Big Picture Realities: Canada and Mexico at the Crossroads

Article excerpt

Daniel Drache (ed.), Big Picture Realities: Canada and Mexico at the Crossroads (Waterloo, ON: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2008), 308pp. Paper. $34.95. ISBN 978-1-555458-045-3.

Big Picture Realities is the result of a 2005 conference that brought together a number of Canadian and Mexican scholars to reflect on the impact upon Canada and Mexico of NAFTA and the post-NAFTA emphasis on security over economic integration. The authors take divergent views of the economic impact of NAFTA. Daniel Drache is sceptical of the supposed economic benefits of the agreement, arguing that 'the low Canadian dollar, rather than new market access, was responsible for Canada's export boom to the United States' (p. 44). This export boom was driven by the resource sector, while the manufacturing sector in Canada continued to shed higher paid and higher skilled jobs. Gustavo Vega- Cànovas, on the other hand, believes that trade liberalisation did lead to economic development in both Mexico and Canada, though he concedes that the benefits were unevenly distributed and that 'NAFTA has not meant that everyone has prospered' (p. 56). Rosalba Icaza Garza is even more critical of an agreement that has resulted in a more inequitable distribution of wealth, pointing out that the number of Mexicans living in extreme poverty has almost doubled since the agreement came into effect (p. 192). But whatever the impact of NAFTA upon job creation, all the authors agree that trade liberalisation has gone as far as it can go and that since 9/11 security issues have become paramount.

Under pressure from the US, Canada and Mexico have attempted to evolve a common policy on border security but as several of the articles in the book point out, there are limits to the extent of this cooperation. …