A North American Alliance Tackles The SPP
Greens Join Forces In An Effort To Stop Partnership Between Governments
By Janet M. Eaton, PhD, International Trade Critic, Green Party of Canada
“For now at least the SPP is more out in the open and Greens across North America hope to make it even more so.”
Greens from Canada and the United States have joined together this past March in opposition to the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP). The SPP, like its predecessor NAFTA, would open wider the borders for trade between Canada, the U.S. and Mexico. The highly secretive SPP includes: stricter integrated security and a nearly ten lane wide super highway spanning the three countries. Greens are calling the SPP a catastrophe to North American ecology and civil liberties. (Article on SPP page 7)
Canadian Greens have been active against the SPP for some time. The Green Party of Canada (GPC) Shadow Cabinet has already put together an opposition platform against the SPP, NAFTA and international trade, should the minority government of conservative, Stephen Harper fall. Last March, Canadian Greens participated in an anti-SPP forum. There, GPC Party Leader Elizabeth May evoked a huge round of applause when she said the GPC viewed the SPP as an attack on Canada’s core identity and sovereignty and that it would work to scrap the SPP.
The GPC has a web campaign to expose the SPP, releasing several documents including Why We Need to Take a Closer Look at Continental Integration, Frequently Asked Questions, as well as, Threats to Our Water: NAFTA, SPP, Super-Corridors, Atlantica.
A partnership began after I was invited by the Green Party of the United States (GPUS) to speak at its July annual national meeting in Reading, Pennsylvania, on the SPP, with a particular focus on energy. The Reading meeting also led to GPUS collaboration in the GPC’s SPP Counter Summit, held August 20th in Ottawa, while Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, U.S. President George Bush and Mexican President Felipe Calderon met at SPP Leaders’ Summit in nearby Montebello, Quebec.
In Canada, Greens mounted a major campaign effort to publicize the Counter Summit, preparing articles, website materials, a petition, posters, and press releases. GPC also worked with the GPUS Interna tional Committee Co-chairs Julia Willebrand and Justine McCabe to bring a U.S. Green perspective to the Counter Summit and issued a joint press release.
caption: Julia Willebrand and Justine McCabe, International co-chairs of Green Party of the United States at the Stop the SPP Rally in Ottawa August, 2007
At the Counter Summit, May gave what some have said was her best political speech ever, articulating the SPP’s lack of transparency, corporate agenda, militaristic approach to security and severe threat to North Americans posed by regulatory downward harmonization.
Other counter-SPP events included an effort to expose the plans for bulk water exports. It featured paddling down the Ottawa river towards Montebello with Council of Canadian’s Maude Barlow and the Ottawa branch of the Raging Grannies, an international network of older social justice activists, who dress up in outrageous outfits and sing protest songs. This action garnered much attention from the press as well the military, who sent helicopters to observe the event.
Meanwhile, in Montebello where the summit leaders were meeting, a major protest was marred when union leader David Cole identified three large men with bandanas over their faces and rocks in their hands as agent provocateurs from the Quebec police. Shortly afterwards, the GPC put out a press release with May demanding for more government accountability; pointing out the ‘agents provocateurs’ incident as another example of extreme secrecy surrounding the SPP.
Since the Counter Summit, U.S. and Can adian Greens have continued cooperation on anti-SPP efforts, including doing a hour-long interview together on Wisconsin Public Radio as well as sharing news and analysis of the super corridor.
North American Greens can also focus on the threats to civil liberties which have accelerated and expanded under the SPP and include: the USA Patriot Act, Bill C-36 in Canada, the Smart Border Accord, No Fly lists, and others. Especially in the U.S., it is important to keep watch on the executive orders subverting congressional authority and the Military Commis sions Act that has suspended habeas corpus and sanctioned torture.
For now at least the SPP is more out in the open and Greens across North America hope to make it even more so. Other parties in Canada have already shown interest and concern over the SPP and started to participate in informational events. Greens in both Canada and the U.S. have started new efforts against the bulk export of water encompassed within the SPP. Now with the likelihood of a Canadian election, the GPC is fast preparing to make the SPP into a defining election issue.
caption: Elizabeth May, Green Party of Canada leader, (left) speaking at the Council of Canadians Public Forum in August on the danger of the newly formed SPP.