Bi-lateral and Tri-lateral negotiations – between Canada, United States, and Mexico – to ‘harmonize’ national standards and rules are continuing, notwithstanding the reported demise of the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP), proposed in 2005, that was exposed and discredited by an effective grass-roots awareness-raising campaign.
In response to this temporary setback, proponents of a deep continental integration agenda now seek to advance their agenda by increments, and certainly without Parliamentary attention or debate. The latest proposal is for a ‘continental security perimeter’ involving an integrated border with the United States. The limited information available thus far about this proposal has generated public opposition due to projected threats to Canadian sovereignty and Canadians’ privacy. The need for confidentiality in diplomatic negotiations should not result in withholding public information about their results. The Green Party questions both the goals of this agenda and the means being used to further it.
The SPP process and the continental security perimeter plans emerged out of a continental integration agenda that capitalized on American post-9/11 fear about national security. It built on the NAFTA foundation and sought to bring Canada, Mexico, and the U.S. much closer to a common market and customs union. Some have described it as a future North American Union (NAU) using a process similar to that which led to the European Union (i.e. full economic integration first). The Green Party opposes this continental integration agenda as detrimental to Canadian national interests.
The proposed North American Union would be profoundly different from the European Union political model. The E.U. requires that the toughest environmental and labour standards of any one nation be the minimum standards for all. The E.U. model includes the direct election to a supra-national parliament. Continental integration as practiced in North America, on the other hand, appears to be primarily designed with the exclusion of civil society input and without the priority to environmental and labour standards. There is also a much greater balance of power between numerous European nation states comprising the E.U. than would exist in a North American Union comprising the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. As an example, if there were an E.U. version similar to the proposed North American Union then there would only be three countries – perhaps Germany, Norway, and Portugal – analogous to the U.S., Canada, and Mexico respectively. It is not hard to imagine which nation would completely control and dominate that relationship. Citizens of Norway/Canada and Portugal/ Mexico would in effect become second-class citizens in their respective continents.