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.

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