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The SPP was launched by the leaders of Canada, the United States (U.S.) and Mexico in March 2005. The SPP provides a flexible means for ongoing dialogue, priority setting, collaboration and action on issues affecting the security, prosperity and quality of life of Canadians, Americans and Mexicans. The partnership is based on the principle that our security and prosperity are mutually dependent and complementary. It addresses diverse issues, such as border facilitation, energy, the environment, food and product safety, and overall North American competitiveness.top of page
The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is an agreement between the Governments of Canada, the United States and Mexico to eliminate barriers to trade and facilitate cross-border movements of goods and services between their territories. NAFTA establishes a predictable, rules-based framework governing trade between the three countries. The SPP is neither a treaty nor an international agreement but rather an ongoing dialogue among Canada, the U.S. and Mexico to address common challenges across North America. The unique partnership is based on respect for each country's sovereignty, unique heritage, culture and laws. It builds on existing positive and productive bilateral and trilateral relationships established with Canada's North American partners, through such mechanisms as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA); the Canada-U.S. Smart Border Declaration; and the Canada-Mexico Partnership. All three countries will also continue to interact bilaterally when appropriate.top of page
At annual meetings, the leaders of the three countries discuss issues to be addressed in the following year under the SPP. These priorities can change, as they respond to the needs and challenges of each country and those identified in the annual SPP progress reports. In Canada, the Minister of Industry is the Minister responsible for leading SPP initiatives on behalf of the federal government. In addition to this role, the Minister of Industry is also responsible for overseeing progress on priorities identified under the "Prosperity" pillar of the SPP. The Minister works in close collaboration with the Minister of Public Safety - who is the Minister responsible for leading the agenda of the "Security" pillar - and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, as well as Ministers of other federal departments who lead on specific initiatives.top of page
Initiatives launched under the SPP include a series of cooperative, practical and concrete measures aimed at a wide range of goals. The most recent accomplishments as announced by Leaders at their August 2007 Summit in Montebello include:
Strengthening the Competitiveness of North America
Improving the Safety and Security of our Citizens
Protecting our Environment, Health and Quality of Life
The SPP provides benefits for Canadian businesses and citizens alike. For our businesses, the SPP seeks to leverage North American strengths, including its vast market and integrated value chains, as a platform for innovation and global success. Under the SPP, the government is working to ensure that Canadian companies maintain their competitive advantage through such means as securing continued access to U.S. suppliers and markets, working on smart border initiatives and related infrastructure improvements, and encouraging compatibility of regulations through cooperation while maintaining high standards of health, safety and environmental protection. For our citizens, the SPP is aimed at improving quality of life and includes initiatives to: improve traveller safety, reduce wait times at the Canada-U.S. border, safeguard public health through North American pandemic planning, promote development of clean energy and environmental technologies, strengthen food and product safety, and improve access to consumer goods.top of page
No, the SPP is based on respect for each country's sovereignty, unique heritage, culture and laws. As a non-binding partnership, it seeks to find practical solutions to concrete issues while not duplicating or replicating existing mechanisms. Any measures stemming from the SPP that could involve statutory or regulatory changes will be undertaken through the established and transparent processes of the Government of Canada, as mandated by Parliament. Proposed regulatory changes, for example, would follow the existing process, which requires publication in the Canada Gazette for public review, followed by consultations and Cabinet approval. The focus of regulatory cooperation in the context of the SPP is undertaken through the Regulatory Cooperation Framework (RCF). The purpose of the RCF is to strengthen regulatory cooperation by streamlining and encouraging compatibility of regulations, and eliminating redundant testing and certification requirements while maintaining high standards of health, safety and environmental protection.top of page
In Canada, federal departments and agencies responsible for delivering SPP initiatives collaborate and consult, as appropriate, with a broad range of interests and stakeholders, including provincial and territorial governments, industry, associations and special interest groups. Stakeholders are kept informed of SPP initiatives through various means, including meetings, correspondence and the Government of Canada's SPP website. The level of consultation varies, from formal input on specific SPP-related initiatives or proposals, to informal discussions relating to the broader responsibilities of the department or agency. Some examples are as follows:
In addition, Industry Canada and Public Safety Canada officials have met with representatives of the Canadian Labour Congress, the Food Processors of Canada and the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, among others. They have also participated in conference calls with provincial and territorial officials to provide updates on the SPP, and have invited provincial/territorial officials to follow-up with them to discuss particular issues. n April and May 2007, the House of Commons Standing Committee on International Trade held a number of meetings on the SPP during which government officials provided testimony and responded to questions from committee members. In June 2007, the Standing Committee on Health also held a meeting on the SPP. Transcripts of these meetings can be found at the Parliament of Canada website: www.parl.gc.ca.