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.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

North American University

Remember when one of the objectives of the "Independent Task Force on the Future of North America" was to "launch an educational project to teach the idea of a shared NA identity in schools"?
That objective seems to be coming along rather nicely, thanks to The North American Forum on Integration, a Montreal-based non-profit promoting deep integration.
Highlights of the Conference included : Embracing our North American Identity
And just wrapping up yesterday in Washington DC is another NAFI project, the 3rd Triumvirate, a North American Model Parliament for students from Canada, Mexico, and the US.
According to their website, their main objectives : "To develop their sense of a North American identity" and "To identify the elements of the North American agenda which would allow consolidation and reinforcement of the North American region".
This year's themes : creation of a customs union, water management, human trafficking and telecommunications.
Water management ?

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

The Amero ... again

Globe&Mail :

"Bank of Canada Governor David Dodge says North America could one day embrace a euro-style single currency. (snip)
The idea of a common currency has long been a subject of curiosity, particularly among Canadian academics, who see it as a way to escape sharp gyrations in the exchange rate.(snip)
Some proponents have dubbed the single North American currency the “amero.”It is more likely, however, that a common currency would mean that Canada and Mexico would adopt the U.S. dollar, giving up significant economic control to a central bank dominated by the United States."

In 1999, former Alliance MP Herb Grubal wrote a paper for the Fraser Institute entitled The Case For the Amero : The Economics and Politics of a North American Monetary Union.

In it he describes how in March of 1999, Reform Party members Rob Anders, Rahim Jaffer and Jason Kenney"spearheaded a debate in parliament over the issue of monetary union for North America. In the process, they asked the Prime Minister to form a committee of parliament to study the subject."

Well, so much for "being a subject of curiosity, particularly among academics".

Interesting how far back the public record on this idea goes among the gnugovs, although they do say they were expecting "some resistance".

In endnote #39 to The Case For the Amero, Grubal notes : "Resistance to the amero will be lessened by continuing to call it officially a "dollar" in the United States and Canada."

Oh come on now, Reformers, you know you really want to call it the "The Almighty Dollar" - after, you know, "Him".
However, given the current US trade deficit with China, a very good reason among many other very good reasons for Canada not to consider this idea at all, they might have to settle for the "Almighty Yen".

Thursday, May 17, 2007

SPP : Sodding Parliamentary Perfidy

Parkland Institute Professor Gordon Laxer's testimony before the trade committee on the SPP was disrupted by International Trade Chair Leon Benoit's procedural meltdown last Friday. Benoit adjourned the meeting, stomping out with the three other Con committee members in tow, after which Laxer finished his presentation.
At a subsequent meeting the committee voted six to four (guess which ones!) to include Laxer's testimony in the record and here it is :

Presentation on the SPP to the International Trade CommitteeGordon Laxer May 10, 2007
For all you non-clickers out there, here's a couple of choice bits:

"NAFTA's proportionality clause : You won't convince Canadians to cut fossil fuel use, as we must, if it means that whatever we save is exported to the U.S., the proportional requirement rises, and tarsands carbon emissions remain unchanged."

"We import about 40% of our oil, 850,000 barrels a day - to meet 90% of Atlantic Canada and Quebec's needs, and 40% of Ontario's. A rising share, 45% comes from OPEC countries, primarily Algeria, Saudi Arabia, and Iraq. Imports from North Sea suppliers - Norway and Britain - are shrinking (37%)."

"Western Canada can't supply all of eastern Canada's needs, because NAFTA reserves Canadian oil for Americans' security of supply. Canada now exports 63% of our oil and 56% of our natural gas production. Those export shares are currently locked in place by NAFTA's proportionality clause, which requires us not to reduce recent export proportions. Mexico refused proportionality. It only applies to Canada."

I know. It all sounds pretty grim.
But at least SPP will now get a public airing in the House of sodding Commons.
For their part, the Cons are now saying it never has been a secret.

