Police try to control protesters at SPP summit in Montebello, Quebec
MONTEBELLO, Quebec – Leaders of the United States, Canada and Mexico have begun their discussions of the Security and Prosperity Partnership behind closed doors here at the five-star Fairmont Le Chateau resort in Montebello, Quebec.
President Bush arrived at mid-afternoon yesterday, with the presidential helicopter landing on the club’s golf course, as Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper was waiting to greet him.
As the two met, Harper commented that Bush appeared to travel with his own security army of Secret Service.
Mexico’s President Felipe Calderon arrived later, and could be the first to depart as forecasters estimated Hurricane Dean is pressing on a southern route headed toward the Yucatan peninsula.
Ottawa, Canada’s nearby capital city, appeared militarized for the meetings, with police squad cars visible on virtually every downtown corner and cross-street.
All roads leading to Montebello were blocked off by military-like roadblocks, with the local police backed up by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Canada’s national police force, in charge.
A last-minute court decision forced the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the S?ret? du Qu?bec, the provincial police, to allow protesters to be close enough to the Montebello resort to be seen.
But a security fence surrounded the Le Chateau resort to keep out the growing number of protesters who were confronted by Canadian police armed in full riot gear.
Protesters at several different perimeter security lines advanced yesterday toward police lines and were driven back by provincial police in riot gear, including batons and shields, using pepper gas and pellet bullets.
Harper brushed off the protesters when greeting Bush, who, in a comment recorded by cameras, noted the numbers.
Harper shrugged to Bush, “A couple of hundred? It’s sad.”
WND estimates put the protesters at several thousand, mixing radical anarchists with protesters whose message appeared more partisan, aimed at the Harper government’s efforts to use the meetings to advance a North American integration message they opposed.
In Ottawa, hundreds of more subdued political protesters carried banners and chanted slogans in peaceful protest marches around the city’s distinctive parliament buildings.
Only those with proper accreditation issued by the Canadian government after Royal Canadian Mounted Police security checks had any chance of getting within Montebello resort grounds.
The only “civilians” actually scheduled to attend the SPP closed-door sessions were representatives of the 30 multi-national corporations appointed by the Chambers of Commerce of the three nations to constitute the North American Competitiveness Council, or NACC.
Today’s confidential sessions are scheduled to involve top-level trilateral working group bureaucrats meeting with NACC business members.
The U.S. Department of Commerce has set up the NACC to serve as the chief policy adviser to the 20 SPP trilateral working groups that have been “integrating” and “harmonizing” North American administrative laws and regulations across a wide spectrum of public policy issues.
As WND previously reported, the NACC is expected to dominate the SPP agenda.
“The SPP is pursuing an agenda to integrate Mexico and Canada in closed doors sessions that are getting under way today in Montebello,” Howard Phillips, the chairman of the Coalition to Block the North American Union, told a 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.”
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