Thursday, June 25, 2009

You, Me and the SPP

You'll remember Paul Manly as the guy who shot the video exposing 3 rock-toting Quebec police provocateurs at the Montebello SPP protest in Aug. 2007.

Paul's full-length feature film : ‘You, Me, and the S.P.P: Trading Democracy for Corporate Rule’, exposes "the latest manifestation of a corporatist agenda that is undermining the democratic authority of the citizens of North America".

Quotes from the trailer :

Naomi Klein :
"… after the shock of Sept 11 … that crisis was expertly manipulated by our political leaders to push through a range of policies they actually had wanted to push through before Sept 11, but didn’t have the political conditions that made that possible."

Gordon Laxer, Director, The Parkland Institute, Alberta :
"…if we go along with the Americans on their military, on their human rights, on their Patriot Act, on immigration and refugee policy, on energy, on all kinds of regulations over pesticides or whatever, then they will allow us access to their markets."

Murray Dobbin, Canadian author, journalist :
"… what the SPP really represents is a parallel government, so that the important decisions are either made outside of parliament and outside of legislatures or they make it impossible for those kinds of decisions to be made in those legislative bodies, so that democracy is slowly being gutted."

with more from Peter Julian, Michael Byers, and Maude Barlow

To purchase your own copy of the whole film - $20 well spent - and for listings of local screenings, visit Paul's website at If we want this quality of reporting from independent journalists, we're going to have to support it. If you can't afford to buy it, get your local library to buy one, leave him a message of encouragement, and pass on the word.

As Paul says : I made this film for all of you.


Friday, August 31, 2007

SPP and the Zapatistas

One of the sanest, clearest overviews of the SPP I've read to date comes from the Zapatistas. Intended as a primer, Ten Easy Questions and Ten Tougher Ones Regarding the SPPNA is of particular interest in that it addresses the threats posed by the SPP to the people of the western hemisphere as a whole, as opposed to the more US/Canada-centric coverage we are used to up here. In this context it is rather chilling to read casual mention of Canada having already signed away the right to control the extent of her oil trade with the US.

A snippet for all you non-clickers out there :

11. How are these regulations drafted and approved?
In most cases the enforcement of regulations requires just the chief executives' signatures. It is actually corporate lawyers who draft the language of the regulations, especially those having to do with trade, in consultation with selected government
officials and academics. This procedure overturns the traditional roles played by governments and corporations and in essence constitutes the privatization of what had traditionally been considered a public prerogative.

The link is provided by Christopher Hayes, who I took to task here for his dismissive article in The Nation regarding the dangers of SPP. Mr Hayes left me a comment with a link to his blog, explaining that while still not convinced, he had cut a sentence from his original article that noted gutting regulations and giving corporations free reign were likely a part of the SPP agenda.
After reading this Zapatista position paper, Mr Hayes writes:

"The more I hear the more wary I become, although even this bill of indictment seems a bit vague—more focused on the general worldview out of which it springs and the motivations of the US than specifics about what, exactly the SPP has accomplished or plans to accomplish. Although, since they’re apparently keeping all SPP documents secret, I guess one can hardly blame the critics."
Warier faster, please, Mr Hayes.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The SPP, UFOs, Hitler, and....whoa, nice rack!

"The SPP, is the very kind of organization that one could expect to be launched by an alleged greed driven "Security Partnership" for the "prosperity" of Human elite minions and Manipulative Extraterrestrials that has been well documented by Dr. Salla and others, toward realizing Adolf Hitler's ambition for a New World Order."
~ The Canadian National Newspaper

Whoa! And here I thought having the John Birch Society on our side would be problematic.


Monday, August 27, 2007

SPP : Interview with Dave Coles

The Harper Index interviews Dave Coles

Coles, the union leader who exposed the police provos at Montebello, previously expressed some exasperation with the media preoccupation with rocks and tear gas. He'd rather see a little more attention paid to why he was at Montebello in the first place :
"It's all about Canada's energy security
There is no pipeline from the Alberta tar sands to refineries in eastern Canada. All production, to get to eastern Canada, must go through the United States of America. Ninety nine percent of all Canadians, including most politicians, don't understand that. The stuff should be processed in Canada so we get the economic value from it, and the jobs, and society gets to determine the overall value we will get from it. Harper and his gang want it sold and shipped directly to the States. Canada, and especially Alberta, get the pollution, and the U.S. gets the jobs.
When Canadian raw crude oil has to go through the U.S. before it can get to any eastern refineries, including the big Irving refinery in St. John, New Brunswick, don't we have the right to ask "What about Canada's energy security?"

The same applies for electricity. There's no east-west grid, it's all north-south. Ontario is landlocked from Manitoba. All we want to do is make sure these questions get asked so Canadians see how these questions are dealt with.
The SPP should be dealt with in the House of Commons. Politicians should be the ones dealing with it, not the corporate elite."

