Oil Sands Truth: Shut Down the Tar Sands

SPP "Could Dwarf NAFTA"

The SPP, let us not over-state things, is designed to allow the fastest use of tarsands oil while moving goods and other trasport items, including 'temporary workers' across borders that are no longer free for travel minus a passport. One giant set of rules built up to achieve the maximum flow of goods, in particular energy, while restricting the same among people.

The sovereignty of energy and capital.


Wide-ranging accord with U.S., Mexico could dwarf NAFTA, MPs hear
Don Butler / CanWest News | April 27, 2007

OTTAWA - A Commons committee heard sharply divergent views Thursday on the North American Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP), a multi-layered agreement being negotiated with Mexico and the United States that one witness suggested could have more impact on Canada than NAFTA.

MPs on the international trade committee heard corporate Canada's largely enthusiastic take on the SPP from the Canadian Chamber of Commerce and the Canadian Council of Chief Executives.

"The underlying principle of the SPP is simply to encourage a common-sense approach, to deal in practical ways with practical issues that can help the economies of all three countries work better," said David Stewart-Patterson, executive vice-president of the chief executives' council.

Cliff Sosnow, of the Chamber of Commerce, said implementing SPP initiatives "can better position Canada in the U.S. market and enhance North American competitiveness generally vis-a-vis other established and emerging economic forces."

But MPs heard a cautionary message from the left-leaning Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

Its executive director, Bruce Campbell, described the SPP as "the umbrella for a vast array of security and economic initiatives under way to further integrate the North American market. It's a NAFTA-plus or deep integration initiative.

"The cumulative effect of the SPP over time could be profound - even more significant than NAFTA - depending on how far or fast it goes."

Campbell expressed concern about the SPP's lack of public input and transparency, and the "privileged access" given to business through the North American Competitiveness Council (NACC), a SPP advisory body of senior business leaders.

While he commended the all-party committee for holding hearings on the SPP - the first ever by Canadian politicians - he said much more scrutiny is required.

"It's incumbent upon parliamentarians to get a clear understanding of where these negotiations are and what's on the table. Parliament and Canadians cannot debate this until we have a better idea of what is going on," Campbell said.

But Sosnow scoffed at the notion the SPP process has been shrouded in secrecy. "In our estimation, that is simply not the case." Stewart-Patterson agreed, describing the SPP as "a very open process."

Campbell conceded some useful work is being done, but added: "I am concerned that hidden by the sheer size and scope of the SPP, projects are under way that may not be so beneficial and may privilege private interests over the public interest."

Moreover, he said, the SPP's business-friendly free market model "begs the question - prosperity for whom?"

The goal of promoting regulatory co-operation among the three SPP partners could erode Canadian standards for such things as food, drugs and biotechnology, he said.

"What regulatory standard applies? My concern is that it will always be biased in favour of the U.S. one."

However, Sosnow said no one is advocating a "race to the bottom" that would lead to lower regulatory standards. "What the chamber is asking for is common standards that are beneficial for both Canada and the United States."

And Stewart-Patterson said Canadian business leaders on the competitiveness council are "very conscious of their responsibility as Canadians. They will very much be taking into account what they see as Canada's interests."

He said the real question is "what kinds of jobs are Canadian communities going to be fostering in the decades ahead."

New Democrat MP Peter Julian, who pushed hard for the SPP hearings, argued income inequality has been increasing since the passage of NAFTA in the early 1990s. Nothing in the SPP would change that, he said.

But Sosnow said the prosperity of all Canadians is linked to expanding and upgrading border infrastructure so goods produced here can gain speedy entry into the U.S. market.

"Delays, from our perspective, cost all Canadians billions of dollars," he said.

The committee's hearings continue next Tuesday and Thursday.

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