Monday, November 05, 2007

Big Business and the SPP Agenda

SPP will mean more Racism, Exploitation, Environmental Destruction and War for North America

For working people, the ‘Security and Prosperity Partnership’ (SPP) is a disaster in many ways. Most mainstream media has paid attention to how the plan will give American companies undue control over Canadian oil and water resources. More critical commentators have suggested that the SPP negotiations will deepen the devastating economic ‘free-trade’ deals of the North American Free Trade Agreement, along with the policestate measures of America’s Homeland Security. The Canadian ruling-class is trying to convince us that the SPP is necessary to combat terrorism while maintaining open borders in North America for the movement of goods and services. In fact, when we break down the points of the SPP, we see that its interests are not terrorism, but big business, just as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are less about fighting terrorism than they are about stealing and controlling the resources of those countries. The SPP is a declaration of war on the working peoples of America, Canada, and Mexico. And the key to understanding the SPP is to see how our local and immediate struggles are related to one big capitalist process led by the biggest corporations of the North American ruling class.

The SPP negotiations are now in their third year, with the most recent summit being held in Montebello, Quebec from August 20-21, hosting the three political leaders of Canada, U.S., and Mexico, Stephen Harper, George W. Bush, and Felipe Calderon. Until now, the process has been carried out behind closed doors. Yet, while the SPP process is not an official treaty, nor has the process been debated in parliament or in the public eye, its implementation will determine the future of North America. The main body of the SPP is the North American Competitiveness Council (NACC), which is a body of thirty C.E.O. corporate leaders – 10 from Mexico, 10 from U.S., 10 from Canada. Together with North America’s three political leaders, these thirty big capitalists are determining the future of the North America all by themselves. The fact that there has been no parliamentary oversight to the process, and little challenge posed by the mainstream political parties, shows just how irrelevant elections are to changing our society.

And we should not be fooled that the SPP has no relevance to our day-to-day lives. The SPP is more than anything else a declaration of economic warfare by North America’s business elite on North America’s working peoples. Here are a few of the ways we will feel the efects of the SPP agreements:

•The SPP will lead to the further militarization of our borders, giving police and border services more power and posing more restrictions and surveillance on migrants and refugees. The racist immigration laws of Canada and America will come closer together,with ‘no-ly lists’ being shared and more people from ‘high-risk’ countries being targeted. ‘High-risk’ countries are essentially those countries and regions where America and Canada are militarily attacking or threatening to attack in the future, such as Haiti and or most of the Middle-East and Eastern Africa.

•The largest corporations of North America will more easily be able to seize and exploit the natural resources of the continent, which will lead to more environmental destruction and more violence and dispossession of indigenous peoples in Canada, America, and Mexico.

•The Canada-U.S. Integration of miliary command structures means that the foreign policies of the three counries are becoming identical. Canada and U.S. especially have mutual interests in the wars and/or occupations in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Palestine, and Somalia, and in the possible future attacks on Sudan and Iran. The competition between Russia and Canada over Arctic sovereignty is really about U.S. and Canada gaining control over the massive oil reserves in the North pole and the future trade routes that will open up as global warming melts the polar ice caps.

•The harmonization of labour and environmental regulations will mean keeping wages low and maintaining the lowest-possible environmental regulations for the sake of maximizing profit. Unions will come under harsher attacks by employers, so that workers will be less able to resist their exploitation. Also, the SPP will lower Canada’s pesticide regulations to American levels, which means that we will all soon be consuming more poisons on a day-to-day basis.

At the same time, the SPP is nothing drastically new. The past two decades has seen massive tax cuts to the rich and increased consumer taxes for the poor. And while less money has been available for our social services, schools, community centres, and hospitals, for money is being dumped into the military and ‘security’. The gentriication project planned for Lawrence Heights in the coming years is a way that Toronto City Hall is planning to raise some money from the loss of all these tax revenues over the years. Therefore, the economic and political forces behind the planned dispossession of Lawrence Heights residents are the same as the economic and political forces behind the dispossession of indigenous peoples of their land, or the dispossession of Iraqis of their oil.

The SPP is the next chapter in the economic war against the working people of North America. The SPP will only bring ‘prosperity’ to the very richest people of North America and more ‘security’ for those waging their endless series of wars in the world today. The racist media in the U.S. loves to blame Mexican migrants for the miseries of the American working class and in Canada ‘coloured’ people face the same sorts of denigration, particularly Muslims, blacks, and Natives. But while the media and the elites scapegoat these groups for the problems they have made for us, they never give any good explanations for why working people today are underpaid, under-employed, or why they deal with racist harassment and police brutality.

But a brief look at the SPP deal shows that the economic and political problems in our country today have everything to do with the back-room dealings of the North America’s ruling elites. And with parliament posing no challenge to these designs, the only option that remains is for oppressed peoples is to unite their local communities and take democracy into their own hands.