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An Open Letter to the NDP and Liberal MPs

man_slut

TRIBE Member
An Open Letter to the NDP and Liberal MPs
Canada and the American Empire
By JOHN RYAN

As a long time supporter of progressive political policies in Canada I was perplexed and dismayed by the results of our recent federal election. My consternation led me to write the article that is attached to this letter. The essence of my analysis is summed up in the opening comments:

The 2006 federal election has set the stage for a possible dismantling of Canada's distinctive social and economic fabric. The newly evolved Conservative Party, in many respects a chilling echo of the USA's Republican Party, is poised for a two-stage attack to reshape Canada in line with its Canadian version of America's neoconservative ideology.

The purpose of this letter is to urge the NDP and the Liberals to begin the process of forming a coalition and, if this turns out favourably, to consider the prospect, under the right conditions, of eventually merging the two parties into a centre-left Liberal Democratic Party.

For years the minority of Canadians on the political right languished in the wilderness because of a split in their political movement. However, after a series of misadventures, they finally coalesced into a single party--albeit with some alienation and disaffection in their ranks. Basically, their strategy worked--and although they received only 36 percent of the vote, they now form the government.

While in a minority position, we can rest assured that the Conservatives will not introduce any of the hardcore measures that form the basis of their raison d'etre -- measures that would change the face of Canada. For this they require a majority. Their strategy will be to survive a few months in a non-controversial manner to gain the respect and confidence of the public to enable them to get a majority in the next election.

At present Canada has a dysfunctional political system in which the views of the majority of Canadians cannot be represented by a single political party. Although almost two-thirds of Canada's voters opposed the policies and platform of the Conservative party, it is the Conservatives who have formed the government. The majority vote was split amongst three parties, thereby thwarting the predominant will of the people and making a mockery of democracy. And this may very well continue into the future, especially if the Conservatives get a stronger foothold in Quebec. Furthermore, if the NDP should get progressively stronger, it will guarantee a split vote, and we may have an unending series of Conservative governments--until there's nothing left of Canada except a northern tier of quasi-American states.

Of course the majority of Canadians would abhor any such a development--to have a minority right-wing faction force us to become part of the American Empire. But Tom d'Aquino's "deep integration" strategy would lead to just such a thing. And we already have Michael Wilson, a proponent of this policy, smugly in office on the front lines, as Canada's ambassador to the USA.

So what do we do? How do we prevent the Conservatives from forming a majority government? In the best interests of Canada, it's up to progressive-minded citizens to urge the NDP and the Liberals to form a coalition, and eventually perhaps a complete merger of the two parties. It's only then the progressive majority in Canada would be in a position to vote for a political entity that would reflect their views, values, and interests.

Undoubtedly, there are going to be strong opponents in both parties to any such suggestion. However, in the long run this would be in the best interests of both our country and the two parties. For the NDP, being the smaller entity, there's still the vivid memory of how the Progressive Conservatives were subsumed by the Reform/Alliance zealots. There's also the practical worry that such a political realignment might result in a horse and rabbit stew, strongly smelling of Liberal horse. However, at this stage, for either party to be an effective political force, they need one another. And stemming from this, both parties are in a position to exact compromises.

In a coalition, both parties would retain their individual identities, but would have to agree on a common platform or agenda, not necessarily on all matters, but on some basic, fundamental issues. They would also have to agree on an election strategy, whenever an election might be called. The strategy should be a straightforward matter, and once agreed upon, it could be the driving force to hammer out a platform, and thereby create a coalition.

A meaningful strategy, equally in the interest of both parties, would be an agreement to run all the incumbent candidates, Liberal and NDP, without opposition from the other party. Such a strategy would guarantee the reelection of every single member--surely this should be an enticement for a coalition! As for the seats held by the Conservatives, party strategists should be able to work out which party would have a better chance of winning, and then run just one candidate for that particular party. Such a maneuver would wipe out a great many Conservatives everywhere, except in Alberta, although even there they should lose some seats in Edmonton. Obviously, this would be a winning formula for a substantial majority government.

The issue of a common platform could be a major divisive matter, and this could either make or break the prospects of a coalition. The resolve of a unified NDP could possibly create major strains within the Liberal party. The Liberals have never been a homogeneous party--many on the left were not much different from most NDPers, while many on the right were almost Conservative clones. In all likelihood, most progressive-minded small "l" Liberals would not be inherently opposed to an NDP coalition or even a merger. However, to accommodate some NDP basic positions, many on the right with strong corporate ties, would probably be prepared to bolt the party and join the Conservatives (like David Emerson), rather than agree to a coalition, let alone a merger.

