NEWS: Throwing cold water on deep integration

Throwing cold water on deep integration
By Peter Julian NDP MP (Burnaby-New Westminster)

Canada stands to lose billions of litres of fresh water through bulk water exports if the Conservatives enact proposals that are part of the SPP Deep Integration agenda.

What kind of government would dream of selling off Canada’s most precious common resource? A government that answers to corporations’ limitless demands before everyday citizens’ needs. A government like Stephen Harper’s.

We know these things only through leaked documents and the tireless digging by groups like the Council of Canadians, the Canadian Labour Congress, and the NDP. The federal government feels no duty to disclose how it’s selling us out behind closed doors.

Since fresh water was listed in NAFTA as a commercializable product, there’s no going back once bulk exports start. No matter how our communities’ needs evolve, Canada couldn't turn off the tap without facing punishing lawsuits.

Fresh water is more that a scarce resource on a drying planet that corporations are jockeying to commodify. It’s the very embodiment of our shared heritage and aspirations as Canadians. If corporations can wrest control over our water, they’ve won a huge beachhead in their mission to control a great deal more.

The NDP has taken a leadership role in Parliament to demand an immediate withdrawal from all talks that threaten our fresh water reserves.

This past week we secured the first-ever parliamentary hearings into the ultra-secretive Security and Prosperity Partnership. Three televised hearings (April 26, May 1 and May 3) will shine first light on this tri-national initiative for the “deeper integration” of economic and security standards throughout North America. A good first step. But only a first step.

The SPP is the latest channel for an older agenda to carve up the continent to make life better for multinational corporations at the expense and worse for everyday Canadians.

Cheaper labour.

Ultra-mobile capital.

Less protection for our health, safety and environment.

And less fettered access to natural resources—like our oil and fresh water.

With three national governments ever more complicit in this agenda, we deserve to know what’s being bargained away in our name. It’s alarming how quickly this agenda has gained momentum with these governments on board.

Ten years ago, big business was coming off the high of NAFTA’s adoption. Deep integration was still just a gleam in the eye of insiders like Tom D’Aquino of the Canadian Council of Chief Executives.

Then, with the continent deeply shaken after 9/11, D’Aquino and his corporate ilk forged new paths toward deep integration. Before the end of 2001, Liberal Deputy Prime Minister John Manley signed the 30-point Smart Border Declaration to “harmonize” security regulations with the US. Template in hand, Manley went on to co-chair the business-dominated tri-national Task Force on the Future of North America—alongside D’Aquino himself.

In March 2005, Manley’s group came out calling for massive continental integration within five years. Nine days later in Waco, Texas, it was Liberal Prime Minister Paul Martin who stood alongside George W. Bush and Vincente Fox to announce the new Security and Prosperity Partnership. It then promptly went underground.

The deep integrationists have since found equally gung-ho backers in Stephen Harper’s Conservatives. But it’s important to remember that this deal was crafted by eager Liberal hands. Important to remember—because it’s good to know who stands up for Canadian sovereignty and who is willing to sell it out.

For Canadians who value sovereignty over sellouts, and people over profits, Jack Layton and the NDP are on your side. The hearings we secured this week are a first step, a first glimpse behind the integrationists’ closed doors. But we’re also stepping up a broader set of demands to protect this country’s sovereignty from assault:

~Full Parliamentary disclosure of the SPP agenda, and of the progress of its summits and working groups.

~A full debate and vote in Parliament on Canada’s role in the SPP (as Mr. Harper promised for “significant international treaties”).

~No more closed-door talks leading to deeper integration including the round-tables that ended this week in Calgary.

Jack Layton and the NDP have only begun the campaign to oppose the latest threat of the deep integration agenda and the ongoing effort to replace it with a fair trade model.