OTTAWA—The federal government’s soon-to-be-released foreign policy review will say little, if anything, about one of its most important priorities—aligning its policies and regulations with those of the U.S., says the author of a report—Of Independence and Faustian Bargains: Going Down the Deep Integration Road with Uncle Sam—released today by the CCPA.
This so-called “deep integration” initiative, ostensibly to facilitate the movement of goods, services, investment and people throughout North America, goes far beyond what Canadians think of as free trade, into the heart of domestic policy-making. The Martin government is not yet seeking a NAFTA-plus mega-deal along the lines advocated by big business, but it is nevertheless moving in that direction through a series of incremental measures, according to the report’s author, CCPA Executive Director Bruce Campbell.
“For example, it is moving to harmonize a vast array of regulations: health and safety, environment, transportation, immigration, etc. In trade doublespeak, harmonization means Canada bending its regulations or simply adopting U.S. regulations, which is an essential step to creating a common market.”
Although officially denied, government measures are also moving us incrementally toward a common security perimeter and in the process compromising Canada’s reputation as a society open to immigrants and refugees, and respectful of civil liberties.
“The danger,” according to Campbell, “is that the cumulative effect of the government’s actions--many small deals, mostly away from public spotlight--will pave the way for easier acceptance of the ambitious integration schemes advocated by big business. This ‘death by a thousand cuts’ approach would leave most Canadians unaware of what is happening until it is too late.”
He says the government must be up front with Canadians about its agenda so that a debate about the wisdom of going down this deep integration road can ensue.
“We cannot go on indefinitely harmonizing our regulations and compressing the range of choices available to policy-makers without political consequence. The signs of political integration are already evident. Maintaining essential policy freedom is fundamental to our democracy and must be the first principle of our relations with the U.S. It must not be subordinated to the powerful voices of market efficiency and competitiveness,” concludes Campbell.
Of Independence and Faustian Bargains: Going Down the Deep Integration Road with Uncle Sam is available on the CCPA web site at http://www.policyalternatives.ca
For more information contact Kerri-Anne Finn, CCPA Communications officer at 613-563-1341 x306.