It's been called "NAFTA on crack," and the participants have been derided as "the Three Amigos," but you'd better start taking the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP) seriously. Aimed at keeping "our borders closed to terrorism yet open to trade," according to their website, the SPP is poised to change the face of North America.
From Aug. 19 to 21 in the quiet tourist village of Montebello, Quebec, George W. Bush, Stephen Harper and Mexican president Felipe Calderón will meet privately. And if you're uneasy about the combination of NAFTA's liberal economics and post-9/11 "Homeland Security" policies, tough luck. They'll be busy listening to the North American Competitiveness Council (NACC), a lobby powerhouse of over 30 executives from the private sector that gives the corporate agenda a formal place in the SPP - unlike citizens' groups and even many lawmakers. As a "dialogue" rather than a treaty or an agreement, the SPP isn't bound by any legislative restrictions.
Mandeep Dhillon of No One Is Illegal is concerned that this process is flying far below the public radar in Canada, the U.S. and Mexico, unlike NAFTA, which was at least met with vigorous public debate.
"It's really insane to think about the fact that already 300 changes have been proposed or come into effect in different areas of trade, immigration and labour," she says.
Organizers from Montreal and Ottawa, united under the banner Peoples' Global Action (PGA) Network, are planning to camp out and dig in for several days
of demonstrations against the SPP, culminating in a day of action on Aug. 20.
A key element of their perspective is solidarity with indigenous and immigrant struggles, a rejection of nationalist rhetoric that stresses "protecting our land, protecting our resources."
"We can't start talking about trade and terror laws unless we recognize what impact that is having on those communities," said Dhillon...