Tuesday, August 7, 2007

What is the SPP?

What is the Security and Prosperity Partnership? Anyone seen the Hitchcock movie, “The Thirty-Nine Steps”? At the climax of the movie, the hero asks out loud “What are the thirty-nine steps?” And the man who answers the question is shot dead by the bad guys. You see, the thirty-nine steps were the steps in the manufacture of a rocket which were being smuggled out of England, but you don’t learn that until the end of the movie.

Presumably nobody’s going to get shot for explaining what the Security and Prosperity Partnership or SPP is, but the interesting thing is that the Harper Conservatives are doing their utmost to keep the public in the dark about this for as long as they are able. Since March 2005 the three governments of Mexico, the United States, and Canada have been attending a series of meetings to discuss and implement the continental integration of resources, environmental regulations, transportation and security, all behind closed doors with no public input and little or no public disclosure.

Stockwell Day, Minister of Public Safety refused to confirm that he was at a gathering called the North American Forum which was held last September in Banff Springs. This meeting, which included the likes of Donald Rumsfeld, George Schultz, former U.S. Secretary of State, James Woolsey, former head of the CIA, and a handful of US and Canadian generals, was kept secret from the media until it was leaked to a local Banff newspaper. Apparently they discussed the “demographic and social dimensions of North American Integration” and a “North American energy strategy” but that’s about all we know about it. And Stockwell Day and the other Canadian participants have kept tight lipped about the proceedings to this day.

Then, in May of this year an economics professor named James Laxer was giving a talk that linked the SPP to the Alberta tar sands to a Parliamentary committee when he was interrupted by the chair of the committee, Conservative MP Leon Benoit, who told him to shut up. When he wouldn’t Benoit and all but one of the Tory MP’s walked out of the meeting. Hmmm, do you think that maybe the SPP and the tar sands are related after all?

Even a broken clock tells the correct time twice a day. In the United States it’s the paranoid right wing, the John Birch Society crowd, etc. that are protesting the Security and Prosperity Partnership. They’re calling it the ”North American Union”.

Maybe those right wing nut-jobs have got it right this time. They are concerned about the loss of American sovereignty and the fact that this whole thing is being rammed down our throats with no public input. They are also alarmed by the proposed “NAFTA Corridor” a combination superhighway, railway and pipeline corridor three football fields wide, that will stretch all the way from Mexico to Alberta. Presumably this corridor will expedite the flow of tar sands oil to the United States, while expediting the movement of Mexican “guest workers into the United States and Canada.

Remember NAFTA? The free trade agreement between the U.S. and Canada that was hotly debated and formed the basis of a Canadian election campaign more than twenty years ago. The agreement that was supposed to bring jobs and prosperity to all Canadians. Manufacturing jobs went south and incomes have stagnated, except for the richest one percent of Canadians and Americans. Guess who’s behind the SPP? The CEO’s of all the top corporations in North America. Do you think they care about Canadian sovereignty?

Why the secrecy? What is the Harper government hiding? Are they trying to do something that most Canadians would not agree to if they knew about it? Like giving away our sovereignty for a mess of pottage? That’s what I think. And if I’m wrong, why are the Conservatives trying to stifle debate on this?

It’s too bad Alfred Hitchcock isn’t around anymore. He could make a pretty good cloak and dagger movie out of this. In the mean time keep your ears cocked and your eyes opened because the next SPP meeting will be on August 20, 2007 in Montebello Quebec and there is going to be one hell of a demonstration.

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