Archive for August, 2007

Rock-toting protestors were undercover cops?

We always suspected it was happening, and now we may have proof: behind the face-covering bandanas of those rock-throwing demonstrators are members of the police!

In this video taken this week at demonstrations in Montebello, Quebec, during the visit of Bush and Mexican president Calderon, one of the protest organizers realizes that three guys carrying rocks in the crowd are actually police officers. The three – who refuse to take off their face coverings, appear to seek safety behind police lines after their cover has been blown.

The guy confronting the rock-throwers is Dave Coles, president of one of Canada’s largest unions: the Communication, Energy and Paperworkers Union.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=St1-WTc1kow

August 22, 2007 at 1:20 pm 1 comment

SPP is built around secrecy and US military command

Michael Byers

SPP is built around secrecy and US military command

By Michael Byers

OTTAWA, August 20, 2007: The agreement’s title is classic framing: “Security and Prosperity Partnership” (SPP) conjures up comfortable images. Michael Byers says the agreement under discussion this week by Canadian, US and Mexican leaders Harper, Bush and Calderon should more properly be framed as a secret agreement to hand sweeping military, immigration and border control of all three countries over to the US. On Sunday, Byers, the Canada Research Chair in Global Politics and International Law at the University of British Columbia told a standing-room-only forum in Ottawa about the politics and persuasion connected with the agreement under discussion behind the barricades this week at Montebello, Quebec.  – Murray Dobbin

I want to begin by welcoming the civil servants who have been sent to keep track of what’s going on here. Like you, we love our country; unlike the people who are gathering in Montebello this week, we have nothing to hide.

The Security and Prosperity Partnership did not begin as a phenomenon after September 11, 2001. It was part of a trend that predates that time. But the proponents of North American integration seized upon 9/11 as an opportunity to advance their cause. And some of those proponents in Canada were very overt about their aspirations in the weeks and months after the terrorist atrocities in New York City and Washington, DC.

David O’Brien, the CEO of Canadian Pacific and now Chairman of the Board of Royal Bank of Canada, argued Canada would have to adopt US-style immigration policies to keep the border open. He said that we have to make North Americans secure from the outside. ‘We’re going to lose increasingly our sovereignty but it’s necessarily so.’ Mr. O’Brien is an influential man. Within months, the Canadian government had signed the Safe Third Country agreement with the United States whereby Canadian refugee policy was essentially assimilated into the refugee policy of the United States. The rights of human beings to asylum when they’re being persecuted for their religious or political opinions or ethnic identities is one of the most fundamental rights of all.

Then there was Nancy Hughes Anthony, the President of the Canadian Chambers of Commerce who said that we’re not going to get anywhere with our American friends unless we can show we have good strong anti-terrorist legislation and we intend to enforce it. The result was the 2001 Anti- terrorism Act, which, of course was modelled on the [US] Patriot Act.

And then there was Patrick E. Daniels, the President of Enbridge, the big energy company based in Calgary, who complained that Canada pushed its sovereignty ‘a little too far.’ He said it would be realistic for Canada to either get onside with US foreign policy or ‘accept some change in our relationship.’

I was asked to speak about one aspect of the Security and Prosperity Partnership, namely security, or more specifically, the military. In the immediate aftermath of September 2001, plans were devised within the American and Canadian governments to put the entire Canadian Forces under the umbrella of the US Northern Command. To put all our soldiers, sailors and pilots and all their equipment under the operational control of the United States, in a much- expanded version of the North American Aerospace Defence Command (NORAD). Fortunately some sunshine was let in upon that thinking before it could be taken too far. Some serious credit needs to be given here to a former Canadian foreign minister Lloyd Axworthy, who took advantage of being out of Cabinet to let the rest of us know what his former colleagues were up to.