Police provocateurs at peaceful demonstrations is the sexy news story alright and it's important, but equally important is why those thugs were sent in there to discredit opposition to SPP.

As Coles says :"If the real reason the Council of Canadians and we were there were understood, the public would be up in arms about the SPP."

Saturday, August 25, 2007

The Revolution will be YouTubed...

Sockwell Day in the Globe&Mail :

"The thing that was interesting in this particular incident, three people in question were spotted by protesters because were not engaging in violence," Mr. Day said. "
They were being encouraged to throw rocks and they were not throwing rocks, it was the protesters who were throwing the rocks. That's the irony of this," Mr. Day said.
Mr. Day added the actions were substantiated by the video that he has seen of the protests."
Because they were not engaging in violence, it was noted that they were probably not protesters. I think that's a bit of an indictment against the violent protesters," Mr. Day said."

Substantiated? Not so much. But irony? Oh yeah.

The local Global TV news out of Vancouver Island obligingly ran large portions of Paul Manley's YouTube and the Quebec Prov Police surviellance video to accompany Mr Day's statement on the 6-o-clock news last night. Both clearly showed union leader Dave Coles' repeated demands to one QPP undercover cop to drop his rock and not cause trouble while another undercover was shoving Coles around.

QPP Inspector Marcel Savard complained on the same TV newscast that the video didn't show events prior to the shoving and rock-wielding incident.

That's right! I'd forgotten about the lead-up to this. Here's Dave Coles' As It Happens interview back on Wednesday :
"I didn't know they were police right away but I knew they were agitators because earlier they had been trying to get the young kids down on the road to cause trouble."

Memo to Doris : Paul Manly's video and the various clones it has inspired have now registered nearly 200,000 hits on YouTube.
Congratulations on hanging it so firmly around the neck of your government.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Still on the milk carton ...

It must have seemed like a terrific idea at the time.
Three guys with their faces hidden by identical kerchiefs, one of them holding a rock the size of a friggin melon, headed off towards a line of Surete du Quebec police in full riot garb. Union leader David Coles intercepted them, first demanding that they take their rock and bugger off, and then when they refused he demanded that they reveal their faces.
At this point they still had the opportunity to just walk away and blend back into the crowd again with their identities intact, as any sensible member of Black Bloc would certainly have done. Instead the video shows they approached the same police line they had earlier appeared bent on attacking and disappeared into it to be taken into custody. WTF?
RossK first sent me the video days ago - here's one of his many good posts on this - but for a complete listing of everybody's coverage since then, Dr Dawg has the video, the stills, and a ton o links.
From the Quebec Provincial Police via RossK:
"Following the diffusion of a video extract on Internet site, possibly implying members of the Safety of Quebec at the time of the Summit of Montebello, the latter would like to bring certain precise details. After having analyzed its contents, in addition to taking note of the vidéos recorded by the police bodies, it is able now to confirm that these individuals are police officers of the Safety of Quebec."
Major props to Paul Manly of Nanaimo for putting up that YouTube. You can bet we never would have heard about this otherwise. And hats off to labour leader Dave Cole for having the guts and leadership to call them out without losing his cool and the smarts to hold a press conference about it.
Loved this bit from the QPP :
"The police officers were located by the demonstrators at the time when they refused to launch projectiles."
Refused to launch projectiles? I dearly hope that's a translation problem and not just more Quebec Provincial Provocateurs ass-covering bullshit. This ain't over.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

SPP : "No SouPP for you!"

Remember back here when I told you the John Birch Society, a Swift Boater, and the Minutemen were holding a presser in Ottawa to announce their solidarity with the anti-SPP protesters? A rightwing Canadian blogger or two reacted by complaining that I obviously didn't think the Birchers were good enough to protest with the rest of us.

Turns out the Birchers don't think we're good enough to protest with them. From the JBS website :
"The decision to send out the riot police, some armed with tear gas, was made late this morning. As groups of protesters shouted slogans phalanxes of officers arrived and completely cordoned off the area of the Chateau" where the summit is being held, said the report.
Such rent-a-mob activity at the summit should not be confused with legitimate and principled opposition. Anarchist and communist mob violence of this sort, which has
been on display at previous high-level meetings of heads of state, typically serves to discredit legitimate, peaceful protest and opposition. As such the John Birch Society condemns violent protest activity..." yada, yada, and yada.

So who are these "anarchist and communist" types who are bringing down the whole "legitimate and principled" tone that the John Birch Society is itself so world-renowned for? This "rent-a-mob" group who would "discredit the legitimate peaceful protest" Birchers strive so hard for?

Check out their embedded CSNews link :
Canadian Communists March AgainstBush.
***snerk***snigger***It's the Canadian Labour Congress***snort***

No direct link to the Birchers from here - You can crank that particular ol' Google yourself.

