September 2006, some of North America's powerful political, business and military leaders secretly congregated at Banff hotel in Alberta for three days to hammer out the details on how to create a North American superstate . The only media representative allowed to attend this North American forum was a reporter from the Wall Street Journal. No other media were told such meeting was taking place. The guest list included then-US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld , Newfy soldier Gen. Rick Hillier , United States Northern Command (NORTHCOM ) Commander Tim Keating , Canada's public safety minister Stockwell Day  and Lockheed Martin executive Ron Covais . This secretive forum was hosted by Canadian Council of Chief Executives  (a group of Canada's richest 150 CEOs), the North American Forum involved some of most prominent figures in Canada, the US and Mexico. In addition to not letting anyone know about this freemasonic meeting, once it was publicized, these involved parties had refused to reveal what was even discussed.
However thanks to freedom-of-information requests obtained by Judicial Watch , a Washington-based legal watchdog, the forum's agenda shows the group was investigating at how they could integrate the three countries into a North American Union: a monolithic superstate that would function similar to the European Union without referendums, impeachments, elections or balance of power. Topics on the forum's program included: "A Vision for North America," "North America Energy Strategy," "Demographic and Social Dimensions of North American Integration," "Border Infrastructure," and "Opportunities for Security Cooperation."
Recognizing that the obvious controversy comes with secretly circumventing a country's sovereignty, the members of the North American Forum want to keep North American integration behind the back room of bureaucracy and far away from the public domain. The meeting's official agenda states that integration should be done as clandestinely as possible.
The Banff forum working group's admission to "stealth" maneuvering confirmed the worst fear of political activists from all sides of the border. They mention that over the past five years, North America has quietly taken steps toward becoming a full-fledged superstate. According to a blueprint laid out by the Canadian Council of Chief Executives (CCCE), the integration of food and drug standards, foreign policy, energy resources and military interoperabilities are erasing the borders between the US, Canada and Mexico - all without public debate. As the three nations merge, Canadian should be particularity worried that the US will dominate this union and that the American elephant will finally roll over and crush the Canadian mickey mouse.
There's an old joke that says Canada enjoyed its only five minutes of independence at the end of the Second World War, as the country quickly shifted alliances from the weakened British Empire  to the emerging American one. It's not the funniest line, but it illustrates the fact that Canada has always lived in the overshadow of a global superpower, ever since settlers stole the land from the aboriginal people. But while Canada was slowly asserting its independence under British colonial rule, it didn't take long for it to get swallowed by the American economic, political, military and cultural juggernaut.
Canadians began to find that their neighbor had become an intrusive guest in the late 1960s, when the amount of foreign ownership (primarily American) of Canadian businesses reached 38 percent . At the same time, the US popular culture machine - music, films and media - continued to dominate in Canada, despite the creation of cultural safeguards such as the National Film Board of Canada (NFB)  and Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) . The trouble with Canada's coziness with the US was finally acknowledged by Liberal Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau , during a 1971 speech in the Soviet Union, when he boldly stated that America had become "a danger to our national identity from a cultural, economic and perhaps even military point of view. "
With Trudeau at the helm, Canada went through a ground-swelling of nationalism in the 1970s, winning accolades around the world for a foreign policy that established diplomatic ties with communist countries and inclusive domestic policies that gave more rights and freedoms to minorities. Responding to Canadians' concerns, Trudeau established the Foreign Investment Review Agency  that helped reduce the amount of foreign ownership to 27 percent. Trudeau's nationalist policies were instantly erased in the mid-1980s, however, when Conservative Prime Minister Brian Mulroney  took power and drastically altered his country's economic and foreign policies to appease its powerful southern neighbor.
The FTA tied Canada's economic prosperity to the United States and was the precursor to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) , which brought Mexico into the fold. Today, 80 percent of Canada's exports go to the US, which accounts for over $400 billion worth of trade every year. But in order to gain access to American markets, Canada had to throw its doors wide open to American businesses, cede control over its energy resources such as tar-sand and uranium and give American corporations the right to sue the Canadian government if it refused its business. The result has been the near complete Americanization of Canada.
In the 30 years since Trudeau wrestled with the US over Canada's sovereignty, foreign ownership of Canadian companies has shot back up to roughly 40 percent, with foreign companies controlling more than 50 percent of Canada's energy and value-adding manufacturing industries. Foreign direct investment in Canada more than doubled from around $160 billion in 1995 to $360 billion in 2004 (nearly two-thirds of which is American). Quintessentially Iconic Canadian companies such as Hudson's Bay, Eaton's, Molson Breweries  and Canadian National Railway  were all bought by or merged with American corporations, and over 90 percent of films and television shows watched in Canada come from foreign sources. Despite the unparalleled control American corporations have over the country, Canada is looking to go even deeper down the integration rabbit-hole with a post-September-11 USA that threatens to leave Canada a country in name-tag alone.
When the Canada-US border shut down on September 11 , it instantly forced Canada to reshape its relationship with a neighbor that was about to launch a destructive, expansive and vague "war on terror." With long delays at the beefed-up border costing Canadian companies millions of dollars, and politicians such as Hillary Clinton making false allegations that terrorists had penetrated the US via Canada, Canadian corporations exploited the Steptember-11 crisis as a way to push for interwavon economic integration.
