They told us this was coming.
Making Democracy Moot:
Recent US-Canada Developments May Surprise You
Edited by Johanna Faust.Summary By T. Marks, (source).
Hat tip to the Truther Girls!
The just-announced Canada-U.S. security perimetre discussions are comprehensive and potentially wide-ranging and could impact the sovereignty of both nations dramatically.
Canadian media reports indicate that the negotiators' high priority includes a formal sharing of intelligence, law enforcement, and migration data by Canada and the U.S. in exchange for greater movement of goods, people and services across the border between the two countries. Both the Canadian government and business sector are keen on improving the current North American free trade regimes, especially after 9/11 when U.S. international terrorism security concerns slowed down trade and traffic across the border, explained Colin Robertson, a former Canadian diplomat and a proponent of a Canada-U.S. security perimetre.
Robertson agrees that protectionist pressure in the U.S. the latest manifestation being the "Buy America" provisions under the Obama administration means that gaining an unfettered U.S. market for Canadian companies remains out of reach, no matter what the result of the negotiatiations.
In any deal, predicts Robertson, Canada will conform its copyright legislation to the U.S. model in exchange for greater export of Alberta tar sands oil (that is bitumen, or "dirty oil" in the minds of its many critics) to the U.S. market via a pipeline - yet to be approved - heading south towards the Gulf of Mexico coast for refining.
Another observer, Scott Sinclair, asserts that business has been given "privileged access" to the secret discussions surrounding the harmonising of U.S. and Canada regulatory standards with regards to products and services. Combining pressure from corporations to cut regulations with a secret decision-making process is a sure-fire recipe for eroding regulation and moving to the lowest common denominator," said Sinclair, senior trade policy researcher at the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. One potential scenario, adds Byers, is that the ruling Conservatives will sign a deal following a predicted win in a spring federal election during which the Canadian electorate will hear very little of what has transpired in the negotiations with Washington.
This time around, energy politics and specifically the desire for increased sales of tar sands oil are increasingly driving Canadian policy towards border trade within North America, says Sinclair. "[Ottawa] will be looking for commitments such as expedited regulatory approval processes for pipelines and assurances that Canadian tar sands oil will not be disadvantaged by state or federal environmental protection measures regulating the carbon content of fuels." Byers charges that the Harper government will do anything to get around opposition in the U.S. toward the importing of Canadian bitumen, including surrendering unique Canadian policies in immigration, refugees, copyright and human rights.
"It is hard to fight a deal when Ottawa and Washington are offering few details," said Vancouver-based international lawyer, author and commentator Michael Byers in a recent interview with IPS. "The people who are opposed to this are left pointing at shadows rather than anything concrete," he noted. Both Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and U.S. President Barack Obama were vague in January about what a Canada-U.S. security perimetre would entail. A deal is predicted for later this year.
A security perimetre may ultimately involve the merging of Canadian personal information into North American databases. These would of course be accessible to U.S. security and law enforcement. Already, legislation is going through the Canadian Parliament that would oblige Canadian air carriers regularly crossing U.S. territory to get from one part of Canada to another, for the shortest route possible, to make their passenger data available to U.S. authorities. At a recent Ottawa conference, Michael Wilson, a former Canadian ambassador to Washington and the ex-finance minister in the 1980s Conservative government that negotiated the first Canada-U.S. free trade agreement, was forthright on this point.
A second speaker, Michael Hayden, a former director of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, indicated that a thinner Canada-U.S. border means a common North American approach to security.
Source: Secret U.S.-Canada Talks "End Run Around Democracy" by Paul Weinberg.
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