Well this is it, I’m hitting the road with my film about the Security and Prosperity Partnership ‘You, Me and the SPP: Trading Democracy for Corporate Rule’ with a tour launch on Parliament Hill on October 1st. I’ll be visiting 32 cities between Saint John’s Newfoundland and Victoria BC and every screening with the exception of Fifth Avenue Cinema in Vancouver is either free or by donation.
A special thanks goes out to all the tour sponsors and hosts for making this a reality.
You can see all the tour dates at http://www.youmespp.com/screenings/ each screening date has downloadable posters, handbills and press releases that you can use to help promote the screening in you local community. Please pass this information along to your friends across Canada. If you’re in Ottawa on October 1st please try to attend the tour launch on Parliament Hill. If you live elsewhere you can watch the launch live on rabble.ca at http://rabble.ca/rabbletv/youmeandthespp and then attend a local screening when the tour comes to your town.
You might be asking why I would bother to go to the trouble of traveling across the country in the age of the Internet, global warming (and perhaps a flu pandemic). Watching videos on youtube and reading emails can be informative but it leads to a sense of isolation. Community is about coming together, discussing issues face to face and working on solutions to overcome them. I have asked the hosts of the screenings across the country to invite local organizations to attend the screenings, bring information, petitions, sign up sheets and to speak at the Q & A’s after the screening about how the corporate SPP agenda is manifesting itself locally and what people can do to oppose it.
In my last email I called this a National SPP Victory Tour. While the US government has pronounced that the SPP is no longer an active initiative, this victory will not be complete unless we capitalize on this momentum, take the initiative and push for a people’s agenda. The architects in the organization that spawned the SPP, the Canadian Council of Chief Executives (CCCE) are not going to give up and slink back to their executive suites in their corporate towers and sulk.
The CCCE brings together the CEO’s of 150 of Canada’s most powerful business empires, representing $4.5 trillion in assets and more than $850 billion in annual revenues (three times the national budget). The CCCE and its predecessor the Business Council on National Issues (BCNI) are the most powerful and successful special interest, lobby group in Canadian history. They have been pushing their agenda forward for 30 years and they are not going to let a little setback with the SPP slow them down. They will continue to push the Canadian government to regulate and legislate in their favour, to increase their profit margins at the expense of workers, consumers and the environment. Why? So corporate CEO’s can earn tens of millions in bonuses while we all watch our standard of living drop – enough is enough!
A great deal of the SPP agenda has already been implemented or is still moving forward. What about all of the security measures brought in as part of this agenda? I haven’t seen any announcements about rolling back the deeper integration of the Canadian and US military so I would assume that the Feb. 2008 agreement to allow troops from each neighbouring country to cross the border in cases of pandemic, civil unrest or natural disaster still holds. How about the open sharing of data on citizens by the RCMP and CSIS with their counterparts in the USA? Has Canada dropped the no-fly-list and other adopted aspects of the US Patriot Act?
The deep integration of the North American energy system is also moving ahead. Whether it’s run of the river for hydro exports from BC, new hydro projects in Manitoba, proposed nuclear power plants to power the tar sands in Saskatchewan, the export of raw bitumen from the tar sands directly to the USA, the construction of liquid natural gas storage tanks on the Pacific and Atlantic coast or the fact that almost all of the oil and gas pipelines flow south rather than across Canada, the energy integration agenda is about US energy security not Canadian energy security. This aspect of the SPP has not changed either.
The North American Super Corridor Coalition (NASCO) just held their fifth annual conference in Quebec in June. This coincided with a summit of premiers and state governors about strengthening North American cooperation. Check these websites http://www.mri.gouv.qc.ca/en/_scripts/Actualites/ViewNew.asp?NewID=6647&lang=en and http://www.nascoquebec2009.com/eng/index.html It may not be the interplanetary super corridor that Stephen Harper was musing about but NASCO’s plans look like a NAFTA super corridor to me.
It’s time for the citizens of this country to organize, push back and demand a society that is fair and equitable for all. That is why I am going on tour. To help spread information but also to share ideas and solutions, so we can get together and talk about what needs to be done instead of sitting at home, wringing our hands and worrying. We are the people. It’s our country and our democracy. Canada does not belong to a small group of elite businessmen and political leaders. We have the power we just need to start exercising it.
Please help to spread the word. I hope to see you on tour.
On August 12th 2009 a new post on the www.spp.gov page stated that the Security and Prosperity Partnership is no longer an active initiative of the US government.
A Victory! …yes?
Not so fast!
While the Security and Prosperity Partnership is no longer an active initiative of the three NAFTA countries, many of the components have already been implemented or are still moving forward. This neoliberal agenda for continental integration will continue. The corporate giants and think tanks behind the SPP are in the process of rebranding this agenda.
