Peter Julian in Nanaimo

Peter JulianOn January 16, 2008, Burnaby-New Westminster MP Peter Julian addressed an overflow crowd in the Clubhouse at Bowen Park on the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP). Anyone not familiar with SPP should watch Nanaimo filmmaker Paul Manly’s 10-minute video Trading Democracy for Corporate Rule which lays bare this backroom deal being foisted on Canada by the Harper-Bush Axis of Evil.

In his talk, Julian pointed out that since 1989, when the first free trade agreement between Canada and the United States was negotiated, two-thirds of Canadians have seen their incomes fall. The middle class lost the equivalent of a weeks income from 1989-2008, while lower income families lost two weeks. The biggest impact was on those at the very bottom of the totem pole who lost 1.5 months income over that period. During the same period, average indebtedness doubled. Free trade only worked for the wealthiest 20 percent of Canadians who now earn over half of Canada’s income.

The idea that the benefits of free trade trickle down and have “brought unprecedented prosperity to Canada” is a myth. Far from creating prosperity, globalization has eliminated many secure, well paying jobs and replaced them with temporary, low-paying McJobs without pension benefits. The greatest impact has been on young people, many of whom foolishly do not even bother to vote. If youth voted en masse as seniors do, politicians might take them more seriously.

The Security and Prosperity Partnership launched under Paul Martin’s Liberal Government in 2005 was picked up by Stephen Harper’s Conservatives without losing a beat. SPP is undemocratic by design and is being advanced in secrecy without any parliamentary oversight. As many as 300 policy areas are being affected by these regulatory changes including quality of life issues. Canadian food and health standards are to be lowered to those of Mexico or the United States. In no case are standards being raised in this race to the bottom.

The security side of SPP threatens our human rights by extending McCarthy-style blacklists compiled in the United States to Canada. This will have a direct and personal impact on thousands of individual Canadians each time they try to board an aircraft, cross the border, or apply for a contract or job requiring a security clearance. With the new biometric drivers licenses, you might even get caught in the security net if you’re stopped for a traffic violation. It’s the 1950s all over again, a new witch hunt.

Canada’s distinct voice is being sacrificed to SPP as our foreign policy is harmonized with American militarism. The war in Afghanistan is a classic example of this with young Canadian soldiers dying to secure a highway and pipeline route from Central Asia to the Indian Ocean. As in Iraq, it’s all about oil and gas.

The United States wants to gain control of Canada’s water. The moment water exports begin, it will be impossible to stop them thanks to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) negotiated by the Conservatives and implemented by the Liberals. Canada has already sacrificed its energy sovereignty by giving the U.S. a legal right to 60 percent of our oil and gas through NAFTA. SPP will speed up the process and environmental protection standards will be gutted across the board.

The regulatory changes encompassed by deep integration eliminate parliament’s decision-making role on a whole range of issues as SPP will never come up for a vote in the House of Commons. This is not a little benign tinkering as Harper and Bush would have us believe but a sea change. And the New Democratic Party of Canada is the only party resolutely opposed to SPP. If the Peter Julian and his NDP colleagues have their way, the coming federal election will be a referendum on the environment, the prosperity gap, and Canada’s real security needs.

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