"In the councils of government, we
must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or
unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous
rise of misplaced power exists and will persist." --Dwight D. Eisenhower
(1890-1969), 34th US President, Farewell Address, Jan. 17, 1961
�An agreement [with the U.S.] to harmonize trade, security, or defence
practices would, in the end, require Canada and Mexico to . . . cede to the
United States power over foreign trade and investment, environmental
regulation, immigration, and, to a large degree, foreign policy, and even
monetary and fiscal policy.� --Roy McLaren, former liberal trade minister
Look for a
very strong backlash coming from the Canadian people, but also from the
American and Mexican peoples, once they clearly understand what the
Bush-Calderon-Harper trio has been concocting in near complete secrecy and with
nearly no public debate whatsoever, over the last few years.
Indeed, the three relatively unpopular governments presently
in charge in Washington, Ottawa and Mexico, have aligned themselves with very
large corporations, most of them American owned, to lay the foundations for a
American Union, (NAU) also
called the "Deep Integration"
project. This would be a new permanent alliance that would be de facto
placed under American control. Canada and Mexico would have to harmonize many
of their laws and regulations to suit the interests of big business and the
undemocratic and imperial ambitions of the U.S. government around the world.
With such a plan for an enlarged continental integration at
both the economic and political levels, we are far from the initial program of
fair and free trade
for goods and services and for removing barriers to trade between the three
countries, as initially envisaged by the 1988 Free
Trade Agreement, (FTA) between Canada and the United States.
It has to be remembered that under the 1994 North
American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), Canada not only
accepted that Mexico be incorporated into the North American free trade zone,
but made substantial concessions regarding the Investment Canada Act's
rules for American takeovers of Canadian companies and for a privileged
American access to Canadian energy resources. This should have sufficed to keep
the American market open to Canadian exporters. It seems that this is no longer
the case. Large corporations and the U.S. administration alike want to take
advantage of the terrorist threat to go much further in extracting concessions
Indeed, under the leadership of large American owned
corporations, which operate freely on both sides of the border, and with the
new security concerns of the U.S. administration, the initial trade objective
is being further expanded and pushed to a much higher level. The idea now is to
turn the trade agreements into some sort of an umbrella political organization
that would be parallel to the 27-nation European Union.
In fact, it could mean a more ambitious project that could
go even further than the EU toward economic and political integration in North
America. In Europe, the more than two dozen participating countries have
retained control over their armed forces and over their foreign policies and,
what is very important, no single country exercises a hegemonic control over
the entire alliance. That would not be the case in North America, however,
because of the overwhelming importance of the United States vis-a-vis the other
Indeed, what has been advanced for Canada, Mexico and the
United States -- three countries very much dissimilar in populations, cultures
and outlooks -- could go as far as de facto merging the armed forces and
foreign policies of all three countries to form a sort of Fortress
North America under the protectorate of the United States.
Any such deep integration beyond trade relationships would place the United
States and its government in the driver's seat, with the other two countries
somewhat relegated to the status of near political and economic colonies.
It won't work. For one thing, the Canadian people will never
accept that Canada become a colony of the United States, and the current minority
of Stephen Harper could pay dearly politically if it
continues pushing in that direction. Canadians do not want their armed forces
and their foreign policy to be de facto merged with those of imperial
America. Moreover, they do not want their natural resources to be placed under
U.S. control and exploited nearly completely by large American corporations,
which have little regard for Canada's sovereignty and little concern for the
welfare of Canadians. Also, they do not want the Canadian dollar ditched in
favor of a less and less attractive U.S. dollar, as some have suggested.
However, all this could be the end result of the secretive
efforts that have been deployed at the highest levels under the disguise of the
mysterious acronym of "SPP," the so-called
program of Security
and Prosperity Partnership of North America, also referred to by
its proponents as "Deep Integration." This integration initiative was
officially launched in a summit meeting between George W. Bush (USA), Vicente
Fox (Mexico) and Paul Martin (Canada), held in Waco Texas, on March 23, 2005.
