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Conquering Canada: The Elite Re-Configuration of North America

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By Carl Teichrib

“The acqui­si­tion of Canada this year…will be a mere matter of marching…”
– Thomas Jefferson

Dis­be­lief was the first emo­tion. Not because I didn’t com­pre­hend the mes­sage, but because of the brazen nature of the broad­cast. After the evening news was over, I imme­di­ately placed phone calls to friends in the United States. Was it on your evening news? Did you see it?

The response was the same regard­less of which state I called. No, there’s nothing about this story here. Are you sure it exists?
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While America appeared to have a news blackout in early 2005, flashed coast-to-coast across Canada was a report of mon­u­mental sig­nif­i­cance: a story that will impact every cit­izen of Mexico, the United States, and Canada.

The piece that caught my breath was the procla­ma­tion of an unveiling. The New York-based Council on For­eign Rela­tions would be releasing a study on inte­grating the con­ti­nent, a move that would take us well beyond NAFTA. For the obser­vant, it was clear that all three nations would have to re-configure their priorities.

Released in early 2005, the CFR doc­u­ment titled Building A North Amer­ican Com­mu­nity would even­tu­ally trigger a ground swell of crit­i­cism in the United States. Over the next two years, a variety of watchdog and cit­izen orga­ni­za­tions would voice con­cerns that con­ti­nental har­mo­niza­tion would be an affront to national sov­er­eignty, with a dozen or so states intro­ducing bills of oppo­si­tion. Adding fuel to this fire was the real­iza­tion that other inte­gra­tion pro­grams have been underway with little public knowl­edge or debate.

One such ini­tia­tive, which coin­cided with the emer­gence of the CFR report, is the Secu­rity and Pros­perity Part­ner­ship. Known by its acronym as SPP, this fed­er­ally gen­er­ated tri-national pact sur­faced during the March 2005 meeting between the leaders of the three NAFTA nations: Vicente Fox, George Bush, and Paul Martin.

Meant to tighten eco­nomic and secu­rity ties, SPP pushes the removal of bar­riers to energy and resource flows, and wel­comes the cre­ation of insti­tu­tions to facil­i­tate North Amer­ican inte­gra­tion. Fur­ther­more, SPP con­sul­ta­tion meet­ings and its spin-off body, the North Amer­ican Com­pet­i­tive­ness Council, are com­prised of major rep­re­sen­ta­tives from fed­eral agen­cies and key multi­na­tional cor­po­rate players. It’s a merger of sorts, not just amongst nations, but also between fed­eral author­i­ties and multi­na­tional cor­po­ra­tions – all bonding to achieve the quest of regional harmonization.

Another case in point is NASCO, a tri­lat­eral coali­tion made up of provincial/state and local gov­ern­ments, along with major busi­nesses such as Lock­heed Martin. The goal of NASCO is mam­moth: it envi­sions a super­highway run­ning from Win­nipeg, Man­i­toba through to Kansas City, San Antonio, and on to Guadala­jara and Man­zanillo, Mexico, eating up an incred­ible amount of con­crete, steel, and capital.

Unlike other roads, this cor­ridor, if real­ized, would be a com­pre­hen­sive energy and com­merce jugular vein pro­pelling tri-national inter­de­pen­dence in trans­porta­tion, trade, and strategic resources. According to two papers released by NASCO, this entire system will be mon­i­tored by a sweeping archi­tec­ture of high-tech sen­sors and tracking sys­tems, all chan­nelled into US Home­land Security.

This is not a small idea, but one with grand scope and reach. More­over, inte­gra­tion ini­tia­tives, be they found in the polit­ical or busi­ness realm, haven’t occurred in a vacuum. Con­ti­nental uni­fi­ca­tion is not an overnight phenomenon.

