I thoroughly enjoy engaging in informed and reasoned debate with constituents and with my colleagues in the House of Commons. Sadly, some of the statements made this week in opposition to the North American Leaders? summit were, quite frankly, a cheap betrayal to this principle of democratic debate.
Legitimate debate on all sides of the issues surrounding continental cooperation were drowned out as the conspiracy theorists and the paranoid came out of the woodwork with outright lies about the meeting between Prime Minister Stephen Harper, U.S. President George Bush and Mexican President Felipe Calderon.
I know many constituents who called or emailed my office expressing concern about the talks ended up feeling used and angry at being so severely misled by those spouting these falsehoods, primarily about the North American Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP).
Detractors of the SPP say they?re concerned because it?s so secretive and that ?evil plans? are afoot. On the other hand, proponents of the SPP say there are no secrets to keep because we haven?t done enough to advance this plan to facilitate the safe and easy movement of goods and people around the continent.
While Canada, the U.S. and Mexico are admittedly far from coming to any tangible agreements under the SPP, when officials from all three countries finally come up with a detailed plan, any governing regulations and legislation will be subject to the rigourous processes for openness and accountability required under Canada?s parliamentary system.
But just to address any lingering doubts you may have about the North American Leaders? summit, let me clear up a few of the bigger myths.
Protestors were NOT kept at a 25-kilometre distance from the leaders? summit. At the security fence adjacent to the Chateau Montebello in Quebec, most protestors engaged in legal and peaceful protest while only a handful felt compelled to use violence. The low protestor turnout was due to poor organization, not security.
The SPP is unequivocally NOT responsible for an evil mastermind plan to build a super highway, four football fields wide, that will include freight and passenger rail lines and pipelines for oil and bulk exports of Canadian fresh water for thirsty Americans.
I would laugh at this far-fetched idea except there are Canadians who?ve been taken in by this concoction by conspiracy theorists. There are NO plans (or money!) for this super corridor and no plans for bulk exports of Canada?s fresh water.
So what is the SPP? Managing outbreaks of the Avian and Human Pandemic Influenza, energy efficiency and technology development, secure borders, disaster planning, and enhanced competitiveness for North American industries have been primary considerations in the SPP?s rather broad mandate.
The focus of the leader?s discussions this week were Canada?s Arctic sovereignty; consumer protection for all North Americans in response to health and safety hazards surrounding imported products; and, practical measures to clean-up our environment, such as auto standards, biofuels and clean energy technology.
Our three nations share a continent. In summary, it would therefore be irresponsible NOT to hold these cooperative discussions on our shared borders and enhancing the security and quality of life for Canadians, Americans and Mexicans.