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
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Tuesday, July 24, 2007

SPP : Streamlining Pipeline Projects

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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.
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Tuesday, July 10, 2007

SPP? Don't Worry - Be Happy!

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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."

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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.
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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.
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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
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No one believes him either.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Globalization and Democracy

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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’├ętat 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 ...
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