Those on the political left of the Liberal party may be faced with a considerable dilemma--should they persevere in trying to form a centre-left coalition or merger and try to bring the less doctrinaire right-wing with them--or should they maintain the status quo and go along with the right-wing upper echelon, strongly beholden to the corporate sector. If they choose the coalition/merger route, they'd be assured of forming a majority government, which could very well usher in a whole new political structure in Canada.

On the other hand, if they stay with the status quo, further vote-splitting in subsequent elections would bring in Conservative governments--with dire consequences for Canada. The Liberals would not only remain as an opposition party, but driven by the right-wing, they could easily replicate the American experience where the Democrats have morphed into a Republican-lite caricature. And being in opposition, like the Democrats, they might try to emulate the Conservative success, thereby creating two wings of virtually the same party--exactly as in the USA.

In drawing up a common platform, there should not be much difficulty in matters such as the preservation and improvement of Medicare, the retention and upgrading of the CBC, the establishment of a national childcare program, a pharmicare program, and other such social policy matters. There are two other crucially important issues--issues of enormous consequence to Canada--that must be included in the platform: first, the abrogation of NAFTA, and second, the rejection of "deep integration" with the USA. The significance and current status of both these matters are little understood by the general public and, I venture to say, the parliamentarians. Yet the urgency of these matters is a major reason for the formation of a coalition. Lest there be any doubt about this assertion, the rest of this letter is devoted to a careful analysis of these two issues.

NAFTA and its precursor, the Free Trade Agreement (FTA), remain contentious, controversial, and desperately in need of an objective reappraisal. It was John Turner, a true Canadian patriot, who fully understood the dangers of the original Free Trade Agreement, and fought it heroically, while Ed Broadbent apparently never understood the long term consequences, and conducted an election strategy that ensured a Mulroney majority government and the enactment of the FTA. Since then, to put it bluntly, the NDP has been squeamish and chicken-hearted in dealing with the problems of NAFTA--afraid of an electoral backlash. However, with the prospect of a coalition government, where the NDP would be a participant in governing, it would be incumbent on them to stiffen their backbone and include the abrogation of NAFTA in their platform and to press left-wing Liberals to join them in this venture. There is a specified procedure for abrogation, whereas there is no provision for renegotiation, which is not what we would want in any event. Abrogation of NAFTA would have majority support from the Canadian public.

The FTA and NAFTA, through clever propaganda, were forced on the Canadian public by the corporate elite, led by Tom d'Aquino, the head of Canada's 150 most powerful corporations--under the banner of the Business Council on National Issues, now renamed the Canadian Council of Chief Executives (CCCE). Underlying the public relations flim-flam, the corporate rationale behind the FTA was not about trade (most goods were already freely traded) but its prime function was to restrict the power of Canada as a nation state to be able to intervene in the economy, especially in the matter of energy resources and social and economic policy. Chapter 11 of NAFTA was the frosting on the cake, which allows corporations to sue the government if they think there is a restraint of trade or if our government should ever have the audacity to interfere with corporate profits, regardless of damage being done to the environment, human health, or the economy. Despite the constant corporate/media chest-thumping about the benefits and wonders of NAFTA, a closer examination of the data tell a different story. Of the great surge in exports and imports, government studies credit NAFTA with only nine percent of the growth in Canadian exports and two percent of the growth in imports from the USA--over 90 percent of the increased trade was the result of Canada's cheap dollar and the US boom, and it had practically nothing to do with "free trade." Per capita growth in Canada between 1989 and 2002 was 1.6 percent a year, but in the eight years preceding the FTA, it had averaged 1.9 percent per year. Although US direct foreign investment surged during the free trade era, it resulted in the takeover of more than 10,000 Canadian firms, with 96.6 percent of the investment going towards the takeovers, and with many of them being financed through borrowing in Canada--so our own capital was being used to buy us out. When it comes to foreign ownership, it's at legendary levels and far exceeds that of any other country. As for jobs, the FTA/NAFTA period created less than half as many full-time jobs as during the previous thirteen years. In fact, because of the trade agreements, Canada lost 280,000 of its best jobs, forever. An objective accounting shows that the promised benefits of the FTA and NAFTA were never realized.

But it's in the energy sector that the FTA/NAFTA chickens have really come home to roost. As I pointed out in my article:

With the Free Trade Agreement and later NAFTA we're locked into exporting 70 percent of our oil and 56 percent of our natural gas, and with the proportionality provision, the amount of our exports can only go higher--in perpetuity. Our reserves are quickly depleting and because of NAFTA we have absolutely no control of our own resources. This is insanity. To defend Canada's interests, our federal government should renegotiate NAFTA to eliminate the proportionality clause (Mexico never agreed to this), and if the US should refuse, we should give the required six months notice and abrogate NAFTA, since the US ignores its rulings anyway. This would once again give us control of our energy resources and our economy as well.

