David Orchard
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Calgary Herald, August 20, 2001

Erasing borders with U.S. will erase Canada from map

by David Orchard

Also published as "Road map to victory; Tories should shun talks with Alliance and fill vacuum on the Left of Liberals," Montreal Gazette, August 18, '01; "Party that stands up against Americanization needed," Prince Albert Herald (SK), August 18, '01; "Is Canada facing assimilation?," Saint John Telegraph Journal (NB), August 22, '01 and "Nation needs bold Tory vision," Regina Leader-Post (SK), August 21, '01]

A recent newspaper headline informs us that "Canada and the United States are poised to consider erasing the world's longest undefended border." According to Canada's ambassador to Washington, "in the case of Canada and the United States, the traditional concept of an international border has lost its relevance."

Throughout Canada's history the push to see Canada absorbed into the U.S. -- continentalism in action -- has been strong. From Confederation until Pierre Trudeau took its helm, the Liberal party promoted the economic union of Canada with the United States. The Conservatives stood strongly in opposition, overcoming the annexationists to create an independent country in 1867 and then defeating the Liberals' push for commercial union with the U.S. in 1891 and their proposed Canada-U.S. free trade agreement in 1911.

Sir John A. Macdonald famously summed up the party's position: "The Liberals have as many aliases for their policy as a thief has excuses for his wrong doing. It has been commercial union, unrestricted reciprocity and latterly tariff reform; but there is another name by which it must be known, and that is annexation -- which is treason."

However in the mid 1980s, the Conservative party dramatically reversed its historical position and adopted the traditional Liberal policy of free trade with the U.S. Two elections later it was handed the most sweeping repudiation of any political party in a western democracy -- reduced from governing to two seats.

Today the Liberal party has cast aside the positions of Pierre Trudeau and John Turner -- and its own electoral promises to stop the sellout of Canada which brought it to power -- and reverted to outright continentalism. The escalating takeover of Canada's economy by American corporations is reaching catastrophic proportions. The governor of the Bank of Canada has stated that, if the economic integration continues, adopting the U.S. dollar may follow. What in most countries would be regarded as treasonous, namely that the nation might cease to exist, is referred to openly.

Peter Lougheed, formerly a strong promoter of the Canada-U.S. free trade agreement, now warns that "we're going to look at our country in about three years and say what have we got left?" Former Supreme Court Justice Willard Estey has added his voice: "I supported free trade a decade ago. Now I am starting to suspect that Canada may have contracted out our independence in those trade agreements... Let's examine what's happening to us... while we still have a country."

If our nation is to maintain its sovereignty, there must be a political party to defend it and Canada has perhaps never needed the Conservative party as its traditional defender more than today. Yet at this moment prominent members of the party appear lost and are engaged in "unity talks" with members of the Canadian Alliance, a party which strongly supports the Liberal policy of economic integration into the U.S.

The Alliance position is one of classic laissez-faire liberalism; it has nothing to do with Canadian conservatism which, after founding the country and its highly successful mixed economy, created the CPR, CNR, Ontario Hydro, the Bank of Canada, the Canadian Wheat Board, the CBC and the first national unemployment and social programmes.

What electoral purpose is there in having a fourth political party saying "me too" to the continentalism of the Liberals, the Alliance and the Bloc Quebecois?

There is a political opening today for a mainstream voice opposed to merging our country into the U.S., to the escalating destruction of the environment and to the wholesale and unsustainable give away of our non-renewable resources and our industries under the guise of "free trade."

The Conservative party has a proud tradition which defeated these tendencies in the past. Under laissez-faire liberalism Canada could not have come into being and cannot continue to survive today. Without a national vision and a domestically controlled infrastructure, Canada, next to the power of the United States, faces assimilation. Neither the Liberals, the Alliance nor the Bloc (which favours a common currency with the U.S.) has a national vision. The NDP record in defence of Canada's sovereignty is mixed and its national reach remains weak.

The defining issues of the next election may well be those of globalization and continentalism, provided of course there is a major political party prepared to stand up to the Liberals on these questions.

With the Liberal party, whether under Paul Martin or Jean Chrétien, and the Canadian Alliance under Stephen Harper or any facsimile thereof, there is no room on the political spectrum for another right wing, pro-continentalist party. There is however a large vacuum in the centre, just to the left of the Liberals -- the same opportunity John Diefenbaker saw and seized.

Instead of romancing the Alliance the PC party should reconnect to its roots and its timeless position in defence of Canada's right to be. Taking this stand against the Liberal betrayal of Canada would be consistent with the courage shown by Cartier, Macdonald, Borden, Bennett and Diefenbaker; it just might also be the key to victory in the next election.

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 and by e-mail at davidorchard@sasktel.net

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