Tag Archives: spp

Stephen Harper Thinks You’re Stupid

For years, Stephen Harper has, through his words and actions, displayed what could charitably be described as a lack of confidence in anyone other than himself. This extends not only to his MPs and members of the civil service, but also the Canadian public at large. In his memoirs, Preston Manning wrote of the Harper he knew from the Reform party as someone who “had difficulty accepting that there might be a few other people (not many, perhaps, but a few) who were as smart as he was with respect to policy and strategy.” In a June 1997 speech to an American think tank Stephen Harper said, “I was asked to speak about Canadian politics. It may not be true, but it’s legendary that if you’re like all Americans, you know almost nothing except for your own country. Which makes you probably knowledgeable about one more country than most Canadians.”

In short, he doesn’t trust us. He doesn’t think we’re smart enough or knowledgeable enough to make good decisions about the direction of our country.

One of the ways he displays this disrespect is by making completely ridiculous statements that us idiotic citizens couldn’t possibly see through. For example, right after the most recent meeting to advance the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP) Harper attempted to diminish the importance of the multilateral talks, describing the SPP as an effort to “standardize the jelly bean.” As if such a thing would require a meeting of three world leaders, massive security (including US Army interference with Canadian rights and disturbing police tactics), and a top secret agenda.

Today, Conservatives turned their guns against the Green Party (again) in an equally insulting attempt at spin. This time, it had to do with our position regarding Canada’s involvement in Afghanistan, and specifically our response to the Manley report. The Green Party believes (quite rightly) that the nature of our military presence in Afghanistan must change. One of the major reasons for this is that we are currently perceived by many people in the region (and not without reason) as being aligned with George Bush’s War On Terror, which in turn is seen by many as a quasi-religious war of West vs. East, or Christianity vs. Islam. As long as that perception exists, danger to our soldiers is increased while our chances for success are decreased.

The Conservative party responded with the following:

Green Party Leader and Stéphane Dion ally Elizabeth May criticized the presence of Canadian and other ISAF forces in Afghanistan as representing a “Christian/Crusader heritage,” that would actually “fuel” the “jihad.”

Elizabeth May’s comparison of the Afghan protection and reconstruction effort as a Christian Crusade is evidence of her shocking ignorance of foreign policy, Afghanistan and the current mission.

The Canadian Forces in Afghanistan are serving at the invitation and with the active encouragement of the Afghan Government. Every day the brave men and women of the Canadian Forces are risking their safety and security to help the people of Afghanistan live peaceful and secure lives. Considering that Canadian soldiers have lost their lives protecting the people of Afghanistan, it is outrageous that a Canadian politician would make such an insult of this sacrifice.

Ms. May’s comments also betrayed a shocking lack of knowledge about Afghanistan’s people and its history. None of the Crusades ever came anywhere close to Afghanistan.

Even people who think the Green press release should have been more clear recognize that the above statement is ridiculous and lowers the level of discourse. Fortunately, Canadians are smart enough to understand the difference between saying that we need to “counter the Islamic militants’ portrayal of the war as a ‘clash of civilizations’” to prevent the Taliban from being able to continue to “frame the Afghanistan conflict as a ‘Jihad’” and saying that Canadian soldiers are actually engaged in a Christian Crusade. Canadians are also smart enough to realize that the real negative perceptions of our involvement have very little to do with the physical locations of the Crusades. (To not grasp that last fact could almost be characterized as, say, a “shocking ignorance of foreign policy, Afghanistan and the current mission.”)

And Canadians are smart enough to realize that if anything is “risking the safety and security” of the brave men and women of the Canadian Forces, it’s overly partisan rhetoric that’s designed to shut down real democratic debate. (It’s also worth noting that this government also continues to place our soldiers at risk of being accused of involvement with war crimes, and has demonstrated through their actions that “supporting the troops” is sometimes little more than a soundbite.)

