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Harper, Bush, and the Erasure of Canada PDF Print E-mail
Justice News
Saturday, 23 September 2006 06:34
Harper, Bush, and the Erasure of Canada

Vive Le Canada
- Susan Thompson - For all the continuing concern among Canada's progressives that Harper is Americanizing this country, it's unfortunate that there has been silence about the fact that if he has his way, this country as we know it will soon no longer exist.


Harper Not Just Americanizing, But Abolishing Canada

Susan Thompson

Vive Le Canada
August 31 2006

Plans are on track to establish a North American Union (NAU), a new political and economic entity that would take over governance from the existing countries of Canada, the U.S. and Mexico. This is the actual end goal of "deep integration", also known as the "Big Idea" or "Grand Bargain", as has been made clear in publications from Robert Pastor's book Toward a North American Community to the Council on Foreign Relations' trilateral task force report "Building a North American Community". It doesn't seem to matter that the Canadian public remains largely unaware of the plan and its consequences. Nor has it been approved by the U.S. Congress; as Republican Congressman Ron Paul has written, "Congressional oversight of what might be one of the most significant developments in recent history is non-existent. Congress has had no role at all in a 'dialogue' that many see as a plan for a North American union". But political elites in all three countries, in partnership with representatives of giant corporations such as Lockheed Martin, have been working hard to keep making headway despite what the public may think.

In fact, unfortunately, most of the battles have already been won. The steps that have led us down the road towards complete integration with the U.S. have been sometimes slow but still steady since U.S. President Ronald Reagan first spoke about a common North American market back in the early 80s. A series of trade agreements, starting with the first FTA and progressing through NAFTA into the new NAFTA-plus (aka the Security and Prosperity Partnership Initiative) have established the framework for union. (Note that according to the U.S. government website dedicated to the project, the SPP is neither a treaty nor a formal agreement; it is a "dialogue", a dubious distinction which simply seems meant to prevent official debate and discussion of the SPP among the rest of the elected representatives of the three countries.) The leaders are to meet again in Canada in 2007 to discuss progress in this "dialogue", at Harper's invitation.

Harper, of course, is not solely to blame. He was the merely the last Canadian Prime Minister to sign on to the plan, issuing a Leaders' Joint Statement with the U.S. and Mexico in Cancun in March, but every successive Prime Minister since Mulroney has played his part regardless of party affiliation. The sad fact is it hasn't seemed to matter if we've had a Liberal or Conservative PM-all have been just as willing as Mulroney to sing the praises of the U.S. administration, and just as willing to sign away Canadian sovereignty on the latest in a long series of dotted lines. Mulroney kicked things off by signing the original FTA, although he was acting on the advice of a Royal Commission chaired by former Liberal Minister of Finance Donald S. Macdonald. Chretien signed NAFTA without changes despite his Red Book promise to renegotiate the agreement. And Martin fulfilled his role as an "amigo" to the U.S. at the Waco Summit in 2005, signing the Security and Prosperity Partnership Initiative, the foundation for NAFTA-plus and a future North American Union. Harper has only had to pick up where they left off, although there is little doubt he has been more than willing to do so. Nor has it been any different in the U.S., where it hasn't mattered whether it was Republicans or Democrats in power-every President since Reagan has been on board.


It's seems it's no longer just the black cats and white cats of health care we have to worry about, it's the black cats and white cats of deep integration. Mice in all three countries should take notice. Although our leaders deny that the deep integration "dialogue" or agreements will affect the sovereignty of Canada, the U.S., and Mexico, it seems obvious that as they create new supra-national organizations to "coordinate" everything from border security to health policy it is sovereignty and democracy that will suffer. What we are seeing is the creation of an unelected mega-government that answers to no one-except perhaps the giant multinational corporations who have been pushing for this for all these years. It is their CEOs who have been on the task forces and overseen the signing of the documents that have made their dreams a reality. It is these same corporations who will be able to not only influence but practically decide public policy, when everything comes down to whether North America is "competitive" enough and whether goods and services are being allowed to "flow freely" across the old borders. Ironically, the very politicians signing away their sovereignty will be the ones made pretty much redundant once they are overruled by the new North American Union (NAU).


In Canada we should also remember that while the EU was more or less a joining of equals, Mexico and Canada are not roughly equal in size and power to the U.S. but are rather dwarfed by the world's only imperial power. In practical terms this means the U.S. will most certainly be setting policy for all three countries, especially since most multinational corporations involved in this process are U.S.-owned. Considering the unpopularity of the Bush administration and its policies in the U.S. itself, not to mention Canada, and around the world, erasing the borders between our countries and adopting U.S. policies at this time will likely create economic, political and military insecurity in this country rather than the security the "dialogue" promises. In the end it would also mean the loss of any unique policies and therefore identity that Canada has had, including everything from our past emphasis on multilateralism in foreign affairs to our public health care system. We will finally become America Lite, even as the U.S. itself also concedes its sovereignty and the democratic rights of its own citizens.


Consider also the differing economic fortunes of Canada and the U.S. at the moment. Deep integration and union would almost certainly mean saddling ourselves with a U.S. debt that is rapidly spinning out of control thanks to factors such as the expensive war in Iraq. With Canada continuing to experience surpluses the clear loser in this case is Canada, while conversely it is obvious why the U.S. may want to hitch its wagon to ours at this point in time.


Yet there is hope. The final nails have not been hammered into the coffin just yet. In Canada, progressive critics of our "free trade" agreements who have long argued that these agreements would lead to an eventual merging of North America into a border-free area and the increase of corporate power, such as the Council of Canadians, continue to raise these issues. In the U.S., even American conservatives such as Pat Buchanan are loudly denouncing the plan, largely due to xenophobic fears about merging with Mexico, but also for some of the same reasons as Canadian progressives, namely that establishing a North American Union means conceding sovereignty. The more voices that are raised against the plan, the more likely there can be real debate and a chance to stop it. Elected officials in all three countries must take it on themselves to ask questions and make these issues news, and if they won't do it, citizens must pressure them.


There is a Canadian federal election coming up after all and this would make an excellent election issue. Free trade has been an issue in at least one past election and with the rapid progress being made towards union, it should be again. In the last federal election, the NDP promised to renegotiate NAFTA, and this year new Green Party leader Elizabeth May has already promised the same thing. Perhaps they and other politicians would do better to not only commit to renegotiating NAFTA, but to refuse to sign on to any further agreements (or "dialogues") that will herald or speed the creation of NAFTA-plus and a North American Union (NAU).

Even according to the SPP website, "the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America represents a broad and ambitious agenda." It will be up to regular citizens to understand and oppose this agenda and hold their politicians to account--before it's too late.

 For more information on progress toward a North American Union (NAU), see http://www.vivelecanada.ca/staticpages/index.php/20060830133702539 

Susan Thompson worked for U.S. advocacy organization MoveOn.org before founding Vive le Canada.ca, an alternative media and activist website with the goal of protecting and improving Canadian sovereignty and democracy, in 2003. She was a candidate for the NDP in the last two federal elections and has also worked as a freelance journalist for several years.

article link: http://www.vivelecanada.ca/article.php/20060830210915992

Last Updated on Saturday, 23 September 2006 06:34

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