Some have described the Canada-Mexico partnership as a failed opportunity with Ottawa more preoccupied with U.S. concerns. Mexican President Felipe CalderÃ³n's recent trip to Canada was seen as a chance to strengthen bilateral bonds and push for more trade and investment between the two NAFTA partners. In a press statement CalderÃ³n highlighted, "The reason for this visit is to consolidate and expand our bilateral relationship at all levels." While addressing a joint session of Parliament, he called for closer ties with Canada and the United States. He emphasized that, "Integration is key to restoring strong sustained growth in North America." CalderÃ³n characterized Mexico as a, "valuable neighbor and a strategic partner for the future of North America's prosperity." His message was clear as he championed the need for deeper economic integration and warned against protectionism. Also on the agenda was North American security as Canada is being called upon to expand and deepen cooperation with Mexico on police and judicial issues.
At the 2009 North American Leaders Summit, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced that Canada was working with the U.S. and Mexico in the fight against drug trafficking and transnational organized crime. He launched the Anti-Crime Capacity Building Program which will invest $15 million per year and, "expand Canadian law enforcement and criminal justice capacity building assistance to targeted states in the Americas. Assistance will be provided for projects that reflect Canada's policy priorities and obligations within the key international anti-crime conventions. This includes illicit drugs, corruption, human trafficking, money laundering, security system reform and crime prevention." Under the program, Canada has already provided RCMP personnel and funding to help train Mexican Federal police. During CalderÃ³n's recent visit, "Canada and Mexico also announced several (other) anti-crime capacity building projects that the Government of Canada will be undertaking to support Mexico's robust and ongoing efforts to combat corruption and reform its legal system. This includes training for Mexican judges and lawyers and a harmonization of Mexico's criminal law."
An updated air transport agreement, as well as a number of other bilateral initiatives were also reached during CalderÃ³n's state visit to Canada. In addition, there was a Memorandum of Understanding on Youth Mobility which, "will simplify and facilitate the administrative procedures for qualified Canadian and Mexican youth, aged 18 to 29, to travel and work in each other's country for up to one year." This could be a precursor to a larger labour mobility agreement. Canada and Mexico signed a Joint Action Plan aimed at, "fostering competitive and sustainable economies, protecting our citizens, enhancing people-to-people Contacts and projecting our partnership globally and regionally." Harper proclaimed, "We are setting the stage for the next decade of growth and cooperation between our two countries," He went on to say, "The initiatives signed today demonstrate that we are deepening our relations in a wide number of areas that will benefit both our peoples."
While addressing a joint meeting of Congress, CalderÃ³n said, "Mexico is a country in transformation. This is making us an even more strategic partner for the future prosperity of the American people. The world is more global and more interconnected every day. It is also divided into large economic regions. Those regions that maximize their comparative advantages will be the ones that succeed. And we both need to compete with Asia and with Europe. Mexico and the United States are stronger together than they are apart." He also added, "So I invite you to work with Mexico and consolidate North America as the most competitive region in the world." A joint statement by the leaders declared that, "The bilateral dialogue between Presidents Obama and CalderÃ³n underscores their commitment to strengthening the strategic partnership between both countries, and they will continue working closely together in bilateral, trilateral, and multilateral fora over the coming months, as befitting two partners and nations uniquely important for the well-being, prosperity and security of one another." CalderÃ³n used his visits to the U.S. and Canada to boost NAFTA relations. He was not shy about his wish for deeper North American integration and although the defunct SPP was not mentioned by name, many of its goals were front and center.
In a recent article Manuel Pe'rez-Rocha of the Institute for Policy Studies stated, "While Obama has written off the infamous, Bush-led Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP) of North America, its main elements persist in today's bilateral relations. Some of the terminology has changed: the "smart border,' for example, is now the "21st-century border.' However, U.S. priorities continue to be deregulating trade, enforcing intellectual property rights, and guaranteeing "energy security in North America' to meet the energy needs of the United States." Manuel went on to say, "The United States has channeled more than $1.3 billion into security operations in Mexico. Although violence in Mexico continues to soar, claiming more than 23,000 lives since CalderÃ³n took office, the Obama administration continues to back CalderÃ³n's failed military strategy to curb drug trafficking." Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano recently admitted that the U.S. military has been working inside Mexico alongside Mexican armed forces in the battle against drug cartels. Under Obama, the Merida Initiative which has its roots in the SPP has continued and expanded cooperation in regards to common security threats.