UPDATE : Decent edi in yesterday's Embassy Mag

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Spazzing out on the SPP

Leon Benoit's little hissy fit yesterday at the parliamentary hearings on SPP deep integration has already been deftly covered by Dave and 1337hax0r and The Jurist.

Chair of the Standing Committee on International Trade Leon Benoit attempted to silence an expert witness about the consequences of guaranteeing unlimited energy supplies to the U.S, lost the vote on allowing the witness to proceed, and so promptly adjourned the hearing and stomped out, followed by three other Cons.

Quel friggin surprise.

Here is how Con/Alliance/Reform MP Committee Chair Benoit opened the hearings on SPP deep integration on April 26, 2007 : (bold mine)

"Good morning, everyone.
We're here today pursuant to Standing Order 108(2). The House of Commons Standing Committee on International Trade is undertaking a study examining the opportunities and challenges Canadian businesses face with respect to the Canada-U.S. relationship.

The committee is specifically interested in identifying and removing the obstacles that stand in the way of stronger economic ties with the U.S. and answering the question of what the Government of Canada can do to help Canadian businesses take better advantage of trade, investment, and business opportunities."

So you can see how invited witness Prof Gordon Laxer of the Parkland Institute explaining that we have no laws to protect ourselves against freezing in the dark should the US so demand might put a little crimp in his agenda.

The hearings continued without Benoit and I will be interested to see if the gnugovs credit and publish in Hansard what discussion ensued after the departure of his sorry ass. I'll let you know. (Only three committee members are required to be present in order to hear testimony.) For some unimaginable reason they are lagging about three meetings behind on publishing the SPP committee notes.

Happily, NDP MP Peter Julian is on the committee and provides transcripts from May1 and May3 here at Vive le Canada.

Here's a taste from one witness, Prof Michael Hart, Carleton University :

" We have to build a higher level of concern in Washington at the highest levels that the continued health and prosperity of the North American economy means that we must deal with the border differently. That means a willingness on our part to, for example, strengthen the perimeter around North America in order to deal with security issues that are uppermost in American minds: it should also be of concern to us. Similarly, we need to be prepared to sit down with the Americans and be good partners.

I think over the last 10 or so years we have not been as good a partner as we might have been, raising suspicion in Washington as to whether or not we would continue to be the kind of partner they're looking for. In the end, these are political choices. You make the political choices and you reap the results.

We have made a political choice that we wanted a more deeply integrated North American economy. We have benefited greatly from that, despite what some of the witnesses are saying. We must now decide whether we want to make that work, or do we want to put various kinds of obstacles in its way, including allowing the Americans to build up the security framework they're pursuing."

When you read all three days of testimony, you find a lot of that from the various witnesses with business interests. They worry that US concerns with border security will countermand their access to US markets. They feel the urgency to get Canada inside the North American fortress before the US security drawbridge goes up. To this end, they expect the rest of us to go along, to push or at least allow the Canadian government to appease the US in whatever the US wants : oil, ballistic missile umbrella, whatever it takes. They are not too keen to discuss the things that must be traded away to achieve this. It's a very narrow view, far too narrow to represent Canada. We cannot allow them to represent us.

Thank you, Peter Julian, for opening this up to public debate, and to Maud Barlow for your testimony on our behalf.

UPDATE : The real reason for Benoit's hissy fit? Dave nails it.
UPDATE 2 : Lib MP Mark Holland was at this meeting. A BCer in TO provides Holland's facebook account of the events.
UPDATE 3 : The committee voted 6 to 4 to include the rest of the nearly derailed testimony on the record. Next stop - the floor of the HoC and better media coverage. Finally.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

SPP : Securing Prosperity for the Plutocracy

You just gotta love The Fraser Institute.

In their ironically named new report, "International Leadership by a Canada Strong and Free", The Fraser Institute attempts to do for Canada/US deep integration what Last Tango in Paris did for ass-fucking : make it acceptable.

