Times-Colonist (Victoria), Sunday, June 27,
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
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
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
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
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
"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
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
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
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
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
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.