annette Verschuren (The Home Depot); and Rick Waugh (Scotiabank).
Chairman of Cornell Corporations, “It’s clear since September 11 there is a heightened focus on detention, more people are going to get caught. I would say that is positive. The federal businesses are the best business for us since September 11th…”
WHAT IS THE SPP SPECIFICALLY ABOUT?
“SPP has three fundamental objectives…to create more advantageous conditions for transnational corporations and remove remaining barriers to the flow of capital and crossborder production within the framework of NAFTA. It wants to secure access to natural resources, especially oil. And it wants to create a regional security plan based on “pushing its borders out” into a security perimeter that includes Mexico and Canada.”- Laura Carlsen, International Relations Centre.
The aim of the SPP is to harmonize over 300 common areas of legislation and regulations, including:
> Integration of military and police training exercises, cooperation on law enforcement, and the expansion of The North American Aerospace Defense Command into a into a joint naval and land Defense Command.
> Bulk transfers of water, particularly from Canada to the US. For example, the North American Water and Power Authority would redirect water from British Columbia and the Yukon to a huge crater in the Rocky Mountains inn the U.S. side.
> Privatization of Mexico’s nationalized oil sector; and fivefold increase in tar sands production in Alberta, which is actively opposed by the Lubicon, Dene, Mikisew Cree and other indigenous communities. The tar sands are already the largest contributor to the growth of greenhouse gas emissions in Canada and surrounding indigenous communities have documented high cancer rates.
> In 2001, without legislative or public debate, Deputy Prime Minister John Manley and Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge signed the Smart Border Declaration, which includes adoption of coordinated border surveillance technologies with major contracts provided to military suppliers, and development of a North American Border Pass. Other initiatives to militarize the border include fly-overs of the border by U.S. helicopters and the $101-million plan to arm Canadian border guards.
> Coordination of no-fly lists. The recent implementation of the Canadian fly-list “Passenger Protect” has raised serious privacy and civil liberties concerns. The U.S. no-fly list has grown to half a million names.
> Citizenship and Immigration Canada and the Canadian Border Services Agency began a field trial of biometrics in October 2006 despite widespread rejection of their use. The Canadian Advance Technology Alliance Biometrics Group is predicting that the biometric “market” would rise to US $2.6-billion by 2006.
> Integration of 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.
> Expansion of temporary worker programs. Canada’s Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program is seen as the ‘model’ to implement, despite widespread documented abuse in this program including being tied to the employer who “imports” them; facing deportation if they assert their rights; and exploitative working conditions including low wages and long hours with no overtime pay.
> Harmonization of health and environmental regulations to lower standards and an alternative to the Kyoto Protocol.
> NAFTA Superhighway, a several hundred metres corridor ncluding rail lines and pipelines from Mexico to the Canadian border.
WHAT YOU CAN DO:
§ Contact the various companies that make up the NACC and tell them you do not support their participation in the NACC. Advise them that will no longer be their customers unless they publicly announce that they will not participate in the NACC.
§ Let your political representatives know that you do not support the SPP.
§ Tell your friends and family about the SPP.
§ Contact us to find out more information or to get involved: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 778-552-2099
Bush-Harper-Calderon Securing corporate Profits and Prosperity for the rich!
For Further Reading:20 Questions on the SPP
SPP is NAFTA Kicked up a Notch by Laura Carlsen
From NAFTA to the SPP by Katherine Sciacchitano
Trinational Elites Map North American Future in “NAFTA Plus” by Miguel Pickard
Deep Integration in North America: Security and Prosperity for Whom? by Canadian Labour Congress
Public kept in dark about talks on North American integration by Gwalgen Geordie Dent.
‘Deep integration’ comes out of shadows By Murray Dobbin
Threats to Water: NAFTA, SPP, Atlantica, Super-Corridors by Dr. Janet M. Eaton
SPP Factsheets by Common Frontiers