Council of Canadians | April 17, 2008

Ottawa – As Stephen Harper prepares to attend the North American leaders’ summit on the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP) in New Orleans next week, a new Environics Research poll shows that Canadians disagree with key elements of North American integration. The survey commissioned by the Council of Canadians shows considerable opposition to regulatory harmonization, energy integration and bulk water exports. It also reveals that Canadians are not sold on security cooperation with the U.S. and would overwhelmingly like to see the SPP debated publicly and voted on in Parliament.

“It’s been four years since the launch of the SPP, and while corporations have been given a seat at the negotiating table, the Canadian government has never asked the public how they feel about it,” says Maude Barlow, chairperson of the Council of Canadians.

Highlights:

87% of Canadians agree that Canada should be able to set its own independent environmental, health and safety standards and regulations even if it could limit trade with the United States.

The SPP commits Canada to widespread regulatory convergence which has already resulted in Canada adopting weaker standards, most recently through consumer product legislation.

89% of Canadians agree that Canada needs an energy policy that protects Canadian supplies and the environment even if it means placing restrictions on exports and foreign ownership.

The SPP calls for greater energy integration and a fivefold expansion of the environmentally destructive tar sands project in Alberta.

88% of Canadians want a national water policy that recognizes clean drinking water as a basic human right and that also bans bulk water exports.

But at an SPP-related meeting in Calgary last year, commissioned by all three governments, the issue of bulk water exports was firmly on the table.

Only 47% of Canadians feel that improving the Canada-U.S. trading relationship would justify harmonizing our security policies with the US and sharing personal information with American security agencies.

This means that Canadians are not sold on the very raison d’être of the SPP, yet the last Harper budget committed an additional $165 million towards security initiatives in the SPP agreement.

86% of Canadians feel there should be an open, public debate on the SPP, and that the agreement should be brought to Parliament for a vote.

Four years after the launch of the SPP there has been no public consultation or any parliamentary debate. “How can the government continue to push this agenda behind closed doors, when the public overwhelmingly rejects it?” asks Barlow.

The organization is calling for public consultation and parliamentary debate on the SPP and an end to all talks aimed at promoting continental integration between Canada and the United States.

Environics Research interviewed 1,007 Canadians by telephone during the period: April 7th – 10th, 2008. The margin of error for a survey of this magnitude is +/-3.1 percent, nineteen times out of twenty.

For more information, contact: Meera Karunananthan Media Officer: (613) 233-4487, ext. 234;
Cell: (613) 795-8685; ; www.IntegrateThis.ca.

Click here to see detailed poll results

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