Large Canadian corporations and not so "Canadian"
corporations any more -- such as Alcan, about to be sold to British owned Rio
Tinto -- and many Canadian subsidiaries of American corporations have been the
driving force behind the push for a North American Union. In Canada, they are
regrouped within the Canadian
Council of Chief Executives (CCCE),
which has been lobbying the Harper
government in favor of the plan.
Among the 150 corporate members of the Canadian Council of
CEOs, alongside large Canadian banks and corporations, one finds many leading
American corporations that have branches or subsidiaries in Canada, such as du
Pont, FedEx, General Electric, General Motors, Chrysler, Hewlett-Packard, Home
Depot, IBM, Imperial Oil, Kodak, 3M, Microsoft, Pratt & Whitney, Suncor,
Wyeth, Xerox, etc. These CEOs do not really see Canada as a country separate
from the United States, but more as an adjacent market to be occupied and
It was four years ago, in January 2003, that the CCCE launched its North American Security and
Prosperity Initiative (NASPI). The
politicians then followed suit. The CCCE's initiative advanced a strategy comprising
five major elements:
1- The reinvention of
2- The maximization of regulatory
3- The negotiation of a
comprehensive continental resource security pact;
4- The negotiation of a North
American defence alliance;
5- And the creation of a new
institutional framework for this new North American Union.
Then the Canadian Council of CEOs enlisted the support of
two other organizations, first, the U.S. Council on Foreign Relations,
a foreign affairs outfit that has been strongly supportive of George W. Bush's war
against Iraq and, second, the
Mexican Consejo Mexicano de Asuntos Internacionales.
Their joint task force, called the
Task Force on the Future of North America, issued a report in May 2005, whose title was "Building
a North American Community." The report contained 39
specific recommendations aimed at de facto erasing borders and at creating a single North American economic and security
space within a North American political partnership, involving the United
States, Canada and Mexico.
In a nutshell, the Task Force�s central recommendation was
to establish, by 2010 (only three years from now!!!), a North American economic
and security community, the North American Union, the boundaries of which would
be defined by a common external tariff and a common outer security perimeter,
including a common border pass. That is the essence of the proposed new
"Deep Integration" project: One market, one economic border, and one
official security apparatus. Nobody is talking yet of "one flag" or
"one currency," but that could come.
This proposal has been discussed
at summits held by the leaders of the three involved countries, first in Waco,
Texas, in March 2005, to launch the initiative, then one year later in Cancun,
Mexico, in March 2006, where it was decided to create the 30-member North
American Competitiveness Council
(NACC), a tri-national working group responsible for setting priorities for the
SPP and to act as a stable driver of the deep integration process through
changes in government in all three countries.
On August 20-21 (2007), at Ch�teau
Montebello, in Montebello,
Qu�bec, American President George W. Bush, Canadian Prime Minister
Stephen Harper and Mexican President Felipe Calderon will again discuss the
project during a third (SPP) summit.
For most Canadians, until now, this trilateral initiative
seemed simply to pursue the goal of facilitating trade and travel between the
three countries, in a way that would not jeopardize the implementation of
security measures that have become necessary in the aftermath of 9/11. For
sure, if this were the only objective of such trilateral political and
bureaucratic consultations (and they started in 2001), most people would
understand the need, either for new physical installations at the border and/or
for new administrative arrangements designed to reduce transit times, through
pre-customs clearing or otherwise. They would not have the fear of seeing their
government embarking on a wholesale abandonment of their national sovereignty.
As of now, however, one suspects that the long lines of
Canadian trucks frequently observed at the U.S-Canada border, six years after
9/11, reflect some bad faith on the part of the U.S. government. It seems to be
using terrorist threats as a excuse to raise its protectionist stance and a
reason for applying undue pressures on the relatively inexperienced Harper
government. Canadians remember how the Bush-Cheney administration refused to
follow the rulings of numerous NAFTA arbitration panels and imposed upon Canada
a managed trade deal for softwood
In any case, the objectives being pursued by the "Deep
Integration" project go far beyond shortening transit times at the border.