The main thrust of their argument is that Canada should become the world's leading proponent of free trade by boldly throwing open our economy and resources to the US. They explain that the other countries aren't really worth bothering with.

Some exact quotes from the first 75 pages of this fawning lubricant, written by Fraser Institute Senior Fellows Mike Harris, ex-premier of Ontario, and Preston Manning, formerly of the Alliance/Reform Party :

~ Deepening integration with the US economy must be on the agenda as the best way for Canadians to increase our trade, prosperity, and leadership potential.

~For Canada, Mexico’s presence at the NAFTA table is no reason to avoid action on our urgent national interest in pursuing a formal structure to manage irreversible economic and security integration with the United States.

~The 2005 Security and Prosperity Initiative adopted by Prime Minister Martin and President Bush and confirmed by the Harper government a year later laid a promising foundation. Both governments now receive regular status reports on its implementation. The earlier Smart Border Accord gave security and access to the United States a higher priority than before September 11. Both, however, operate within existing laws and policies and are therefore limited in scope. Extracting the full benefit of deeper integration requires a more ambitious initiative.

~ The federal government should revisit the decision not to participate in the Ballistic Missile Defence program

~The central importance of good US-Canada relations to Canada’s interests across virtually every domestic and international issue requires that the federal government make that relationship its highest international priority.

~ In order to facilitate the integrated coordination of their two economies, the two governments need to create a customs union involving a common external tariff, a joint approach to the treatment of third-country goods, a fully integrated energy market, a common approach to trade remedies, and an integrated government procurement regime.

~Government has no place in the decision-making of Canadian consumers, importers, or exporters.

~The tradition of subordinating bilateral cooperation with the United States to the broader North Atlantic Alliance is no longer sustainable.

~If Canadians wish to contribute to global peace and security they can only do so effectively as partners with the United States.

~There is much to be said for Canada and the United States developing a North American energy security accord that looks at the best way to develop and distribute the continent’s resources to the benefit of people on both sides of the border.

Please feel free to make liberal use of the above exact quotes in your letters and phone calls to CBC the next time they interview anyone from The Fraser Institute as an expert on free trade or Canada/US relations.
Probably best not to mention the ass-fucking though.

Friday, April 27, 2007

All your water are belong to us - Part 2

Go read the post below this one first. Go on - I'll wait.
Canada has "no intentions" of entering into bulk water export negotiations, the Hon. Peter MacKay said Thursday in Ottawa Thursday. Canada's government is not participating at today's North American Future 2025 Project roundtable in Calgary, nor is Canada providing any funding for the meeting, a statement by Northumberland-Quinte West MP Rick Norlock says.

"On the issue of bulk water export, the government has no intention of entering into any negotiations behind closed doors, or otherwise, regarding the matter of bulk water exports," Mr. MacKay is quoted as saying."
Suggesting we would even discuss bulk water exports is totally false," Mr. Norlock said. "Canada's government is committed to protecting water in its natural state and to preserving the integrity of ecosystems, and will continue to do so."
Ok, good. That's pretty unequivocable, wouldn't you say?
So then why does Page 2 of the North American Future 2025 Project read :
"Each of the roundtables will convene a combination of practitioners (from each respective administration and legislature); stakeholders (from the private sector and conceivably even labor unions); and highly specialized academics and analysts from Canada, the United States, and Mexico."
"The North American Future 2025 project will also examine relevant future-looking work dealing with each of the six topics on which the three governments have agreed -- namely labor mobility, energy, the environment, security, competitiveness, and border infrastructure and logistics.
The final deliverable will be a report on options and policy recommendations on the future of North American integration that will be presented in September 2007 to the executive and legislative branches of the three governments of North America."
"The CSIS North American Project will convene pertinent government officials from Canada, the United States, and Mexico, along with selected nongovernmental experts....."
And so on for another 20 pages.
Here's Page 16 :"Project Timeline - July 1, 2006 - Sept 30, 2007

Planning Phase - July 2006 - January 2007
~ Meet with U.S., Canadian, and Mexican government officials to identify government participants for each of the roundtable meetings."