So those who wanted to pursue the efforts of further integration of the Canadian and US military decided to take their efforts underground in arrangements that bear striking similarity to the SPP. And the SPP is part of a larger process. The Bi-National Planning Group was the military sister or brother of the SPP. Essentially it was a transborder committee of unelected bureaucrats, military officers and consultants who were given task of studying and then reporting on the options for improving the efficacy of the North American defensive system. The goal was simply to allow us to respond faster and better to the various kinds of threats that might arise.

The military officers worked away quietly in Colorado Springs, Colorado, headquarters of NORAD, as well as the US space command…. Canadian military leaders quite liked playing with the big boys and using the best military equipment in the world…

The proponents of closer military integration could not believe their luck when Stephen Harper was elected. And very shortly after Mr. Harper came to power, they released their final report… which sets out four different options for the closer integration of the Canadian and US military. Most of the report is concerned with public relations, noting that Canadians are particularly attached to sovereignty.

Imagine how you might actually explain that closer military cooperation enhances sovereignty because giving up sovereignty is an exercise in sovereignty! You actually affirm your sovereignty by giving some of it away..

The report was very very clear that its preferred option was full integration, the option that had been floated internally in 2002, the assignment of Canadian Forces to what looked like an expanded NORAD, to an umbrella command where operational control would ultimately rest with the US military.

Some steps have been taken in that direction, including, last year, the NORAD agreement to expand the sharing of maritime surveillance including within the Northwest Passage. It wasn’t much noticed at the time. Only one party opposed it in Parliament, the New Democratic Party of Canada.

When the report actually came out and was put up on the website of the Bi-National Planning Group, some smart people, including possibly the Prime Minister of Canada, decided that you were not yet ready for this. That somehow it wasn’t the time to make the public case for the full integration of Canadian and US forces because Mr. Harper didn’t get that majority he so desperately desired. And so it was shuffled away once again, it disappeared off the website, and the Bi-National Planning Group was shut down, and who knows what they’re talking about in Montebello.

But something did happen, and I’m talking about Afghanistan…. We are seeing the implementation in theatre of precisely the kind of planning that was going into the Bi-National Planning Group. We are seeing the Canadian Forces being given more and more equipment. We’re even buying new tanks. We’re seeing the integration of attitudes and rules of engagement with respect to issues like the treatment of detainees. Why did we not adopt the Western European approach to detainee transfer rights, following models that were provided to us by the British, the Dutch and the Danish? Because Washington wanted to do it another way. And why should we volunteer for the most dangerous mission in Afghanistan, a forward-leaning, war- fighting search and kill mission supported by US airstrikes and working in tandem with a US-led and -commanded mission that is not part of the NATO command?

Why have 67 Canadian soldiers died in Afghanistan? Why did Private Simon Longtin die today? The simple explanation, and it’s only a partial explanation, is that there are people who want to transform the Canadian Forces into a miniature version of the US Marine Corps and want Canada to only choose missions that involve fighting shoulder-to-shoulder with the United States; that want us to acquire equipment that integrates seamlessly with the US military, including in the relatively near future new F35 fighters. The same people who will tell you that peace-keeping is dead, that we really don’t need new search-and-rescue aircraft in the second largest country on Earth, and who will tell you that those who stand up for the rights of detainees are expressing disrespect and a lack of support for the brave young Canadian men and women who serve this country in whatever mission they’re given because they love this country just as much as you and I.

The integration of the Canadian and US military is not officially part of the SPP, but the SPP and the integration of the Canadian and US military are part of a larger project, and we need to address that larger project, and understand that what we’re up against here does not involve the existence of an independent Canada. But as we saw with the Bi-National Planning Group, a little bit of sunshine can chase these plans away. When I look at this room I see a whole lot of sunshine.

August 21, 2007 at 12:43 pm 4 comments

Send a letter to Harper on the SPP at RightOnCanada.ca

You can send a letter calling on Stephen Harper to disclose the SPP on our sister web site, RightonCanada.ca.