They are much more numerous and much more controversial and risky for Canada's
national sovereignty than simply building larger installations and harmonizing
border controls to enhance trade and travel flows.
Indeed, the real overall goal of
the "Deep Integration" project goes much further and would ultimately
lead to the creation of a North American Union of a political and not only an economic nature, within
which the three countries, but especially a smaller country such as Canada,
could lose much of their national sovereignty. It would be an economic and political arrangement
resembling the European
Union, which encompasses more than
two dozen countries, but in North America it is to be feared that such a union
would have an imperial twist. It would transform NAFTA into a common market and
would force the two smaller partners to change all their relevant laws and
regulations to conform to American laws and regulations, including toeing the
American line on defense and foreign policies.
As can be seen, we are quite far
from the idea of simply having facilitated border controls for products and
people. What these secret meetings are envisaging is more like a new political
and comprehensive alliance between the United States, Canada and Mexico. But
because of the force of gravity, this also means, in practice, that the United
States will turn Canada, and to a certain extent Mexico, into quasi colonies of
the U.S. Indeed, the United States is a political elephant that does pretty
much what it wants, especially under the Bush-Cheney administration, while
Canada and Mexico are, at best, a small beaver in one case, and a small fox in
the other. This could have the consequence of considerably reducing the quality
of democratic life in Canada.
And that's where the rubber hits
the road. Once a medium size country accepts a de facto merger of its
defence policy with the policy of a much larger one, and all the more so with
the United States which is an empire, it becomes very difficult for the former
to maintain an independent foreign policy. Its national sovereignty risks being
forever diminished and compromised.
Many Canadians justly fear that
the kind of "Deep Integration" that is being planned and promoted in
relative secrecy could lead to the abandonment of an independent Canadian
foreign policy, the loss of
independence of the Canadian Armed forces, and the loss of national control over Canada's
national resources, forcing Canada to abandon the economic rents
over its oil and gas reserves, but also over its water and its hydroelectric
Some even fear that the next big
step would be the abandonment of the Canadian dollar, in favor of the U.S. dollar, and the loss of independent
monetary and fiscal policies. If this is not the case, where are the safeguards
for Canada's sovereignty and independence? What are the democratic foundations
of such an enlarged political union? What are the political and economic costs
relative to the expected economic gains? There
exists no study to my knowledge that evaluates these overall questions in order
to form the basis for an enlightened public debate.
Therefore, we have to conclude
that the plan for a very "Deep Integration" of Canada within North
America is basically flawed, if not fundamentally democratically subversive.
There has been no thorough public debate on the issue, even though the minority
Harper government would certainly have to consult and persuade Canadians before
tabling any special legislation that would need to be enacted before the
project could be implemented.
Such a public debate has not taken
place yet. On the contrary, everything seems to have been planned to keep it
away from the public eye with all discussions being held behind closed doors.
This should be enough to raise suspicions, even though the ongoing discussions
are not yet legally binding. In a more or less near future, however, the
ad hoc arrangements so discussed are likely to lead to a new formal
agreement or even a new treaty between the three countries. This is presently
denied, but the logic of the operation militates in favor of the last option.
I personally think the issue is of
such paramount importance that sooner or later we need a countrywide
referendum on the entire "Deep
Integration" project. A general election is not sufficient to settle such
a complicated issue, because a single political party can gather a minority of
votes and squeeze into power between numerous opposition parties. No
fundamental democratic legitimacy for such an important political project can
be obtained through a general election. For that, a special national referendum
would be required so that the sovereign people can decide.
lives in Montreal and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
He is the author of the book �'The New American Empire.� His new book, �The Code for Global Ethics,�
will be published in 2008. Visit his blog site at thenewamericanempire.com/blog.