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Lawsuit Would Further Expose Secretive SPP Agenda

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It is as a result of Freedom of Information Act requests and other previous legal proceedings that thousands of documents have already been forced into the public eye, shedding some light into the secretive nature of the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP) of North America agenda. The SPP appears to be dead in name only as many of its key priorities continue under the North American Leaders Summit. If a lawsuit brought forth by a U.S. public interest firm is successful, it would further expose the SPP and show how some groups relate inside the whole trilateral process.

In a press release from October 15, 2009, Judicial Watch announced that, "the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia has overturned the district court and ruled that Judicial Watch has standing to bring a lawsuit against the Department of Commerce related to the North American Competitiveness Council (NACC), which was set up under the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP) of North America. Judicial Watch argues the NACC is subject to the open meetings law known as Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) and must make its meetings open to the public and must release records relating to those meetings." Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton stated, "Our objective with this lawsuit is simple: to bring as much transparency as possible to the proceedings of this government-private program. In the spirit of President Obama's promise to provide 'unprecedented' levels of transparency to the inner-workings of government, the Commerce Department should stop stonewalling and open these meetings and documents up to the American people as soon as possible." As well as attempting to gain access to documents concerning the NACC meetings and activities, Judicial Watch also wishes to become a member of the group.

The NACC was formed in 2006 to ensure that corporate interests were being addressed inside the SPP framework. It is made up of top Canadian, U.S. and Mexican business executives from some of the largest corporations in North America. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, along with the Council of the Americas, serve as the NACC secretariat in the United States. The Canadian Council of Chief Executives (CCCE) serves as its secretariat in Canada and the Instituto Mexicano para la Competitividad (Mexican Institute for Competitiveness) serves as its secretariat in Mexico. The NACC was the only formal advisory board inside the SPP and much has been made about its influence in formulating policy. The group first met with Canadian Prime Minister Harper, Mexican President Calderon and U.S. President Bush during the North American Leaders Summit in Montebello, Quebec in August of 2007. They also met with the three national leaders at the Summit in New Orleans in 2008.

Despite not being invited to participate in the North American Leaders Summit which took place in Guadalajara, Mexico on August 9-10, 2009, the NACC still prepared a document to advise the leaders before they met. In a Statement to the Leaders in Advance of the 2009 North American Leaders' Summit it says, "Trilateral cooperation on borders, regulations, energy, and other important issues is essential to the prosperity and security of North America. We and the business communities we represent trust that our advice to date has assisted Leaders in choosing priorities and driving progress. Going forward, the NACC stands ready to offer our ideas and expertise, and we hope the three governments will continue with the NACC." Stuart Trew of the Council of Canadians concluded that, "The NACC may continue to exist. It might even meet every now and then to dream up new priorities for the three North American governments. But we have successfully robbed these CEOs of their privileged spot inside North American summits." Last month, Jerome Corsi reported that the NACC continues to operate under the North American Leaders Summit structure, along with more than 20 trilateral working groups. They are further concentrating in areas of North American citizen security, economic competitiveness, energy policy and climate change.

In a recent interview, outgoing CEO and President of the CCCE
Thomas d'Aquino stated that, "When President Obama came to power, he faced a lot of pressure to shelve the SPP and not follow through with the NACC because his advisors were looking for an institution that would also involve environmentalists, union leaders, et al. But at the North American Leaders' Summit in Guadalajara this summer, President Calderon and Prime Minister Harper both told President Obama that the NACC was very useful. In fact, the Canadian NACC group met with our prime minister and his key ministers for an hour and a half on the eve of his departure for the Guadalajara summit. He said that, regardless of whether the NACC continues formally on a trilateral basis, he welcomes our advice on trilateral issues." It still remains unclear if the NACC will be invited to meet with the national leaders at the 2010 North American Leaders Summit which is expected to take place in Canada.

Top trade officials from all three NAFTA countries are set to meet in Dallas, Texas on October 19 of this year. U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk will play host to Canadian Minister of International Trade Stockwell Day and Mexico's Secretary of the Economy Gerardo Ruiz Mateos. The trilateral meeting is expected to focus on trade, North American business competitiveness, curbing protectionism, and other issues. Despite the demise of the SPP, many of its key components have already been implemented or continue to move forward under the North American Leaders Summit, as well as through other initiatives. It remains to be seen whether the NACC will regain the influence they once had, but regardless, you can be sure that big business will continue to push for deep North American integration. The SPP, along with NAFTA have already laid much of the groundwork for a North American Union.

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Dana Gabriel is an activist and independent researcher. He writes about trade, globalization, sovereignty, security, as well as other issues.

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