You, me and… what the heck is the SPP?

By David F. Rooney

In a world of acronyms most people understand — RCMP, UN, WHO, FBI, CIA, CSIS, NATO — there is one that seems innocuous but may not be: SPP, which stands for Security and Prosperity Partnership.

It sounds innocent, even benign, but filmmaker Paul Manley is convinced that once you scratch its surface you’ll discover a set of quiet international negotiations that could dilute North American democracy and leave Canadians, Americans and Mexicans in the not-so-benign hands of rapacious international corporations.

The documentary maker, who will be in town next Sunday for a screening of his film You, Me and the SPP, says everything he has learned about the SPP suggests to him that North American governments are in bed with corporations that want a compliant and ignorant population of workers and consumers. Alarmed, he sought interviews with Canadian government officials but his queries were either rebuffed or flatly ignored. Even the mainstream media have ignored the SPP, Manley said in an interview on Monday. And his attempts to find a broadcaster willing to show his film have gone nowhere, forcing him to tour the country to bring his message directly to the people.

It’s not hard to find the SPP on the World Wide Web. Google SPP and you’ll get 14,600,000 hits. At the very top is SPP Home, the U.S. government’s official Security and Prosperity Partnership website at Noting the North American Free Trade Agreement has fostered almost $1 trillion a year in continental trade, it says:

“The SPP builds on this dynamic relationship by providing Canada, Mexico and the United States a partnership to build a safer, more secure and economically dynamic North America, while respecting the sovereignty, laws, unique heritage, and culture of each country.”

The site also contains a lengthy list of Myths vs. Facts. So, is it a subtle attempt to build a continent-wide political and economic system that favours vast and unscrupulous corporations? Or is it a benign and misunderstood attempt to simply foster better relations between the three countries?

You can be the judge. The Shuswap Columbia District Labour Council is sponsoring a public screening of You, Me and the SPP on Sunday, Nov. 1, at 7 p.m. at the United Church Hall at 314 Mackenzie Avenue. Manley himself will be in attendance and will be willing to answer questions about the SPP and the threat it may, or may not, pose to freedom and democracy.