Details aside, the second most discouraging thing about this is that our prime minister has such little respect for foundational democratic principals that he frequently tries to trick the public into believing partisan distortions of reality. The most discouraging thing (at least for the moment) is that this kind of nonsense moves people like Rick Mercer to write what he did today: “[Liberals and Conservatives] both say they support our troops, but what they really love is using them.”

U.S. Army And RCMP Derail Public Forum

There’s a very disturbing news article in yesterday’s Ottawa Citizen:

Police have derailed plans for a public forum on the Security and Prosperity Partnership that was to take place six kilometres from where the leaders of Canada, Mexico and the U.S. will gather next month for a summit.

Several weeks ago, the Council of Canadians put down a $100 deposit to rent the community centre in Papineauville, not far from the summit site in Montebello, for the public forum.

The forum was scheduled for Aug. 19, the day before Prime Minister Stephen Harper, U.S. President George W. Bush and Mexican President Felipe Calderon are due to start two days of meetings on the security partnership, a controversial initiative aimed at more closely aligning the three countries in a variety of areas.

But Brent Patterson, the council’s director of organizing, said a Papineauville official called late Tuesday to say the RCMP, the Surete du Quebec and the U.S. army would not allow the municipality to rent the facility to the council for the planned forum.

A citizens group isn’t allowed to meet a day before the conference in a community centre six kilometres away. For security reasons. *cough*

Would a pro-SPP group have also been denied the space? Not likely. Guy Cote of the Quebec police force in Montreal reportedly explained the move by saying the Council of Canadians “is an activist organization opposed to the summit and that it would not be wise to have [them] set up in the community centre.”

What kind of security-hating radicals were planning on attending this public forum? Writers, academics, parliamentarians. You know, your usual group of hoodlums.

In other words, the U.S. Army is now giving orders to working with the RCMP to frustrate freedom of speech in Canada, by Canadians. Hopefully the Council of Canadians will be able to find another venue, though how far away they have to go before the U.S. Army will let them meet (10km? 20km? 100km?) is unclear.

Canadian Sovereignty at Risk

A few months ago I wrote about a secret meeting that had taken place between high-ranking officials of the Canadian and American governments, with a view to creating a more integrated continent. This stealth North American union project (known as the Security and Prosperity Partnership, or SPP) is heating up again, though more attention is being paid in the States than here in Canada. Some American legislators are speaking up about the plan’s threat to national sovereignty, as well as the fact that it’s being negotiated undemocratically, in secret.

If the United States government is concerned about a loss of national sovereignty, we should be even more so.

This issue is receiving renewed attention now because of a planned visit to Ottawa by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff this Friday, along with Mexican officials. That visit will be followed up with a trip to Canada by George Bush in June.

Canadians should be paying far more attention to the prospects of deep integration with the United States. This is a country that no longer believes in the right to a fair trial, and that has still not apologized for deporting one of us — Maher Arar — to be tortured. There are things on which we can cooperate, but for the sake of human rights and national sovereignty, the US version of “security” is not one of them.

Or, if there’s nothing to worry about, then there’s no reason to keep having these discussions and meetings in secret.

Secret Meetings and Democracy Don’t Mix

If there had been a high-level meeting two weeks ago, in Canada, between government and business leaders from our country, the U.S., and Mexico, you’d think you’d have heard about it.

Of course, you’d think that our government would have let the media know about such a meeting. Failing that, you’d think that they’d at least acknowledge that there was such a meeting when asked, and give us some idea of what was discussed.

You’d think that, because you’re a reasonable person. And maybe because you have some distant memory of a new government promising to be transparent and accountable.

Well, unfortunately, said meeting did take place, under the banner of the North American Forum. “But Chris,” you’d say, “surely this wasn’t really a high-level meeting.”