Friday, July 27, 2007

U.S. Congress votes on the SPP

For the first time on Tuesday, the US Congress voted 362 to 63 in favour of an amendment "prohibiting the use of funds to participate in a working group pursuant to the Security and Prosperity Partnership".

Apparently Congress would like to see something more closely resembling congressional oversight over at the US Department of Transport [Ed. : Think - a really really big road]

The previous day another amendment to the Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, not yet voted on, stated "None of the funds in this act shall be made available for the Security and Prosperity Partnership."

Gosh, imagine that. Discussing it in the House and voting on it and everything.
When are we going to see something like that up here?
So far all we have is Peter MacKay saying : "I don't think SPP should be viewed in a conspiratorial way."

Hey, me neither! I think something as important as trading away sovereignty over Canadian policy and resources ought to be done right out in the open.

Linda McQuaig :
"Some might consider putting Canadian needs first to be the job of the prime minister. But apparently not Harper. And yet he'll be the one in charge of protecting our interests in Montebello next month when Bush pushes for an even deeper Canadian commitment to satisfying America's insatiable energy appetite."

GovTrack link

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

SPP : Streamlining Pipeline Projects

Yesterday Natural Resources Minister Gary Lunn (Con - Oilslick) met with his US and Mexican counterparts in Victoria to discuss strategy "to ensure speedy regulatory review of the major pipeline projects needed to carry growing volumes of oil sands crude to U.S. markets" in advance of the Three Amigos SPP meetup in Quebec next month.

From the Globe and Mail Business Page :

"We need to look at the regulatory approval process to make sure it is done as quickly and efficiently as possible," Mr. Lunn said.

Lunn was a good deal more proactive than that as reported in Oilweek Magazine earlier this month :

"Ottawa is creating a centralized process for project approvals to increase investor confidence," Lunn said from Calgary.“Our goal is to cut approval time in half."

Because nothing says labour standards and enviromental oversight like a government whose aim is to cut regulations in half.

G&M : "ConocoPhillips Co. chairman Jim Mulva said last week the company is eyeing an expansion of the planned pipeline network down to the Gulf Coast, and a refurbishment of its refineries there so they can process oil sands bitumen."

Oilweek : “The prize is that there are a lot of refineries on the Gulf Coast, and they can increase their capacity to turn bitumen into refined products more cheaply than anywhere else,‘‘ said analyst Steven Paget, with First Energy Capital Corp."The existing refineries also have the capacity to grow bigger over time without major expansions, so don‘t expect any new Canadian refineries to be announced any time soon," he added.

G&M : "But industry officials worry that regulatory process, which involves the U.S. State Department and several individual states as well as Canadian governments, could prove to be a serious logjam."

After a nod to Council of Canadians and Parklands Institute's opposition to SPP's "deepening continental integration and robbing Canada of control over its resources", G&M concludes :

"But on the energy front, Canada committed to a continental market long ago - in the Canada-U.S. free-trade agreement, and the North American free-trade deal.
Now, governments are essentially dealing with plumbing, looking to clear regulatory blockages."

Yes, not much left for government to do anymore but give the country Drano enemas to flush away all that unsightly regulatory shit.
Someone wake up John Ibbitson so he can pen another column about how all this is just "a conspiracy theory" in the editorial pages of the very same newspaper that published the business page above.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

SPP? Don't Worry - Be Happy!

Shorter John Ibbitson : If Maude Barlow of Council of Canadians and some right wing nutters in the US are both sending out alarms about North American integration, well then I guess we can call it a draw and forget the whole damn thing.

What a "fair and balanced" load of foxcrap.

"Political realities are no obstacle to conspiracy theorists", writes Ibbitson, juxtaposing these two examples:

"The North American Union will bury our America under more than 100 million, mostly poor Mexicans, and tens of millions of Canadians, used to their lavish social welfare benefits and socialized medicine unless we stop it," the News Journal of Mansfield, Ohio, gravely warned in a recent editorial.

While on the Canadian side, Ms. Barlow maintains that "deep integration," as she likes to call it, is "quite literally about eliminating Canada's ability to determine independent regulatory standards, environmental protections, energy security, foreign, military, immigration and other policies."


Right. See a single item on Barlow's list that isn't currently being violated? Need me to provide links to the downgrading of pesticide regs to match US ones, no water security under NAFTA, the NoFly list, CIA operations in Canada, Maher Arar? No? Tired of hearing about them?

Well then if these deeds are actually going on, it isn't much of a conspiracy theory, is it?
As opposed to the first example of being buried under spoiled brown welfare bums.

