Back to MediaRoom

Back to Common Frontiers Home Page

PRESS STATEMENT

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                               March 22, 2005

Bush-Martin-Fox Texas summit: Civil society condemns closed-door talks

 

OTTAWA and MONTREAL   – On the eve of the summit between George W. Bush, Paul Martin and Vicente Fox at Bush's ranch in Texas, civil society networks in all three North American countries have a message for the “three amigos”:   “ Move beyond ‘homeland security' and focus your agenda on t he damage done by NAFTA to ‘human security' in our continent.”

Common Frontiers and the Quebec Network on Continental Integration (RQIC) have joined forces with civil society networks in the United States and Mexico to fight the three leaders' deep integration plans for North America. They adopted a common statement that has been sent to the leaders

On March 23rd, Bush, Martin, and Fox are expected to discuss the idea of turning the 11-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) into “NAFTA-plus”. The ultimate goal of NAFTA-plus is the integration of the policies and regulations in the three countries to create a unified standard for the continent.   This would include creating a North American energy pact, harmonizing immigration policies, and creating common security policies under the guise of protecting citizens against terrorism.

Unfortunately, these talks are held away from the public eye, and are not subjected to public debate in any of the three countries.   This lack of transparency ignores the fact that an increasing number of Canadian Members of Parliament are supporting a fundamental review NAFTA, especially the chapters on investment and dispute resolution settlement (Chapters 11 and 19).    On February 16, 2005, following testimony from RQIC and Common Frontiers, the Parliamentary Sub-Committee on International Trade requested that the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade undertake a review of NAFTA.

“It's unthinkable to start negotiating a “NAFTA-plus” without first addressing the social damage done by NAFTA and conducting an exhaustive review of the accord that needs to include civil society's inputs. It is undeniable that promises made by our governments on the benefits of NAFTA for the citizens of the three countries have not been kept,” state representatives of the North American networks.  

Common Frontiers and RQIC will continue to lobby the Canadian government to ensure that social, cultural, and environmental as well as economic rights are respected, so that the living and working conditions of all citizens will be improved.   The networks will maintain their pressure on the Canadian government to change its approach to integration in North America, to prioritize social and human rights over private sector interests.

Common Frontiers and RQIC were co-organizers of the People's Summit in April 2001 in Quebec City, and are members of the Hemispheric Social Alliance that has played a central role in opposing ‘free trade' negotiations throughout the Americas. In Canada and Quebec these two networks are representative of a range of organizations including church, labour, students, women, environment, international development, human rights and other social justice sectors.

The declaration is available on the RQIC and Common Frontiers web sites at: rqic.alternatives.ca and www.commonfrontiers.ca  

-30-

For more information, please contact:

Rick Arnold, Common Frontiers: Tel (905) 352-2430; comfront@web.ca or www.commonfrontiers.ca

Pierre-Yves Serinet, RQIC: Tél. (514) 276-1075; rqic@ciso.qc.ca or www.rqic.alternatives.ca