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Tory MPs storm out of meeting on energy sharing; Canada left short toaid U.S., says professor
OTTAWA - Amid heated charges of a coverup, Tory MPs on Thursday abruptlyshut down parliamentary hearings on a controversial plan to furtherintegrate Canada and the U.S.
The firestorm erupted within minutes of testimony by University ofAlberta professor Gordon Laxer that Canadians will be left "to freeze inthe dark" if the government forges ahead with plans to integrate energysupplies across North America.
He was testifying on behalf of the Alberta-based Parkland Instituteabout concerns with the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP), a2005 accord by the U.S., Canada and Mexico to streamline economic andsecurity rules across the continent.
The deal, which calls North American "energy security" a priority,commits Canada to ensuring American energy supplies even though Canadaitself -- unlike most industrialized nations -- has no national plan orreserves to protect its own supplies, he argued.
At that point, Tory MP Leon Benoit, chair of the Commons StandingCommittee on International Trade which was holding the SPP hearings,ordered Laxer to halt his testimony, saying it was not relevant.
Opposition MPs called for, and won, a vote to overrule Benoit's ruling.
Benoit then threw down his pen, declaring, "This meeting is adjourned,"and stormed out, followed by three of the panel's four Conservativemembers.
The remaining members voted to finish the meeting, with the Liberalvice-chair presiding.
Benoit's actions are virtually unprecedented, observers say; at presstime, parliamentary procedure experts still hadn't figured out whetherhe had the right to adjourn the meeting unilaterally. Benoit did notrespond to calls for comment.
It's "reckless and irresponsible" of the government not to discussprotecting Canada's energy supply, says Laxer.
Atlantic Canada and Quebec already have to import 90 per cent of theirsupply -- 45 per cent of it from potentially unstable sources such asSaudi Arabia, Iraq and Algeria, Laxer said.
Meanwhile, Canada is exporting 63 per cent of its oil and 56 per cent ofits gas production, mostly to the U.S., he says.
"It's shocking the extent to which the Conservative party will go tocover up information about the SPP," says NDP MP Peter Julian, who alsosits on the committee.
Other MPs raised concerns about recently revealed plans under the SPP toraise Canadian limits on pesticide residues to match American rules.
Questions were also raised about whether the effort will open the doorto bulk water exports.
Representatives from the departments of Industry and International Tradedefended the SPP as an effort to protect Canadian jobs in a competitiveglobal market, without sacrificing standards. They denied charges SPPnegotiations have been secretive, saying civil-society groups arewelcome to offer their input, and referred MPs to the governmentwebsite.
Hello Joe, welcome to babble!
By the way, the SPP and the committee hearings are already being discussed in another thread. Just [url=http://www.rabble.ca/babble/ultimatebb.php?ubb=get_topic&f=1&t=006596]click here[/url] if you want to join the discussion.
Welcome to Babble, Joe.
Ya, welcome. Could always use more anti-"integration" views heard.