There are seven such roundtables listed, with #6 and #7 being yesterday and today.
So what did Mr MacKay mean when he said that no Canadian government officials were at today's meetings?
What about all the other days?
Are any Canadian government officials going to be at this one in July?
Page 17 : "Review Phase - June 12, 2007 - July 17, 2007
~ July 2 - July 8 : Review of edited report by U.S., Mexican, and Canadian governments."
Because even if Mr MacKay is adamant about not selling off and/or diverting Canadian water to the States, if Canadian government officials are participants in this, there's enough else damning information in the North American Future 2050 Program, that I'd still be worried.
Go read the damn thing for yourself.
Take special note of the C.V.s of the U.S. participants, and the Canadian too, at the end.
I'm going for a nap now but I'll be back.
And if anyone hears anything in the meantime, let me know.
UPDATE : And I got nothin' - yet.
Although it is interesting, as noted in comments, that although the Conference Board of Canada have criticized the idea of bulk water exports in the past and have stated that their participation and logo on the North American Future 2025 Project does not signify compliance with all NAF2025Project's opinions, the Conference Board was an architect and booster of that other great SPP initiative : TILMA

All your water are belong to us

"It's no secret that the U.S. is going to need water. ...
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."
So says Armand Peschard-Sverdrup, director of the North American Future 2025 Project, which is wrapping up its closed-door two-day conference in Calgary today.
NAF2025 Project is the trilateral spawn of the US thinktank Center for Strategic and International Studies, the Conference Board of Canada, and CIDE, a Mexican policy institute.
Its mandate is implementing the Security and Prosperity Partnership, the deep integration deal signed by Bush, Fox, and Martin in 2005 and further expanded by Bush, Fox, and Harper in 2006.
From an outline of the conference :
"the overriding future goal of North America is to achieve joint optimum utilization of the available water."
Not bad.
'All your water are belong to us' would have been catchier.
Still, the message is unmistakable, isn't it?
From the World Business Council For Sustainable Development :
"North American Future 2025 Project - an effort to draft a blueprint for economic integration of the continent."
"On a world scale, Canadians enjoy an overabundance of freshwater that is out of proportion to the national population, when compared with other countries.
With the impacts of climate change a present reality as well as a future certainty, Canada will be increasingly pressured to bolster North America's freshwater supplies. The policy, business, and social responses to this issue will be vital to ensuring the prosperity and environmental integrity of the entire continent.
There are many legal and international trade issues involved, and the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the World Trade Organization's General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) could possibly be used as the basis for a challenge to Canada's right to control water exports. That challenge rests largely on the definition of water as either a ‘vital resource' or a 'commodity."
Amazingly, Canada has no enforceable water policy.
"Maude Barlow, National chair of the Council of Canadians, points out in a statement that provincial accords to prevent exports are voluntary, and that the only existing prohibition on bulk water exports contained in the 1909 International Boundary Waters Treaty Act (IBWTA) only applies to waters that are shared with the U.S., and not on water from Canada's North."
What Canada does have however is the Conference Board of Canada working away at deep integration.
Maude Barlow : “The big business community and corporate lobby groups have been granted executive level access to the integration process. No equivalent role has been granted to labour groups, civil society or even Parliament in Canada.”
NDP MP Peter Julian intends to change all that when he brings the SPP issue to committee for its very first parliamentary debate :
Julian : "Canada stands to lose millions of litres of fresh water as a result of bulk water exports if the Conservatives enact proposals being discussed later this week in a closed-door meeting in Calgary.
Today NDP MPs stood on the steps of Parliament Hill and called for a full parliamentary debate on the issue of the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America (SPP) - before the government implements this deep integration with the U.S. any further." continued ...
Unlike the notorious secret Banff meeting, and the one that followed it, this time at least there is some media coverage.
Thank you, Peter Julian, for bringing this to open public debate.
It's a start.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

