Ottawa Citizen
Canadian, U.S. and Mexican officials held secretive meeting
Fri Feb 9, 2007 12:18

 
Canadian, U.S. and Mexican officials held secretive meeting on integration
http://www.ichblog.eu/content/view/444/1/

Thursday, 08 February 2007
By Kelly Patterson
CanWest News Service

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.

08/02/07 "Ottawa Citizen" -- -- 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.

"Evolution by stealth" means using regulatory changes, such as food- and drug-safety benchmarks, which don't require parliamentary approval, to lay the infrastructure for North American integration. This allows for change with little or no public debate, critics say.

Media were excluded from the September forum, and Day, who gave a speech at the event, declined to reveal the contents of his talk.
"It was meant as a private meeting," said Melisa Leclerc, a spokeswoman from Day's office, although she conceded he attended "in his capacity as minister for public security."

"It is not encouraging to see the phrase 'evolution by stealth' in reference to important policy debates such as North American integration," said Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch, a Washington-based conservative watchdog group that obtained the documents last week.

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.

In fact, he said, Canada comes out stronger than ever from such meetings, which force "some senior American officials to think about Canada for a few days."

However, Maude Barlow of the Council of Canadians said the reference to stealth is "a very telling and important statement."

Many of the politicians who attended the forum have been pursuing "integration by stealth" for the past two years, she said, pointing to a little-known but top-priority agreement called the Security and Prosperity Partnership.

The accord, kickstarted by U.S. President George W. Bush, then-prime minister Paul Martin and former Mexican president Vicente Fox at a 2005 meeting in Waco, Texas, is designed to streamline everything from food and drug safety standards to counter-terrorism measures.

Government officials from the three countries are expected to meet in Ottawa later this month. However, Foreign Affairs spokespeople said they did not yet know when it would be held or who would attend.

The partnership's stated goal is to protect North America from security threats such as terrorism and flu pandemics as well as economic threats from new global-market giants such as China.

Many of the accord's measures are not contentious, such as plans to improve water quality, reduce sulphur in fuels, and co-ordinate efforts to fight pandemics and avian flu. But it also covers a host of hot-button issues such as plans to enhance data-sharing on high-risk travellers, revamp safety and environmental regulations, centralize the assessment of new chemicals and rework food safety standards.

Most of the 300 policy recommendations within the accord may not require legislative changes, the Council of Canadians said.

Ottawa Citizen
CanWest News Service 2007

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Security and Prosperity Partnership Of North America
http://www.spp.gov/

Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America (SPP):

The SPP is an initiative among the United States and the two nations it borders – Canada and Mexico – to increase security and to enhance prosperity among the three countries through greater cooperation. The SPP is based on the principle that our prosperity is dependent on our security and recognizes that our three great nations share a belief in freedom, economic opportunity, and strong democratic institutions. The SPP outlines a comprehensive agenda for cooperation among our three countries while respecting the sovereignty and unique cultural heritage of each nation. The SPP provides a vehicle by which the United States, Canada, and Mexico can identify and resolve unnecessary obstacles to trade and it provides a means to improve our response to emergencies and increase security, thus benefiting and protecting Americans.
The SPP is meant to:

* Coordinate our security efforts to better protect U.S. citizens from terrorist threats and transnational crime and promote the safe and efficient movement of legitimate people and goods;
* Expand economic opportunity for all our people by making our businesses more competitive in the global marketplace, cutting red tape, and providing consumers with safe, less expensive, and innovative products; and
* Enhance our common efforts to combat infectious diseases, develop responses to man-made or natural disasters to enhance our citizens’ quality of life, protect our people and our environment, and improve consumer safety.

The SPP benefits the American people in many ways, and much progress has already been made. For example (see www.spp.gov for more information):

* To save lives, prevent injuries, and make consumer goods safer, the United States, Canada and Mexico signed separate agreements for advance notifications when consumer goods violate one country's safety standards or pose a danger to consumers.
* To strengthen border security, Mexican and U.S. agencies are exchanging information and establishing protocols to detect fraud and smuggling, and address border violence.
* To speed up response times when managing infectious disease outbreaks, the United States and Canada signed an agreement to enable simultaneous exchange of information between virtual national laboratory networks.
* To speed cargo shipping, the three countries are developing uniform in-advance electronic exchange of cargo manifest data for maritime, railroad and motor carriers.
* To develop a coordinated strategy aimed at combating counterfeiting and piracy, a task force of senior officials from the three North American countries has been established
* To reduce the cost of trade, the United States and Canada decreased transit times at the Detroit/Windsor gateway, our largest border crossing point, by 50 percent.
* To reduce market distortions, facilitate trade, and promote overall competitiveness, the North American Steel Trade Committee developed a new strategy that focuses on improving innovation and market development.


Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America (SPP):
Myth vs. Fact

Myth: The SPP was an agreement signed by Presidents Bush and his Mexican and Canadian counterparts in Waco, TX, on March 23, 2005.

Fact: The SPP is a dialogue to increase security and enhance prosperity among the three countries. The SPP is not an agreement nor is it a treaty. In fact, no agreement was ever signed.

Myth: The SPP is a movement to merge the United States, Mexico, and Canada into a North American Union and establish a common currency.

Fact: The cooperative efforts under the SPP, which can be found in detail at www.spp.gov, seek to make the United States, Canada and Mexico open to legitimate trade and closed to terrorism and crime. It does not change our courts or legislative processes and respects the sovereignty of the United States, Mexico, and Canada. The SPP in no way, shape or form considers the creation of a European Union-like structure or a common currency. The SPP does not attempt to modify our sovereignty or currency or change the American system of government designed by our Founding Fathers.

Myth: The SPP is being undertaken without the knowledge of the U.S. Congress.

Fact: U.S. agencies involved with SPP regularly update and consult with members of Congress on our efforts and plans.

Myth: The SPP infringes on the sovereignty of the United States.

Fact: The SPP respects and leaves the unique cultural and legal framework of each of the three countries intact. Nothing in the SPP undermines the U.S. Constitution. In no way does the SPP infringe upon the sovereignty of the United States.

Myth: The SPP is illegal and violates the Constitution.

Fact: The SPP is legal and in no way violates the Constitution or affects the legal authorities of the participating executive agencies. Indeed, the SPP is an opportunity for the governments of the United States, Canada, and Mexico to discuss common goals and identify ways to enhance each nation’s security and prosperity. If an action is identified, U.S. federal agencies can only operate within U.S. law to address these issues. The Departments of Commerce and Homeland Security coordinate the efforts of the agencies responsible for the various initiatives under the prosperity and security pillars of the SPP. If an agency were to decide a regulatory change is desirable through the cooperative efforts of SPP, that agency is required to conform to all existing U.S. laws and administrative procedures, including an opportunity to comment.

Myth: The SPP will cost U.S. taxpayers money.

Fact: The SPP is being implemented with existing budget resources. Over the long-term, it will save U.S. taxpayers money by cutting through costly red tape and reducing redundant paperwork. This initiative will benefit the taxpayers through economic gain and increased security, thereby enhancing the competitiveness and quality of life in our countries.

Myth: The working groups and SPP documents are a secret and not available to the public.

Fact: The SPP’s initiatives and milestones with timelines can be found by clicking the Report to Leaders link at www.spp.gov. The Web site contains a section to enable interested persons to provide input directly to the various working groups.

Myth: The SPP seeks to lower U.S. standards through a regulatory cooperation framework.

Fact: The framework will support and enhance cooperation and encourage the compatibility of regulations among the three partners while maintaining high standards of health and safety. Enhanced cooperation in this area will provide consumers with more affordable, safer, and more diversified and innovative products. Any regulatory changes will require agencies to conform to all U.S. administrative procedures, including an opportunity to comment.

Myth: The SPP is meant to deal with immigration reform and trade disputes.

Fact: Immigration reform is a legislative matter currently being debated in Congress and is not being dealt with in the SPP. Likewise, trade disputes between the United States, Canada, and Mexico are resolved in the NAFTA and WTO mechanisms and not the SPP.

Myth: The SPP will result in the loss of American jobs.

Fact: The SPP seeks to create jobs by reducing transaction costs and unnecessary burdens for U.S. companies, which will bolster the competitiveness of our firms globally. These efforts will help U.S. manufacturers, spur job creation, and benefit consumers.

Myth: The SPP will harm our quality of life.

Fact: The SPP improves the safety and well-being of Americans. It builds on efforts to protect our environment, improves our ability to combat infectious diseases, such as avian influenza, and ensures our food supply is safe through the exchange of information and cooperation ─ improving the quality of life for U.S. citizens. Americans enjoy world class living standards because we are engaged with the world.

Myth: The SPP creates a NAFTA-plus legal status between the three countries.

Fact: The SPP does not seek to rewrite or renegotiate NAFTA. It creates no NAFTA-plus legal status.



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http://www.spp.gov/myths_vs_facts.asp
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