In It's past time for a new continental point of view (Oct 11 2008, The Vancouver Sun) columnist Barbara Yaffe (or her headline writer) appears to be lending her support to the neo-conservative wet-dream of Stephen Harper (shared by certain Liberals including John Manley) of increased continental integration.
Canadians, Americans and Mexicans are so focused on their borders that they're neglecting the giant bit of real estate on which their livelihoods depend. American political scientist Stephen Blank, in Vancouver recently to speak
American political scientist Stephen Blank, in Vancouver recently to speak about North American integration, says those opposed are too late. It's a reality and it's time people gave the continent a hug.
A large group of business and political elites from both sides of the border -- organized by the Canadian American Business Council -- will convene next month in Vancouver do some hugging and remind the public how important continental commerce has become to the countries involved.
Blank wishes there were more such constituencies promoting North American linkages. "Where is the opposition to Lou Dobbs?" asks the professor, in reference to the CNN host who regularly rails against continental free trade and promotes U.S. nationalism. In Canada, the Council of Canadians and the New Democrats have taken a lead role in fighting integration.
All the fear-mongering makes it difficult for politicians to lead a charge in strengthening North American competitiveness. (More >)
Meanwhile, Canadians voted in a pro-continental integration / anti-federalism government and are helping the Liberal Party dispose of a pro-sovereignty assertion leader in Mr. Dion.
The Conservative government has put bill C24 (softwood lumber agreement) before the house for approval, which will only enshrine bad precedent into law, after which Canadians will be right to ask which industry will the U.S. attack next?
The U.S. courts have ruled that Canada is entitled to every penny of the more than $5 billion dollars in tariffs illegally collected by the U.S. since early 2002. Canada’s legal position on the trade dispute is exceedingly strong, having been supported by numerous court victories over the years.
Yet what is this new government of Canada doing? Trying as hard as possible to shut down any legal challenges to the illegal U.S. tariff collection and ram through this new bill. How embarrassing to trade minister David Emerson that the U.S. Court of International Trade actually agrees with Canada’s long held position.
The agreement with the U.S. is an attack on the ability for federal and provincial governments to regulate themselves, free from undue political interference from the U.S. political machinery.
As I’ve noted here in the past, as a Liberal MP and cabinet minister in government, David Emerson said that Canada must continue to fight for what’s right and not simply cave into pressure from the U.S. and its well connected industry. Responding to U.S. Ambassador David Wilkins’ call last August for Canada and the U.S. to negotiate, not litigate, away the softwood lumber dispute:
Industry Minister David Emerson said David Wilkins’ comments, are hypocritical because they suggest Canada hasn’t been serious about negotiating. The minister said Canadians may need to start gearing up for a trade war with the United States.
“Candidly, Canadians have to decide as a small trading economy, are we going to stand together?” Emerson said at the start of a federal cabinet meeting in Winnipeg.
“Are we going to be stronger than the sum of our parts or are we going to be endlessly bickering amongst ourselves and allowing the bully to basically mop the floor with us?”
Strong words from Emerson then, but now, we hear nothing but a defeatist’s whine. And his boss? While sitting on the opposition benches, Stephen Harper, commenting on yet another softwood lumber trade challenge which ruled in Canada’s favour, said:
This is not a time for negotiation, this is a time for compliance.then opposition leader Stephen Harper
Now, as a Conservative MP and cabinet minister in government, Emerson appears perfectly happy to ram an exceedingly bad deal through parliament. Where’s the Emerson of old? Where’s the Harper that postured and posed and said he’d Stand Up for Canada, but instead is behind a deal which sells us all, not just the softwood lumber industry, down the river?
People didn’t vote for this.
Over the years my ‘old’ party, the federal Progressive Conservative Party of Canada, had many a discussion regarding NAFTA within its ranks, thanks to the influx of members behind the leadership of David Orchard. That debate was not always welcome within the party, and rarely were all sides engaged in fruitful discussion.
For my own part, while I recognized the concerns being promoted by Orchard and his supporters as being legitimate, at the time I felt that NAFTA did not need extraordinary focus. For all the talk of NAFTA Chapter 11 and its impact on Canada’s resource exportation, there was always Chapter 22 – termination – to lean back on. My thinking was that responsible government, held in check by the people who vote them in, would never trade away Canada’s sovereignty for fear of the public backlash.
My view has changed.
There’s no responsible government in sight, and the softwood lumber sellout only serves to prove this.
My party, the ‘new’ Conservative Party, is not standing up for Canada when it trades away hard-won legal battles in the name of political expediency to win an ‘apparent’ victory at home.
Messrs Harper, Emerson, Wilson, et al have not won anything but have demonstrated to much stronger forces that the rule of law is to mean nothing when it comes to our legal agreements with the United States.
Why is the Prime Minister of our country aiding and abetting powerful U.S. lobby groups and the politicians they control? How is that ‘standing up for Canada’?
When will the next powerful U.S. lobby group appear on the scene and have its way with Mr. Harper? Will it be the healthcare and drug lobby? Will U.S. businesses successfully argue along the same lines as the ‘stumpage’ argument the lumber lobby used, and portray our universal healthcare system as an “unfair advantage” over U.S. corporations? Will the privatization lobby within Canada link forces with the US in an attempt to ‘even the score’?
That’s not a far-fetched scenario. Rapidly increasing health care costs in the United States have cost U.S. automobile manufacturers significant pain.
For each mid-size car DaimlerChrysler AG builds at one of its U.S. plants, the company pays about $1,300 to cover employee health care costs—more than twice the cost of the sheet metal in the vehicle. When it builds an identical car across the border in Canada, the health care cost is negligible. Washington Post “A heftier dose to swallow”
When will the next well-lawyered U.S. lobby group launch an attack on Canada, and what will we give up then?
These attacks on Canada’s sovereignty have to stop.
This means of course that Canadians have to stop politicians that allow such attacks.