Skip to comments.Will Canada Become the 51st State?
Posted on 08/19/2007 6:40:35 PM PDT by JACKRUSSELL
To some, it is a "corporate coup d'etat," a conspiracy by big business to turn Canada into the 51st state by stealth. Others see it as a plot to destroy the U.S. by forcing it into a North American union with "socialist Canada" and "corrupt Mexico."
It is the Security and Prosperity Partnership, a sprawling effort to forge closer ties among the three nations in everything from anti-terrorism measures to energy strategies to food-safety and pesticide rules.
Launched two years ago by then prime minister Paul Martin, President George W. Bush and his Mexican counterpart, Vicente Fox, at the so-called Three Amigos summit in Waco, Tex., the SPP grew out of concerns that security crackdowns would cripple cross-border trade.
With juggernauts such as China and India looming on the horizon, the three countries agreed they had to act fast to stay competitive. Now the SPP has grown into a mind-boggling array of some 300 initiatives, involving 19 teams of bureaucrats from all three countries.
INTEGRATION BY STEALTH
Its stated mission is "to keep our borders closed to terrorism yet open to trade" by fostering "greater co-operation and information-sharing" in security protocols and economic areas such as product safety.
Little known in Canada, the accord, if implemented, could affect almost every aspect of Canadian life, from what drugs you can access to whether you can board a plane and even what ingredients go into your morning cornflakes.
While you may not have heard of the SPP, you may have heard about some of the controversies it has sparked: Canada's adoption of a no-fly list, negotiations to lower Canada's pesticide standards to U.S. levels or fears the deal will lead to bulk-water exports.
Liberal leader Stephane Dion charged Friday that, "under the veil of secrecy," Harper has let the Americans run roughshod over Canada, covertly using the SPP to impose a U.S. agenda on Canada. That's not what the Liberals intended when they signed the deal, which was meant to give Canada a stronger voice in Washington, not turn it into an"imitation" of the U.S., he says.
Maude Barlow of the Council of Canadians says it is big business that is calling the shots, pushing aggressively for the harmonization -- and downgrading -- of everything from security norms to food standards, in a move that will lead to the "integration by stealth" of the three nations.
"Canadians would be shocked" if they knew the true scope of the SPP, says Barlow, whose Ottawa-based organization represents about 100,000 members.
Fringe groups such as the Canadian Action Party and the Minutemen in the U.S. go further, arguing the SPP is a plot to sweep all three nations into a North American union.
"Where are they getting this stuff?" says Thomas d'Aquino, head of the Canadian Council of Chief Executives, which helped launch the SPP.
"This is a very nitty-gritty, workaday initiative" to make trade safer and more efficient through such steps as expanding border crossings and information-sharing programs on plant and animal safety, he says.
Other SPP projects are no-brainers, such as plans to cooperate in fighting West Nile virus and flu pandemics.
As for fears of a North American union, "anyone who believes that is smoking something," says d'Aquino.
This weekend, the debate hits the headlines across the nation as the three heads of state and their advisers converge on Montebello, Que., 60 kilometres east of Ottawa, for the SPP's third annual summit.
Thousands of protesters are also expected to descend on the area, hoping to confront the "Three Banditos" about a deal they say is a secretive sellout to the cowboy capitalism and militarism of the superpower to Canada's south.
"We always hoped from the outset we could broaden it beyond security," says Roland Paris, a University of Ottawa professor who worked as an adviser in the Privy Council Office when the SPP was launched. He adds that the SPP's architects hoped the "regular high-level meetings" would help "overcome bureaucratic inertia."
SOVEREIGNTY UNDER FIRE
But they also helped big business and its government allies bypass both the public and Parliament to push through a host of controversial changes without debate or scrutiny, critics charge. They say the accord has enshrined and fast-tracked a longstanding effort to quietly harmonize Canadian programs with those of the U.S. in everything from military policy to food and drug standards.
"The SPP is an unacceptable, closed-door process with enormous implications for Canadians," says NDP trade critic Peter Julian.
Roland Paris scoffs at charges the SPP is a grand design. If anything, he says, it is a timid collection of piddling efforts that has become bogged down in bureaucratic red tape.
"This is not a political vision of the future of the continent. If it were, it would be worth the fuss."
Defenders of the SPP dismiss concerns about regulatory change as fear-mongering, saying the accord aims only to cut out minor, needless variations between the three countries.
The goal is to end the "tyranny of small differences" that can turn the border into a theatre of the absurd, says John Kirton, a University of Toronto professor and expert in the environmental effects of free trade.
If fact, the SPP could dramatically raise standards across North America, proponents say, because it promotes information-sharing among the three countries.
Scientists would swap data on everything from car safety to new chemicals, enabling regulators to better evaluate products and react more quickly to public health threats.
The SPP also includes projects with obvious benefits for all three nations, such as reducing sulphur in fuel and air pollution from ships, and coordinating efforts to curb plant and animal diseases.
All three governments insist that the three nations remain sovereign under the SPP: If Canada doesn't like the way the U.S. does something, it can go its own way.
But NDP trade critic Julian is not so sure. He worries about the effect regulatory convergence will have in the future.
If, for example, Canada wants to pass new rules to deal with greenhouse gases, it could mean "Canada would have to go to Washington and lobby for the kinds of standards and protections they want," he says.
Not only Alberta, but Saskatchewan, Manetoba and British Columbia as well!
As long as we take Saskatchewan as well!
Only if we can send the candians to mexico.
Trade in Maryland for Saskatchewan and it’s a deal!
Why would they want to be? Would we want to become the 11th Province?
Oh well. Maybe most of their conservatives are already here.
Canada might become #51-64. Then Mexico would become #65-100. Then Iraq, Then China. How many States does China have?
Long noses run in my family, but only in cold weather.
Actually, the Canadian football field is already measured in yards. It’s also 10 yards longer. Different sized balls, too.
Cone to think of it, why would we want to merge our football games? Ours are longer, and our balls are bigger!
The key difference between our games is that our game is 3 downs. LOTS more passing, far fewer wasted plays on the ground.
Oh yeah, that’s right. I forgot that Canadian football was slightly different than American football. In that case, just make ‘em use our version, the original!
Do we still have people on this board that think this is still tin-foil hat stuff?
Canadians had better wake up to what’s going on. Sovereignty being dumped in favor of free trade and big business making big bucks. If they think most of the Southern Hemisphere, Mexico, and Central America aren’t headed their way, they’re nuts.
Isn’t there a clause in the Constitution that allows them to annex Canada at will? I’ve heard rumors of such...
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