O'Connor's "Bumps along the road and little glitches"

Just a couple of guys who were both the victims of bad intelligence.
On the heels of Defence Minister Gordon O'Connor's apology for misleading the House with assurances that the Red Cross would report any mistreatment of Afghan prisoners to Canadian authorities, the Globe and Mail reports today that O'Connor was the victim of bad intelligence from his policy advisors."
The group, led by assistant deputy minister for policy Vincent Rigby, first advised Mr. O'Connor last May that "if pressed" in the Commons with questions about detainee follow-up, he should respond by saying: "If the ICRC advised us of some problems with transferred detainees, we would discuss the issue with the government of Afghanistan."
This has certainly been Mr Rigby's own preferred response when pressed :
"With respect to the International Committee of the Red Cross, again, they have an international mandate to follow up in this regard with detainees who are transferred to Afghan authorities. Our relationship with the ICRC has been excellent. They have all the information we've provided to them, and certainly they've had access and have been following up with detainees we've transferred to Afghan authorities."


"We're very comfortable with the role of the International Committee of the Red Cross, with the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission, and with our access to prisons as required. We've had absolutely no information passed to us directly by the ICRC or the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission or Afghan authorities themselves as to mistreatment of detainees passed on to Afghan authorities by Canadian Forces."
There's lots more quotes like this from Rigby but you get the gist : he never actually states that we're depending on the ICRC to report back to us about the prisoners we hand over; he just mentions them in the same sentence every time it comes up.
The previous May, O'Connor was deferring all such questions regarding prisoners to Rigby.
"NDP Ms Dawn Black: I've had a lot of interest and questions about the detainee transfer agreement with Afghanistan. Has NATO concluded a detainee transfer agreement with Afghanistan, and when will that agreement be made public? I would assume that it will be, if indeed there is an agreement with NATO, and that it would govern Canadian transfers once NATO assumes control through ISAF in the south.
Hon. Gordon O'Connor: I don't know that, ma'am. I'm going to have to ask Mr. Rigby.
Is there such a thing as a NATO agreement for detainees?
Mr. Vincent Rigby (Acting Assistant Deputy Minister (Policy), Department of National Defence): We're certainly working on that right now, Ms. Black, in a NATO context. Certainly Canada is very involved in Brussels in helping draft that document, but it's not finished yet. I'm not aware of exactly how.... One of the issues is how it will relate to the Canadian detainee arrangement and the other detainee arrangements that NATO allies have right now, so it's still a work in progress; we still have a little ways to go.
NDP MP Ms Dawn Black: Essentially, are Canadian soldiers instructed to give minimal protections because this is not an international conflict, or do we give the full prisoner-of-war protections, such as preventing prisoners from being humiliated or being put as public curiosities and photographed?
Hon. Gordon O'Connor: My understanding is the latter--that we maintain the highest standards.
I'll ask Mr. Rigby to confirm that."
Yeah, ok, that's enough of that. You get the idea. O'Connor doesn't appear to know anything about prisoners and repeatedly cues Rigby up to "imply".
And it was all going just swimmingly until O'Connor stood in Parliament - without Rigby - and made that one small causative embellishment on Rigby's usual series of passive-voice obfuscations :
"The Red Cross or the Red Crescent is responsible to supervise their treatment once the prisoners are in the hands of the Afghan authorities. If there is something wrong with their treatment, the Red Cross or Red Crescent would inform us and we would take action."
and another time :
"The process is that if Canadian soldiers capture insurgents or terrorists they hand them over to the Afghan authorities and then the International Red Cross or Red Crescent supervise the detainees. If there is any problem, the Red Cross or Red Crescent would inform us and then we would become involved."
At which point the ICRC was forced to say that no, they wouldn't, because it was not in their mandate to report back to third parties.
The US State Dept, Louise Arbor at the UN, Amir Attaran, Michael Byers, and the Afghan International Human Rights Committee have all described torture of detainees in Afghanistan as "routine".
But O'Connor's getting his advice from a guy who once described Canada's decision to stay out of Iraq and the US Ballistic Missile Defense Program as "bumps along the road and little glitches".
That was Vincent Rigby in his powerpoint presentation to the Heritage Foundation in Washington.
You can watch it here.
UPDATE : Well now look - you guys have pissed Dave off with your Bushwhackery.
That link to Rigby's Dec 2006 appearance before the National Defence Standing Committee keeps going down so here it is in a cached pdf
And I forgot to thank Audacious Ontology for the G&M link.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Canada's version of Frank Carlucci