Eco­nomic ideas sup­porting a common North Amer­ican home have been cir­cu­lating for years. In 1991, the Dallas Fed­eral Reserve issued a working paper exam­ining the poten­tial for a single North Amer­ican cur­rency. Later in the 1990’s, Canada’s cen­tral bank released a string of doc­u­ments on the pros and cons of eco­nomic and mon­e­tary har­mo­niza­tion. And in 1999, Canada’s Fraser Insti­tute pub­lished a report openly proposing a single tri-national cur­rency as a coun­ter­bal­ance to Europe’s euro. This new North Amer­ican dollar, it was sug­gested, should be called the “amero.”

So it wasn’t a sur­prise that by the year 2000 at least one US Trea­sury offi­cial, Assis­tant Sec­re­tary for Inter­na­tional Affairs, Edwin M. Truman, can­didly sug­gested a “dramatic decline in the number of inde­pen­dent cur­ren­cies in the world.” This com­ment, made before the Fed­eral Reserve Bank of Atlanta, was directly aimed at North America’s finan­cial structure.

Later that fall, the Atlanta Fed­eral Reserve pub­lished an article in its Eco­nomic Review debating what final form a tri-national cur­rency would take. This issue not only stated “that a single cur­rency for NAFTA coun­tries is possible,” but also that “the idea of a single cur­rency for NAFTA is on the table.” After all, in July 2000, Mex­ican Pres­i­dent Vicente Fox pro­posed a North Amer­ican common market, incor­po­rating a cus­toms union, the free flow of goods and labour, and a con­ti­nental mon­e­tary policy. Addi­tion­ally, the newly inau­gu­rated US Pres­i­dent, George Bush, had ear­lier pledged to foster hemi­spheric inte­gra­tion while attending the Quebec Summit of the Americas.

Indeed, cre­ating a North Amer­ican eco­nomic space appeared to be a serious topic in fed­eral cir­cles until late summer, 2001. Only days before the 9/11 terror attacks, Fox and Bush met in Wash­ington to dis­cuss Mexico’s role as a US and con­ti­nental partner, with migrant labour issues at the fore­front. Sep­tember 11, obvi­ously, changed Washington’s focus to more dis­tant shores.

Iron­i­cally, as 9/11 shifted the eyes of the US exec­u­tive branch towards the Middle East, cor­po­rate elites embraced North Amer­ican inte­gra­tion as a lesson learned. Keep in mind that our tri-national trade is stag­gering, with Canada and the US alone con­sti­tuting the largest bi-national eco­nomic rela­tion­ship on the planet. To give a sense of this rela­tion­ship: just the yearly trade passing through one US/Canadian border crossing, the Windsor/Detroit sta­tion, is more then the total annual US trade with Japan.

Sep­tember 11 threw this essen­tial com­merce into chaos. As approx­i­mately 50 mil­lion dol­lars (US) per hour went missing due solely to the Canadian/US border clo­sures after the attack, and with sub­se­quent bot­tle­necks and slow­downs rever­ber­ating long after­wards, finan­cial and busi­ness exec­u­tives looked to con­ti­nental har­mo­niza­tion as a way of avoiding sim­ilar loss scenarios.

In America, the US Chamber of Com­merce jumped on the band­wagon, becoming an impor­tant sup­porter of the Secu­rity and Pros­perity Part­ner­ship. This backing was evi­dent when Thomas Donohue, the Pres­i­dent and CEO of the US Chamber of Com­merce, made these com­ments while speaking at a lun­cheon in Wash­ington DC on June 16, 2006, “…for CEOs, North America is already a single market, and busi­ness deci­sions are no longer made with a Mexico strategy – or a Canada strategy – but, rather, with a North Amer­ican strategy…I think it’s pretty clear by now that it no longer makes sense to talk about US com­pet­i­tive­ness and Mex­ican com­pet­i­tive­ness – or, for that matter, about the com­pet­i­tive­ness of Canada. We are all in this together – we, as North Americans.”

