Vive Le Canada

Competitiveness Council Begs Bush at SPP Summit: Don't Leave Us
Date: Wednesday, April 23 2008
Topic:


Oh what a depressing summit this was for the North American Competitiveness Council. Like last August, the all-corporate advisory body to the SPP has just tabled a "report to leaders" outlining its hopes and dreams for continental integration in 2008. Unlike last year, there's nothing new in this one beyond a sense of desperation that, for all the CEOs have achieved in public policy setting, the SPP's days are numbered.

Don't leave us! begs Competitiveness Council at 2008 SPP summit


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April 22, 2008

Posted by Stuart Trew in New Orleans



Oh what a depressing summit this was for the North American Competitiveness Council. Like last August, the all-corporate advisory body to the SPP has just tabled a "report to leaders" outlining its hopes and dreams for continental integration in 2008. Unlike last year, there's nothing new in this one beyond a sense of desperation that, for all the CEOs have achieved in public policy setting, the SPP's days are numbered.



"Unless we work together to turn around public misperceptions, other specific recommendations to improve North American competitiveness will become largely irrelevant," complain the CEOs, who received Bush, Harper and Calderon's undivided attention for an hour or so today. "To the extent that the NAFTA itself continues to be a target, efforts to “deepen the NAFTA” will be largely unsuccessful."



Well, crack out the champagne. Because it will take a lot of brainwashing to convince us that deepening the NAFTA relationship should be a priority. Poll results prove that Canadians are opposed to the idea of deep integration and the policies it has entailed so far: energy integration, regulatory harmonization, and the possibility of bulk water exports to the U.S.



Unfortunately, listening to the peoples of North America still isn't a priority for the NACC or the executive branches of government they now frequently consult on dozens of policy areas.



"Some of the most effective paths toward a more competitive and prosperous North America will require discussion of measures that will generate controversy," admits the NACC in its 2008 report. "Security-related issues, in particular, can be complex and controversial. This should not impede progress, however, toward finding reasonable and effective solutions."



The NACC report recommends expediting the creation of "Enhanced Driver's Licences" (EDLs) across Canada which would be compatible with Homeland Security's harmonized state driver's licence system. Canada's Privacy Commissioner is opposed to the EDLs because of how much personal Canadian information will necessarily be shared with U.S. officials and stored for who knows what purposes.



The corporate reps also recommend (go figure) giving the private sector more control over the continental energy market. But according to poll results, Canadians would rather put limits on exports and foreign ownership, even if it means reduced trading opportunities with the U.S.



As if Bush, Calderon and Harper are listening...



"One of the challenges for the North American Competitiveness Council is to find unnecessary regulations that prohibit the free flow of trade," Bush told the U.S. Chamber of Commerce yesterday. "And so tomorrow the leaders at the Council will come forth with specific recommendations, and I'm looking forward to hearing them, and I'm looking forward to implementing them."



Once again, the relationship between the corporate sector and the SPP is laid out in plain view: CEOs recommend, Bush and gang implement. It's as simple as that.



And yet there are tremors under the surface. NAFTA is coming under attack in the U.S., Mexico and Canada. While some chalk it up to "protectionist sentiment" among U.S. Democrats, the truth is that most North Americans would probably agree that environmental standards and strong labour policies should trump the ability of corporations to make a profit. Political interest in the SPP as the venue for trilateral harmonization is waning, and so new venues are being explored.



"While the ultimate goal for regulatory cooperation should be to aim for North American or global standards, this should not prevent the negotiation of bilateral accords in the interim. The idea that 'three can talk and two can do' has been ingrained in the SPP from its beginning, but will become even more important in the context of discussions on more controversial and asymmetric issues."



The "three can talk and two can do" line could be Tom d'Aquino's because he used it in a speech in Ottawa last month. But it's so hard to tell when he has made a career of promoting U.S. corporate interests in Canada. Still, the threat (for the NACC) appears to be from Bush this year.



"We strongly urge the new United States administration to continue to seek progress on SPP priorities," says the NACC report. "On behalf of the private sectors of our three countries, we offer our full support and stand ready to help in any way possible. This could include the direct engagement of interested NACC members with advice on pragmatic, short-term action plans to address in full the remaining NACC recommendations and to deepen cooperation in the five priority areas established by the Leaders at Montebello."



In other words, "We're here for you, Bush. Please don't leave us now."



Your 2008 NACC are:



Canada



Dominic D’Alessandro, President and CEO, Manulife Financial

Bruce Flatt, President and CEO, Brookfield Asset Management Inc.

David A. Ganong, President and CEO, Ganong Bros. Limited

Richard L. George, President and CEO, Suncor Energy Inc.

Linda Hasenfratz, CEO, Linamar Corporation

Jacques Lamarre, President and CEO, SNC-Lavalin Group Inc.

Gordon Nixon, President and CEO, Royal Bank of Canada

Nancy Southern, President and CEO, ATCO Group

Marc P. Tellier, President and Chief Executive Officer, Yellow Pages Group Co.

Annette Verschuren, President, The Home Depot Canada and Asia



Mexico



Armando Paredes Arroyo, President, Consejo Coordinador Empresarial

Luis Berrondo Avalos, Chairman of the Board, MABE

Ismael Plascencia, President, Confederación de Cámaras Industriales (CONCAMIN)

Claudio X. González Laporte, Chairman and CEO, Kimberly- Clark de México, S.A. de C.V.

Jaime Yesaki Cavazos, President, Consejo Nacional Agropecuario (CNA) and CEO of several poultry companies

Eugenio Garza Herrera, Chairman and CEO, XIGNUX, S.A. de C.V.

Daniel Servitje Montull, CEO, Grupo BIMBO, S.A.B. de C.V.

José Luis Barraza, Chairman, Aeroméxico

César de Anda Molina, President and CEO, Avicar de Occidente

Guillermo Vogel, Vice Chairman, Tubos de Acero de México (TAMSA), Chairman, North American Steel Council



United States



Campbell Soup Company

Chevron

Chrysler LLC

Con-way Inc.

ExxonMobil

FedEx Corporation

General Motors Corporation

Kansas City Southern

Lockheed Martin Corporation

MetLife

NBCU/General Electric

Procter & Gamble

UPS

Whirlpool Corporation









This article comes from Vive Le Canada
http://www.vivelecanada.ca

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