Currency Proposal Divides Canada

By Beichman, Arnold | The Washington Times (Washington, DC), August 29, 1999 | Go to article overview

Currency Proposal Divides Canada


Beichman, Arnold, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)


Canada's July Fourth is July First and is celebrated from coast to coast, from Newfoundland to British Columbia. This year, however it was a muted celebration with some gnawing doubts about the future of Canada.

The immediate cause of the doubts is a just-opened debate in Canada on an issue the U.S. public hasn't heard much about since America's print and electronic media pay little attention to what's happening north of the longest unguarded national border in the world. Few Americans realize that our two countries, both former British colonies, enjoy a mutually lucrative trade of $1 billion dollars a day, a figure that describes the best and biggest trading relationship between two countries anywhere in the world. And keep in mind that Canada's population is about 30 million.

The Canadian debate swirls around this proposition:

"Resolved, that Canada give up its own currency and tie itself to the much stronger American dollar."

For Canada to adopt a common currency, it would have to have as an objective political integration with the United States. Such a dilemma faces Britain: Should it drop the pound sterling in favor of the new Euro currency? In the meantime, everybody knows but nobody talks about the fact that a huge number of Canadians have U.S. bank accounts and own U.S. real estate, particularly in Florida, and American stocks. In a sense, there is an individualized common currency already in effect.

The possibility of a common currency has many Canadians, whose anti-Americanism comes with their mother's milk, up in arms. Just as the old Soviet Union regarded the United States as its "glavni vrag," the main enemy, so for many Canadian academics and politicians like former Prime Minister Pierre-Elliot Trudeau, the United States is their "glavni vrag" - a superpower with an "imperialist" culture ready to plunder its northern neighbor by financial takeovers and CIA coups d'etat.

In fact, a few years ago I actually heard a leader of the socialist New Democratic Party publicly announce that if his party ever won an election, the CIA would arrange to have the election annulled, by force if necessary. Well, his socialist party took power in Ontario, Canada's largest province. After a five-year incumbency, the NDP was thrown out - not by the CIA but by Ontario voters - for mismanaging the provincial economy. And, nationally, the NDP is on the road to electoral impotence. Ontario voters, by the way, elected a conservative premier and administration to replace the NDP and have just re-elected the same conservative Premier Mike Harris for a second term.

Canada, a delightful country in which to live, is a paradox because of its many self-identities: a North American nation, a Commonwealth nation, an Atlantic nation, a Pacific nation, an Arctic nation, the next-door neighbor of the United States and, because of a restive Quebec, Canada is also part of what has been called "La Francophonie. …

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