Tom D'Aquino, chief of the Canadian Council of Chief Executives, was on CBC's The House this morning defending yesterday's Security and Prosperity Partnership meeting in Ottawa yesterday. See post below.

He both began and ended his interview with a reference to 9/11.

A bit puzzling to Canadians till you remember Frank Luntz' advice :
Always open and close every speech with the words "9/11".
In between, Tom touted the SPP as corporate Canada's intention to implement Kyoto and better labour standards.
Bad bad lefties for doubting this.

Tom also denies that the North American Business Council has anything to do with the North American Union. (Note to Tom : Best get this off your website then.)
Also, it isn't so much that the SPP is secret - it's just that apparently the rest of us are too stupid to be bothered with.
Oh, and the North American Business Council? It's ok - they're just "business people".

See, that's the whole point, Tom. We didn't elect them.

Audio of Tom on CBC's The House - starts at 33:40.

h/t to Pete for Carlucci analogy

Friday, February 23, 2007

"Canada is not the gas tank of the U.S."

Hey Canadians - wake up! It's Feb. 23, Condi's here, and it's time for another gnu-gov installment of Security, Prosperity and Peace For Our Time Partnership.
In addition to Condi, attending the meeting today will be Peter MacKay, Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day, Industry Minister Maxime Bernier, Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff, Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez, and their Mexican counterparts.

The North American Competitiveness Council, these guys, will deliver 50 recommendations to the SPP ministers.
I'll just bet they will.
From Canadian Press :
"It's not often governments have to put out a press release reassuring their citizens they're not selling out their sovereignty."

"The SPP is legal and in no way violates the Constitution or affects the legal authorities of the participating executive agencies," reads the U.S. Security and Prosperity Partnership website.

MacKay addressed the concerns earlier this week.
"It's ensuring that Canada's sovereignty, Canada's interests and Canada's prosperity and security are going to be advanced through this partnership and through these very open and high-level dialogues," he said.
Still, the Canadian government provided no official briefing on what was expected from the meetings."

Heh. By "open", Stockboy is presumably referring to his public denial of the existence of the Banff SPP meeting in September, later followed up by his clarification that it wasn't actually "secret".
Typically, the Americans are rather more straight forward about it :
"We're working on a trilateral initiative on energy..." Tom Shannon, U.S. Assistant Secretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs, said Thursday.

NDP Energy Critic, Dennis Bevington :
"Canada is not the gas tank of the United States. NAFTA already locks us into supplying energy to the United States even if ordinary Canadians go without; a North American Union would only make this worse."

and NDP Trade Critic Peter Julian :
"The Harper government must pull out of further talks on continental integration with the United States and Mexico or risk our national sovereignty.
Canadians should know that the SPP process supports a North American Union (NAU). The NDP rejects the secretive process surrounding these ongoing discussions. Canadians will never support a political ideology which aims at turning North America into a fortress for corporate interests and neglects the interests of ordinary Canadians. Canadian sovereignty is not for sale to the highest bidder and the federal government has no authority to push for a NAU without a mandate from Canadians,” said Julian

Julian is calling for a public debate.
You may remember him calling for one on the softwood lumber deal after a US negotiating lawyer informed us we were being sucker-punched. He also called for one on the Banff meeting.

