Lest we Forget - The new Can-US Regulatory Co-operation Council and Perimeter Security Accord is the next generation of NACC and the SPP.

By Janet M Eaton, Sierra Club Canada Trade and Environment Campaigner
May 10th, 2011
A  Vancouver Sun May 9th article entitled "Is 'harmonizing' code for cutting standards?"  cites the Canadian government, industry representatives and consumer group reaction to a  new Canada-US Regulatory Cooperation Council. [1]  

It should be noted that this new Regulatory Cooperation Council Is part of an initiative formally entitled "Beyond the Border: A Shared Vision for Perimeter Security and Competitiveness" "A Declaration by the President of the United States of America and the Prime Minister of Canada" sometimes called the  Perimeter Security accord.   Less formally this initiative has been referred to as the Son of SPP, and Fortress North America.  [2]  

Those who followed the fate of 'deep integration' with the US under the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America [SPP] will recall a parallel initiative under that agreement i.e - the North American Competitiveness Council [NACC] which was charged with, among other things: "Regulatory/Standards issues - Harmonization and Sharing of Best Practices"   [3]  

NACC prepared a lengthy report for the Leaders Summit in Montebello, Quebec in August 2007, " Building a Secure and Competitive North America". In the area of standards and regulatory cooperation, the report supported the intention of governments to work toward a framework for trilateral regulatory cooperation in 2007, which it saw as an essential tool for ensuring the compatibility of new regulations while reducing unnecessary differences in existing rules and standards.  4] 


It should also be remembered that the SPP was discredited by broad civil society opposition as well as online and political reaction which peaked around the Third leader’s Summit held in Montebello, Quebec in August 2007.  The lack of transparency,  its anti- democratic nature  and  other factors led to its demise in 2009.  [5]  

And yet the new Perimeter Security accord and Regulatory Cooperative Council have been introduced in the same  anti- democratic manner. Paul Dewar, NDP foreign affairs critic in the last Parliament confirmed that Parliamentarians were kept in the dark. And the Toronto Star reporting on a leaked copy of the strategy, said the government purposely kept negotiations on the border deal secret while it planned ways to swing public opinion in favour of the deal.  [6]  

  According to the Vancouver Sun article referred to above the Regulatory Cooperation Council received a big boost this week when President Barack Obama talked up the initiative during his congratulatory phone call to Prime Minister Stephen Harper after Harper's election victory. "  

As to its purpose, the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade said the intention of the newly launched initiative, which is expected to take two years, is to eliminate "unnecessary burdens" on cross-border trade by coordinating and simplifying regulations where possible. Not unlike the purpose of the NACC regulatory process under the SPP, which according to Thomas D'Aquino, then head of the Canadian Council of Chief Executives,  was to eliminate the "tyranny  of small differences".  [7]  

  D'Aquino  referred to the new Regulatory Cooperation Council in a recent address to the  Canadian Defence Associations and CDA Institute March 2011 Conference on Defence and Security: " I was especially pleased to see a commitment from the Prime Minister and the President to the creation of a Regulatory Cooperation Council (RCC) composed of senior regulatory, trade and foreign affairs officials from both governments. The Council’s mandate to eliminate unnecessary burdens on cross-border trade, reduce costs, faster cross border investment, and promote certainty by co-ordinating, simplifying and ensuring the compatibility of regulations is worthy of strong support." [8]  

Meanwhile Ottawa-based Centre for Science in the Public Interest, says talk of harmonization by multinational companies is just code for something nefarious. [9]  

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REFERENCES:

[1] http://www.vancouversun.com/health/harmonizing+code+cutting+standards/ 4749493/story.html  

[2] http://creekside1.blogspot.com/2010/12/son-of-spp-sequel.html http://www.vivelecanada.ca/article/235930904-son-of-spp--stop-fortress-na -leaked-docs-reveal-border-security-deal  

[3] http://www.americas-society.org/coa/NACC/NACC5.pdf  

[4] http://www.as-coa.org/files/PDF/pub_563_364.pdf  

[5] http://greenpages.wordpress.com/2007/12/14/spp-security-pact- proceeds-in-secrecy/  

[6] http://ca.news.yahoo.com/federal-documents-contradict-harpers- office-perimeter-security-talks-20110412-120927-328.html  

[7] http://www.canadians.org/DI/documents/trade_committee_presentation_May 107.pdf  

[8] ttp://www.cdfai.org/PDF/Security%20and%20Prosperity%20in%20the%20Cana da-United%20States%20Relationship.pdf  

[9] http://www.vancouversun.com/health/harmonizing+code+cutting+standards/ 4749493/story.html 

            

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