Ibbitson decides to provide us with a single concrete example of "lunatic not-so-fringe" thinking :

"The vast conspiracy to sell out the sovereignty of Canada, the United States and Mexico to a new North American Union would manage the flow of Canadian oil and water south to the thirsty United States and oversee the construction of the so-called NAFTA superhighway - a massive, 12-lane road, rail and oil-and-gas corridor that would snake from western Mexico, through the United States and into Canada, making it far easier and cheaper to import Chinese goods, thus completing the final destruction of the American and Canadian manufacturing sectors.

Of course there is no NAFTA superhighway, and no plans to build one, any more than there is any serious talk of a North American Union. "

Holy crap! This is going to come as a considerable shock to the U.S. Department of Transport, Federal Highway Administration, who have maps, and artist's renditions, and articles. From their website :

"The proposed system will be a network of transportation corridors (routes) incorporating separate lanes for passenger vehicles and trucks, rail lines for high-speed passenger and freight rail, and a dedicated utility zone. Components in the system may incorporate existing and new highways, railways, and utility rights-of-way where practical. Up to 366 meters (1,200 feet) wide in some places, the corridor is designed to move people and freight faster...

"... a 2,570-kilometer (1,600-mile) national highway that, once completed, will connect Mexico, the United States, and Canada. Other States involved in the I-69 project include Arkansas, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, and Tennessee. The planned location for I-69, designated by the U.S. Congress in the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 (ISTEA), was chosen because of the economic opportunities that could be created along the north-south corridor, specifically those related to increased trade resulting from NAFTA. "

Now who knows if this super-highway will get past the outraged ranchers unable to get assurances their land will not be expropriated, the environmentalists alarmed that the project is proceeding prior to their final reports, Governor Perry's three political opponents crying foul, and the public fury that the public-private partnership bid is going to a South American company which is going keep the toll profits for decades.

It sure sounds pretty lively for "no NAFTA superhighway and no plans to build one".

Mr Ibbitson rests his case on Peter MacKay :

Mr. MacKay dismissed the whole shebang when he spoke to reporters after the meeting Friday. "I don't think the SPP should be viewed in a conspiratorial way," he said. "It should be viewed for what it is. It's a way to enhance our collective interests in North America."

Enhance our collective interests in North America?
Nice dodge, MacKay. You call that a rebuttal, Mr Ibbitson?

So. Mr Ibbitson. Here's what's got me pissed :
We already know that the rightwing from Lou Dobbs all the way to the John Birch Society view what they call the NAU as a super-secret probably Jewish cabal of international bankers and intellectuals intent on ruining America with brown people and Canadian commies.

Please do try to keep them separate in your head from Canadians who can see the incremental corporate-driven piece-meal harmonization of continental defence and agreements compelling countries to deregulate for the sole benefit of global investors.

That way you won't get caught up in some silly conspiracy to deny it.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Mission Accomplice

In May 2003, George stood on the helicopter deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln and pronounced the invasion of Iraq a success - just as the guerilla war turned deadly.

No one believed him.

On Thursday, Steve stood on helicopter deck of the HMCS Halifax and announced a $3.1B military upgrade for the navy.
He has stated his willingness to leave Afghanistan in 2009 as long as there is a Con sensus
No one believes him either.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Globalization and Democracy

Some Basics by Michael Parenti

"The goal of the transnational corporation is to become truly transnational, poised above the sovereign power of any particu­lar nation, while being served by the sovereign powers of all nations.

With international “free trade” agreements such as NAFTA, GATT, and FTAA, the giant transnationals have been elevated above the sovereign powers of nation states. These agreements endow anonymous international trade committees with the authority to prevent, over­rule, or dilute any laws of any nation deemed to burden the investment and market prerogatives of transnational corporations. These trade committees–of which the World Trade Organization (WTO) is a prime example—set up panels composed of “trade special­ists” who act as judges over economic issues, placing themselves above the rule and popular control of any nation, thereby insuring the supremacy of international finance capital. This process, called globalization, is treated as an inevitable natural “growth” development beneficial to all. It is in fact a global coup d’état by the giant business interests of the world.

Should a country refuse to change its laws when a WTO panel so dictates, the WTO can impose fines or international trade sanctions, depriving the resistant country of needed markets and materials.[ii]

Acting as the supreme global adjudicator, the WTO has ruled against laws deemed “barriers to free trade.” It has forced Japan to accept greater pesticide residues in imported food. It has kept Guatemala from outlawing deceptive advertising of baby food. It has eliminated the ban in various countries on asbestos, and on fuel-economy and emission stan­dards for motor vehicles. And it has ruled against marine-life protection laws and the ban on endangered-species products. The European Union’s prohibition on the importation of hormone-ridden U.S. beef had overwhelming popular support throughout Europe, but a three-member WTO panel decided the ban was an illegal restraint on trade. The decision on beef put in jeopardy a host of other food import regulations based on health concerns. The WTO overturned a portion of the U.S. Clean Air Act banning certain additives in gasoline because it interfered with imports from foreign refineries. And the WTO overturned that portion of the U.S. Endangered Species Act forbidding the import of shrimp caught with nets that failed to protect sea turtles."

