The three-nation summit at Montebello, Quebec, was held behind closed doors, well guarded behind an intimidating fence and plenty of police, but the news conference that followed on Aug. 21 revealed more than the three heads of state had planned.
President George W. Bush, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, and Mexican President Felipe Calderon all refused to deny that the Security and Prosperity Partnership is a stepping stone toward a North American Union.
The $64,000 question was posed by Fox News reporter Bret Baier. He asked all three heads of state, "Can you say today that this is not a prelude to a North American Union, similar to a European Union?"
Their response was positively sensational. Not one denied that SPP is leading to a North American Union. The White House transcript of the news conference allows us to assume that the elites of the three countries are, indeed, moving toward North American integration.
Bush insulted the questioner and those who want an answer by accusing them of believing in a "conspiracy." Bush twice said he was "amused" by such speculation, but as Queen Victoria of England famously said, "We are not amused."
Instead of addressing the crux of the question about plans to integrate the three North American countries, Bush resorted to ridicule. He sneered at his critics as "comical," and accused them of engaging in "political scare tactics" and wanting "to frighten our fellow citizens into believing that relations between us are harmful for our respective peoples."
Harper tried to trivialize the Montebello summit. He implied that the SPP meeting was merely about harmonizing different regulations on "jelly beans." Apparently, a Canadian jelly bean manufacturer had demanded standardization of the rules so his company would not have to produce different jelly beans for the United States, which bans a red dye permitted in Canada. Nobody asked: If that's all SPP is about, why such secrecy, and does SPP harmonization mean we must allow food imports using dyes we believe are dangerous?
Harper made everybody laugh when he accused his opponents of speculating that a NAFTA superhighway might go "interplanetary." Harper twice pleaded that SPP was merely a deal he inherited from his predecessor, Paul Martin, the Canadian prime minister who participated in 2005 at the first SPP summit with Bush in Waco, Texas.
Calderon chimed in to brush off what he called "jovial" and "funnier" SPP "myths." Surprise, surprise, he concentrated on demanding that the United States "barriers between ourselves" and put "more investment" in Mexico. Bush also failed to deny, and left hanging, two other parts of the Fox News reporter's well-crafted question: "Are there plans to build some kind of superhighway connecting all three countries?" and what about the "lack of transparency from this partnership?"
Bush couldn't with a straight face deny superhighway plans because Texas has already signed a contract with a Spanish company to build a limited-access, 10-lane toll road from Mexico to Oklahoma. It obviously will not dead-end at the Oklahoma border.
Nor could Bush deny the offensive lack of transparency, which excludes both Congress and the public from all SPP plans. Congress doesn't like to be ignored: 21 Republicans and one freshman Democrat recently sent a joint letter to Bush voicing "serious and growing concerns" and urging him not to "agree to any further movement in connection with the SPP."
The House further manifested its annoyance at the lack of transparency by voting 362-63 to adopt an amendment by Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., to prohibit the use of federal funds to pay for SPP working groups or to create NAFTA superhighways.
Bush pleaded that he believes in "trade," "dialogue," and "working with our neighbors" to "work out common problems." So do we all.
U.S. Ambassador to Canada David Wilkins supported his boss with an interview in an Ottawa newspaper. He ridiculed "conspiracy theories" and used another cheap debating tactic: setting up a straw man that is easy to knock down.
Wilkins implied that the purpose of the three-amigo summit in Montebello was to prevent potential threats "like those posed by pandemic flu or improperly labeled foods, for example, from penetrating our borders."
However, the current threats from pandemic flu and improperly labeled foods come from China, not Canada. The biggest North American threat of "penetrating our borders" comes from people, i.e., illegal immigrants.
As the first big visible step of North American integration, the Bush Transportation Department announced Aug. 17 that it will soon give the go-ahead to allow 100 Mexican trucking companies - with an undetermined number of trucks - to have full access to all U.S. highways and roads. This is an outrageous case of Bush thumbing his nose at the House of Representatives, which voted 411-3 on May 15 to prohibit the entry of Mexican trucks.
Phyllis Schlafly is a national leader of the pro-family movement, a nationally syndicated columnist and author of Feminist Fantasies.
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