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U.S. Embassy responds to SPP critics

[PoliticsWatch updated 5:30 p.m. August 17, 2007]

The U.S. Embassy has decided to respond to critics of the North American Security and Prosperity Partnership. 

OTTAWA  —  In a rare move, the U.S. Embassy in Ottawa issued a press release late Friday afternoon to respond to critics of next week's North American Leaders' Summit in Montebello, Quebec.     

Hundreds of protestors are expected to arrive in Ottawa and the nearby summit site in Quebec beginning this weekend.  

U.S. President George W. Bush and Mexican President Felipe Calderon are scheduled to arrive in Ottawa beginning Monday afternoon for two days of talks with Prime Minister Stephen Harper and 30 business leaders. 

Protestors are planning to disrupt the summit, which they say is secretive and designed to fully integrate the North American economy along the lines advocated by business and political elites through the North American Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP). 

The U.S. Embassy attempted to counter these arguments when it released a list of 14 myths Friday about the the SPP. The U.S. Embassy denied the SPP was secretive and designed to create a North American union with a common currency. 

"The cooperative efforts under the SPP seek to make the United States, Canada and Mexico open to legitimate trade and closed to terrorism and crime," the embassy said in a statement. "It does not change our courts or legislative processes and respects the sovereignty of the United States, Mexico, and Canada."

The decision to counter critics came just hours after Liberal leader Stephane Dion held a press conference in Ottawa where he criticized the "veil of secrecy" surrounding the SPP and alleged that the Canadian government was concealing secret discussions with Washington on bulk water exports. 

At an earlier technical briefing with reporters on Thursday, Sandra Buckler, the prime minister's director of communications, denied a French-language television story in which it was alleged that water exports would be discussed at next week's summit. 

"It's not ever going to be our intention to export our water," Buckler said. "It's not on the agenda and it's not on the table . . . I dampen that immediately. It's definitely not on the agenda. We're not talking about it. It's not up for discussion. It's not happening." 

At his press conference, Dion accused Buckler and the government of lying.  

"I don't believe the government," Dion said in French. "I believe there are secret negotiations. We want to put an end to these negotiations and we are stating this clearly today." 

Dion, a former environment minister in the Liberal government, said the Liberals had information indicating such discussions were going on. However, he would not reveal to reporters where this information came from. 

In a blueprint of its wish list for the summit given to reporters Friday, the Liberals mentioned documents leaked in April that said bulk water exports were being discussed as part of the SPP under the name "Future of North American Environment 2025."

After Dion's press conference, Buckler told PoliticsWatch.com that the Liberal leader "needs to stop with the conspiracy theory on this - it's simply not true."

"Dion conveniently neglects to mention the fact that the International Boundary Waters Treaty Act prohibits bulk removals from boundary basins," she added.

Also Friday, NDP Leader Jack Layton released a letter he wrote to Harper in which he blasts "the lack of transparency" surrounding the SPP and "excessive" summit security. 

"Your government has no mandate at this summit to lock Canada into an agreement of continental integration that seeks to undemocratically harmonize and weaken health, safety, and environmental standards," Layton wrote. 

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