NEWS: US Congress demands transparency in SPP agenda

Canadians also deserve to know what Americans will know about continental integration plan: NDP MP Peter Julian

OTTAWA – NDP Trade Critic Peter Julian (Burnaby-New Westminster) was encouraged to see the U.S. Congress shares the NDP’s concerns about the lack of transparency and democratic oversight surrounding the implementation of the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America (SPP).

A vote on an amendment tabled by Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur, which was passed overwhelmingly on Tuesday, prohibits the use of federal funds by the U.S. Department of Transportation in participating in the SPP working groups until the U.S. Congress has an opportunity to review and assess the agenda of the SPP.

“What the U.S. House of Representatives clearly raised are issues of transparency, reduction of safety standards and concerns about the lack of democratic oversight of the SPP process,” said Julian. “The amendment tabled by Congresswoman Kaptur and Congressman Hunter indicates that the NDP’s concerns about the SPP’s secret agenda are echoed by legislators in the U.S. We need the same level of scrutiny on this side of the border. Unfortunately, Mr. Harper seems intent on keeping Canadians in the dark.”

Julian has been working closely with Kaptur to ensure concerns over the secrecy of the SPP on both sides of the border are front and centre in both countries’ political circles. The SPP was initiated by the Liberal government of Paul Martin in 2005, and has been continued by the Conservative government of Stephen Harper.

“What we’ve seen here is the clear repudiation of the SPP agenda from the U.S. Congress. We’ve seen similar concerns raised in Mexico. The NDP has been leading the fight in Canada to ensure that the SPP is put through real public consultations, democratic debate, and parliamentary oversight. The fact that democratic oversight, transparency and the issue of erosion of standards were all raised in the vote in the U.S. clearly indicates that concerns are broadening and deepening,” stated Julian.

Julian has tabled a motion at the Standing Committee on International Trade to be considered this fall, calling on Parliament to stop further implementation of the SPP agenda until there are real public consultations and full Parliamentary oversight. The NDP succeeded in forcing the first ever hearings on the SPP this spring at the Trade Committee.

Along with Congresswoman Kaptur and Deputy Suarez of the Mexican Party of the Democratic Revolution, Peter Julian co-sponsored the second Tri-National Forum on a people-centered approach to trade which took place in June 2006 in Ottawa. It was organized by the NDP along with civil society groups to call for a halt to the SPP and to craft a collective plan to bring an end to deep integration and replace NAFTA with a people-centered trade model.