The controversial Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America, or SPP, continues closed-door meetings with business leaders while the heads of state of the U.S., Mexico and Canada now openly urge them to launch a public relations campaign to counter growing criticism of the trilateral cooperative some fear is a step toward a North American Union.
The information is contained in an internal memo from Canada’s Foreign Affairs and Internal Trade ministry, obtained by WND under an Access to Information Act request.
The text of the undated memo is an internal government summary of the third SPP summit meeting held Aug. 20-21, 2007, in Montebello Quebec.
The redacted memo does not disclose the author or the date the memo was written.
The first sentence of the memo makes clear, as WND previously reported, the North American Competitiveness Council, or NACC, was the only participant invited to meet behind closed doors with the SPP bureaucrats. The SPP consists of 20 working groups plus the attending cabinet officers from each country and the heads of state.
“Leaders had a successful meeting with the members of the NACC, which had been launched at the leader’s meeting in Cancun in March 2006, to counsel governments on how they might enhance North American competitiveness,” the memo begins.
The NACC is a largely secretive SPP advisory council of representatives of 30 North American corporations selected by the Chambers of Commerce in the three nations.
The NACC has issued no press releases disclosing specific recommendations made to the SPP trilateral working groups tasked with “integrating” and “harmonizing” administrative rules and regulations into a North American format.
Nor have any minutes of SPP meetings with NACC participants ever been made public.
The PR offensive is clearly discussed in the third paragraph of the internal memo, where following an initial redacted sentence, the paragraph discusses comments made by the three heads of state in the closed door discussions, noting, “He also urged NACC members to assist in confronting and refuting critics of the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America (SPP).”
The “He” in the sentence is not identified.
The fourth paragraph continues the PR theme: “In closing, all leaders expressed a desire for the NACC to play a role in articulating publicly the benefits of greater collaboration in North America.”
Later, the memo admits, “Leaders discussed some of the difficulties of the SPP, including the lack of popular support and the failure of the public to understand the competitive challenges confronting North America.”
After a redacted sentence, the memo continues, “Governments are faced with addressing the rapidly evolving competitive environment without fueling protectionism, when industry sectors face radical transformation.”
The memo then documents a comment made by President Bush: “In terms of building public support, President Bush suggested engaging the support of those who had benefited from NAFTA and from North American integration (including small business owners) to tell their stories and humanize the impressive results.”
The document says, regarding import safety, “President Bush underlined the importance of tackling the issue more broadly and showing that governments are ahead of this issue in order to prevent a trade protectionist backlash, especially against China.”
Toward the end, the memo reinforces the public relations theme, emphasizing, “NACC members should have a role in communicating the merits of North American collaboration, including by engaging their employees and unions.”
Meanwhile, the SPP ministers and trilateral working groups continue to pursue a policy of secret, closed-door meetings, where the press and the public is not invited to participate or observe the process.
In a meeting that was virtually unreported in the U.S. and Canada, a SPP ministerial meeting Feb. 27-28 in Las Cabos, Mexico, was disclosed openly in the Mexico City newspaper La Jornada.
The report in La Jornada said Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez visited Mexico City prior to the Los Cabos meeting “to renegotiate NAFTA” by offering to Mexico that undisclosed U.S. corporations and the U.S. government are planning to put as much as $141 billion in new investments in Mexico under Mexico’s National Infrastructure Project 2007-2012.
A press release on the U.S. Trade and Development Agency website published Feb 21 presented the agenda for a Feb. 26-28 meeting in Mexico City at which Secretary Gutierrez planned to announce USTDA grants totaling more than $1.7 million were being made “to promote the development of transportation, energy and environmental projects under Mexico’s National Infrastructure Program (NIP).”
A separate press release on the USTDA website documented that Mexico’s National Infrastructure Program, launched by President Calderon in July 2007, was intended to create $141 billion in new infrastructure investment opportunities for U.S. firms by 2012.
An announcement posted on the homepage of the Department of Commerce’s SPP website Feb. 28 confirmed Gutierrez and Department of Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff traveled to Las Cabos to meet with their Mexican and Canadian counterparts in a ministerial meeting, preparing for the fourth SPP annual summit meeting scheduled for New Orleans April 21-22.
The SPP press release also confirmed the NACC attended the Los Cabos closed-door ministerial meeting.
Several other important points were disclosed in the Foreign Affairs and Internal Trade document obtained under the Access to Information Act request.
The document confirmed a much-rumored concern that the Harper government intended to downplay the SPP summits, as part of a strategy to defuse the intense criticism the effort has received from the political left in Canada.
“Prime Minister Harper described the SPP as a worthwhile project driving numerous low-profile, but important initiatives,” the documents noted under the heading, “SPP Management.”
The document further disclosed Harper’s recommendation that each government appoint a single lead minister with overall responsibility for managing the trilateral bureaucrats involved in the 20 SPP working groups.
The commerce minister in each country, or “prosperity minister” as identified by the document, was tasked with this responsibility.
Until the document had come to light, the three governments had not given a clear explanation of the tasks or areas of responsibilities of each of the three ministers assigned in the U.S., Canada and Mexico to SPP.
Now, it appears the foreign minister representative, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in the United States and her counterparts in Mexico and Canada, represent the top state-level official among the three, a designation that clearly places the SPP within the top foreign policy diplomatic level in each country.
Commerce Secretary Gutierrez and his counterparts would be considered the “SPP Prosperity Ministers,” while Secretary Chertoff and his counterparts would be considered the “SPP Security Ministers,” with overall management of the SPP coming under the “Prosperity Ministers” sphere.
Also, the document disclosed President Bush’s continuing determination to favor only a virtual fence, not the placement of a physical fence, along the U.S. border with Mexico.
“President Bush outlined his vision of the border, with a strong emphasis on the use of technology,” the document stressed.
As WND previously reported, an amendment submitted by Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, gutted the Secure Fence Act of 2006 by leaving the building of a 700-mile double-layer fence along the border with Mexico up to the discretion of the Department of Homeland Security and Chertoff.
WND has also reported Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., author of the fencing provisions of the Secure Fence Act of 2006, has introduced new legislation in the House of Representatives to put back the requirement of constructing double-layered fencing along the Mexican border within six months.