Repoliticizing Globalization in Canada: From the MAI to Seattle

Article excerpt

This article examines the impact of globalization on Canadian sovereignty and democracy through a study of the re-emergence of a political debate over international trade and investment rules. Using case studies of the Multilateral Agreement on Investment and the World Trade Organization's failed ministerial meeting in Seattle, it shows how, despite the claim that globalization limits sovereignty and democracy, a transnational opposition movement has developed, aided by new information technology. Given the history of Canada's national debate over continental economic integration the issue of globalization has great resonance, and Canadian non-governmental organizations have been a major part of the opposition to it. As a consequence, traditional executive-dominated Canadian trade policy-making, where government consults with a narrowly defined group of business and economic stakeholders, has come under attack, resulting in a greater role for parliamentary committees and non-govemmental organizations in the process.

Cet article examine les repercussions de la mondialisation sur la souverainete et la democratie canadienne par l'entremise d'une etude de la reemergeance d'un debat politique entourant le commerce international et les regles relatives aux investissements. A l'aide d'etudes de cas portant sur l'Accord multilateral sur l'investissement (AMI) et sur la rencontre ministerielle rathe de l'Organisation mondiale du commerce A Seattle, Particle demontre comment un mouvement d'opposition transnational s'est developpe grAce A la nouvelle technologie de l'information et ce, malgre que Fon pretende que la mondialisation limite la souverainete et la democratie. Etant donne l'historique du debat national canadien concernant l'integration economique continentale, la question de la mondialisation fait beaucoup de bruit et les organismes canadiens non gouvernementaux ont constitue une bonne part de cette opposition. Resultat : on a attaque l'elaboration des politiques commerciales, traditionnellement domin&s par les entreprises et pour laquelle le gouvernement consulte un groupe tres restreint d'entreprises et de parties interessees par l'economie, ce qui a eu pour consequence d'augmenter le role des comites parlementaires et des organismes non gouvernementaux au sein du processus.

Globalization, Sovereignty and Democracy

For most students of international relations, globalization has been one of the most popular terms used to describe the developments of the past decade. The term refers to economic and cultural processes involving the rapid increase of cross border movement of goods, capital, ideas and people that has characterized the late twentieth century. The resulting dramatic economic changes have raised concerns in Canada, and elsewhere, about their implications for sovereignty, for policy autonomy of governments and thus, democracy.

Economic globalization refers to a set of globally integrated processes of production of goods and services organized within a single, or linked, set of corporations. The capacity to organize production in this manner has been facilitated by three trends. First, the declining cost and rising speed of transportation have allowed larger, cheaper movements of goods, capital and services. Second, communications technology has lowered the costs and increased speed of transfer of ever-larger amounts of information, data and ideas. Third, states lowered, either unilaterally, or through bilateral and multilateral agreement, barriers to the movement of goods, capital and, more recently, services. The size, scope, speed and intensity of these have had major implications for states and, thus, for citizens (Held).

Indicators of increased globalization include the greater dependence of national economies on external trade and the large, growing movement of capital, a result of the integration of financial markets and corporate investment in offshore production. …