The SPP was driven by a group of thirty CEO’s, ten each from some of the largest corporations of the three NAFTA countries, which made up an organization called the North American Competitiveness Council (NACC). The NACC is composed of a who’s who of the military industrial complex, big pharma, big banks, big oil and retail giants including Lockheed Martin, General Electric, Merck, Scotiabank, Chevron, Ford, Walmart and Home Depot.
The NACC was the only non-government organization to take part in the ‘Three Amigos’ summits held each year since 2005. It would bring forward recommendations on how to implement deeper integration between the three countries through a process of harmonization and regulatory reform that was favorable to the corporate giants but detrimental to working people, consumers and the environment.
The end of the SPP in name was predictable. In a May interview, American Consul General Phillip Chicola stated that President Obama would likely want to rebrand the Bush era Security and Prosperity Partnership but the process of deep integration would continue. When President Obama was in Ottawa on February 19th 2009, he was asked what he thought the Canada-U.S. relationship would look like in four years and his response was “I think we will see continued integration…”
In March of 2008, the Fraser Institute published a report entitled Saving the North American Security and Prosperity Partnership: The Case for a North American Standards and Regulatory Area where they lay out the case for renaming the SPP while continuing the integrationist agenda.
The NACC was left out of the 2009 Three Amigos summit in Guadalajara Mexico but that doesn’t mean that their influence or persistence to shape the agenda for bilateral and trilateral integration has waned.
In a September 5th article in the Telegraph Journal, Thomas d’Aquino, who heads the Canadian Council of Chief Executives and also serves as the chairman of the advisory group to the Canadian North American Competitiveness Council said he was unconcerned about the future of trilateral discussion despite the fact that Obama’s administration is “cool” to the continuation of the Security and Prosperity Partnership. “The reality is that whether it’s called SPP or it’s given a new name, which I predict will be the case, there will always be very important levels of trilateral collaboration,” d’Aquino said.
D’Aquino was also quoted in an August 26th article in Embassy Magazine as saying “There is no question that the Obama administration is rethinking the architecture of trilateralism in North America,” he says. “However, anyone who thinks that the trilateral priorities have suddenly disappeared…is dreaming in Technicolor.”
The article also quotes Paul Martin, another architect of the SPP and former member of the Canadian Council of Chief Executives. (Paul Martin’s name does not appear under the list of current members and he doesn’t include membership in the CCCE in his official bios).
“The SPP agenda may change its name, but I don’t believe it, as a vehicle that really serves Canada, has in any way, shape or form come to an end,” he says.
Here’s another telling excerpt from the Embassy article.
Rising from the Dead
“Ten days before the North American Leaders Summit in Mexico of Aug. 9, a group of North American academics gathered in Mexico City. Assembled at the subtle suggestion of the White House, and with key administration officials within earshot, leading thinkers hashed out new ideas for the future of continental co-operation.”
“Embassy spoke with a number of the thinkers who attended this “Cross Talk” conference, organized by the Woodrow Wilson International Center, to get the inside track on the Obama administration’s plans for the future of North American co-operation. And by most accounts, the Obama administration has big plans for SPP 2.0.”
The military integration of the three countries also continues unabated. In Mexico the militarization of drug and border enforcement has included greater involvement of the American military inside Mexico under the Merida Initiative. In February 2008, the Canadian and US militaries quietly signed an agreement that allows armed forces from the neighouring country to cross the border in the case of civil unrest, pandemic or other emergencies. There is a great deal of concern that the expected H1N1 pandemic will be used as a pretext to further the security agenda of the SPP.
The SPP stands as a prime example of the willingness of the corporate elite and their political cronies to sacrifice democratic principles and civil liberties in favour of corporate control and monopolization. “You, Me and the SPP’ illuminates and provides the documentation of this corporate agenda that North American citizens need in order to prepare for the next incarnation of the Security and Prosperity Partnership.
You can see ‘You, Me and the SPP’ during the National SPP Victory tour starting with a screening and tour launch on Parliament Hill on October 1st and carrying on across Canada through to the middle of November. Many of the screenings include panels and the involvement of organizations that are combating the implementation of this corporate agenda at the local level. Victory can be ours but it’s going to take a lot more work to create the kind of society we need and deserve. Dreaming in technicolor is beautiful and a lot less drab than the black and white world of our would be corporate masters.
The national tour is sponsored by; the Communications Energy and Paperworkers Union, the Canadian Union of Public Employees, the Council of Canadians and the Canadian Center for Policy Alternatives with a number of organizations sponsoring individual screenings
The screening dates are posted on the films website www.youmespp.com where copies of the DVD can be also ordered. Alternatively, for those who don’t like doing business with credit cards on the internet, DVD’s can be ordered by sending a cheque or money order for $31 ($25 plus tax and shipping) to Manly Media Box 1093 Stn. A Nanaimo BC V9R 6E7 and a DVD will be shipped to you.