Renegotiate the North American agenda, civil society groups ask in letter to Prime minister Harper

August 6, 2009

Action urged at North American Leaders Summit

Ottawa – Stephen Harper must reconsider his opposition to NAFTA renegotiation and seek a new
foundation for North American relations when he meets the U.S. and Mexican presidents in
Guadalajara this week, says a letter to the Prime Minister from Common Frontiers, a broad network of
church, labour, environmental and civil society groups

The letter, co-written with the Réseau québcois sur l’Intégration continentale (RQIC), was sent to
Prime Minister Harper in advance of the fifth annual North American Leaders summit. The summits
have been used to set new priorities for expanding NAFTA through the secretive and heavily criticized
Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP).

Common Frontiers and RQIC note that while campaigning for U.S. President, Barack Obama promised
he would seek the active and open involvement of citizens, labour, the private sector and nongovernmental
organizations in setting the North American agenda and making progress.

“Are you willing to enter into a direct dialogue with civil society organizations to revise completely the
summit format as President Obama suggested?,” asks the letter, while noting that NAFTA has
increased the wealth gap between rich and poor across the continent, failed to protect jobs and
perpetuated an environmentally harmful economic model.

In addition, Common Frontiers and RQIC are asking the Prime Minister to acknowledge that increased
violence in Mexico is the result of militarizing the war on drug traffickers. The recent increases in
refugee applications from Mexico is the result of human rights abuses and continuing economic
hardship forcing half a million Mexicans each year to seek a better life in Canada and the U.S. The
groups ask the Prime Minister to reverse the decision to require visas for Mexicans travelling to

“Labour and environmental protections must take precedence over international trade regimes,”
concludes the letter. “Therefore, we propose a profound renegotiation of the whole of NAFTA and an
end to the Security and Prosperity Partnership, which simply aims to extend a failed economic model.”
“We demand that you undertake a new dialogue based on open and democratic consultation, as
promised by President Obama, and as clearly supported by majorities in all three North American