Cana­dian busi­ness elites hold to a sim­ilar view. The Cana­dian Council of Chief Exec­u­tives, Canada’s fore­most club of top CEOs, launched the North Amer­ican Secu­rity and Pros­perity Ini­tia­tive in Jan­uary 2003. While down­playing the Euro­pean model of uni­fi­ca­tion, the CCCE did pro­pose North Amer­ican iden­ti­fi­ca­tion cards and the stream­lining of cross-border finan­cial reg­u­la­tions, including opening Canada’s own­er­ship restric­tions and granting US com­pa­nies access to acquiring even more busi­nesses and resources north of the border. The CCCE also advised that Mexico, the US, and Canada estab­lish new com­mis­sions that could coor­di­nate inte­gra­tion, and that North Amer­ican defence be tackled in a way that demon­strates a con­ti­nental reality.

Being sen­si­tive to poten­tial crit­i­cism that the CCCE is selling-out their country, the orga­ni­za­tion released a Q&A styled paper explaining that their ideas did not rep­re­sent a merger, but merely a new part­ner­ship. Sov­er­eignty, the doc­u­ment implied, wasn’t in jeopardy.

How­ever, in a report pre­sented to the CCCE by a part­nering Cana­dian for­eign policy insti­tute, admit­tance was made that any time a country agrees to be bound by an inter­na­tional treaty, it auto­mat­i­cally involves “the sur­render of some degree of national sov­er­eignty in exchange for larger purposes.”

The Canadian/US Free Trade Agree­ment of the late 1980s amply demon­strated this fact. Writing for the Saska­toon StarPhoenix in June, 2007, polit­ical com­men­ta­tors Bill Loewen and David Orchard reminded Cana­dians about the eco­nomic sur­render that accom­pa­nied Free Trade treaty oblig­a­tions. “More than 12,000 Cana­dian com­pa­nies have been taken over since the 1989 Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agree­ment. Since Jan­uary 2006, for­eign takeovers of some $156 bil­lion have been consummated…There only are a handful of widely held Cana­dian com­pa­nies now listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange – surely an abnormal sit­u­a­tion for a sov­er­eign nation.”

Sov­er­eignty is not insignif­i­cant. For the mil­lions of cit­i­zens who place their trust in appointed polit­ical leaders, it is expected that the require­ments and inter­ests of their par­tic­ular country will be upheld and safe­guarded. Nev­er­the­less, what the gen­eral public assumes and what inter­na­tional finan­cial players deem impor­tant are not always the same. And when national elites work to per­ma­nently change the direc­tion of a nation, the public’s knowl­edge, input, and debate should be more than expected. In a democ­racy, any­thing less smacks of coercion.

Inte­gra­tion, as a Cana­dian, is espe­cially trou­bling. Our place in North America as the energy bread­basket is a strategic posi­tion. Rec­og­nized for its out­standing resource base, Canada sup­plies America with almost 100% of its elec­tricity imports and pipelined nat­ural gas, and more petro­leum then any other nation on earth – including Saudi Arabia. Energy is not just another box-store con­sumer item like so many trin­kets floating in the global mar­ket­place; it’s the lifeblood of a country.

Cur­rently the energy flowing into and out of the US via Canada is remark­ably effi­cient under the free market system. Could this be made better? Cer­tainly. Does this imply nation­al­iza­tion? Not at all: the last thing working free mar­kets need is more con­trols imposed by bloated bureau­cra­cies, including a pos­sible North Amer­ican man­age­ment regime.

What Canada does need, how­ever, is to develop a com­pre­hen­sive energy strategy of its own, including the cre­ation of an east-west grid instead of the cur­rent, almost exclu­sive north-south energy transfer system. Such a strategy would help Canadian’s solidify and safe­guard their energy require­ments, while putting nec­es­sary exports into their proper con­text. Con­versely, widely opening Canada’s resources for sell-off into for­eign hands, as the CCCE sug­gests, increases our vul­ner­a­bility to inter­na­tional market shocks and ensures depen­dence on out­side enti­ties. In the end our sov­er­eignty suffers.

