Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice with her counterparts, Canadian Foreign Minister Peter MacKay and Mexican Foreign Minister Patricia Espinosa at February meeting
A multinational business agenda is driving the upcoming summit meeting of the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America, according to a document obtained through an Access to Information Act request in Canada.
The memo shows a secondary focus of the leaders’ meeting in Montebello, Quebec, Aug. 20-21, will be to prepare for a continental avian flu or human pandemic and establish a permanent continental emergency management coordinating body to deal not only with health emergencies but other unspecified emergencies as well.
As WND has reported, President Bush, Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Mexico’s President Felipe Calderon will attend the third SPP summit.
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The document, obtained by Canadian private citizen Chris Harder, is a two-page heavily redacted summary of the ministerial meeting in Ottawa, held Feb. 23 between Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and her counterparts, Canadian Foreign Minister Peter MacKay and Mexican Foreign Minister Patricia Espinosa.
The purpose of the Feb. 23 meeting in Ottawa was to set the agenda for the August summit.
The Access to Information Act-obtained memo noted the nation’s leaders intend next month to pursue the five priorities set at their second summit meeting in Cancun in March 2005:
- Strengthening Competitiveness
- Avian and Pandemic Influenza
- Emergency Management
- Energy Security
- Secure Borders
Of the five issues, the memo clearly states recommendations by the North American Competitiveness Council, or NACC, regarding competitiveness “took centerpiece” at the Feb. 23 meeting. Almost immediately, the memo says, governments “will need to begin assessing the potential impact of adopting recommendations made by the NACC and coordinating their response to the authors of the report.”
The memo states “the most dynamic element on the plenary agenda was a meeting with the NACC, the body created by the Leaders in 2006 to give the private sector a formal role in providing advice on how to enhance competitiveness in North America.”
The NACC consists of 30 multinational business corporations that advise SPP and set the action agenda for its 20 trilateral bureaucratic working groups.
The memo notes the NACC was created by the leaders in 2006 “to give the private sector a formal role in providing advice on how to enhance competitiveness in North America.”
According to the memo, the NACC made recommendations in three areas: border-crossing facilitation, standards and regulatory cooperation, and energy integration.
The memo suggested NACC members were getting impatient, charging the speed of SPP regulatory change was too slow. The members complained of “the private sector’s seeming inability to influence the pace of regulatory change ‘from the bottom up.’”
“Some NACC representatives,” the memo comments, “felt that direct signals from ministers were required if work was to advance at a pace rapid enough to address challenges from more dynamic international competitors – particularly China. The subtext was clear: In the absence of ministerial endorsement, bureaucracies are unlikely to act on the more challenging recommendations.”
The memo noted the ministers agreed at their Feb. 23 meeting to finalize by June a plan to create a coordinating body to prepare for the “North American response to an outbreak of avian or pandemic influenza.” The leaders are expected to finalize the plan at the August summit.
The memo also reported ministers agreed to create a coordinating body on emergency management similar to that set up for avian or pandemic flu. The governance structure of coordinating body was also scheduled for completion in June, so it could be presented to the leaders for final approval at the August summit.
A comment at the end of the memo said the ministers at their Feb. 23 meeting “acknowledged that the SPP was largely unknown or misunderstood and needed to be better communicated beyond the officials and the business groups involved.”
WND has reported that as many as 10,000 protesters plan to assemble in Quebec to show opposition to the summit.
The Corbett Report, a Canadian blog that first reported on the memo obtained by Harder, noted the term “Security and Prosperity” was first used by the Canadian Council of Chief Executives, or CCOCE, in a Jan. 23, 2003, report entitled, “Security and Prosperity: Toward a New Canada-United States Partnership in North America.”
CCOCE’s membership consists of 150 of Canada’s leading businesses. In the U.S., the Chamber of Commerce would be considered a counterpart.
WND previously reported on National Security Presidential Directive No. 51 and Homeland Security Presidential Directive No. 20, which allocate to the office of the president the authority to direct all levels of government in the event he declares a national emergency.
WND also has previously reported that under SPP, the military of the U.S. and Canada are turning USNORTHCOM into a domestic military command structure, with authority extending to Mexico, even though Mexico has not formally joined with the current U.S.-Canadian USNORTHCOM command structure.