"I deplore the fact that only business people are present for the meetings when they should have included civil society too."
August 16, 2007
CanWest News Service
MONTREAL - Bloc Quebecois Leader Gilles Duceppe Thursday denounced the secretive nature of the Security and Prosperity Partnership summit opening Monday in Montebello, Que.
Duceppe said the Bloc is not opposed in principle to the event but the leaders of Canada, the United States and Mexico will make decisions affecting the Canadian public directly and that should not happen behind closed doors.
He insisted that since Prime Minister Stephen Harper never made public his views on issues going into the summit, the PM must provide an account of any decisions taken there before the government follows through on them. At the very least, the government should freeze the application of any measures until MPs can be consulted.
"They are important subjects which have a direct impact on the population," Duceppe told a Montreal news conference. "Prime Minister Stephen Harper is hiding what will be going on at Montebello from the population," he went on. "When I talk of the secretive nature of the talks, I deplore the fact that only business people are present for the meetings when they should have included civil society too."
Duceppe offered several examples of potential direct consequences from the summit including possible changes to workplace norms that could affect workers. The same goes for regulations governing the use of pesticides. He said 90 per cent of pesticide regulations in Canada are stricter than those in the United States. Agreeing to level the playing field in the name of more closely aligning the three countries would mean a decline in Canadian standards.
The summit will discuss increasing oil production levels of the Alberta tar sands. Duceppe said more petroleum may be good news for the oil-starved United States but Canada would be stuck with the increased pollution. One of the summit's sub-committees is proposing a five-fold increase in tar sands oil.
"The problem is we don't really know what they're discussing," Duceppe said. "We have a lot of concern with that."
© 2007 CanWest News Service
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