by Murray Dobbin
Murray Dobbin is a
Vancouver author and journalist whose latest book, Paul
Martin: CEO for Canada? published by James Lorimer is in
BC bookstores now. Murray can be reached at
e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you
If the machinations going on in this
country regarding so-called "deep integration" were instead a
communist conspiracy to take over the country (you will, of course,
have to try hard to imagine this) the news media would be blaring
Pundits would pontificate, editorialists would erupt, security
forces would be unleashed.
Instead, a virtual conspiracy to make the country disappear through
assimilation into the U.S. gets barely a mention.
But news of the scheme -- formally called the Security and
Prosperity Partnership of North America (SPP) -- is finally breaking
out of the secret chambers of
the ruling elite and the federal
government. This is both good news and bad. It's good that ordinary
citizens are finally getting a glimpse of the betrayal of their
country. The news is bad because it reflects just how much of this
scheme is already being implemented.
Given the meetings of CEOs and politicians to advance the scheme
politically, as well as all that must go into its actual
implementation, there is simply too much activity to keep secret.
Ten dots to
Here are 10 developments in the plan to disappear Canada.
thoroughly reported story (though even this did not go much
beyond the CanWest chain) was the revelation that Canada was
about to "harmonize" its regulations, setting limits for
pesticide residue on fruits and vegetables. In 40 per cent of
the cases, the U.S. allows for higher levels. Richard Aucoin,
chief registrar of the Pest Management Regulatory Agency, which
sets Canada's pesticide levels, said that Canada's higher levels
were a "trade irritant."
The downgrading of health protection had been a NAFTA
initiative, but is being "fast-tracked" as part of the
and Prosperity Partnership. This is just the tip of the iceberg.
Some 300 regulatory regimes are currently going through the same
The next story that
broke through the wall of media silence reported on the paranoid
reaction of the Harper Conservatives to any criticism of the SPP.
The occasion was hearings of the Commons International Trade
Committee into the SPP, forced by the NDP.
Gordon Laxer, head of Alberta's Parkland Institute, was
testifying on the energy implications of the SPP, warning that
eastern Canada could end up "freezing in the dark." He had
barely started when the chair of the committee, Conservative MP
Leon Benoit, demanded that Laxer halt his "irrelevant"
testimony. The Committee members overruled Benoit -- who
promptly (and illegally) adjourned the meeting and stomped out.
The NDP and Liberal members nonetheless continued without him.
Council of corporate power.
initiative began in earnest back in 2002 with the Canadian
Council of Chief Executives (formerly the BCNI), the most
powerful corporate body in the country. It continues it
leadership role, but does not promote the scheme just in its own
name. It instead has helped create several supportive bodies
that now help drive the agenda. Included in these are the North
American Competitive Council (NACC), which includes CEOs of the
largest North American corporations, and which institutionalizes
the exclusively corporate nature of the agreement. The NACC is
the only advisory group to the three NAFTA/SPP governments.
The NACC at least
is public. But much of what happens in building the elite
consensus for deep integration is done in absolute secrecy or
very privately, away from the prying eyes of the media. The most
secretive of these was held last year from Sept. 12 to 14, in
Banff Springs. As The Tyee reported, the gathering was sponsored
by something called the North American Forum* and it was
attended by some of the most powerful members of the North
American ruling elite.
Attendees, according to a leaked list that could not be
confirmed, included Donald Rumsfeld, George Schultz (former U.S.
Secretary of State), General Rick Hillier, Defense Minister
Gordon O'Connor and Minister of Public Safety Stockwell Day. The
media was not informed of the meeting and it was first revealed
by the weekly Banff Crag & Canyon.
Stockwell Day refused to even confirm he was there, but said
that even if he was, it was a "private" meeting that he would
not comment on. There is no better indication that these
meetings, and the SPP itself, constitute a parallel governing
structure -- unaccountable to any democratic institution or the
'No fly' coordination.
have its own "no-fly" list just like our U.S. "partner."
As the Council of Canadians pointed out:
"The no-fly list is
very much a Security and Prosperity Partnership initiative. 'The SPP Report to Leaders, August 2006' outlines 105 SPP
initiatives. Initiative #93 states, 'Develop, test, evaluate and
implement a plan to establish comparable aviation passenger
screening, and the screening of baggage and air cargo (for North
Canada's privacy commissioner Jennifer Stoddart has raised a
number of concerns about the plan including the fact that the
list will be shared with the U.S., that "false positives" are a
virtual certainty, and that there is no evidence put forward by
the government that the list will improve airline security.