Canada desperately needs an independent energy policy to ensure a security of supply for Canadians. The USA and most countries have such a policy, but NAFTA effectively prevents Canada from doing this. In negotiating a coalition, it would be grossly irresponsible for the NDP and progressive minded Liberals not to include in their joint platform the abrogation of NAFTA. This would signal a bold new course for Canada's development strategy. Since NAFTA was the progeny of the corporate elite, they would undoubtedly go into hysterics. This should be countered by a sound body of evidence that NAFTA endangers our energy security and that it restricts our ability to participate in markets elsewhere than the USA. Despite all the predictable wailing Cassandras that the economic roof would collapse on Canada if it rid itself of NAFTA, it's reasonably certain that not too much lasting economic damage would ensue. NAFTA was the corporate elite's god that failed--it failed them and it failed Canada. Nevertheless, it's almost certain that Liberals of the political right would join the corporate elite to try to block the inclusion of the subject of NAFTA in a joint platform.
It's not a foregone conclusion that the corporate/political right would derail any attempt to deal with NAFTA. Consider that last summer, Lloyd Axworthy, a powerful minister in the Chretien Liberal government, had this to say in a widely published article on Canada-US relations:

Let's begin by seriously considering an end to NAFTA and reliance instead upon the World Trade Organization to regulate the terms and provisions of free trade. Not only would this offer us the protection of a trade body that has some teeth in its regulations ones not rooted in US domestic procedures and laws--it would also free us to engage in a much more innovative and active global strategy. The emergence of new economic powers like China, India, Brazil and South Africa provides markets hungry for the resources and know-how that Canada possesses. Our NAFTA connection impedes our ability to take advantage of this potential. . . . It's time for new policies and tough action to shift our trade and security strategies away from a preoccupation with continental matters to a more global footing.

In actuality, NAFTA is institutionally dysfunctional, and there is ample evidence that it is no longer in Canada's interests to be a participant in it. However, to calm the hysterics of the economic elite, the inclusion of NAFTA in a coalition platform should stipulate that initially the government would undertake a comprehensive assessment of its costs and benefits and the advantages and disadvantages of terminating it. An objective review would undoubtedly provide irrefutable evidence that NAFTA should be abrogated. This study would then effectively counter the certain massive propaganda barrage by the economic elite to derail the decision to terminate NAFTA.

A further crucial issue that must be part of a coalition platform is the matter of "deep integration" with the USA. Although not known to most Canadians, the previous Martin government, without consent from Parliament, and probably with only the briefest of obfuscating mention to the Liberal caucus, has already signed a statement of intent in a trilateral agreement with the USA and Mexico to supercede NAFTA with what has been called by its proponents a "deep integration" policy with the USA. Without any fanfare, the first stage of the "Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America" was signed by President Bush, President Fox, and Prime Minister Martin on March 23, 2005 in Waco, Texas. The second stage, with work-plans on its further implementation, was signed in Ottawa on June 27, 2005 on behalf of Canada by Deputy Prime Minister Anne McLellan and Industry Minister David Emerson. Its full implementation would apparently take effect after signing further agreements in 2006 and 2007, so this is now in the hands of the Harper government. It appears that if these further agreements are not signed, this calculated endeavour to change the very nature of Canada, without any public disclosure or debate, would die as unfinished business. To make sure that this happens, the issue of "deep integration" must be in the platform of a Liberal-NDP coalition.

The background of this lamentable saga reflects very badly on Canada's business entrepreneurs, and equally so on our right-wing politicians, be they Liberal or Conservative. Seeing that NAFTA wasn't working in the way they envisioned, instead of directing their attention towards a global trade strategy, they remain obsessed with the American market. This is the market of a declining economic power that is rapidly losing its technology-based competitive advantage. In the meantime, Canada sends only six percent of its exports to the world's most rapidly growing markets. Surely it should be evident that Canada's future well-being will depend on companies with a global strategy, not a strategy based solely on the USA. It's the abysmal failure of imagination within our economic elite that has led to the frightening concept of "deep integration" that if not stopped will lead to Canada's demise as a country.

It's beyond the scope of this letter to deal with the "deep integration" issue in the way that is warranted, but some highlights of the proposal must be presented. It seems that the CEOs of Canada's major corporations have finally realized that the USA will never surrender power over its trade protection laws, and that there is no permanent solution for some of our trade disputes short of Canada's political union with the US. Knowing that Canadians would resoundingly reject any such annexationist attempt, they have resorted to subterfuge and obfuscation to try to carry out a policy that would have almost the same net effect.

