Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Sad? Yes, Mr. Harper, it is.

Stephen Harper, with the patronizing pomposity that he is famous for, shook his head and declared that the protests against the Security and Prosperity Partnership, taking place in Montebello with George W. Bush and Felipe Calderon, were "sad". Such a pitiful bunch - over 1000 of them - who refused to be put in cages well away from the Great Leaders so their protests could not be heard. The inevitable scuffles broke out. Some threw stones and water bottles. The heavily armoured police in full riot gear returned fire with pepper spray and tear gas. Nice to know whose side the police are on.

So, while they meet in secret to pound out the process of turning the continent into Fortress North America, with all good things flowing north from Mexico and south from Canada into the great maw that is the U.S., we are supposed to sit back and allow it to happen.

The thought that Bush, the serial lawbreaker of both international and U.S. constitutional law, the agressor, the liar, the condoner of torture and domestic spying, the trasher of habeas corpus, the vacationer-in-chief, was entertained in our country at our expense, enrages me.

Felipe Calderon probably isn't the elected leader of Mexico. Polls before the elections showed that Manuel Lopez Obrador had a clear lead, but U.S. manipulations in the electoral process, just like they did in Canada, returned a leader who was not supported by the people. In Mexico, as in Canada, we will never know how far that interference went.

Why we should worry about the Montebello talks, by Bruce Campbell, which first appeared in the Ottawa Citizen and is linked here from rabble.ca, gives us more that a few causes for concern.

...[P]assenger 'no fly' lists: In June, Canada's no-fly list came into effect, part of a broader agenda of security measures negotiated under the SPP. The list is rife with potential for abuse—blacklisting innocent people, racial profiling, invasion of privacy, use of false information and faulty criteria for judging high-risk travellers.

Canada's list will likely merge with the much larger U.S. no-fly list, with major negative implications for Canadians' civil liberties.

The Arar Inquiry found that the RCMP, through their intelligence sharing practices, were complicit in the rendition and torture of Canadian citizens in violation of international law. It recommended measures to protect against future abuse. Maher Arar has still not been taken off the U.S. terrorist watch list.

The U.S. continues to systematically violate the Geneva conventions on torture and rendition, recently codifying these practices in the notorious Military Commissions Act. The Harper government has not raised its voice publicly against U.S. abuses. What is it doing at the SPP table?

...[D]omestic processing of oil: Energy security, especially oil, is a top priority for the U.S., and the Harper government is eager to oblige by facilitating the rapid expansion of Alberta oilsands production for export south.

Among the energy accomplishments cited by the SPP leaders at their 2006 meeting was a Canada-U.S. pipeline agreement that would lead to a uniform regulatory approach for cross-border pipelines.

Recently the countries' energy ministers talked about cutting red tape for various planned pipelines that would take oilsands bitumen to the U.S. for processing.

The Communications, Energy and Paperworkers union has produced studies showing that 18,000 jobs that would otherwise be created by processing in Canada will go south.

...[S]ome 40 per cent of the pesticides Canada regulates have stricter limits than U.S. regulations. The U.S. sees them as trade barriers and wants a list of priority pesticides to be watered down.

Thanks to an astute Citizen reporter, we know the Canadian government is in talks to relax its requirements on pesticide residues on U.S. fruits and vegetables.

With the Bush administration aggressively dismantling its own regulatory systems, this harmonization concession amounts to Canada mirroring U.S. deregulation. Will this be the norm or the exception?

...[E]ach step may, or may not by itself have significant consequences for Canadian policy flexibility. But cumulatively, the negative overall impact on Canadian sovereignty and democracy will be huge.

I find serious cause for concern in those provisions. The rule of law trashed in Canada, no energy security and no food security.

What is really "sad" in all this is that we allow the U.S. and the Harper puppet regime to run Canada.

August 21, 2007

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