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11/18/2004 Archived Entry: "NAFTA-plus"
I don't know what to make of this article by Joseph Farah, editor and publisher of WorldNetDaily, which lambastes the idea of NAFTA-plus - a plan that some have called the "deep integration" of US and Canada. And, oh yes, Mexico too. (In writing that last sentence fragment, I heard the voice of the Wicked Witch of Oz saying, "And your little dog, Toto, too!" Somehow Mexico is always an after-thought.)
I know what I think of NAFTA-plus - I don't like it. But I don't know how seriously to take the sky-is-falling attitude of Farah who seems to believe it would be the death of American sovereignty -- Canadian and Mexican sovereignty he's not too worried about. Nor do I know how likely the plan is to succeed.
What is NAFTA-plus? Intriguingly, it is a plan that both socialists and fundamentalist Christians oppose.
To secure a closer Canada-US partnership, the Bush administration wants to make sure that Canada addresses US concerns about our shared border serving as an entry point for terrorists. And, oh yes!, it wants to tap into Canada's cannon-fodder potential as well as its natural resources. Natural resources: Canada is not merely an oil and electric energy exporter, it is by far the world's largest untapped source of lumber, natural gas, clean water, mineral deposits, etc. Cannon-fodder: there are all those fresh-scrubbed Canadian boys and girls who could be shipped overseas instead of fresh-scrubbed American ones to die for corporate profits and neocon dreams.
NAFTA-plus calls for Canada to direct massive tax dollars toward border and domestic security, in addition to beefing up our military so that it can participate both in crises within North America and overseas. (The Canadian military is a bit of a joke and, frankly, I like it that way. I'm sure it still annoys the hell out of Bush that Canadians are not in Iraq.) The proposed NAFTA-plus scheme also includes a "resource security pact." This offers Canada certain advantages: e.g. exempting Canadian lumber from US trade restrictions. It offers the US huge advantages: e.g. guaranteed access to Canada's energy resources.
In short, Canada is being offered financial incentives - mostly the elimination of trade barriers and the influx of American investment to undeveloped regions like Northern Quebec - in exchange for falling in line with America's military/security goals and for sating America's hunger for natural resources.
The five elements of the proposed plan so far are: 1) reinventing borders to establish a common security perimeter, possibly involving a Canadian national identity card with biometric identifiers; 2) the "harmonization of business regulations"; 3) a resource security pact; 4) "reinvigorating" the North American Defence Alliance; and 5) developing new institutions to manage a Canada-US partnership.
I don't have a lot of answers yet - I don't even know how likely the plan is to succeed -- but I will be researching a lot of questions in the next few weeks.