Continue reading ...

Friday, June 22, 2007

Water truckin'

You may remember Michael Byers as the UBC International Law prof who asked prior to the last election why extraordinary rendition wasn't an election issue and who also red-flagged our Afghan detainee transfer deal in the national press over a whole freakin year ago.

Byers has a book out - "Intent for a Nation : What is Canada for?" - and The Tyee has an excerpt :
"In 2004, the Canadian actor Paul Gross starred in a made-for-TV drama entitled H2O. Gross plays Tom McLaughlin, the charismatic son of a murdered Canadian prime minister, who takes over Canada at the behest of a group of international financiers eager to sell our fresh water to an increasingly thirsty United States."
Did you see this movie? I hadn't so I looked it up at IMDb. Some of the user comments about the unlikelihood of the plot's basic premise were kind of sad. At the time this movie aired, the GATT agricultural provisions regarding water were two decades old, and NAFTA, including the dreaded Annex Tariff Item 22.01: water: all natural water other than sea water, whether or not clarified or purified, had already passed its tenth birthday. Five years before this movie was even a twinkle in CBC's eye, the NDP were standing on the floor of the HoC demanding a clarification on water sovereignty under NAFTA - and it was denied.
While conceding that Canada's legal position on control of her water is at the very least muddy, Byers warns against setting any bulk water trading precedents:
"A single act of trading water on a bulk basis would arguably transform the resource into a tradable good that was legally indistinguishable from softwood lumber, potash or oil, rendering subsequent attempts to prevent or limit further exports illegal. For this reason, it is imperative that Canada takes water off the free trade table, quickly and decisively -- now, before it's too late."
Well another attempt was made two weeks ago, this time in the form of a motion asking the Cons to request a clarification from Mexico and the US on their position on Canada's water, and it was again denied.

Byers' excerpt concludes:

"On water, as on so many other issues, our conciliatory, don't-rock-the-boat approach to Canada-U.S. relations has failed. Unless we stand up for our own interests, Canadian fresh water could soon be irrigating crops, watering golf courses and filling backyard swimming pools in the south western United States.

It's time to dissuade Americans of the notion that we're going to rescue them from the consequences of their short-sighted, profligate ways by allowing them to mess with our environment, too. It's time to make it absolutely clear that bulk water exports are not covered by NAFTA."

In the meantime someone please let me know how that H2O movie turned out.
Tyee link from Jennifer at Runesmith's Canadian Content

Thursday, June 21, 2007

"Holding the Bully's Coat"

From the introductory essay of Linda McQuaig's "Holding the Bully's Coat", an examination of Canada's complicity in and subservience to the American empire :
"Although it received almost no attention in the Canadian media, the appointment of Gen.Bantz Craddock as NATO’s top military commander in December 2006 had a significance for Canadians. Craddock had been in charge of the U.S.’s notorious Guantánamo Bay prison in Cuba, where hundreds of suspected terrorists have been stripped of their most basic human rights in defiance of international law.
His appointment as NATO’s military chief meant that Canadian troops serving in the NATO mission in Afghanistan were being brought under the ultimate command of a U.S. general deeply connected to the worst aspects of American foreign policy carried out in the name of defeating "terror."
In fact, there has been a significant shift in how Canada operates in the world, as we’ve moved from being a nation that has championed internationalism, the United Nations and UN peacekeeping to being a key prop to an aggressive U.S. administration operating outside the constraints of international law."
The rest of McQuaig's essay can be read at the excellent Canadian monthly ColdType.
Offering free subscription in a downloadable pdf format, The ColdType Reader has attracted and published such writers as George Monbiot, Greg Palast, Chris Hedges, Robert Fisk, Robert Jenson, Norman Solomon, ... and Hugo Chavez.
Well, go on then. Why are you still here?
UPDATE : Oh good lord. Catnip links to an Independent article on Craddock's old Gitmo stomping grounds from July of last year.
In a review of the military's own documents, a Seton Hall University study discovered that :"Only 8 per cent of prisoners are accused of fighting for a terrorist group, and that 86 per cent were captured by the Northern Alliance or Pakistani authorities "at a time when the US offered large bounties for the capture of suspected terrorists. "

Monday, June 11, 2007

Business Without Borders

Atlantica Conference 2007 :

June 14-16, 2007

Yo! Atlanticans! Could you be any more ass?

