This is Buzz (Basil?!)at his best or at least better than sometimes! I have not seen much coverage of the letter in the mainstream press.
Stop the Security and Prosperity Partnership
August 12, 2007, 9:50 p.m. EST
CAW President Buzz Hargrove wrote the following letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper expressing his concerns about the Security and Prosperity Partnership, on behalf of working people across the country.
August 13, 2007
Right Honourable Stephen Harper
Prime Minister of Canada
Office of the Prime Minister
80 Wellington Street
Mr. Prime Minister;
I am writing to express my deep concern surrounding the Security and Prosperity Partnership and your government’s willingness to further a “deep integration” agenda across North America.
The SPP involves the merger of many of Canada's social, economic, and security policies and institutions with the United States and Mexico. The harmonization of regulatory standards and national security policy provides little (if any) benefit to Canadians. Further integration will reduce Canadian autonomy, restrict our ability to establish domestic rules and regulations that promote Canadian values, and further damage our national economy.
I am concerned that since its inception in 2005, the SPP has been developed and managed behind closed doors, without any measure of public accountability. From the beginning, this integration agenda has been directed by the business community and, despite the rhetoric, will serve a minority of special interests in Canada, the United States and Mexico.
We recognize that one of the stated goals of the SPP is to improve the efficiency and reliability of cross-border trade between Canada and the U.S., and this is a goal that we share (given the large number of CAW members who work in export-oriented industries).
Inadequate physical and administrative infrastructure on both sides of the border has become a significant friction inhibiting cross-border trade. We strongly support major investments, again on both sides of the border, to improve the functioning of border crossings, with appropriate input from border communities regarding locational and environmental issues. We are quite open to novel initiatives to speed up border traffic, such as pre-clearance areas, fast lanes for regular users, and other improvements.
However, these sensible investments in transportation and border infrastructure in no way require the sacrifice of Canadian sovereignty in areas such as security, citizenship and immigration, and inspection powers. We can work with the U.S. side as equals, to enhance the efficiency of our border facilities, without having to harmonize any of these important policies. In no way do these legitimate and concrete border improvements justify the far-reaching and dangerous features of the SPP initiative.
The SPP is part of a broader, corporate-driven agenda that your government has endorsed that overlooks the interests and protections of workers. It is an agenda that includes wrong-headed trade negotiations with countries like Japan, South Korea and Europe – deals that, if signed, will lead to further job loss in our auto, shipbuilding and other manufacturing industries. As well, it endorses trade negotiations with Columbia, a country that has been repeatedly condemned for its terrible record of human rights abuses.
Mr. Prime Minister, the interests of Canadian citizens are not served should their respective government choose to endorse an agenda that results in the loss of control over natural resources (such as natural gas and fresh water), that deepens ties to U.S. foreign policy and that erodes public decision-making power. Canadians continue to witness the negative impacts of integration under the NAFTA – as workers in our domestic auto, aerospace and other manufacturing industries continue to see wages and working conditions undercut, and while the entire national economy is restructured with an emphasis on the supply of resources (especially energy) to the U.S..
Canada’s manufacturing sector has lost over 300,000 jobs in less than five years and is still reeling from the effects of continental integration efforts under the NAFTA. Additionally, Canada continues to falter on NAFTA-related trade disputes with the United States, such as softwood lumber and beef.
Canadians know full well that any effort to forge a true “continental partnership” must respect each country’s right to self-determination in both economic and social matters and work within those parameters to develop relationships and foster solidarity.
On behalf of the 265,000 members of the Canadian Auto Workers union, I urge you now to remove Canada from the Security and Prosperity Partnership and immediately begin the process of developing a new national trade strategy – one that ensures fair trade, that fosters public transparency and accountability, that protects Canada’s national autonomy and that promotes an economic and social agenda that benefits all Canadians.
Our union is willing and able to participate in developing such a strategy and would like to discuss this issue with you further. I thank you in advance for your attention to this matter.
Basil “Buzz” Hargrove