Saturday, April 05, 2008

SPP : Now with 100% more North America!

With the April 21 SPP leaders' summit looming on the still devastated New Orleans horizon, suddenly all the usual deep integration players are "North Americans" looking for the next new and improved incarnation of the SPP.
Why? Well because we ruined the last one.

"Canada-U.S. efforts to resolve post-9/11 border problems plaguing North America's economy have fallen victim to conspiracy theories.
The Security and Prosperity Partnership, launched in 2005, is so misunderstood by the public and so discredited by opposition groups it should be relaunched and rebranded.
That's the view of Simon Fraser University political scientist Alexander Moens who has just completed a study of the SPP for the Fraser Institute. Moens asserts "the time has come to rebrand the talks and give them a clear mandate."
In a not very remarkable coincidence, this is also the view of the US right wing think tank Hudson Institute in their study, "Negotiating North America : The SPP" : who note that due to "xenophobes who fear fictitious superhighways" ... "it may ultimately be necessary to re-design and re-launch a new process to take up the work of the SPP under a new acronym."

Happily Moens has come up with one already :
"He's calling for the SPP to be replaced by NASRA, which stands for a North American Standards and Regulations Area. It "would include further economic integration beyond free trade but not political integration."

North American Standards and Regulation Area?
Good god man but that's a lame-ass name.
Would it have killed you to call it the N.A. Standards and Regulation Anschluss?

Moens attended the Network on North American Studies in Canada conference in Vancouver in March, where he chaired a presentation from a book project entitled The North American Experiment.
NNASC, according to their website, is "a new initiative between Canada and the U.S., in partnership with leading universities, government agencies, think tanks and civil society. It is a unique private sector-public sector partnership"

Another presentation at the same conference was "Managing Shared Resources Across North American Borders" chaired by Rick Van Schoik of Arizona State University who is also a director of The North American Center for Transborder Studies. In a recent essay "North America's Forgotten Agenda : Getting Development Back on Track", he lists among his key recommendations : "Implement a North American security perimeter".

Van Shoik will head ASU's participation in the Dept of Homeland Security's new $15M "Center of Excellence for Border Security and Immigration" :
"The establishment of the center by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security follows more than two years of work assembling a team of U.S. universities, Mexican and Canadian institutions government agencies, technology companies and national laboratories."

Did I mention this Vancouver conference was funded in part by Dept of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada and that they also participated in Van Shoik's session?

On March 29 NNASC held a panel discussion "Bridging the North American Divide From Economic Integration to Community" in San Francisco, featuring Dan Schwanen from the Center for International Global Innovation. In his essay "North American Integration Post Bush", Schwanen admires the success of the Dec 2001 Smart Borders initiative and proposes a similar "Smart North American Economy" within a "North America that badly needs rethinking".
See what I mean? It's all North America all the time in the tanks.

And finally in Tuesday's Financial Post ,ubiquitous professional Canada slaggers Michael Hart and Bill Dymond from Carleton University quote from their C.D. Howe Institute paper in which they advise dropping the SPP in favour of a whole new agreement :
"What Canada needs is a trade policy that recognizes the increasing importance of global value chains and the critical role of Canada-U.S. integration in gaining full benefit from their exploitation...
The only cost that would arise is political : in Canadians' exaggerated preoccupation with ephemeral concepts of sovereignty and nationhood."

Fuck you, Michael "Canada blew it!" Hart, NAFTA and FTA negotiator, former official at the Dept of Foreign Affairs and Int. Trade, and sometime deep integration teacher at the North American University.
Too bad we had you defending our 'exaggerated preoccupation with ephemeral concepts like sovereignty and nationhood' when you were our voice at NAFTA.
But no worries, as Barbara Yaffe reassures us :
"Conspiracy theorists should recognize that the governments directing the SPP are separate entities, with politicians looking out for their own respective national interest.
No Canadian government interested in reelection is going to sell out to U.S. interests on border policy."


West End Bob said...

So, does a rose under any other name still have an 'exaggerated preoccupation with ephemeral concepts like sovereignty and nationhood'

What a bunch of North American bullshit . . . .

Anonymous said...