From the Media Page of AIMS - Atlantic Institute of Market Study, a sponsor of Atlantica 2007 :

"It is a shame that ideological blindness of the usual suspects - unions, rabid ultranationalists like the Council of Canadians, radical feminists, and other fellow-traveling leftist flat-earthers got most of the media attention focused on the "Reaching Atlantica: Business without Boundaries," conference hosted in Saint John last weekend by the Atlantic Provinces Chambers of Commerce, bringing together business leaders, trade experts and scholars to discuss a strategy for creating an International Northeast Economic Region (AINER) - a cross-border economic zone encompassing the northeast corner of North America.

"Atlantica" broadly encompasses the Atlantic Provinces, eastern Quebec, the northern tier of New England states, and northern New York state, all of which share various common characteristics: similar demographics, social diversity and migration, a shared history, and interrelated transportation issues, but AIMS argues that trade restrictions imposed by an international border running through the heart of Atlantica hobbles the region's prosperity.

Unfortunately, the unions, nationalists, protectionists and knee-jerk America-haters, as usual, just don't get it that before you can slice an economic pie equitably, first you have to secure the pie, which requires trade and commerce, preferably without a lot of bureaucratic obstacles constipating the process.

If the vision of Atlantica could be realized, it would be a wonderful facilitator toward restoring Atlantic Canada's heritage as a thriving centre of international trade, but even better would be to integrate all of Canada and the U.S. inside one big continental economic and security zone."

"Integrate all of Canada and the U.S. inside one big continental economic security zone"?
See, I'm guessing right about there is where you lost those flat-earthers.

Interesting group of panellists and speakers you have this time : Peter MacKay, Minister of Foreign Affairs; Rodney MacDonald, Premier of Nova Scotia; Stephen Blank, Director of the North American Forum on Integration; Harold Foster, Consul General of the USA; Jim Quigley, VP at the Bank of Montreal; Mike Duffy; and a whole load of energy CEOs for some reason, but....Mike Duffy? Scott Sinclair from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives will presumably be there dissenting.

Besides AIMS, the other big fluffer for Atlantica is the Atlantic Provinces Chamber of Commerce.

Yo ! Chamber! How did you come to pick Jonathan Daniels, the American CEO of Eastern Maine Development Corporation, as your next Chair for the Atlantic Provinces Chamber of Commerce? Huh? You don't see anything up with him being the head of a Canadian Chamber of Commerce?

And then there's all the whining about minimum wage and gov regs and unions and ....there go the feminists and the ultranationals and the unions. You just lost 'em. In fact right there is where you alienated anyone who hasn't crawled up the asshole of deep integration and fallen asleep.

Stop Atlantica! - Atlantic Canadians' Declaration Against Atlantica

Saturday, June 9, 2007

"We're the Indians now." **

"The Plan to Disappear Canada" in yesterday's Tyee outlines ten recent developments in deep integration that have received media coverage.

As author Murray Dobbin points out : it's good that our media is finally giving it some tentative attention but it's bad that it's taken them so long to notice that The Big Idea is already well underway.

Several people have emailed it to me along with their comments, which mostly run to the "those fucking Americans" variety, and it's this idea that deep integration is someone else's fault that I'd like to address here. Specifically I'd like to hear a lot more about complicity from certain "fucking Canadians".

Mulroney gave us the 1989 Free Trade Agreement, Chretien gave us NAFTA, Paul Martin the Security and Prosperity Partnership, and Harper - Harper's knees are covered in callouses and his lower jaw has gone numb.

In their April 2004 position paper "New Frontiers - North American Security and Prosperity Initiative", the Canadian Council of Chief Executives bragged :

"The Council was the private sector leader in the development and promotion of the Canada-United States Free Trade Agreement during the 1980s and of the subsequent trilateral North American Free Trade Agreement. North American economic integration is now well advanced and irreversible."

Canadians all.
The 2005 Independent Task Force on the Future of North America, also a Canadian initiative, included :

  • John Manley, Task Force Canada Chair, former Deputy Prime Minister and ex-Finance Minister
  • Tom D'Aquino, Chief Exec of the Canadian Council of Chief Executives
  • Tom Axworthy*, former Chief of Staff to Trudeau
  • Jim Dinning, former Alberta Finance Minister, lost to Stelmach in leadership bid
  • Wendy Dobson, Pres. C.D. Howe Institute, Ass Deputy Minister of Finance of Canada
  • Pierre-Marc Johnson, former Quebec Premier
  • Michael Wilson, former Canada Finance Minister, ex-Minister of International Trade, and Canadian Ambassador to the U.S.

who, along with their US and Mexican counterparts, variously advocated and signed off on :

  • a North American brand name, "portraying NA as a club of privileged members"
  • a North American security perimeter - "Security issues trump all other issues."
  • an educational project to teach "a shared NA identity in schools"
  • a North American passport.
  • a feasibility study on North American currency union.
  • an integrated NA electrical grid
  • a NA "resource pact allowing greater trade and investment in non-renewable resources, such as oil, gas, and fresh water"
  • the complaint that "Governance has not kept pace with economic realities and is preventing further integration."