But energy isn’t the only area up for grabs in this con­ti­nental re-alignment. The Center for Strategic and Inter­na­tional Studies, one of the most influ­en­tial policy groups in Wash­ington, has qui­etly launched a pro­gram titled the North Amer­ican Future 2025 Project. Working in coop­er­a­tion with the Con­fer­ence Board of Canada, CSIS envi­sions the tri-national inte­gra­tion of agri­cul­ture, health ser­vices, trans­porta­tion, and telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions. Banking and the finan­cial world are fin­gered too, a move that sur­prises no one, as is Cana­dian fresh water access – a sore point for many north of the border.

Canada holds approx­i­mately 20% of the world’s fresh water, and this supply has been at the epi­centre of a sim­mering bi-national struggle between US inter­ests and Cana­dians. In fact, this tug-of-war goes back to the 1960s and the indus­trial giant Ralph M. Par­sons Com­pany (now the Par­sons Cor­po­ra­tion), which pro­posed the North Amer­ican Water and Power Alliance and the diver­sion of Cana­dian river sys­tems to the south. Now, over forty years later, CSIS is advo­cating that the US and Mexico gain access to this supply, with sug­ges­tions of “water trans­fers” and the “artificial diver­sion of fresh water.”

Obvi­ously, as a country with some of the most to lose or gain in tri-national trade, one would think that Cana­dian voters would be seri­ously debating the pros and cons of a North Amer­ican merger. But nothing of the sort has been evi­dent. This despite the fact that in early 2002, Robert Pastor – a con­sul­tant to the US National Secu­rity Council and Vice Chair of the CFR task force on North Amer­ican inte­gra­tion – gave tes­ti­mony to the Cana­dian House of Com­mons, proposing a North Amer­ican Par­lia­men­tary Group, a North Amer­ican Devel­op­ment Fund, a North Amer­ican cus­toms union, and the imple­men­ta­tion of a single mon­e­tary unit for the con­ti­nent. Pastor also encour­aged the Cana­dian gov­ern­ment to help its cit­i­zens think as “North Americans,” with the impli­ca­tion that nation­alism must be replaced by a broader mindset.

Robert Pastor also gave a sim­ilar pre­sen­ta­tion to the Toronto meeting of the Tri­lat­eral Com­mis­sion (TC) in the fall of 2002. After all, the Tri­lat­eral Com­mis­sion was pur­suing region­alism as a stepping-stone to glob­al­iza­tion ten years before, and has an his­tor­ical link into the Euro­pean Union (see Vladimir Bukovsky’s speech tran­script posted at The August Review). Other Tri­lat­eral con­nec­tions exist, including crossovers between the TC, the CFR Task Force, and CSIS.

One example is Wendy Dobson, a CFR Task Force member who along with Pastor dis­cussed the North Amer­ican union at the Toronto Tri­lat­eral meeting. Other Trilateral/CFR Task Force mem­bers include Allan Gotlieb, Carlos Heredia, Luis Rubio, and Carla A. Hills. Not only is Hills a member of the CFR North Amer­ican group and the Tri­lat­eral Com­mis­sion, she’s also the co-chair of the CSIS Advi­sory Board. Inci­den­tally, one of the co-founders of the Tri­lat­eral Com­mis­sion, Zbig­niew Brzezinski, is a Coun­sellor at CSIS, which has been pub­lishing the North Amer­ican Inte­gra­tion Mon­itor since 2002.

If all of this seems like a cozy little club, that’s because it is a cozy little club. In fact, the CFR report Building A North Amer­ican Com­mu­nity sug­gests the estab­lish­ment of “private bodies that would meet reg­u­larly or annu­ally to but­tress North Amer­ican rela­tion­ships, along the lines of the Bilderberg…conferences.”