As frenzied American right-wing pundits such as Lou Dobbs  and Bill O'Reilly  claimed that Canada's border was porous, the Canadian government responded with a 30-point action plan , led by Canada's then-Foreign Affairs Minister John Manley , called the Canada-US Smart Border Declaration  - an incredibly misleading name for a plan that has only worked to blur the border between the two countries. The agreement paved the way for Canada's own draconian anti-terrorism legislation (modeled after the PATRIOT Act ); the Safe Third Country Agreement  (which automatically sends refugees who come through the US back); the introduction of biometric identifiers at border crossings (including retina scanners ); and increased military cooperation  (handing over huge chunks of Canada's internal security to the US). As Canada drastically increases its military spending and fights under the US-led campaign in Afghanistan, the two countries have never been closer.
But the concessions made in the Smart Border Declaration weren't good enough for Canada's corporate pimpsters, who still felt that post-September-11 border delays  were hurting profits. Realizing that the only way to quell America's security concerns was to hand over Canada's decision-making to the US, the CCCE began to push the Canadian government for a North American union. In 2003 and 2004, CCCE chief executive Thomas d'Aquino  - a fishing buddy of US President George W. Bush - penned two documents under the North American Security and Prosperity Initiative (NASPI) , which declared, "Economic integration is now irreversible, but in the wake of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, it also has become clear that North American economic and physical security are indivisible." It asserted that September 11 had locked the two countries in an arranged marriage from which neither could escape.
What should have just been a pair of innocuous discussion papers by a special interest group became the blueprints for the coming superstate. The CCCE documents would be cribbed almost word-for-word by North America's three governments in March 2005 when Canada's then-Prime Minister Paul Martin , Mexico's then-President Vincente Fox  and Bush met in Waco, Texas and announced the similarly-titled Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America (SPP) .
"The SPP takes the integration of North America far, far deeper than NAFTA does," says Maude Barlow , national chairperson of The Council of Canadians, the country's largest public advocacy organization. Barlow calls Canada's deepening integration with the Bush administration "shocking," since its ethics and values are diametrically opposed to much of what Canada stands for. But the SPP will link US standards and regulations to Canada in virtually every sector that doesn't involve legislative changes, from trade to foreign policy and national security. While many of its proposals remain vague, some of the SPP's plans include the increase of intelligence-sharing on citizens, the creation of a North American security perimeter , and a continental resource pact (which is pushing to liberalize Mexico's energy supplies and Canada's water resources ).
Almost immediately after the SPP was agreed, Canada launched the Smart Regulation initiative , an extensive government-wide review that harmonizes many of its regulatory rules with the US. In the two years since Smart Regulation, Canada has made several proposals that would erode many of its standards for health, drug, food, agricultural and environmental regulations in order to fall in line with the generally lower standards demanded by American corporate-friendly regulations.
While North America's politicians work to erase barriers between the three countries, critics of the intense integration are especially troubled that none of the policy changes are being debated in a public forum. Despite its far-reaching implications, the SPP has not been brought before Canada's Parliament nor America's and Mexico's respective congresses. Instead, the three
governments are simply allowing the continent's biggest corporations to set the agenda. As if to emphasize this point, during the second SPP summit in March 2006 in Cancun, Mexico, the three countries announced the creation of the North American Competitiveness Council (NACC), a tri-national working group made up of 30 of the top corporations in the continent, which would have a special seat in the SPP. The NACC includes the CEOs from such multinational corporations as
Lockheed Martin, General Motors, Chevron , Wal-Mart , EnCana  and Canfor . No labor, social or parliamentarian group from any country has ever been invited to join their discussions.
Curiously, while the opposition to the SPP is led by left-wing groups in Canada, the primary opposition in the US is led by protectionist conservatives. Right-wing pundits such as Phyllis Schlafly and CNN's Lou Dobbs the one-man border fence standing beside Rio Grande have become ferocious opponents of the secretive agreement, while Republican legislators at both the national and state levels have tabled resolutions opposing the SPP. Although much of the criticism from conservative groups crosses into classic rhetoric about Mexican migrants stealing American jobs, there is also worry that North American common currency - the "amero ," after Europe's euro) - would eventually replace America's greenback. No North American politician has gone on record to promote the amero, but it has been endorsed by powerful right-wing Canadian think-tanks like the Fraser Institute  and C.D. Howe Institute .
Having yet to see the benefits of NAFTA, Mexican activists see the SPP as another tool to exploit cheap Mexican labor and resources. Aside from requiring Mexico to hand over its security sovereignty, the SPP is calling for the privatization of Mexico's energy and agricultural industries. While Canada signed away a great deal of its energy rights in NAFTA, Mexico tactically held onto its oil and gas reserves. But with the US continuing to suck down petroleum, and the Bush administration looking for resources outside the volatile Middle East, Mexico has little hope of keeping national control of its prized offshore oil fields.
Politicians and business leaders advocating the deal continue to insist that the SPP is a harmless harmonization of standards and regulations that are needed in order to compete in an increasingly competitive global market. Although it's starting to bear an eerie resemblance to the three continental superstates in Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four , SPP proponents say that North America (Oceania) must unify if it is to compete with powerful new rivals like the European Union (Eurasia), China and India (Eastasia).
For now, there are still a number of barriers that will keep Canada from getting pulled in the powerful American undertow. While Canadian business and political leaders are pushing further for socioeconomical integration, they would still have to get legislative approval to make drastic changes to their governance structures. It is obvious from last September's Banff meeting that the proponents of a North American superstate will attempt to pursue this unification through "low-key" until they are ready to push it to the final legislative level. What event will act as the catalyst for further integration remains to be seen - just as September-11 was exploited by Canadian businesses and the American government for deeper integration, another major crisis (natural or man-made, another September-11-type terrorist attack, real or perceived) could hammer the final nail in Canada's coffin. Unless government leaders from all three countries open up the SPP discussions to the public and allow them to have a voice in how the rules, regulations and values are structured, Canadians could suddenly find themselves being governed by American corporations and their country all but disappeared.