David Orchard
Articles by David Orchard
  Contacts Schedule What You Can Do ! Home Français

New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal, July 6, 1999

Monetary union would mean national defeat

by David Orchard

In March, the Bloc Quebecois, pointing out that the "free trade agreement was fitting nicely into our agenda for Quebec sovereignty," called for Canada to adopt the U.S. dollar. It was following a long separatist tradition. (In the 1840s, George Etienne Cartier broke with Louis-Joseph Papineau over his support for union with the U.S. Later Cartier again fought "French-Canadian annexationists" and "their English speaking allies," to achieve Confederation.)

According to Queens University professor Thomas Courchene, godfather of the Bloc proposal, "dramatically enhanced North American integration following the FTA and NAFTA" makes the argument for "a more formal Canada-U.S. link." Courchene acknowledges "globalization writ large is admittedly wreaking havoc with our social envelope," and admits adopting the U.S. dollar "will likely pull Canada much more thoroughly into the U.S. policy orbit and as such it poses the greatest threat to Canadian sovereignty." So Courchene first wants monetary union, with the dollar "fixed" to that of the U.S., to help maintain "national symbolism."

Both Courchene and the Bloc are correct about free trade leading to continental integration. However, rather than a cure they advocate a fatal dose of the disease.

Instead of throwing away the work of four centuries to become an economic satellite of the U.S., we could build a powerful, independent nation. Canada, larger and in many ways older than the U.S., has long fought American expansionism. In 1605, Port Royal was founded in Nova Scotia, two years before Jamestown, Virginia. In 1690 and 1711, Canadians repelled major invasions from south of the border. In 1775, the "Continental Congress" declared Canada the 14th American colony and George Washington's troops attacked and occupied Quebec for six months before being driven out in defeat.

1812 saw another U.S. invasion and a daring, successful resistance war led by Native leader Tecumseh, General Isaac Brock and Colonel de Salaberry. From the 1860s to 90s, George Etienne Cartier and John A. Macdonald stood off powerful U.S. annexation attempts, flung a railroad across the nation and created a strong east-west economy. Free trade with the U.S. was, Macdonald said, "veiled treason." Cartier declared, "We can and will build up a northern power," and backed his words with deeds.

Louis Riel and the Metis faced down armed American annexationists in the West. In 1911, Robert Borden killed Laurier's attempt to sign a Canada-U.S. free trade agreement, saying, "We must decide whether the spirit of Canadianism or of Continentalism shall prevail on the northern half of the continent."

Now the Liberals -- who gained power promising to "renegotiate" both the FTA and NAFTA and strengthen Canada's independence and did neither -- sacrifice magazines, fish and wheat, mimic U.S. policy, from Yugoslavia to the Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI) and today contemplate total capitulation.

During the Second World War, Canada doubled its economy in just six years, reduced unemployment from double digits to 1%, financing the entire effort internally, using the Bank of Canada. Monetary union with the U.S. would end what remains of Canada's economic and political independence. The Bank of Canada abolished, Canada would become a mere district of the U.S. federal reserve system. Removing the one advantage keeping many Canadian businesses afloat -- the low exchange rate -- could cost over two million jobs and would wipe out whole industries. Rather than, as today, giving away raw resources at fire-sale prices, we can and should use them to create world class Canadian industries. Instead of following Puerto Rico and Panama to the U.S. dollar, we should step out of the FTA and NAFTA (possible with a simple six months' notice) and develop the country into a major competitor to the U.S. -- the vision the founders of Canada advocated. (Ten years of free trade have brought ten years of recession, a declining standard of living and an unemployment rate twice that of the U.S.)

In 1950, Japan had a smaller economy than Canada. Today it is four times larger, a result achieved, not by selling industries to foreign companies or handing economic control to Washington, but by fostering powerful industries of its own. Switzerland is not adopting any one else's currency, and Canada, with its resources, has even less reason to do so.

Creating a proud nation with full employment and the highest standard of living in the world would require some backbone. Instead our government cheerleads as U.S. competition absorbs whole industries and Canadians increasingly perform low-level jobs for foreign owners, work part-time or join unemployment and welfare rolls.

For fourteen years, including as a contender for the federal Conservative party leadership, I have warned that free trade with the U.S. would, if unchecked, lead to a common currency and eventual assimilation of Canada into the U.S. -- and today this issue could topple the Liberals.

Replacing the images of Macdonald and Borden on our currency with Washington and Jefferson, men who tried unsuccessfully to conquer Canada, would mean the Stars and Stripes forever -- and the silence of eternity for the True North strong and free. Instead, a new national policy could place Canada in the forefront of nations.

David Orchard is the author of The Fight for Canada - Four Centuries of Resistance to American Expansionism and was runner-up to Joe Clark in the 1998 federal Progressive Conservative leadership contest. He farms in Borden, SK and can be reached at tel (306) 664-8443 or by e-mail at davidorchard@sasktel.net

Back Top