The project was launched by the C.D. Howe Institute and the CCCE, led by Tom d'Aquino. After some quiet lobbying and political maneuvering, they established the Task Force on the Future of North America--an unelected body representing no one but major business interests. In April 2004 they released a 35-page report, New Frontiers: Building a Canada-United States Partnership in North America. This report ostensibly speaks for Canada and Canadians, but ordinary Canadians have had no input into it--it's a document produced by and for the economic elite--it doesn't have a shred of democratic credibility. As expected, the report had a major impact in Washington. Without any negotiations or even a request for negotiations, Canada's quisling economic elite suddenly offered the Americans huge concessions on security and total access to all of Canada's resources, including water--far beyond anything covered by NAFTA. Naturally, President Bush almost immediately made a request to sign such a treaty. Without Parliament's knowledge, let alone its debate and consent, Prime Minister Martin, solely at the behest of the business community, dutifully signed on March 23, 2005, as mentioned above, a statement of intent to proceed with the "deep integration" project. The CCCE's Task Force's report, New Frontiers, serves as the basis of the ensuing June 2005 report, Security and Prosperity Partnership in North America

If the Harper government proceeds to finalize this Liberal-initiated treaty, the following are some of the ramifications that could take place.

Following 9/11 the Bush administration made it clear that security issues would trump trade for the foreseeable future. Because of Canada's independent policies and regulations, big business interests feared that this would affect cross-border trade. In their deep integration strategy they linked economic prosperity and security, and set out to convince the US government that with such a policy the Canada-US border would eventually represent no greater threat than the borders that exist between American states. This policy would give Americans new rights of inspection at the Canadian border, including a blending of Canadian and US immigration and customs databases. This would provide US border agents with access to the immigration and tax records of Canadians, as well as information on work records, property owned, and investments. Moreover, the pact calls for "seamless North American" immigration and refugee policies--hence it would now be America's policies that would define such matters for us. This is only a part of the surrender of sovereignty that would be required.

When it comes to defence and military matters, there is no mention of Canada's traditional role of peacekeeping. Instead we would be expected to make massive new investments in the military to ensure the "interoperability of Canadian and United States armed forces on land, at sea and in the air." Clearly this means that defence and foreign policy would be blended to meet America's expectations, so that we would be ready and willing to be a part of any future "coalition of the willing." This has ominous implications for Canada considering that the US has now adopted a "first strike" position (even with nuclear weapons) and reserves the right to attack any country it sees as being hostile, regardless of UN Security Council decisions.

To open up the market to freer trade and to maximize "economic efficiencies," Canada would be obliged to replace all domestic regulatory systems relating to standards, inspection and certification procedures with a "tested once" principle--of American design. The rationale for this being that since our economies are now so integrated, our domestic laws are redundant. A crucial matter for the CCCE is the hope that because of these concessions of Canadian sovereignty, the US would agree not to apply "trade remedies" within a "de facto integrated market." Despite the CCCE's supposed expertise, it would be sheer delusion to think that the US Congress would ever surrender power over its trade protection laws. Consequently, so long as Canada is politically not a formal part of the USA, there is no guarantee that trade penalties such as the infamous softwood lumber case would not be reenacted if there were a complaint of "unfair trade practices" by an American industry. As Lloyd Axworthy said in the above mentioned article, ". . . listening to the chorus of continentalist claptrap promoting more US-Canada integration" is not going to resolve our trade problems with the USA. We have to confront these problems for what they are, and the WTO would be a far better means of protecting our interests. To surrender our sovereignty and the integrity of our country in the hopes that the "Americans would be kind to us" is delusional in the extreme.

But there is more to come. With respect to Canada's resources, the goal is to create a "resource security pact based on two core principles: open markets and compatibility of regulatory frameworks." To carry this out the CCCE calls for a "major initiative aimed at removing the threat of trade disputes and in particular resolving once and for all the controversial issues of resource pricing and subsidies." If this were done Canada would have to abandon all remaining regulatory mechanisms under which it claims sovereignty to its oil, natural gas, electricity, coal, all minerals, including uranium and primary metals, as well as its forest products, agriculture, and water.

Instead of trying to extricate ourselves from the proportionality provision for oil and natural gas in NAFTA, "deep integration" calls for the extension of this provision to electricity exports as well as to all minerals and water. To include electricity in this would probably mean the necessity of privatizing the provincially owned hydro corporations. As for water, the economic elite see it as a commodity, so why shouldn't it be sold just like a sack of potatoes. In the words of Oscar Wilde, there are "people who know the price of everything and the value of nothing."

