Sisters and Brothers,
Last weekend I had the privilege of joining some of the country’s best writers and thinkers at INTEGRATE THIS!, a teach-in organized by the Council of Canadians and co-sponsored by CUPE. The goals of the weekend were lofty and crucial: to educate participants about the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP), an issue that has been kept out of the public eye, but will have an impact on every Canadian.
To put it simply, the SPP is like the North American Free Trade Agreement, but much more treacherous. It has an agenda motivated not only by deeper trade integration between Canada and the US, but deeper security integration as well. One need only to think of the ordeal undergone by Maher Arar to understand why relinquishing our autonomy in this way is incredibly dangerous.
The logistics of the SPP aren’t being decided by the people we elected. Instead, we are being left vulnerable to the demands of groups like the North American Competitiveness Council (NACC), which is made up largely of members of the US government and owners of big business. The NACC’s mandate, according to the US Chamber of Commerce, is to “provide a voice for the private sector”. The private sector – whose voice is already heard loud and clear every day – is motivated by shareholder profit. These profits come with social, financial, and environmental costs paid by Canadians.
As we allow trade agreements to supersede laws, councils like these are given governance-type powers without the inconvenience of elections. It allows for more corporate freedom and it restricts our government’s ability to rule on behalf of the people.
There is an SPP meeting happening in Canada this August, and we need to organize around it. We cannot give the power to control our trade and security regulations to big business. We must focus on education, connecting the dots between issues, and building coalitions. We must impress upon our members and our Members of Parliament the dangers of deep integration with the US. We are calling on our allies to keep these issues alive during the upcoming election.
Canadian Union of Public Employees