Action_sppAction_sppAction_spp

August 20, 2007 at 11:46 pm 3 comments

Reaction to 67th soldier killed in Afghanistan.

I was asked by CTV Newsnet to comment on today’s sad news that another soldier has been killed in Afghanistan. Here is a link to the CTV.ca news story and my interview that aired this morning. It includes our thinking on some of the political implications of the death in light of the new Cabinet.

Steve

August 19, 2007 at 3:19 pm 3 comments

Gordon O’Connor Removed as Defence Minister, but Shuffle Indicates Little Change in War Policy

August 15, 2007

Steven Staples contributed to this news report which aired last night on CBC TV’s The National:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=skDyOs20XEw

Dear Ceasefire.ca supporter,

Gordon O’Connor is no longer Minister of Defence! The former Brigadier-General and arms industry lobbyist was shuffled out of his post yesterday by Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

More than 1,000 Ceasefire.ca supporters have written to the Prime Minister, urging O’Connor’s removal – especially after the revelations about the possible torture of detainees transferred by Canadian soldiers to Afghan officials.

Now, former foreign affairs minister Peter MacKay takes up the role as Defence Minister and Maxime Bernier moves into MacKay’s old job.

Harper’s shuffle yesterday was almost entirely focused on the unpopular war in Afghanistan, which is dragging the Conservatives down in the polls.

In MacKay’s appointment, Stephen Harper has chosen someone who has shown he will toe the party line at any cost.

For instance, Peter MacKay, whose riding is in Nova Scotia, supported the federal government’s controversial position on the Atlantic Accord at a time when the region’s Conservative premiers were urging him to vote against the federal budget.

And as the new Minister for Foreign Affairs, Maxime Bernier’s job will be to sell the war to Quebeckers.

Harper’s clinging to his “Titanic” Afghanistan policy.

Together, the appointments to National Defence and Foreign Affairs indicate that the Harper government does not intend to alter its policy on the war. This is a huge mistake.

By passing up an opportunity to change direction on Afghanistan to increase public support, the appointments of MacKay and Bernier show that Stephen Harper is climbing out of the lifeboat and back onto the deck of the Titanic !

When Parliament resumes next month, the main item on the agenda will be whether to extend Canada’s mission beyond the current commitment which ends in 2009.

Ceasefire.ca will be helping you to make your voice heard by Stephen Harper, his new ministers, and all of Parliament. This war must end, and it is up to us.

Best,

 

Steven Staples

Rideau Instituteand founder of Ceasefire.ca

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August 15, 2007 at 2:23 pm 1 comment

CBC TV interview on MacKay’s Appointment to Defence Minister

I gave a brief interview to CBC TV today, a snippet of which was included in this report by Susan Bonner on The National.

August 14, 2007 at 11:29 pm Leave a comment

Harper Clings to ‘Titanic’ Policy on Afghanistan with Cabinet Shuffle

Gordon O’Connor’s failure to convince Canadians to support the flagging war in Afghanistan, and his repeated missteps such as on the potential torture of Afghan detainees, meant that he had to be replaced.

But will Peter MacKay and Maxime Bernier save the sinking Conservatives on the unpopular war in Afghanistan?

In MacKay’s appointment, Stephen Harper has chosen someone who has shown he will toe the party line at any cost.

For instance Peter MacKay, whose riding is in Nova Scotia, supported the federal government’s controversial position on the Atlantic Accord at a time when the region’s Conservative Premiers were urging him to vote against the federal budget.

And as the new Minister for Foreign Affairs, Maxime Bernier’s job will be to sell the war to Quebeckers.

Together, the appointments to National Defence and Foreign Affairs indicate that the Harper government does not intend to alter its policy on the unpopular war.

By passing up an opportunity to change direction on Afghanistan to increase public support, the appointments of MacKay and Bernier show that Stephen Harper is climbing out of the lifeboat and back onto the deck of the Titanic.

August 14, 2007 at 5:30 pm Leave a comment

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