Currently under NAFTA there are exemptions for culture and agriculture. With the elimination of these restrictions in agriculture, there would be an abrupt end to the Canadian Wheat Board and all marketing boards. As for culture, what there is of it in Canada would be promptly smothered by the American behemoth. Say goodbye to the CBC, the National Film Board, and Canadian owned media, television and cable, and whatever else we consider to be culture.

There are other matters, but by now it should be quite evident what "deep integration" would mean for Canadians. One final aspect however reveals a rather peculiar perverse arrogance on the part of our "superior economic elite" -- a plan to infiltrate the minds of our children. To fully carry out their silent coup d'etat, they believe it's necessary to create a new generation of Canadians who would be truly "continentalist" in their thinking, and this should begin in our school system. They plan to somehow hijack the education system to be able to implant in the minds of our children the idea that they are not "Canadians," but actually "North Americans." In their report they say, "Participants agreed that progress on this front will require effort within the education system [including] supplements to the standard curriculum." A Canadian participant in the original Task Force agreed to "work" on this idea. A further point worthy of mention, a "North American" passport would be required to erase any vestige of Canadian identity--this of course would wind up being an American passport. In the haunting words of George Orwell, "Everything faded into mist. The past was erased, the erasure was forgotten, the lie became the truth."

It must be understood that to turn over the control of our economy and to surrender so much of our sovereignty, but without any serious political voice in Washington, would essentially leave Canada almost in the position of Puerto Rico. It must also be understood that this was not an American initiative--it was a totally home-grown initiative by our quisling economic/political elite. Which Canadians took part in this, aside from Tom d'Aquino and his business cohorts? How about high profile Liberal John Manley (until recently a leading contender for the Liberal leadership) who was co-chair of the CCCE Task Force. There was also Michael Wilson, Mulroney's finance minister and the godfather of the FTA--now Canada's ambassador to the USA. So the Task Force was politically ambidextrous. And there was Tom Axworthy--remember him from Trudeau days? One wonders what Trudeau would think of this. There was also Pierre Mark Johnson, a former Quebec premier, now subsumed in the corporate world. But how about Paul Martin, Anne McLellan, David Emerson (now thankfully a Conservative), and other high profile Liberal cabinet ministers? They went along with this, either knowingly or duped, and by pure stealth signed the first stage of the infamous document and have gotten Canada entrapped in it. It's now in the hands of the Conservatives--who were in complete agreement with the project. In fact, the train for "deep integration" has left the station, heading for Washington to deliver us as a colony, with the Conservatives riding in the first class section. After all, almost everything in their platform is included in the Liberal-enacted "deep integration."

So in what way is the right-wing of the Liberal party different from the Conservatives on this particular issue? There's no difference from what can be seen. And where was Jack Layton and the NDP on this matter in the last election? Did anyone hear a peep from them on this? In fact, if it hadn't been for the Council of Canadians hardly anyone would have known what happened, particularly since the media was strangely deadly silent on this matter. And yet "deep integration" promises to be of far greater consequence to us than the FTA or NAFTA. And if the Conservatives aren't stopped from signing the remaining sections of this project, it will become a binding treaty on Canada. If the right wing of the Liberal party should decide to support the Conservatives on this--and form an overarching right-wing coalition -- we may as well put the lights out for Canada.

Considering this matter alone, it is of the utmost necessity that the NDP and left-wing Liberals form a coalition, and include the issue of defeating "deep integration" as one of their prime planks. They should realize that Canadians are now more conscious and more proud of their unique heritage than at any time in the past 50 years. If a Canadian political party ran on a platform of "deep integration" with the USA, it would be routed even worse than the Mulroney-laden Conservatives in 1993--this time getting zero seats.

Faced with the critically important necessities to abrogate NAFTA and to block the enactment of the "deep integration" project, together with the urgency to prevent the Conservatives from getting a majority in the next election, the NDP and the Liberals must form a coalition with all due haste. Canadians who truly believe in this country must act in this country's interests. Now is not the time for narrow partisan politics. Now is the time to set a new course for Canada. Now is the time to establish a centre-left coalition to enable the majority of Canada's people to have an effective political entity to reflect their views, beliefs, values, and hopes for the future.

Sincerely,
John Ryan

John Ryan, Ph.D., is a retired professor of geography and senior scholar at the University of Winnipeg. He can be reached at jryan13@mts.net
 

Onthereals

TRIBE Member
This is a great read. Although I think it is a little optomistic to think that a liberal/ndp merger would occur, I believe that this would be best for Canada. Also, I whole-heartedly agree that we need to get out of NAFTA now and start concentrating on the global market or else we will be crushed, and in fact, the NAFTA agreement really scares me because I feel like no one will consider actually doing this because the business elite are too powerful. It is upsetting to know that most of the important decisions are made by these guys and things will not change because they call all the major shots. It also scares me that the majority of the population has such a high level of apathy that they cannot be riled up enough into taking any serious issues and protesting, or even trying to understand what these issues are about. How come it is so easy for conservatives to get riled up and upset about issues they consider important, while the liberal/progressive portion of the population is so limp and insipid? It disgusts me. anyways, thats my rant.
 

