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
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org