Articles Canada-USA

  • NO to NAFTA

    When the U.S. government failed to abide by the decision of the NAFTA Extraordinary Challenge Committee (ECC) on the issue of Canadian softwood-lumber exports by returning $5 billion it collected illegally, the Canadian public finally got the message: the North America Free Trade Agreement is a scam.

    It’s official, folks: NAFTA was never about free trade. By the time its predecessor, the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement, was negotiated, tariffs had already been eliminated or were negligible for all but a few commodities anyway. For Canada, the free-trade agreement was really only about gaining a dispute-settlement agreement that would protect Canadian exporters from arbitrary measures blocking their access to the huge American market. For the U.S., it was about guaranteed access to our energy.

  • Smart Regulations

    Regulations are boring, bone dry and tedious, right? Red tape–better to get rid of it! That is the type of message you are likely to start hearing, as the “Smart Regulation” agenda for Canada rolls out. It is sure to get some support from those of us who feel we are under siege from constant demands for more paperwork. But take a closer look. Is “Smart Regulation” really smart?

    Regulations are the rules that we make, via various levels of government, that define the scope and conditions of legal behaviour for businesses and individuals. The ability to regulate is a fundamental aspect of sovereignty. Regulation is the mechanism that makes the policy rubber hit the reality road.

  • Why A Canada-U.S. Customs Union is a Bad Idea

    The potential shutdown of the Canada-U.S. border is a prospect that sends shivers down the spine of corporate Canada. These fears crystallized in the days after the September 11, 2001 terror attacks.

    Since that time, pressure has been mounting for a new deal between Canada and the United States to ensure that the border stays open in the future. A new wave of pro-integration literature has emerged with hypothetical proposals for a “strategic bargain” (in the words of the C.D. Howe Institute) with the U.S. across a number of policy areas, including border security, defence policy and immigration.

  • Canada’s Chance to Keep Space for Peace

    The Canadian government will soon make a historic decision about what role it will play in the new U.S. Star Wars plan. The Pentagon calls it “missile defence,” but a quick review of U.S. military documents reveals a long and clear record of moving toward the weaponization of space.

  • Bush’s Victory and Canada’s Choice

    The re-election of George Bush at least clarifies things. Within the strict confines of what passes for democracy in the United States today, the American electorate has affirmed the rogue imperialist policies of Bush and rejected the more traditional imperialism advocated by Kerry. This outcome reflects profound changes not only in the nature of America’s politics, but in its whole economic and social order. As such, it holds grave implications for Canada and the rest of the world. Within the United States, Bush’s re-election represents the consolidation of a right-wing plutocracy backed by the soldiers of God over American politics and society. Grave damage, or even the outright end of the corrupt American political democracy, can be expected. Regressive social and economic policies, including the gutting of the Social Security System, are likely.

  • U.S. Elections

    Aristotle defined an oligarchy as a polity in which the few elect the rulers to govern over the many. That formula fits exactly the description of U.S. primaries and general elections. In New York state, where only 15 per cent of the party members voted in the recent Democratic primaries, Kerry won with eight per cent of registered Democrats. In the general elections in November, 25 million voters (out of 50 million) can decide who will rule over 280 million citizens. The great majority of blacks, Hispanics and poor workers will not vote, because they perceive that neither the Republican Bush nor the Democrat Kerry speak to the problems that most affect their lives.

  • NAFTA At Ten

    It’s a good time to “do the sums” on NAFTA. But don’t stop for long. Despite clear victories in Cancun and Miami for popular movements and for Venezuela and Brazil and other countries with progressive leadership, the juggernaut extending corporate and United States interests, whether through bilateral, regional or global negotiations – or under the table with economic and political leverage – goes on apace. And, in Canada, corporate leadership, the “think-tanks” and lobbyists they employ, and the politicians who carry their freight have been pumping out speeches, papers and proposals for their “big idea”: ever deeper integration.

  • Beyond Nafta

    For many of us, it’s hard to get excited about another review of NAFTA’s economic successes or failures. It’s not that such an economic review is irrelevant – coping with the economic implications of NAFTA obviously remains central to anyone concerned with social change. But in itself, the economic debate is unlikely to move us much ahead. There are just too many Œwhat-ifs’ involved for any numbers to convince skeptics. (Would business investment in Canada have slowed down if the corporate sector were defeated on NAFTA? Would Canadian companies have been less productive if they didn’t face the pressures of free trade? Would U.S. retaliation against Canadian exports into the U.S. been worse?)

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