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.