(*Tom Axworthy appended a dissenting view, disagreeing with creating one security perimeter and also with moving bulk water exports and cultural protections from national to NA jurisdiction.)
Plus Smart Borders and the Smart Regulations harmonization with US regs and the Fire Sale of Canadian companies.

So please, let's admit that Canadian corporations and think tanks and politicians have more than met "those effing Americans" half-way here. However horrified we may be at the idea of hitching our wagon to the stars and stripes of the war-mongering imperialistic plutocracy to the south, let's at least admit it's Canadians who are selling off our wagon.

**Kurt Vonnegut

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

SPP, not just for cows anymore

Robert Pastor : "It's time for Canada to take the lead to propose rule-based institutions that permit cows to roam across borders and people to declare: I am not just a Canadian, a Mexican, or a U.S. citizen; I am also a North American."

Pastor, author of Toward a North American Community, director of the North American Forum on Integration, and tireless cheerleader for "a North American consciousness", is at the University of Ottawa today, plumping for letting the little people in on his pet cow-freeing project :

Mr. Pastor said the SPP summit at Montebello this August "offers an opportunity for the leaders to open the process, to invite in more civil society groups," including academics, environmentalists, unions, the media and state and provincial legislators."

Unlike Ron Covais and his co-conspirators in the North American Competitiveness Council who advocate for "integration by stealth", Pastor says : "What we need is something more bold."

Well, exactly.
Pastor was quite bold himself when he spoke to the Canadian Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade in Feb 2002 on implementation of a common currency :
There are three options for us. Option one is de facto dollarization. That is to say, no government makes a decision, and increasingly Canada and Mexico use the U.S. dollar.
The number two option is de jure dollarization. Three governments all sit down and they decide the dollar makes sense: let's just use a single currency.
The third option is a unified currency. Herbert Grubel has proposed this idea of the amero.
I think it's in the long-term interest of the United States to propose or to discuss a scheme in which all three countries feel there is space for them to define a portion of this larger entity of an amero system, not a dollar system.
Some of the FAIT MPs promptly widdled on the carpet in their gratitude and excitement.

See how much better it is to be open and transparent and let "state and provincial legislators" "feel there is a space for them" in the decision-making?

Actually, the mewling sychophantic behavior of the MPs aside, I heartily advocate Pastor's strategy.

Pastor promotes the SPP as NAFTA-Plus.
NAFTA overrides Canadian law for the benefit of corporations to which it affords the rights and freedoms previously reserved for people. It allows quisling business groups like the Canadian Council of Chief Executives an increasingly large say in public policy issues while excluding the public. It advocates the deregulation and privatization of hard-won public services like health and education, promotes intellectual property rights of corporations over the needs of consumers, nullifies control over foreign investment, and guts protection for workers, stakeholders, and the environment.

In 1993, Canadians reacted to the wholesale promotion of Mulroney's corporate free trade agenda by throwing him out on his ass and reducing the Cons to two seats in the House.
So let's hope the Cons listen to Pastor today and Canada is provided with the opportunity to hear them defend this NAFTA-Plus in the House. And the sooner the better.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Water wars

No, not with the US ; apparently we're still duking this one out with the Cons.

You remember those International Trade Committee hearings last month on Canada's water and energy security under NAFTA and the SPP? The one in which chairperson Leon Benoit stomped out with the three other Con members because he didn't like Prof. Gordon Laxer's testimony on just how vulnerable Canada is?
Yes? Then you'll remember how the rest of the committee continued to do their job.
Today the following motion was brought from that Int Trade Committee to the House of Commons for debate :
"Pursuant to Standing Order 108(2), and the motion adopted by the Committee on Tuesday, May 15, 2007 your Committee recommends:

Whereas Canada’s water resources must be protected;Whereas NAFTA covers all services and all goods, except those that are expressly excluded and water is not excluded;

Whereas this situation puts the provincial and federal laws concerning the protection of water including the prohibition of bulk water exports at risk;

Whereas a simple agreement by exchange of letters among the governments of Canada, the United States and Mexico specifying that water is not covered by NAFTA must be respected by international tribunals as if it were an integral part of NAFTA;

That the Standing Committee recommend that the government quickly begin talks with its American and Mexican counterparts to exclude water from the scope of NAFTA."

Yes! Thank you Bloc and NDP committee members, and particularly NDP Trade critic Peter Julian who has worked so hard to expose the whole SPP betrayal in parliament.

The Con members on the committee dissented of course.And I'm sure, given their previous behavior on the committee and the outing of the Con's dirty tricks manual on how to shut down committees on subjects they don't like, you're not exactly reeling with surprise about it.