The Bilder­berg con­fer­ences are renowned for their pri­vate, elite set­tings. So too, North Amer­ican uni­fi­ca­tion events are inten­tion­ally locked behind secured doors, such as the closed North Amer­ican Forum at Banff, Alberta in 2006, and the mul­tiple CSIS round­ta­bles that started in Wash­ington DC and ended on April 27, 2007 in Cal­gary, Alberta. By the way, in the fall of 2007, CSIS will be dis­trib­uting their final North Amer­ican Future 2025 report to all three gov­ern­ments in a bid to advance integration.

Through all of this, Cana­dian politi­cians have been strangely silent, with the excep­tion of the National Demo­c­ratic Party. Iron­i­cally, while the NDP opposes a North Amer­ican Union, it’s a staunch sup­porter of global gov­er­nance as espoused by the Socialist Inter­na­tional, the largest body of socialist leaders on the planet, and one that the NDP holds a full mem­ber­ship in.

But what does the average cit­izen think? Besides the fact that most are wholly unaware, a CFR poll shows Cana­dians sup­port deeper inte­gra­tion. How­ever, as someone living on the Cana­dian prairies, I’ve been con­ducting my own poll of sorts: I’ve been asking friends and neigh­bours where they stand on this issue. Granted, this may not be the most sci­en­tific method, but it did elicit inter­esting responses.

One friend who’s a grain buyer sees a US-Canadian amal­ga­ma­tion as inevitable, and remarked that we’re owned by American-led multi­na­tionals already. Farmers had mixed opin­ions, but the majority believed they would simply be pawns in a game of high finances and gov­ern­ment dic­tates; views that are not groundless.

Another friend looks for­ward to a union, hoping Cana­dian socialism dies in the process, but is equally fearful that the out­come will be some­thing worse. Others have been hor­ri­fied by the thought of a blended con­ti­nent, and had hoped that the present Cana­dian Con­ser­v­a­tive gov­ern­ment wouldn’t be bent so easily by big dollar politics.

No matter whom I dis­cussed this with, pro or con, all seemed leery. Few believed that a merger would deliver on the altru­istic promises of “Security and Prosperity,” espe­cially without shred­ding national inde­pen­dence. Little insti­tu­tional trust exists, at least in the rural areas of the Great Plains.

Iron­i­cally, I’m a “NAFTA product.” My great-grandparents on both sides immi­grated and emi­grated back-and-forth between all three coun­ties, and for some of my kin this was done mul­tiple times, switching nations as they bought and sold land and farms. But bureau­cracy was min­imal then, and gov­ern­ments and com­mu­ni­ties wel­comed anyone willing to work and add to the progress of society. Now bureau­cracy is stran­gling, with gov­ern­ments over­bur­dened by hefty enti­tle­ment pro­grams, mas­sive debt loads, and a bewil­dering maze of regulations.

A dif­ferent breed, how­ever, stalks today’s North Amer­ican land­scape. As it stands, con­ti­nental uni­fi­ca­tion is being driven by tri­lat­eral elites tightly bound to the world of banking and multi­na­tional cor­po­ra­tions, and by gov­ern­ment leaders who typ­i­cally flirt between a life of public admin­is­tra­tion and priv­i­leged finan­cial and cor­po­rate board­rooms. It’s a land­scape of inter­twined big power and money interests.

This raises some serious ques­tions. Will another layer of man­age­ment, this time at a regional level, fix our insti­tu­tional defi­cien­cies? Or will it add more bureau­cracy and less account­ability? And who stands to win or lose in this game of inte­gra­tion; the tri­lat­eral movers of North America, the sov­er­eignty of each indi­vidual nation, or the common cit­izen bliss­fully unaware of the coming con­ti­nental shift?

Let me guess where you’re placing your amero-dollar bets.

Carl Teichrib is a Senior Fellow with The August Review [www.augustreview.com], and Chief Editor of Forcing Change [www.forcingchange.org].

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