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Stop fortress North America: Don't let the Harper government make a secret deal with Washington

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The Harper government is engaged in secret talks with the U.S. government to negotiate a sweeping Fortress North America security deal with Washington.

For over a decade, Fortress North America has been a favourite goal of the political right and continental business. The deal poses a major threat to Canadian sovereignty. Whatever proponents of the deal say, its implementation will force Canada to harmonize its immigration and refugee policies with those of the United States. And it will require Canadian government agencies to share much more private information about Canadian citizens and residents with American agencies than they already do. The deal will invite the FBI and the CIA right into our lives.

For those who think that this won't matter much, it is vital to remember that what happened to Maher Arar nearly a decade ago was precipitated by the Canadian government's sharing of information with the U.S. He was the canary in the mine shift -- the warning that many more of us could be next.

Canada has already moved a long way down the road to defence arrangements with the U.S. that could conceivably allow the U.S. to effectively seize control of Canada during a global geo-political crisis.

The sweetener for the deal that is now in the works is that its ratification will mean quicker shipments of goods across the Canada-U.S. border. This is hardly a vital matter for Canada. It's true that over the past two years Canada's exports to the U.S. have plunged. But that's because the U.S. has a weaker economy than it did before the crash and its demand for our products has declined. Such a development should motivate us to find other partners for commerce around the world, not to climb ever more into a relationship with a country whose global economic power is in decline.

The only reason we know about the secret talks between Ottawa and Washington is because of media leaks. The plan is to unveil the deal with Washington in January. Then a joint ceremony is to be held with Stephen Harper and Barack Obama appending their signatures to the agreement. After that, the details of the deal are to be hammered out between officials from the two countries.

In the meantime, the members of the Harper government refuse to say a word about this.

We know from WikiLeaks that CSIS is home to those who believe that Canadians are naïve about the threat of terrorism. We can expect the members of the Harper government to get lurid about the danger of terrorists when the deal with Washington is made public. The truth is that we now face a real threat to our nation's sovereignty from those who hold the highest offices in the land.

Canadians need to get loud right now to stop this covert attack on our national sovereignty. Despite the chest-thumping phony patriotism and flag waving of the Harperites and their friends, this government has always been committed to a deeper continental union with the United States, an idea that is profoundly contrary to the interests of Canadians, now and in the future.

All of us need to take on this fight. We can't leave this one to the tepid opposition parties in the House of Commons.

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