View Full Version : Bush To Tighten Ties With Mexico, Canada

08-18-2007, 06:02 PM
Bush to Tighten Ties With Mexico, Canada


By BEN FELLER Saturday, August 18, 2007

WASHINGTON - Never fond of interrupting his Texas vacation, President Bush is doing it this year to bolster ties with the leaders of Canada and Mexico, two friendly neighbors and vital partners.

Bush joins Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Mexican President Felipe Calderon in Montebello, Quebec, on Monday in hopes of expanding cooperation among their countries, which enjoy the largest trading partnership in the world.

The two-day North American Leaders' Summit appears to lack a signature issue, except perhaps a new U.S. push to halt Mexico's bloody drug wars.

Instead, the broad theme is economic prosperity, built around several topics: border security, competitiveness with India and China, product safety and energy solutions.

Underlying those points are technical but important matters, such as aligning border-crossing procedures and commercial standards.

"It's not necessarily sexy stuff, but it's essential to our security. It has to be done," said Roger Noriega, Bush's former assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs. "And it just so happens that Mexico and Canada have renewed themselves with the election of two right-of-center leaders who see the world a lot like Bush does."

The setting will a massive red-cedar chateau on the banks of the Ottawa River. Some nettlesome issues await the leaders.

Bush promised to deliver an overhaul of U.S.-Mexico immigration policy, and now he will be seeing Calderon for the first time since that effort collapsed in Congress. Calderon has made clear he is after more from the U.S. than hundreds of miles of fencing to keep the countries divided.

Harper is frustrated over a U.S. law that tightened passport rules for Canadians visiting the U.S., although Bush has little influence over the matter.

The leaders probably will discuss how best to counter the message of Venezuela's fiery president, Hugo Chavez, who is leading a leftward shift in Latin America. Each has a strategic interest in promoting democracy in the Western Hemisphere, an area of emphasis for Bush before he leaves office in January 2009.

"What's really important is that they continue to reflect the significance of North American integration _ the fact that there are post 9/11 problems, but they aren't going to undermine trade and investment," said Charles Doran, a scholar at John Hopkins University's School of Advanced International Studies.

Doran foresees no dominating issue at the summit. "That's a good thing. There's not one thing that's going to preoccupy them," he said.

The meeting comes as the U.S. government is poised to offer a major aid plan to Mexico to fight drug trafficking and violence. Bush may announce part or all the proposal during the summit if the details are completed in time. The effort is expected to help pay for equipment and training.

Calderon has cracked down on drug traffickers and sent soldiers into violence-plagued areas since he won election last year. The effort has earned praise from Bush. Still, many people in Mexico are wary of U.S. intervention, fearing it could threaten their sovereignty. That is a common worry in cross-border efforts.

"I think (Calderon) understands that he can't _ and he shouldn't have to _ take these guys on all by himself," said Noriega, now a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. "And I think President Bush realizes that whether Calderon succeeds or fails will have a dramatic effect on our security."

The White House is framing expectations in the broadest of language.

Bush spokesman Gordon Johndroe said the president's goal is to make "the continent safer and more prosperous."

Protests are expected, although the resort will be under tight security and access is limited.

This is the third summit of the countries' leaders during the Bush administration. The effort emerged in the aftermath of the 2001 terrorist attacks as the U.S., Canada and Mexico sought to figure out how to tighten border security without hampering trade and tourism.

The first meeting, in Texas, launched a partnership in which the countries have tried to harmonize their security and economic programs.

Bush arrives Monday afternoon in Montebello, which is between Ottawa and Montreal.

He will have a private meeting with Harper at Fairmont Le Chateau Montebello, the summit site. They are expected to talk economic matters, global warming, conflicts in the Middle East and the war in Afghanistan, where Canada has committed troops.

Bush then meets separately with Calderon. Border security and the fair treatment of immigrations are probable topics.

The three leaders plan to have dinner together Monday night.

On Tuesday, the meetings continue, followed by a news conference. Bush then heads to a Republican fundraiser in Minnesota and an overnight stay in Kansas City, Mo., where he will give a speech on Wednesday. He will return later that day to his ranch in Crawford, Texas, and resume his vacation.

08-18-2007, 06:24 PM
Ah, the ties that bind.

I'm actually in Ottawa right now. I'll be attending a "family friendly" protest on Parliament Hill tomorrow, then an all-ages (?) protest in Montebello on Monday. The US Army has ensured no one will get close the actual meeting, and we're told the principals will be watching us on TV. Um, yeah, right.

