North Americanization of Canada's Public Policies

Article excerpt

Continental security is essential to economic security and is not an attack on Canadian sovereignty. And obsession with security must not result in treating foreign development aid as a weapon in the fight against global terrorism.

The interweaving of economic policies between our country and the United States and our dependence on the American market represent a basic fact of the Canadian reality.

What we have discovered [as a result of the September 11 attacks] is the degree to which this dependence makes Canada vulnerable. We have never before been able to measure so brutally the degree to which the survival of our industrial structure depends on the transparency of the border we share with the United States. In other words, the monetary flow that ensures the economic security of Canada depends on the credibility of the security measures that we are presently discussing. We must convince American investors, but also Canadian and European investors, that the border will remain as transparent as possible and that they can do business in either Canada or the United States.

Canadian policies that affect continental security, without being a direct copy of American laws, must clearly play the same roles and have the same results. These laws are numerous, and the idea that they must be passed largely taking into account the concerns of our neighbours bothers a lot of people, who see an unacceptable attack on our sovereignty in this. There are three reasons why [feel such a position is not justified.

First of all, Canadian and American territorial security imperatives are largely the same. Secondly, in the area of immigration, a matter which is central to these discussions, these countries have more similar policies than any other countries in the OECD. Finally, the costs of a overly nationalistic policy are unacceptable.

The solution does not lie in an out-and-out rejection of the security integration of North America nor does it lie in the resistance to individual attacks on our sovereignty that would be found in each law that was tabled or amended. Rather, it lies in a concerted discussion on the provisions of North American integration.

Let me explain. For the above-mentioned reasons, the management of North-American issues has to be at the heart of our concerns. However, their domestic implications mean that they cannot only come under the jurisdiction of foreign policy. They come under something else, as European affairs are not really a foreign policy issue for France or Germany.

Some people have called this new field "intermestic", a word I personally can't stand. I would rather paraphrase Brian Tomlin and solidify the concept to simply talk of the North- Americanization of Canada's public policies.

The events of September 11 have focused attention on the crying need for serious reflection regarding strictly North- American affairs, based on the premise of Canadian integration in a secure economic area, and therefore also a political one, which extends to the Rio Grande and even, but not necessarily, as several people have already said, to the southern border of Mexico. What we need now is not a new North American, domestic or foreign policy, but a whole new order.

This approach must be integrated. It cannot separately address issues regarding currency, the dollar, dollarization, trade issues, energy issues, environmental, migratory, police or military ones. The time is past where people discussed things such as a common currency, a common market, migration or a security perimeter in separate fora. We need a policy which is not solely based on the defence or foreign policy of a country. [would even go further in saying that the development of a post-September 11 North American foreign policy would be counterproductive.

We must fully acknowledge and deal with the fact that all of Canada's public policies must be based on a continental approach. …