Don't be looking to the Libs for any help on this - they're the ones who started it.
So, bloggers, start your engines.
Steve reading aloud from a tabloid in the House and bringing a whole gnu nuance to the poo-flinging more commonly known as Question Period is certainly rivetting stuff. But he was a dick the day before and will still be one tomorrow, so let's not be so diverted by that little Punch and Judy Show that we miss what's going on behind the curtain.

Both the links above, CP and NDP, are well worth a read.
With many thanks to Holly Stick for the nudge and the links.

LATE NIGHT UPDATE : MSM coverage of SPP implications of today's meeting
Nothing on CBC TV News or website, except for a pic of a protester being escorted away with no explanation as to what she was doing.
Nothing in the major dailies either but for this from the Hamilton Spectator :
"OTTAWA Top North American ministers deflected criticism that they had consulted only big business for their talks on trade and security rules, suggesting there are "different venues" for public interest and labour groups to raise concerns."

Different venues for public interest than our elected officials?
And what would those be, pray tell?
Legs on this south of the border though : Lou Dobbs on CNN
Anyone hear of any coverage up here?

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Notes from the Anschluss

Remember that secret "deep integration" meeting held in Banff last September?
A total news blackout accompanied the week long conference - nothing in the news while it was going on but for this one local Banff paper, who have updated their scoop here.
At the time, some small amusement was provided by Stockwell Day who first asserted that there was no meeting and then later admitted that there had indeed been one but it wasn't a secret.

Now, courtesy of US Freedom of Information laws and the gods of irony, Canadians have access to some notes from those meetings.
From the Ottawa Citizen : Canadian, U.S. and Mexican officials held secretive meeting on integration
"Canadian, U.S. and Mexican politicians discussed using "stealth" to overcome public resistance to the integration of the three countries at a confidential meeting last year, according to documents just released under U.S. Freedom of Information laws.
Top military brass, corporate executives and diplomats also attended the meeting in Banff, Alta., where participants discussed everything from the harmonization of food and drug standards, to common immigration policies, and the pooling of energy resources.
The secret guest list of the North American Forum included then-U.S. secretary of defence Donald Rumsfeld, Canadian Chief of Defence Staff Gen. Rick Hillier, Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day, Pengrowth Corp. CEO James Kinnear and Lockheed Martin executive Ron Covais.
Presentation outlines for the forum acknowledge that the concept of North American integration - which some call a "North American Union" - is unpopular, and note that it might be tough to sell as a concept.
"While a vision is appealing, working on the infrastructure might yield more benefit and bring more people on board ('evolution by stealth')," the notes said."

Well, that explains all the secrecy quite well, doesn't it?.

"But, former finance minister John Manley, who attended the meeting, said the forum was "not part of a nefarious plan to yield sovereignty to the U.S. .... It was just some informed private citizens and government officials having a conversation on how best to co-operate to ensure their citizens enjoyed a safe and prosperous future."

Reassuring words. Or rather they would be had John Manley not been the Canadian Chair on the Task Force on the Future of North America back in 2005. You know, the one that called for one currency, one security perimeter, one passport, and a resource pact for oil, gas, and fresh water. To be fair to Manley, he did append some dissenting opinions on sovereignty to the final report before it was delivered to the Washington think tank who commissioned it.

Anyway back to this "partnership" thingey....Council of Canadians has expressed concern that :
"Most of the 300 policy recommendations within the accord may not require legislative changes."

So there's your "evolution by stealth".

Banff attendee Ron Covais, President of the Americas for Lockheed Martin and a former Pentagon adviser to Dick Cheney, explained it this way to Macleans :
"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, bureaucracies and regulators.
"We've decided not to recommend any things that would require legislative changes," says Covais. "Because we won't get anywhere."
"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."

So let's stop the damn clock.
Security and Prosperity Partnership web page at the White House.