Not sure how to break this to you, but according to a list obtained by Mel Hurtig with the Council of Canadians, the attendees included:

From Canada

  • Hon. Stockwell Day, Minister of Public Safety, Government of Canada
  • Mr. Bill Elliott, Associate Deputy Minister, Public Safety
  • Hon. Gordon O’Connor, Minister of Defense, Government of Canada
  • Mr. Ward Elcock, Deputy Minister of National Defence
  • Mr. Peter M. Boehm, Assistant Deputy Minister, North America, Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada
  • Mr. V. Peter Harder, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs
  • Hon. Greg Melchin, Minister of Energy, Government of Alberta
  • General Rick Hillier, Chief of the Defence Staff
  • Col. Peter Atkinson, Special Advisor to Chief of Defence Staff
  • Rear Adm Roger Girouard, Commander Joint Task Force Pacific, Cdn Forces
  • Hon. Anne McLellan, Senior Counsel, Bennett Jones
  • Hon. Perrin Beatty, Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters
  • Mr. Thomas d’Aquino, Canadian Council of Chief Executives
  • Mr. Richard L. George, Suncor Energy Inc.
  • Dr. Roger Gibbins, Canada West Foundation
  • Mr. James K. Gray, Canada West Foundation
  • Ms.Sharon Murphy, Chevron Canada

From the United States

  • Sec. Donald R. Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense, US Department of Defense
  • Sec. Ryan Henry, Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Policy
  • Lt. Gen. Gene Renuart, USAF Senior Military Assist. to Sec. Rumsfeld
  • Mr. Eric Ruff, , Department of Defense Press Secretary
  • Dr. James Schlesinger, Former Sec. Of Energy & Defense
  • Sec. Clay Sell, Deputy Secretary of Energy, US Dept. of Energy
  • Dr. Thomas A. Shannon, Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs
  • Maj. Gen. Mark A Volcheff, Director, Plans, Policy & Strategy, NORAD-NORTHCOM
  • Ms. Deborah Bolton, Political Advisor to Commander, US Northcom
  • Admiral Tim Keating, Commander, US Northern Command
  • Mr. George Nethercutt, Chairman, US Section of the Permanent Joint Board on Defense, US – Canada (Security)
  • Mr. Ron T. Covais, President, The Americas, Lockheed Martin Corporation
  • Mr. Bill Irwin , Manager – International Government Affairs; Policy, Government and Public Affairs, Chevron Corporation
  • Mr. R. James Woolsey, Vice President, Booz Allen Hamilton

From Mexico

  • Silvia Hernández , Former Senator and Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on North America
  • Fernando Chico Pardo , CEO, Promecap
  • Juan Gallardo , , CEO, Grupo GEUSA
  • Gerónimo Gutiérrez , Deputy Foreign Minister for North America
  • Luis de la Calle , Consultant. Former Deputy Minister of Economy
  • Eduardo Medina Mora , Secretary of Public Security
  • Carlos Heredia , State Government of Michoacán
  • Manuel Arango , CEO, Grupo Concord
  • Juan Camilo Mouriño, General Coordinator of President Elect’s transition team
  • Ernesto Cordero, Coordinator for Public Policy Issues Ambassadors/Consul General
  • Mr. Carlos de Icaza, , Ambassador of Mexico to the United States
  • Ms. Maria Teresa Garcia Segovia de Madero, Ambassador of Mexico to Canada

This was a secret, high-level meeting. The agenda had the heading “Continental Prosperity in the New Security Environment.” The purpose of the meeting was to further the deep integration of our country with the United States.

I’ve previously suggested that this Conservative government doesn’t seem to know what the word transparency means. I’m becoming increasingly concerned they may also need a crash course in democracy.

When asked about the meeting, Day’s office has been “telling journalists that it cannot comment on the minister’s private meeting and that journalists should understand this.” Those silly journalists. (Of course, Day’s been pretty immature this week. )

To understand more about the details of this meeting and its serious implications, I highly recommend Maude Barlow’s piece in the Toronto Star, as well as this report from WorldNetDaily. Unfortunately, with some small exceptions, the meeting remains largely unreported by the media to this day.