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The leaders of the United States, Canada and Mexico conferred over the Security and Prosperity Partnership
MONTEBELLO, Quebec – President Bush today sidestepped a direct question about whether he’d be willing to categorically deny there is a plan to create the North American Union.
Instead, he ridiculed those who believe that is taking place as conspiracy theorists.
The exchange came at a news conference held by Bush, Mexico’s President Felipe Calderon, and Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who met at a resort in Quebec to discuss their latest work on the Security and Prosperity Partnership.
After the trio presented their prepared statement about the SPP, several reporters who had been selected in advance were allowed to ask questions.
When it came time for a question from a Fox News reporter, Bush was asked if he would be willing to categorically deny that there is a plan to create a North American Union, or that there are plans to create NAFTA Superhighways.
“As you three leaders meet here, there are a growing number of people in each of your countries who have expressed concern about the Security and Prosperity Partnership. This is addressed to all three of you. Can you say today that this is not a prelude to a North American Union, similar to a European Union? Are there plans to build some kind of superhighway connecting all three countries? And do you believe all of these theories about a possible erosion of national identity stem from a lack of transparency from this partnership?” was the question, according to a White House transcript.
Reporters at the news conference said he sidestepped, instead adopting the tactic that those who are arguing the European Union model of integrating nations into a larger continental union is being used in North America should be ridiculed.
He called it an old political scare tactic, to try to create a wild conspiracy and then demand that those who “are not engaged” prove that it isn’t happening.
Bush’s answer was:
“We represent three great nations. We each respect each other’s sovereignty. You know, there are some who would like to frighten our fellow citizens into believing that relations between us are harmful for our respective peoples. I just believe they’re wrong. I believe it’s in our interest to trade; I believe it’s in our interest to dialogue; I believe it’s in our interest to work out common problems for the good of our people.
“And I’m amused by some of the speculation, some of the old – you can call them political scare tactics. If you’ve been in politics as long as I have, you get used to that kind of technique where you lay out a conspiracy and then force people to try to prove it doesn’t exist. That’s just the way some people operate. I’m here representing my nation. I feel strongly that the United States is a force for good, and I feel strongly that by working with our neighbors we can a stronger force for good.
“So I appreciate that question. I’m amused by the difference between what actually takes place in the meetings and what some are trying to say takes place. It’s quite comical, actually, when you realize the difference between reality and what some people are talking on TV about.”
Harper joined in. There’s not going to be any NAFTA Superhighway connecting the three nations, he said, and it’s “not going to go interplanetary either,” he said.
Harper said the SPP discussions that were held concerned such pressing issues as jelly beans. He said the business interests expressing their desires for progress on the SPP noted there were different standards in the United States and Canada, and there was a discussion about whether those standards could be made uniform for the U.S. and Canada.
Bush’s comments echoed the comments published just a day earlier in the Ottawa Citizen by David Wilkins, the U.S. ambassador to Canada.
conspiracy theories abound, you can take it to the bank that no one involved in
these discussions is interested in, or has ever proposed, a ‘North American Union,’
a ‘North American super highway,’ or a ‘North American currency,'” he wrote.
“The United States, Canada and Mexico are three distinct, sovereign countries that practice democracy differently,” he wrote. “Each proudly defends its own interests. But our leaders also recognize that we share a continent in this post-Sept. 11 world, where terrorism is but one threat. We
have a vested interest in working together to prevent potential threats outside North America – like those posed by pandemic flu or improperly labeled foods, for example – from penetrating our borders.
Wilkins wrote that the nations also are “exploring ways to detect radiological threats and coordinating emergency efforts along our borders in the event of a man-made or natural disaster. It just makes sense when you share thousands of miles of common border to share a common emergency-management plan.”
He said another goal is to reduce the cost of doing business across national borders.
“The Late Great USA,” which was criticized by President Bush at the conclusion of the SPP summit in Quebec
However, Jerome Corsi, a Harvard Ph.D. whose newly published book, “The Late Great USA,” uses the government’s own documentation to show the advance of a North American Union, said ridicule is the “last resort of someone who is losing an argument.”
Such tactics, Corsi said, “underestimate the intelligence of people listening, and people realize that the argument wasn’t answered.”
At the news conference, he noted, Bush failed to respond to the Fox News question with a denial of the plans for a North American Union.
And, Corsi said, “Bush did not address the fact that Texas Gov. Rick Perrry vetoed a two-year moratorium on the Trans-Texas Corridor project,” believed to be the starting point for an eventual continent-wide grid of NAFTA Superhighways.
“Just to ridicule the idea, when he had a change to categorically deny it, raises doubts in peoples’ minds, especially when these meetings aren’t transparent,” Corsi added.
The meeting this week, which focused on economic issues, was attended by representatives of dozens of multinational corporations anxious to have their manufacturing and sales processes smoothed.
However, Corsi said, “not one person who objects is permitted inside the room.”
At the same time, Bush did affirm that there is a plan under consideration for the United States to provide military assistance to Mexico’s military in its battles in the drug war, although officials were not ready to announce what that plan includes.
The three national leaders simply affirmed that drug trade is a continental problem and would demand a continental solution.
The formal statement from the three leaders referred to the “opportunities and challenges facing North America and [the need] to establish priorities for our further collaboration.”
They said the three nations already have agreed to a North American plan for avian and pandemic influenza, a “Regulatory Cooperation Framework,” an intellectual property action strategy and a “Trilateral Agreement for Cooperation in Energy Science and Technology.”
“The North American Competitiveness Council (NACC), announced last year in Cancun, has provided us with thoughtful recommendations on how we could strengthen the competitive platform for business,” the statement said.
The statement said the Regulatory Cooperation Framework will allow various rules to be streamlined across borders.
“In the coming year, we ask our ministers to consider work in areas, such as the chemicals, automotive, transportation, and information and communications technology sectors,” the statement said.
And the Intellectual Property Action Strategy “also gives us an invaluable tool for combating counterfeiting and piracy, which undermine innovation, harm economic development and can have negative public-health and safety implications,” the three said.
Food safety and border security also were discussed. “Our governments will continue to address the safety of food and products imported into North America, while facilitating the significant trade in these products that our countries already have and without imposing unnecessary barriers to trade,” the leaders said.
“It is sometimes best to screen goods and travelers prior to entry into North America. We ask our ministers to develop mutually acceptable inspection protocols to detect threats to our security, such as from incoming travelers during a pandemic and from radiological devices on general aviation,” the statement said.
But protesters who staged events in Ottawa as the meetings were moving forward, warned of the integration and harmonizing the SPP seeks.
“The SPP is pursuing an agenda to integrate Mexico and Canada in closed-door sessions that are getting under way today in Montebello,” Howard Phillips, the chairman of the Coalition to Block the North American Union, told an earlier press conference in Ottawa.
“We are here to register our protest,” Phillips added, “along with the protests of thousands of Americans who agree with us that the SPP is a globalist agenda driven by the multi-national corporate interests and intellectual elite who together have launched an attack upon the national sovereignty of the United States, Canada and Mexico.”
Connie Fogel, head of the Canadian Action Party, agreed with Phillips.
“Canadians are complaining that the SPP process lacks transparency,” Fogel told the press conference. “Transparency is a major issue, but even if the SPP working groups were open to the public, we would still object to their goal to advance the North American integration agenda at the expense of Canadian sovereignty.”