NAFTA leaders and key Ministers meet regularly with business representatives under the guise of the North American Competitiveness Council (NACC). Business conveys its demands, the politicians respond, consensus is reached, and civil servants implement. This takes the privatization of public policy-making to a new level.
Under the SPP process information is scarce. There is no public input or access to decisions made behind closed doors. Without our knowledge, the cumulative effect of many small steps may indeed be hugely significant for Canadians' health and safety, environment and civil liberties.
Round four of the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP) talks
The SPP is the umbrella under which hundreds of trilateral initiatives have been assembled.
Dateline: Monday, April 21, 2008
by Bruce Campbell
As the NAFTA leaders and their big business counterparts gather in New Orleans a few days from now for the fourth North American Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP) summit, it is worth reflecting on its role in North American integration.
The SPP was conceived by business and political elites as a vehicle for expanding and deepening the North American integration process entrenched under the NAFTA model. While its long-term (unstated) goal of a unified business friendly continental market may be ambitious, its strategy for getting there is slow and covert — small incremental steps out of the public eye and away from parliamentary scrutiny...
...For instance, the US national energy security strategy calls for grabbing as much Canadian oil as it can get its hands on. The Stelmach government, with the Harper government's blessing, has enthusiastically ramped up tar sands production to accommodate US demand.
The SPP role is to help reduce regulatory barriers that stand in the way of getting the product to US markets quickly. Bilateral pipeline agreements have been signed; understandings have been reached on regulatory approvals, environmental assessments, etc.
Little is known about these accords. However, this much we do know: the National Energy Board recently approved the construction of two massive pipelines to carry raw bitumen from the tar sands to the US. Together their capacity exceeds the total volume of Alberta's 2006 oil exports. And once the oil flows, the US will, under the terms of NAFTA, have secured a proprietary claim.
This raises important policy questions: Why is Canada accelerating the export of this most polluting of fuels (to say nothing of other forms of environmental havoc) that is single-handedly preventing Canada from meeting its international commitments to reduce greenhouse gases?
Why in the name of Canadian energy security are no pipelines being built to eastern Canada, which is heavily dependent on imported oil, much from unreliable sources? And why are we exporting the raw resource and not doing the value-added work here in Canada?
Full article: Round four of the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP) talks