Thursday, November 24, 2005

A long time ago,

On Monday June 27, 2005. Ninety days after the March 23rd Waco Summit between Prime Minister Martin, President George W. Bush and President Vicente Fox, a ministerial report was made public. It outlined, in the words of the Public Security and Emergency Preparedness Canada media release, "the progress achieved in the implementation of the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America."

Though bureaucratic in language and spun to sound positive, the report gives a sense of the direction and timelines unfolding within the deep integration agenda. The imperatives of the Independent Task Force on the Future of North America, which had the full backing of the Canadian Council of Chief Executives, can also be seen in this ministerial report.

This is a wide-ranging report that covers areas such as the movement of goods, financial services, cargo security, bioprotection, and aviation security. The full report can be found at Here are a few of the "initiatives" worth highlighting:

"Enhance electricity collaboration: All three countries need to coordinate efforts on restructuring issues that may impact transmission provision and access, as well as market design and investment issues that impact North American markets."

"Increase natural gas collaboration: This initiative will address a range of issues related to natural gas market in North America, including production, transportation, transmission, distribution, consumption, trade, interconnections and liquefied natural gas as well as projections for the future."

"Joint Canada-U.S. review of the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement: The review is an opportunity to ensure that the Agreement continues to be a visionary statement guiding not only governments, but also members of the Great Lakes community, in the continued protection and restoration of the Great Lakes."

"Establish or identify a North American food safety coordinating mechanism: By March 2007, establish or identify an effective food safety coordinating mechanism facilitating the cooperative development of common North American standards, as appropriate, and the removal of identified differences in standards where warranted and appropriate."

"Identification and appropriate adoption of best practices in maintaining the safety, efficacy and quality of pharmaceutical products: The implementation of best practices and the harmonization of technical standards for the registration of pharmaceuticals promote regulatory efficiencies and predictability."

"Develop and implement compatible immigration security measures to enhance North American security, including requirements for admission and length of stay; visa decision-making standards; lookout systems; and examining the feasibility of entry and exit procedures and systems: Develop benchmarks related to procedures and policies for visitor visa processing, including security screening, visa validity, and length of stay within 9 months."

"Enhance our capacity to combat terrorism through the appropriate sharing of terrorist watch list data and the establishment of appropriate linkages between Canada, the United States and Mexico: The three countries will negotiate bilateral terrorist screening information-sharing agreements."

While the Government of Canada has endorsed these initiatives, none of these major proposals have been the subject of public debate or consultation with Parliament. In fact, they appear to be emerging from a narrow consensus of corporate executives, rather than the values and priorities of broader public opinion.

I believe that the people in Canada, civil society groups in Canada, and even the Parliament of Canada should have a voice on matters of such importance. Please contact Prime Minister Paul Martin at and tell him that he must have a full and open consultation with people in Canada on these issues before he proceeds any further towards deep integration with the United States.

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