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Saving Canada From a North American Union

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The Council of Canadians and the Canadian Action Party along with many others have been tirelessly working to expose Canada's integration into a North American Union, but it will take a strong voice and more action on the part of the NDP to truly defeat this agenda. At the risk of sounding highly critical, there is more the NDP can do, and more we can all do for that matter. Having said that, the commitment the NDP has shown towards unmasking deep integration in the last three or four months must be commended. In contrast, the lack of action and almost complete silence on the part of the Liberals underscores the fact that they still very much support this plan. After all, it was then Liberal Prime Minister Paul Martin, who signed the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP) of North America in March of 2005, and current Conservative PM Stephen Harper has carried on with the whole SPP process. When the fall session of Parliament resumes, the government will outline their agenda in the Speech from the Throne. There is much talk that the Conservatives could be defeated in a non-confidence vote, but another election would likely produce a Harper minority government again. The NAU and Canadian sovereignty could become a sleeper issue in the next election. It will take the effort of countless individuals on both the left and right, grassroots organizations, and the help of organized labour to make this a core issue, but ultimately it will take dedication on the part of the NDP to defeat this threat to Canada.

The NDP is the only Canadian federal party with seats in the House of Commons to actively reject the SPP and NAU agenda. Some dozen NDP Members of Parliament have been hard at work exposing the SPP in respects to their own critic portfolios in matters of labour, agriculture, human rights, the environment, health-care, energy, and income security. In June of 2006, the NDP hosted a Tri-National forum which included legislators and civil society representatives from Canada, Mexico, and the United States to discuss alternatives to deep integration. It is because of the efforts of NDP Trade Critic Peter Julian and others that the Standing Committee on International Trade held the first ever Canadian public hearings on the SPP in April. This was seen as a huge victory for the NDP and more importantly Canadians. Julian said, “This is only the beginning.” He went on to say, “The NDP will not stop until a full Parliamentary debate and review takes place.” In later hearings professor Gordon Laxer of Alberta's Parkland Institute was interrupted by Conservative MP and chair of the Standing Committee on International Trade Leon Benoit. Laxer was trying to deliver testimony on the energy implications of the SPP when Benoit demanded that he stop because apparently what he was saying was irrelevant. His motion was overruled, but he abruptly adjourned the meeting and stormed out, followed by other Conservative members. The hearings nevertheless continued with NDP and Liberals present. This odd behavior by Benoit demonstrated the Conservatives unwillingness to have any criticism on the SPP come out and only fueled speculations of a cover up.

The NDP is working with those in the U.S. and Mexico who share the same concerns regarding the SPP. NDP MP Peter Julian has been working with Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur, whose amendment was passed in July, prohibiting federal U.S. Department of Transportation funds from being used by SPP working groups until a review by Congress is completed. Julian said, “the NDP's concerns about the SPP's secret agenda are echoed by legislators in the U.S. We need the same level of scrutiny on this side of the border.” He is also working with members of the Canadian Labour Congress and Common Frontiers along with others. The NDP might never have a better opportunity to make substantial gains in the next election, and by vicariously opposing the NAU, it will further distinguish them from the other main parties. NDP leader Jack Layton said, “Like the Liberals before him Harper is ignoring the will of Parliament and excluding Canadians from the decision making process. I am appealing to all Canadians to join the NDP.” Now if this is indeed a sincere invitation and represents a willingness on the part of the NDP to defeat the NAU, than a diverse coalition of all those opposing this agenda must get behind this commitment. A sovereign independent nation must be protected, and at this crucial time in history, it will take a coming together of citizens from all regions of the country to save Canada.

With the buildup to the SPP Summit in Montebello, Quebec in August, the veil of secrecy and silence was lifted on the part of the Liberals and Conservatives, and some in the mainstream media. They all had to reluctantly acknowledge this agenda's very existence for a short period of time. Even before the summit took place, the Council of Canadians was informed that they wouldn't be able to hold an SPP forum 6 km from Montebello as it was part of an extensive security perimeter. NDP Peter Julian responded to the decision in a letter to Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day. He said, “I am greatly concerned about the refusal to allow democratic debate in any community within 25 km of the security zone of the closed-door meetings.” Julian did later participate in the SPP forum which was held in Ottawa. During one of the many protests in Montebello, CEP Union President Dave Coles confronted three anarchists and one of them had a rock in his hand, he accused the men of being police. All of this was captured on video. His actions may have prevented violence and police arresting peaceful protesters. It later did come out that the three individuals were undercover Quebec Provincial Police who were apparently only there to observe and aid in case a riot ensued. Their behavior suggests something quite the contrary, as it appears they were the ones who were to orchestrate any violence and upheaval, to give the protesters a bad name, and discredit their message. Almost immediately, NDP MPs Libby Davis and Peter Julian called upon the federal government to hold a public inquiry into allegations that agent provocateurs were used in protests at the summit. Their request was flatly rejected by Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day.

Shortly after the SPP summit ended, the NDP was able to obtain documents through the Freedom of Information Act, which revealed that part of the meetings dealt with energy integration and harmonization. NDP Energy Critic Dennis Bevington said, “Canada is not the gas tank of the United States. NAFTA already locks us into supplying energy to the United States even if ordinary Canadians go without; a North American Union would only make this worse.” Some sections of the documents were censored, but they still proved that the SPP isn't just about security and prosperity. NDP Peter Julian said, “The SPP's agenda goes way beyond facilitating transportation across the border, or developing an effective pandemic protection strategy. The 30 CEOs who joined the leaders in closed-door meetings are driving their big business priorities through the SPP agenda. Their recommendations call for nothing less than the steady erosion of Canada's sovereignty and the quality of life for Canadians.” In August, the NDP launched a national campaign holding forums and town hall meetings on the SPP all across Canada. They have also circulated a petition calling for the suspension of the SPP and continental integration.

The Canadian Parliament fall session has been delayed until October 16, and when it does reconvene, several anti-SPP motions will be presented by the NDP. The motions call for the government to, “stop further implementation of the SPP...until there is a democratic mandate from the people of Canada, Parliamentary oversight, and consideration of its profound consequences on Canada's existence as a sovereign nation...” Not to rain on anyone's parade, but a reality check is in order, and at this time I must call upon the leader of the Canadian Action Party Connie Fogal for some sobering thoughts that serve as a warning. She said, “All of the NDP, the Liberals, the Bloc Quebecois and the Council of Canadians fail to call for an absolute cessation of the administrative integrating process UNTIL there is a debate and discussion on the SPP, or on a different model of integration, and a vote in Parliament. The until means that the NDP, the Liberals, BQ and the COC will facilitate the integration of Canada into a North American entity as long as they have opportunity to talk about it and have input into its shape.” The only way to stop the SPP would be to walk away from it, disband the working groups, and cancel any harmonization of regulations that might have already taken place. Let's get one thing clear--Canada's sovereignty, its independence, and its demise is not negotiable. It would simply be impossible to protect Canada under the current SPP structure. If Canadians overwhelmingly agree to the agenda of deep integration, having been presented all the facts, then it would be something we would all have to live with. There is no doubt that an educated public will rise up against the North American Union and defeat it, but it will require a concerted effort on the part the NDP and many others to make this become a reality.

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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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