Mitch Joel WARNING... LONG RANT! It takes a lot for me to both get angry and publish about it. Canada’s…
David Jones on SPP – Hill Times
What Nobody Cares to Hear and Rarely Bothers to
Report Is the Thoroughly Mundane Nature of the SPP
by DAVID JONES
Bilaterally, the media reports/suggests that PM Harper and President Bush discussed secure border requirements, the NATO effort in Afghanistan (and its national implications), and Canadian sovereignty versus international waters for the Arctic’s Northwest Passage. Worthy and serious, but not seminal topics. (Naturally, the media would not mention problems resolved, e.g., softwood lumber and mad cows, but were happy to tweak the PM for not pushing for transfer of Omar Kadhr from Gitmo to
However, meetings at this level, even “tend to the weeding” garden variety sessions, are key to the trilateral-continental relationship. The complex of issues facing the continent as it enters the 21st century requires regular review and examination within institutions that will outlive administrations and leaders. This is particularly true of the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP) launched by President Bush in 2005 with PM Martin and Mexican President Fox.
The current leaders, in effect, head minority governments. In summer 2008, the
Normally, a “three amigos” meeting would get page A-10, ho-hum coverage. But this meeting, perhaps because of its August silly season timing, appears to have attracted a higher quota of the black helicopters-hovering-below-the-horizon/grassy knoll conspiracy types. Thus for the team on the left,
What nobody cares to hear and rarely bothers to report is the thoroughly mundane nature of the SPP. Launched in 2005 at the
Along similar lines is the work of the North American Competitiveness Council (NACC). Started in January 2006 primarily by private sector interests from all three countries, they were scheduled to report at
These issues are not the warp and woof of a continental, borderless customs union with a seamless security perimeter, but rather the concerns of that jelly bean producer beset by conflicting packaging demands. Nevertheless, in the effort to promote efficiency in addressing such topics, the SPP/NACC sacrificed transparency. To those on the “outside”—Congressional staff, nongovernmental organizations, media—anything being done without them sitting at the negotiating table is suspect.
Although designed to operate within existing executive branch administrative authority, some members of Congress concluded the SPP was an effort to end-run Congressional oversight. And for the spectrum of anti-trade/anti-globalism NGOs, any conglomeration of businessmen would be nefarious by definition.
Thus as the leaders slipped away—Calderón to review the devastation from Hurricane Dean; Bush to review the devastation from Hurricane Iraq; and Harper to anticipate the devastation from another round of Parliamentary politics—they left stacks of briefing books and new lists of “to do” secondary issues for the next gathering of the amigos.
David Jones is a former political counsellor who worked at the