Down at the bottom :
"Dissenting opinion from the Conservative Party
The Government members of the Standing Committee on International Trade, for reasons previously stated by our members which appear in the evidence, [snip], choose to dissent respectfully from the Ninth Report."

Dissent away, ReformACons! Da motherfuckin motion is in da House!

SATURDAY UPDATE: From the Ottawa Citizen :"A motion to open NAFTA talks to make sure bulk-water exports are excluded from the deal sparked an acrimonious three-hour debate in the House yesterday, with all three Opposition parties lined up against the Tories.

The Tories say a 1993 letter signed by the three governments specifically says "water in its natural state" is exempt from the provisions of NAFTA.
But water will not be considered to be "in its natural state" once it has been loaded into a pipeline, or onto a tanker, critics fear.

NDP MP Peter Julian says that in 1998, California-based Sun Belt Water Inc. launched a $10.5-billion lawsuit under NAFTA against British Columbia when a provincial ban scuttled its plans to ship water by tanker to the U.S. (The case is still pending.)

"As a foreign investor, all you need to do is apply for a permit. You'll either get to export water, or you can sue for compensation, which taxpayers will have to pay. Either way, the investor wins, and Canada loses."

Water is protected not only by the 1993 NAFTA letter, but also by a federal-provincial pact and an amendment to the Canada-U.S. Boundary Waters Treaty, which protects the Great Lakes and other shared waters, he [Ted Menzies, Con from the Int Trade committee] argues.

But the Council of Canadians, an Ottawa-based advocacy group, says the U.S. never signed that amendment and notes that it doesn't cover water sources that are not shared with the U.S."

The quisling Cons are terrified to ask the fucking question : Under NAFTA, does Canada control her own water, or, as Peter Julian puts it, is it a choice between 1)exporting water or 2)paying compensation to each and every foreign company who applies for a permit to do so.

May 31 Hansard account of debate between all parties in the House..

Monday, May 28, 2007

Whiny-ass deep integration titty-babies

I mean, what the hell is taking so long?

WASHINGTON (CP) - Some major U.S. businesses are worried that North American co-operation is falling off the agenda, even as leaders of the three countries get ready to meet in Quebec in August.
Uncertainty about progress on a host of cross-border initiatives is rattling some nerves in American boardrooms before President George W. Bush joins Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Mexico's Felipe Calderon for an annual get-together.

Some quotes from above-mentioned WADITBs :

"There has to be a plan to implement this, a road map. They asked the business community to do a lot. We're not seeing any results."

"If we end up with nothing, why would I want to bring my chairman into an embarrassing meeting?"
"Either they demonstrate some progress, change the agenda or the leaders don't meet."

I'm sorry, what was that last bit again?

"Either they demonstrate some progress, change the agenda or the leadersdon't meet."

Yes, that's what I thought you said.

And then there's Ron Covais. You remember Ron Covais, don't you?
President of Lockheed Martin Americas, former Pentagon adviser to Dick Cheney, chair of the North American Competitiveness Council and the not-so-secret-after-all Banff meeting, and the author of these happy remarks as reported in Macleans last year :

Ron Covais is in a hurry. Covais figures they've got less than two years of political will to make it happen. That's when the Bush administration exits, and "The clock will stop if the Harper minority government falls or a new government is elected."
"The guidance from the ministers was, 'tell us what we need to do and we'll make it happen."
This is how the future of North America now promises to be written: not in a sweeping trade agreement on which elections will turn, but by the accretion of hundreds of incremental changes implemented by executive agencies, bureaucraciesand regulators.
"We've decided not to recommend any things that would require legislative changes," says Covais. "Because we won't get anywhere."

Well Ron isn't too happy with the slow rate of progress either:
"We're asking for a status update" from top bureaucrats, he said. "By mid-June, we have to have at least a sense of where we're at."

Or what, asshole? You'll withdraw your support for all that non-legislative change? Take water and oil off the agenda to punish us? Toss the keys to the kingdoms and go home? What exactly?

Luckily Canadian Council of Chief Executives chief quisling and NAU cheerleader Tom d'Aquino is right there to reassure Colonel Sanders that the Canadian chickens really really support whatever the hell it is the colonel wants this time :
"The view from Canada is that all the fretting is unnecessary, said Thomas d'Aquino. "I would like to see more speed," but there's already been a lot of movement, he said."

And he has a remedy :
"One problem, he said, is that the leaders haven't been out publicly defending the SPP, "even though armies are working on it."
"We are urging our governments to do that."

Bring it, Tom. Bring it. We'd love to hear Harper defend being called to account by your US corporate buddies.

Bonus : If you click the Macleans link above for the Ron Covais quotes, you'll also find some bonus bitching from Dr. Ron Pastor, author of "Toward A North American Community" and member of the board of directors for the North American Forum on Integration, the group shilling the NAU to students.