NEWS: NDP LAUNCHES STOP SPP WORKING GROUP

OTTAWA – As part of the NDP’s national campaign to stop Stephen Harper’s sellout of Canadian sovereignty, NDP International Trade Critic Peter Julian announced this week the formation of the NDP’s working group to stop the so-called Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP).

“Canadians have already felt the devastation that came from the softwood sellout and the ongoing privatization of our public services,” said the MP from Burnaby-New Westminster. “They don’t want to see Harper take us any further down this road.”

“The people whose families are dealing with the consequences of these misguided policies are the same people who are being shut out of the decision-making process,” stated NDP Leader Jack Layton. “Harper is telling people that there’s no room for them at the table – and that’s not right.”

In 2005, the Martin Liberals committed Canada to a trilateral political and economic framework aiming to harmonize Canada’s social, economic and security policies and institutions with those of Mexico and the United-States. The talks have all gone on behind closed doors and even elected MPs have been kept out of the discussions. Though the SPP agenda has largely been kept secret, it is known to involve over 300 policy areas, including pesticide use, food safety and air safety, civil liberties, human rights, and environmental protection, as well as oversight from Washington over security decisions and energy policy.

NDP activities to stop the SPP involve: a national tour (launched on August 20, 2007) of public forums to speak out on the SPP and to ensure everyday Canadians get informed and have their say; and keeping the pressure on the House of Commons to expose the SPP agenda through its Standing Committees. The NDP is working alongside civil society groups and labour unions to hold the Conservative government to account and to increase pressure on the Harper government to stop SPP implementation until there is a meaningful public consultation and a full debate and vote in Parliament.

Peter Julian and other NDP MPs have been traveling across the country to speak out on the issue. Events held thus far have included Moose Jaw, Regina, Sault Ste. Marie, Ottawa, Fredericton, and Halifax. Upcoming events will be held in Winnipeg, Victoria, Hamilton, and Kamloops. Many other cities are in the process of planning similar public stop the SPP town hall meetings to help inform Canadians about the realities of the SPP agenda.

"Each and every member of our caucus is going to do their part to make sure that the voices of ordinary Canadians get heard,” said Layton. “That’s what the Stop the SPP working group is about. We have a mandate from Canadians to stand up to Harper and to protect Canadians’ rights to make sovereign decisions about the direction this country is taking on the issues that matter to them.”