AdRiaN

TRIBE Member
The 2006 federal election has set the stage for a possible dismantling of Canada's distinctive social and economic fabric. The newly evolved Conservative Party, in many respects a chilling echo of the USA's Republican Party, is poised for a two-stage attack to reshape Canada in line with its Canadian version of America's neoconservative ideology.
:rolleyes:

I stopped reading at this point.
 

man_slut

TRIBE Member
The article is very optimistic and I think down plays how agressive the Conservative elements within the Liberal party would be if a coalition were considered.

They both would benefit by making NAFTA a key reform element in their coalition government if it were to happen. What a frigin sham that turned out to be!
 

Ditto Much

TRIBE Member
Onthereals said:
This is a great read. Although I think it is a little optomistic to think that a liberal/ndp merger would occur, I believe that this would be best for Canada. Also, I whole-heartedly agree that we need to get out of NAFTA now and start concentrating on the global market or else we will be crushed, and in fact, the NAFTA agreement really scares me because I feel like no one will consider actually doing this because the business elite are too powerful. It is upsetting to know that most of the important decisions are made by these guys and things will not change because they call all the major shots. It also scares me that the majority of the population has such a high level of apathy that they cannot be riled up enough into taking any serious issues and protesting, or even trying to understand what these issues are about. How come it is so easy for conservatives to get riled up and upset about issues they consider important, while the liberal/progressive portion of the population is so limp and insipid? It disgusts me. anyways, thats my rant.
Since Nafta was signed our export trade business has litterally gone through the roof nearly doubling in size and value in a period of 12 years. We have seen an increase in Canadian patriotism while having seen an economic boom unseen previously in our history. We have managed to go from being a nation of borrowers to a nation that saves and pays its debts.

I was against FTA and NAFTA but I'm tempted to say that I was wrong. Our culture did not get assimilated, if anything our dollar has increased in value and Canadian goods and materials are finding more markets.

The reality is that the rest of the world doesn't amount to pennies on the dollar compared to having the largest trading relationship in the world. More good cross the Windsor/Detroit border per day than we trade with all of Japan in a year. Trade with the USA eclipses our annual trade with all other nations before january is over.

We need to be realistic, since the turn of the 20th century our biggest trading partner by a wide margin has been the USA. Tarifs and punitive measures only hurt us financially.
 
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docta seuss

TRIBE Member
man_slut said:
The purpose of this letter is to urge the NDP and the Liberals to begin the process of forming a coalition and, if this turns out favourably, to consider the prospect, under the right conditions, of eventually merging the two parties into a centre-left Liberal Democratic Party.
much as i like the idea of kicking the Cons in the rear, a two-party system is the last thing we need.
it's rediculous that two parties that have totally different platforms, thus differing priorities, can merge to become one strictly for a greater share of the vote.

the right are a bunch of cunts for doing it, and same would apply to the left. it would be far too easy to fall into the crap system the States has going.. in fact, we're nearly there now.

once right-centre-right, and left-centre-left unite, there is no way either side is going to risk fragmenting again, thus we'd be stuck.
 

praktik

TRIBE Member
Let us not forget that regional trading blocs, like NAFTA and other bodies around the world like ASEAN for example, can be seen as reactions to globalization even as some aspects of them can be seen as facilitations of globalization (if globalization is understood - as it commonly though not exclusively is - as a code word for trade liberalization).

As capital flows are loosened around the world, trading blocs can work against that loosening, as in EU's staunch and continued support for their agricultural industry. Going back to the EU example, it's growth over the past decades can also be seen as a "hardening" of the borders of Europe against an encroaching and hungry outside world, as a way to maintain a strong European identity in an increasingly interconnected world. Stronger cooperation between the US, Canada and Mexico can also be seen in that light as well. Underlying all of this is the conflict between the interests of regional capital, that may fight for certain things to be included in a regional trade agreement that capital interests from outside the trading bloc would strongly disagree with. Things arent always reducible to black and white and I'd say that I too have come around to see NAFTA in a better light than I had allowed it previously. Obviously dispute resolution mechanisms need to see some major revisions, and there are surely many other areas that can be improved (I'm thinking primarily about environmental and labour standards, though others from other political standpoints may be thinking about other areas for betterment).