Bye, bye Canadian dollar?
Dodge, the head of the Bank of Canada, told a Chicago audience
that a single currency for North America "is possible." That
would see a big chunk of Canadian Sovereignty and the ability to
guide the economy through monetary policy go out the window.
It's not the first time Dodge has mused about abandoning the
Canadian dollar - or deep integration.
Water and oil giveaways.
integrationists clearly see Canadian water as a North American
resource, not a Canadian resource. At yet another very private
meeting, held in Calgary on April 27th under the auspices of yet
another forum, it was made clear that water is on the table for
Discussion of bulk "water transfers" and diversions took place
at a Calgary meeting of the North American Future 2025 Project
(partly funded by the U.S. government). The meeting based its
deliberations on the false notion that Canada has 20 per cent of
the world's fresh water. Actual available supply amounts to only
around six per cent -- about the same as has the U.S.
The water (and environment) meeting was preceded by another on
April 26th talking about "North American" energy. The
beneficiary of these discussions is pretty clear when you
realize Canada has no national energy policy. We are the only
energy exporting country in the world without a one.
Gordon Laxer told the Parliamentary committee:
He was also
told by the NEB that Canada does not maintain a 90 day energy
reserve as other developed nations do. As Laxer points out,
"Canada may be a net exporter, but it still imports 40 per cent
of its oil -- 850,000 barrels per day -- to meet 90 per cent of
Atlantic Canada's and Quebec's needs, and 40 per cent of
Canada exports 63 per cent of its oil production and 56 per cent
of its natural gas, percentages that can never decrease under
governments in the U.S. are becoming increasingly alarmed at the
prospects of deep integration. Earlier this year, Idaho became
the first state to pass a legislative resolution directing the
U.S. Congress to drop out of the SPP, which is referred to as
the North American Union amongst U.S. opponents. Thirteen states
in addition to Idaho are calling on Congress to abandon the SPP:
Georgia, Arizona, Missouri, Illinois, Oregon, Montana, South
Carolina, Oklahoma, Utah, South Dakota, Tennessee, Washington
Part of the opposition is focused on plans for a so-called
Superhighway: actually a corridor several hundred meters wide
including rail lines, freeways and pipelines from Mexico to the
Canadian border. There is a growing grass roots movement against
the SPP in the U.S., but led by the right over the issue of
compromising American sovereignty.
Trade, Investment and Labour
Mobility Agreement (TILMA).
While U.S. states, concerned about
state rights under an unaccountable "North American Union," are
organizing against the scheme, Canadian provinces are either
blithely unaware or knowingly complicit in the deal. More
Canadians may be aware of TILMA -- the investors' rights
agreement between B.C. and Albert -- than they are about the SPP,
but in reality they are one and the same.
TILMA is major piece of the deep integration, deregulation
imperative and fits hand in glove with the SPP. There is a
similar, though more informal, process evolving in the Atlantic
provinces, called "Atlantica." And B.C. is now pushing the
so-called Gateway Initiative, a kind of regional superhighway
project that will see huge and environmentally disastrous
expansion of ports, highways and pipelines to further supply the
U.S.'s insatiable demand for resources and cheap Asian goods.
The next SPP summit.
leaders summit on the SPP will take place this August 21-22nd in
Montebello, Quebec, not far from Ottawa. By the time it does
many more Canadian will be aware of it.
Part of the reason that news of the SPP/deep
integration issue is finally seeing the light of day is that
opposition is growing and groups fighting the SPP are having an
impact. The Council of Canadians, the CLC and the Canadian Centre
for Policy Alternatives held an SPP teach-in in Ottawa last month
and many civil society groups are now taking deep integration to
their members. Demonstrations are planned for the summit. The NDP
continues to press the government on SPP secrecy and the Green
Party's Elizabeth May has said deep integration will be a focus of
the party's election platform.
It is hard to think of any other issue in modern Canadian history,
especially one that will literally determine whether the country
survives or not, that has taken so long to get public attention. I
first wrote about it September, 2002.
By the time the SPP summit has come and gone and the fall political
season begins, deep integration, the most treacherous plan for the
country yet devised by Bay Street, will be increasingly exposed.
And by the next election, we could see a repeat of the great "free
trade" election of 1988.
This time we have to win.