“We’ve got a lot of crossings of the border, I intend to make our borders more secure and facilitate legal traffic.” George W. Bush, Baylor University, Waco, Texas, March 23, 2005.
Note the use of “I” and “our” by the U.S. president. He did not misspeak himself. Coming after the trilateral summit meeting in Waco, Texas with Mexican President Vicente Fox and Prime Minister Paul Martin (he did manage to call them “the presidents”) Bush was explaining to the press the significance of the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America declaration, and its accompanying agenda for the tri-national ministerial working groups that were established, and are to report back to the three leaders in 90 days.
Use of the first person singular and plural confirmed what the Waco agenda is about: getting Canada and Mexico to agree to a new North American framework for U.S. security. “Our” border means the U.S. border for the U.S. president, though obviously, for those who use it, the border is shared.
Canada and Mexico get something in return for agreeing to put up with the new security regulations: Lunch at the ranch.
Continentalism has taken on a new meaning since September 11. Security threats are part of everyday life in the U.S.; therefore (and not all of a sudden) Canada and Mexico are agreeing to a partnership on security.
For the American authorities, it starts with counter-terrorism. The U.S. wants to control its borders with its two neighbours; this is where most of the traffic flows. So Canada and Mexico agree, and try and work out face-saving arrangements
The U.S. does not forget the economy. Thus the partnership includes prosperity. The U.S. president had this to say at the Waco press conference: “We appreciate the fact that Canada’s tar sands are now becoming economical, and we’re glad to be able to get the access toward a million barrels a day, headed toward two million barrels a day.”
That one line, getting production up another million barrels a day is bound to create profits for some, and environmental destruction for many, in a word — prosperity, American style.
Canadian business leaders still think the road to prosperity lies through a bilateral deal with the U.S. You give us what we did not get in the 1988 free trade deal or in NAFTA — security of access to your market — and we will give you the right to control our border, they have been saying to anyone who would listen for a few years.
At Waco, Canadian business got a big win. The bilateral window is open. The declaration provides for side deals between two countries that can eventually be joined later by the third country (this is called a partnership that is “trilateral in concept”). Until now the Canadian business leaders were getting the need to include Mexico and amend NAFTA thrown at them when they approached Washington wanting to get chummy.
But the Waco agenda also specifies that trade disputes are not to be covered by the working groups. That is a big loss for Canadian business. It seems the U.S. still decides what it wants to take from Canada, say oil and gas, and what it wants to block, softwood, beef, steel, etc.
Let us sum up. The Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America is not designed to deal with either security or prosperity and it is not a partnership.
Security is about arms control, ending the folly of $12 trillion in weapons spending since the Second World War, and putting a common security agenda together under the auspices of the UN.
Prosperity is about ending the waste economy built in North America on the wild exploitation of natural resources, beginning with fossil fuels, not feeding it with another million barrels of oil from the tar sands.
Partnership is about the strong agreeing to change their policies to help the weak, not the weak giving in to the demands of the big guys.
Canadians expect their government to defend them, and want to see Canada, more, not less, able to contribute to security and prosperity in the world.
It is a good idea to spread the word: the Waco agenda may look wacky, but it is going ahead. That it will make life in North America worse should raise some alarm bells. The harmonization of food testing, gutting of health regulations, and adoption of transportation and energy policies to meet American demands, on the off chance someone in Canada will make more money selling into the U.S. market as a result, makes no sense.
There are many good reasons to organize against the Waco process of subverting Canadian sovereignty starting with this: Canadians did not vote for annexation to the U.S.