I think part of the reason things like NAFTA get a bum rap on the left is the feeling that they are agents of globalization (again, if we understand globalization to be a euphemism for trade liberalisation) when in many instances they actually work against that conception of globalization. I think something like the MAI, however, is a different animal, and is probably more deserved of scorn from the left than NAFTA.... When it comes to FTAA, I wonder if maybe the South would be better off with its own regional bloc, rather than hitching their wagon to a North that would most certainly dominate any future implementation of the FTAA. I think the South may not have its best interests represented in such a framework. That isnt to say that something like the FTAA wouldnt provide a useful forum for hemisphere-wide issues, but maybe it should be watered down and initiated on a much less ambitious scale than envisioned currently, while the South works on its own issues in its own regional way. Many issues in the South are their own, just as ours are ours, and I'm just not sure that a hemisphere wide agreement will be able to balance out the very different needs of the North and South in a successful way... or rather, in a way thats good for the South (Im sure our heavy hitters would ensure the majority of benefits from the FTAA would flow north)...

Ditto Much is right to mention the many benefits we have won from NAFTA over the past decade or so. Hot button issues like softwood play out well on the headlines, in editorial pages and in election campaigns, but when it comes to the proportion of overall trade that such disagreements represent, their importance is surely exagerrated beyond the real impact they have on our respective national economies. In some respects as well, such disagreements work to improve agreements like NAFTA as Im sure we will see some much needed analysis and consequent changes to a dispute resolution process that has not been as effective as it could be... far from being examples of why NAFTA should be scrapped, issues like softwood work as "spotlights" to help focus attention on areas to improve... No need to scrap the whole thing, but definitely there's always gonna be a lot of work to do!
 
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starr

TRIBE Member
basilisk said:
I also stopped reading when this idiot began to argue for a two-party system... fucking moron.
understood.

i skimmed through it, but couldn't really take it seriously

culture of fear say what?
 

atbell

TRIBE Member
I have to go with docta seuss on this one.

Two parties bad, four parties good.

Ten parties ideal.

What if the block modified it's stance from Quebec centric to regional centric? I am willing to be that elements in Alberta and BC would climb on to a party who's line was more regional responsibility.

Or maybe we need a more extreme right party? Make it xenophobic, protectionist, reactionary, religious, against porn, against gay rights, for government approved slavery to solve homelessness. It could be called Sensible Peoples Legitimate and Inclusive Team (split, cleaver eh ;) )
 

Onthereals

TRIBE Member
Haha I love the responses on here. You get a sentence or two that 'does not compute' (i.e. too different) and you stop reading and start calling him an idiot, Phd and all. Ah I'm sorry, internet intellectual, (whatever your qualifications are) not sure if he is as much of an idiot as you are retardedly close minded.

Also, ditto, it is obvious you didnt read the article, (probably for the same reasons above) as you would have seen the ton of evidence he presents as to why NAFTA has been bad for Canada, essentialy refuting all of your arguments.
 

praktik

TRIBE Member
Unfortunately, this article is not REALLY all about NAFTA, and while he does show some interesting statistics, and highlight some problems (as in companies being able to sue governmental impediments to trade - there was that american company that sold a poisonous gasoline additive that we were forced to accept through NAFTA), his conclusion that we should scrap NAFTA and toss all our chips in with the WTO is not the answer...

I see those same problems and suggest we fix it instead! The WTO has its own set of problems and ineffeciencies... Given how important Mexico and the US are to us, I think its important to have a vehicle like NAFTA with which to work out a stronger economic policy. Does NAFTA as it stands have some problems? Sure, the article lists constraints on social and environmental policy and they exist, Im not denying that. But the constraints arent such that our health care has been threatened by NAFTA, if anything, its threatened more by domestic political concerns...

AS per my post above, I think NAFTA is a good boogieman, a hot button issue for some on the left, just as abortion fits the bill for some people on the right. NAFTA needs fixing, there's no doubt on that and I think in all NAFTA countries there's stronger political support from both governments and the populace to do that. But to scrap it? I think its too late for that... Rely solely on the WTO? How does that organization address our regional needs better than NAFTA?

I don't disagree with some of his diagnosis on NAFTA, but I think with the statistics brought out in the article this issue probably deserves more context - perhaps a full article where more of the pros and cons can be weighed than in such a wide ranging article as this where these ideas are not fully contemplated. I do disagree with him on the prescription, and when there are paragraphs spent on his NAFTA "diagnosis" and one or two sentences on what to do about it, Im not sure the author has put enough thought into that section of his analysis...
 
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man_slut

TRIBE Member
Onthereals said:
Haha I love the responses on here. You get a sentence or two that 'does not compute' (i.e. too different) and you stop reading and start calling him an idiot, Phd and all. Ah I'm sorry, internet intellectual, (whatever your qualifications are) not sure if he is as much of an idiot as you are retardedly close minded.