08-18-2007, 08:08 PM
How Montebello Will Be Turned Into a Fortress


In a post-9/11 world, officials at leaders' meetings strive for security, but also let protesters have their voice -- even if it's by a video feed that can be turned off, writes Andrew Thomson.

Andrew Thomson, The Ottawa Citizen

Published: Saturday, August 18, 2007

08-19-2007, 10:12 AM
They're planning the NAFTA super highway.

08-19-2007, 02:24 PM
Protests get underway even before Canada-U.S.-Mexico summit begins


August 19, 2007 - 14:04

OTTAWA (CP) - A North American leaders' summit that hasn't even begun yet is already drawing protesters - including some who temporarily blocked a commercial rail line in Montreal.

One day before the arrival of the U.S. and Mexican presidents, some protesters placed two concrete blocks on opposite sides of Canadian Pacific railway tracks and tied a banner between them.

The act took place in the middle of the night and the rail line - which leads to container ships at the Port of Montreal - was reopened after a security inspection and a delay of several hours.

"A couple of trains were delayed," said CP spokesman Michel Spenard."(The banner) is in the possession of Montreal police."

The anonymous saboteurs sent out a news release claiming credit for the blockage but did not identify the group responsible or their main motivation.

They merely listed a range of unrelated complaints: treatment of indigenous people, the post 9-11 security clampdowns at the border, politicians' allegedly pandering to business and - apparently unaware that they were attacking Canadian Pacific tracks - several complaints about competitor Canadian National.

Ness of the incident came as protesters began to gather peacefully on Parliament Hill for a rally organized by a range of economic nationalist, environmental, labour and other groups.

Maude Barlow, head of the Council of Canadians, said the aim was to shed light on the so-called Security and Prosperity Partnership, or SPP, among Canada, the United States and Mexico - a partnership Barlow denounced as "business-driven" and aimed at weakening environmental, heath and labour standards.

She also slammed the SPP as an effort to impose the worst features of the U.S. war on terror on its continental partners in the name of global security.

"This is all undemocratic, anti-democratic, and would not pass muster with the Canadian people if we got to vote on it," said Barlow.

Also Sunday, about three dozen cyclists made a 70-kilometre trip to protest the upcoming summit. They rode to the front gates of the posh rural estate where Prime Minister Stephen Harper will meet presidents George W. Bush and Felipe Calderon.

The group calls itself Bike to Bush and says it's protesting the environmental policies of Harper and the U.S. president - whom they call "climate-change criminals."

While both leaders have said they plan to fight greenhouse-gas increases, the group notes that they both oppose the Kyoto accord and both favour oil-sands development.

The bicycle-protest was the first of many demonstrations expected through Tuesday, as the leaders meet in Montebello, Que., near Ottawa.

While protesters will be kept far away, video of their demonstrations will be broadcast into the summit site in order to let them be seen by the decision-makers.

08-19-2007, 04:56 PM
I like how all the press reports include that bit about the protest being available on TV where Bush is meeting, should he choose to watch it. Somehow I doubt it.


I have some pictures from today's protest. This site demands that attachments be 39kb or less, I think. Can someone tell me the fastest way to resize these pictures, so I can publish some (including a few 9/11 Truthers on scene)?

08-19-2007, 07:35 PM
Here's a CBC report on the protests:


Note the 9/11 Truth banners near the beginning of the report.

There were only about 5 people with 9/11 Truth signs and t-shirts, but they managed to be in front of the cameras as they were rolling.

08-19-2007, 07:39 PM
You don't see broadcasts like this in the U.S.

08-19-2007, 07:56 PM
You don't see broadcasts like this in the U.S.

It should be noted, however, that the reporter diminished the proceedings by fumbling the name of the treaty and didn't really explain the full implications of the SPP. Overall, though, it was more than you normally see in corporate news.

More typical, in Canada and the US, is the corporate Canadian news response to the SPP:

CanWest News, the Canadian equivalent of Fox News, issued this headline at Canada.com: "Montebello meeting really no big deal (http://www.canada.com/topics/news/politics/story.html?id=feac65b0-846e-4472-882f-896d1479b7de&k=16042)."

The National Post (http://communities.canada.com/nationalpost/blogs/posted/archive/2007/08/17/u-s-embassy-myths-and-facts-about-the-security-and-prosperity-partnership-of-north-america.aspx), Canada's Wall Street Journal + New York Post, recited the SPP's own list of "myths versus fact".

Even the so-called liberal newspaper, The Toronto Star, played down the SPP (this seems to be the standard corporate media approach: pretend like it doesn't matter): "Little expected at Montebello meeting (http://www.thestar.com/comment/article/247471)."