I have always been, and remain, a strong supporter of NAFTA. I believe it has been beneficial to the three signator countries.
However, this SPP initiative has me a little on edge. The stated goals are laudatory and I don't see any great conspiracy to subvert Canadian sovereignty. My concerns have been generated from reading a couple of policy papers put out by U.S. government agencies with their, rather ambiguous and understated, agenda of having a greater integration of financial regulations.
I harbour a deep distrust of all large financial institutions and the agencies that are supposed to provide oversight and regulation. In my view the U.S. system tends to take a more laissez-faire approach to the functions of these huge financial manipulators than do the Canadian regulatory bodies. Following the savings & loan debacle of the Reagan era the Federal Reserve and the other oversight agencies were supposed to more closely monitor the labyrinthine machinations of these financial behemoths; a task at which they obviously failed. In view of the latest pillaging of the public purse to bail these robber barons out of the mess of their own making, I am very leery of any proposal that would bind Canada to the unfettered capitalism under which these institutions operate. This is not to say that the oversight system here in Canada is not riddled with the cozy cronyism that makes a mockery of regulatory policies. The latest ABCP scam which lets the crooked manipulators hold investor's money hostage until such time as they give up their rights to legal recourse is a prime example of why I cast a jaundiced eye on any agreement that would open the door to a lessening of restrictions on the operations of these greed-driven con artists.
I do not claim any expertise in these matters, but I am not blind. I see who ends up holding the bag every time one of these funny-money schemes falls apart and I also notice that most of them seem to be generated under the radar of the U.S. banking regulators.
So, until such time as I can get to read the fine print in any SPP agreement, I will reserve judgement on the merits of any such treaty.

skdadl said...

Oh God. Alison, you are brilliant and I am so grateful to you, but this makes me angry enough to swear, and I almost never swear.

Fuck you, Michael Hart. Och, why am I wishing a total jerk like that a good fuck? Srsly: I hope he never has another in his entire life.

RossK said...

"No Canadian government interested in reelection is going to sell out to U.S. interests on border policy. ......."

That last quoted sentence from Ms. Yaffe is a mindblower. I mean, what the heckfire does she think the already consumated Softwood Lumber 'Agreement' is? Or is it possible that, like the photoreceptors of so many of our provincial punditeers, Ms. Yaffe's eyes too just glaze over with gleeful understanding when they skip over the two stock-in-trade excuses most often offered-up as the fait-accompli-like explanation for the tattered state of our lumber industry (ie. slumping home sales and the high Cdn$), all the while pretending that Messrs. Harper and Emerson's punitive 15% extra SLA duty, which is really the death knell, doesn't even exist and wasn't put in place by the current government that is presumably "interested in re-election".

And don't forget the SLA was at least an above board manufactured nail that was then hammered into the oh-so pretty Anschluss coffin with great fanfare over a Canada Day weekend in the first year of Mr. Harper's Manchurian mandate. In constrast, as Alison, has demonstrated over and over and over again, this SPP crap, or whatever the hell they want to call it now, is anything but.

Thanks A! (and apologies for the rant-again; but this is our sovereignty these people are screwing with behind our backs).


Alison said...

WEB : The sad thing is that I have literally hundreds and hundreds of pages of similar bullshit - far too many to blog because no one would want to read it all.

PL : "I don't see any great conspiracy to subvert Canadian sovereignty"

Me neither.
The subversion of Canadian political sovereignty is merely a by-product, a casualty of the openly stated and therefore by definition non-conspiratorial economic goal of dismantling regulations which impede the not-so-very-free-after-all markets.
Trouble is many Canadians do care about sovereignty - both political and economic - so we're seeing all this contradictory rebranding from rightwing tanks re how 1)it's too late to save Canada anyhow so just embrace N.A. and 2)there is no danger to Canada.
The contradictions don't matter - the point is just to say "North America" over and over until it sticks. It's their job - again, no conspiracy.

Skdadl : Not at all brilliant - just very very pissed! These tanks -now with DHS funding - are really consolidating their cross-border networking this last six months.
See IGLOO, the directory of NNASC.
[Screen-shotting you swearing ;-)]

RossK : I don't ever expect much from Yaffe but this was just too much. See update link to excellent POGGE post.
btw Many of the US tank papers cite the SLA deal as a SPP success, which of course it is from their pov.
Your rants always appreciated, Ross.

skdadl said...

Alison, I've finally read through the NNASC agenda. Gah! They've got everything there, not just trade but our justice system! The courts, civil liberties, and what they call "morality issues" -- that would be the full humanity of women and gays. Gah!

Are any of the Canadians involved in this disaster aware that the U.S. DoJ is broken? I don't mean just wounded; I mean BROKEN, and there are senior U.S. senators who will say that and have said it. I don't want to see an American pod person academic anywhere near our courts or judicial review systems -- who would? Stay home, pod persons, and fix the massive mess you've made of your own place.


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