Also, ditto, it is obvious you didnt read the article, (probably for the same reasons above) as you would have seen the ton of evidence he presents as to why NAFTA has been bad for Canada, essentialy refuting all of your arguments.
You have a point:

Chapter 11 of NAFTA was the frosting on the cake, which allows corporations to sue the government if they think there is a restraint of trade or if our government should ever have the audacity to interfere with corporate profits, regardless of damage being done to the environment, human health, or the economy. Despite the constant corporate/media chest-thumping about the benefits and wonders of NAFTA, a closer examination of the data tell a different story. Of the great surge in exports and imports, government studies credit NAFTA with only nine percent of the growth in Canadian exports and two percent of the growth in imports from the USA--over 90 percent of the increased trade was the result of Canada's cheap dollar and the US boom, and it had practically nothing to do with "free trade." Per capita growth in Canada between 1989 and 2002 was 1.6 percent a year, but in the eight years preceding the FTA, it had averaged 1.9 percent per year. Although US direct foreign investment surged during the free trade era, it resulted in the takeover of more than 10,000 Canadian firms, with 96.6 percent of the investment going towards the takeovers, and with many of them being financed through borrowing in Canada--so our own capital was being used to buy us out. When it comes to foreign ownership, it's at legendary levels and far exceeds that of any other country. As for jobs, the FTA/NAFTA period created less than half as many full-time jobs as during the previous thirteen years. In fact, because of the trade agreements, Canada lost 280,000 of its best jobs, forever. An objective accounting shows that the promised benefits of the FTA and NAFTA were never realized.

But it's in the energy sector that the FTA/NAFTA chickens have really come home to roost. As I pointed out in my article:

With the Free Trade Agreement and later NAFTA we're locked into exporting 70 percent of our oil and 56 percent of our natural gas, and with the proportionality provision, the amount of our exports can only go higher--in perpetuity. Our reserves are quickly depleting and because of NAFTA we have absolutely no control of our own resources. This is insanity. To defend Canada's interests, our federal government should renegotiate NAFTA to eliminate the proportionality clause (Mexico never agreed to this), and if the US should refuse, we should give the required six months notice and abrogate NAFTA, since the US ignores its rulings anyway. This would once again give us control of our energy resources and our economy as well.
 
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AdRiaN

TRIBE Member
Onthereals said:
Haha I love the responses on here. You get a sentence or two that 'does not compute' (i.e. too different) and you stop reading and start calling him an idiot, Phd and all. Ah I'm sorry, internet intellectual, (whatever your qualifications are) not sure if he is as much of an idiot as you are retardedly close minded.
The author introduces his letter with a basic premise (i.e., the paragraph I quoted in my first post). I fundamentally disagree with his premise, not because it's "too different," but because I think his perceived threat does not actually exist in the first place.

Since his letter goes on to recommend ways of responding to this threat, I have little interest in reading the rest.

And for what it's worth, I'm not sure why you would insult the intelligence of someone who happens to disagree with a professor, particularly since the subject matter of his letter is not related to his discipline (geography).

You know, I have a masters degree in economics, so I suppose by your logic, all of you "internet intellectuals" are just close-minded boobs who have no capacity to challenge what I write on this board. :rolleyes:
 

deafplayer

TRIBE Member
Ditto Much said:
Since Nafta was signed our export trade business has litterally gone through the roof nearly doubling in size and value in a period of 12 years.
omg if those numbers are up, then Canadian PEOPLE must be better off!

We need to be realistic, since the turn of the 20th century our biggest trading partner by a wide margin has been the USA. Tarifs and punitive measures only hurt us financially.
yeah... yeah you're right I agree on this one
Market forces 'punitive measures', they're just... nature, or god or something
 

Colm

TRIBE Member
Onthereals said:
Haha I love the responses on here. You get a sentence or two that 'does not compute' (i.e. too different) and you stop reading and start calling him an idiot, Phd and all. Ah I'm sorry, internet intellectual, (whatever your qualifications are) not sure if he is as much of an idiot as you are retardedly close minded.
This is funny. I read the article, and while he makes some interesting points, his conclusions lack efficacy or are generally unreasonable. Hence I disagree with him, like I did with many of my university profs - does that make me an idiot?
 

atbell

TRIBE Member
Colm said:
This is funny. I read the article, and while he makes some interesting points, his conclusions lack efficacy or are generally unreasonable. Hence I disagree with him, like I did with many of my university profs - does that make me an idiot?
lol - good point.

It doesn't matter how smart you are if you can't spit it out in a way that other people will understand you.
 
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