FIVE REASONS FOR CANADIANS TO OPPOSE THE SPP
The Security and Prosperity Partnership is such a big agreement, with so many policy recommendations in so many areas, that it sometimes feels like we need a ten-page essay to fully explain why it is such a rotten deal for Canada. But it isn’t really all that complicated. The Council of Canadians opposes the SPP for five main reasons related to its impact on democracy, water, energy, military and foreign policy, and the real security of citizens across the continent.
The SPP is the political manifestation of a corporate plan for economic and security integration that was never voted on in any country. Big business lobbies like the Canadian Council of Chief Executives (CCCE) drafted almost all of the SPP’s 300 initiatives and they continue to be the only Canadian group with any input into the SPP. In May 2006, Prime Minister Stephen Harper put 10 members of the CCCE onto a permanent high-level advisory board called the North American Competitiveness Council (NACC). This group has been asked to “prioritize the priorities” in the SPP and to “drive change.” Meanwhile, the public and most of our publicly elected officials have been left out of the picture completely.
Energy is arguably the sticky goo holding the SPP together. Canada and Mexico have agreed to give U.S. oil companies an even tighter grip of both countries’ resources in return for vague assurances that the U.S. won’t shut the border to our goods. In Canada, that means guaranteeing a fivefold increase in tar sands production, no matter what the consequences for the environment and public health – and even if it makes greenhouse gas reductions impossible. Pipelines are under construction to ship raw bitumen out of Alberta and to U.S. refineries, which means we’re not even securing any jobs out of this energy fire sale. In Mexico, while their oil and gas industry is miraculously still state-owned, the corporate lobby behind the SPP is pushing for privatization. Clearly, this “partnership” is about U.S. energy security at the expense of Canadian and Mexican jobs and the environment, and is therefore an incredible waste of energy for Canada.
An SPP round table on the “Future of the North American Environment” on April 27, 2007 in Calgary discussed “water consumption, water transfers and artificial diversions of bulk water,” with the aim of achieving “joint optimum utilization of the available [North American] water.” The meeting was part of the White House-funded North American Future 2025 Project that has Canadian government backing as a venue “to help guide the ongoing Security and Prosperity Partnership,” according to a CanWest news article. “It's no secret that the U.S. is going to need water,” project leader Armand Peschard-Sverdrup told the Ottawa Citizen. “It's no secret that Canada is going to have an overabundance of water. At the end of the day, there may have to be arrangements.” Those “arrangements” are clearly being discussed behind closed doors and must cease immediately.
Joint Canada-U.S. no-fly lists, exclusive airport service for “trusted travelers,” and racially based immigration policies that criminalize people from “high risk” countries. These are among a few of the extremely disturbing “security” measures contained in the SPP. The simple fact that Maher Arar is still on the U.S. no-fly list, despite exoneration and a formal apology from the RCMP and our federal government, is proof that none of these measures can make Canadians any safer. In fact, they increase the insecurity of thousands of people who may be banned from flying, unnecessarily detained, or even deported because of where they were born or with whom they associate.
The SPP ties Canada even closer to a militaristic U.S. government and will inevitably erode any differences that currently exist between our two countries’ foreign and defence policies. Already we see Canada amplifying its role in Afghanistan and advertising the fact on billboards in Washington, D.C. We see a shift in stance on Middle East issues with Canada backing the U.S. position every time. And we see the big business lobby continuing to push Canada to sign on to missile defence and create a joint military command for all of North America. This is all despite public opinion polls on the Department of Foreign Affairs website showing that 83 per cent of Canadians would rather that we forge an independent foreign policy – despite the negative consequences it might have on trade with the U.S.