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Times-Colonist (Victoria), Sunday, June 27, 1993

Free trade pact opponent makes strong argument

By Bev Wake

Powerful and compelling — the first two words that come to mind after reading David Orchard’s new book The Fight for Canada: Four Centuries of Resistance to American Expansionism.

A member of Citizens Concerned About Free Trade, Orchard has argued against free trade and closer ties with the United States in public meetings across Canada.

The Fight for Canada places Orchard's arguments in historical context.

As easy as it would be to allow the book to read like a history textbook, Orchard never lets it degenerate. His writing is clear and concise, and each point well-documented — 20 pages of end notes follow the text.

Beginning with the 1690 invasion by American settlers of what is now Montreal, Orchard leads the reader up to the current debate over the North American Free Trade Agreement.

The argument that links each topic in the book is that the United States government wants to expand and gain control of Canada and its resources.

In each instance Orchard explains how his view is justified. In the 17th and 18th centuries, Americans tried military invasions with arguments such as "annexation our manifest destiny."

But they soon realized, Orchard argues, that economic strategies would be more successful than military ones. Orchard looks at how the United States, through economic domination and free trade, gained control of independent nations like Hawaii and Puerto Rico — and how it is trying the same thing with Canada.

Orchard looks back at Canadian leaders like John A. Macdonald, who argued that free trade would mean the end of Canada, Pierre Trudeau who called the free trade agreement a "monstrous swindle," and John Turner, who called it the "Sale of Canada Act."

The he turns to Mulroney and argues that, in signing the 1988 free trade agreement, Mulroney signed away Canada's independence.

The major strength of the book lies in Orchard's thorough analysis of the FTA. Reviewing what the agreement guarantees, he argues that it favours the United States.

"One of the most important rights a nation has," he writes, "is the control over its economy in general and its trade in particular. This was the issue over which the American revolution was fought in 1775. With the Canada-U.S. free trade agreement, Canada has lost that control."

For example, during a shortage the agreement allows the United States the same proportion of any "good," including all forms of energy, that they were taking before the shortage — even if Canadians are forced to go without.

He also analyzes the change in the economy — such as the fact that takeovers of Canadian companies by U.S. companies have increased fourfold since the agreement was signed.

And he looks at government documents and newspaper analyses to illustrate the positive effect of the agreement on the United States, and the negative impact it has had on Canada.

The final chapter becomes more didactic as Orchard tries to explain what can be done to resist the expansion of the North American Free Trade Agreement to include Mexico.

He encourages readers to join Citizens Concerned About Free Trade, and argues for a Liberal-New Democrat coalition to defeat the Conservative government and free trade.

But the majority of the book is less partisan and in its subtlety more convincing.

Orchard makes the reader want to learn more about the free trade agreement, to see if it's as detrimental to Canada as he argues it is.

If this book can be measured by the number of questions it raises and thoughts it provokes, The Fight for Canada will be recognized as a great book.


Bev Wake is a Brentwood Bay journalist.


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