So it looks like Harper will be heading to Mexico August 8 to 11 for the fifth annual North American Leaders Summit. And once again we had to get the information from the U.S. State Department, not the Canadian government.
Actually, Harjap Grewal, our west coast organizer, saw it first on Wikipedia under the SPP section and then confirmed it on the State Department website. It was news to most of the organizations in Canada, the United States and Mexico, as well as legislators, who worked so hard to contest the SPP agenda at these secretive North American summits, which seems to call Obama’s bluff during the primaries last year that his summits would be more transparent, more accountable.
Less than six weeks from the next North American meeting, we know nothing of what’s on the agenda or which government ministers will be attending from any of the three governments. That’s hardly accountable.
We were also under the impression the SPP was largely dead from statements by key business proponents and Canadian news columnists who were marginally on the inside (i.e. as inside as anyone whose salary is under $5 million per year could be).
But then Dylan Penner, the Council’s media officer, went poking around Industry Canada’s website and found a report on their plans and priorities for this year and next that included continuing certain SPP priorities:
3.4. Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America (SPP) – Lead Canada’s engagement in the SPP
•The Canadian Secretariat for the SPP will continue to support the Minister of Industry as lead minister for Canada and as Canadian lead on the Prosperity Agenda, which is focused on promoting growth, competitiveness and quality of life in North America. The Secretariat will provide advice and contribute to preparations for the 2009 North American Leaders’ Summit in Mexico.
•The Secretariat will work closely with other government departments and officials from the U.S. and Mexico to ensure that the leaders’ priorities are implemented.
•Industry Canada will continue its leadership role in managing the Research Fund on North American Borders, Security and Prosperity, which is working to improve the current understanding of the impact of border measures on Canadian competitiveness.
•Spectrum, Information Technologies and Telecommunications Sector will continue to work with the U.S. and Mexico, in the context of the SPP, on the implementation of the Statement on the Free Flow of Information and Trade in North America.
Of course this was drafted before Bush said goodbye, and the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade has dropped Canada-U.S. relations to its number 2 priority in its own plans document, the recent appointment of a devout contientalist — John Manley — to the well-connected Canadian Council of Chief Executives is bound to have an influence on Canadian priorities for the Mexican meeting this August.
Leaders need to get the message that any attempt to exclude the public in any of the three countries will result in failure… again.