Tuesday, October 31, 2006

I am strangely amused

You know what kills me? When American politicians caterwaul about how they lost so much "national sovereignty" when they signed NAFTA.

Let's ignore, for a moment, that the United States could leave NAFTA at any minute (witness that fate of the ABM treaty) and thus has effectively lost no sovereignty whatsoever - America's fate is still manifestly in America's hands. Does anyone believe the same is true of Mexico, or Canada - if the US didn't will it, could we realistically abandon NAFTA?

Let's also ignore, just for a moment, that unlike Canada, America did not guarantee either of its NAFTA partners massive energy exports for the rest of time, even in the case of a domestic energy shortage.

Finally, let's also ignore the reality that Canada's "negotiations" for the (NAFTA precursor) Canada-US free trade agreement were so obsequious and craven that one could fairly say that Brian Mulroney's concessions were made on bended knees.

No, somehow, despite all this, it's the US that unacceptably lost its sovereignty in NAFTA. The same way, apparently, that Gulliver lost his sovereignty to the Lilliputians. (Hell, the Lilliputians were more assertive in defense of their interests than Canada is. Fat load of good it did them.)

This has some relevance to Canadian politics. It's an article of faith among some Canadians - more or less ignoring political parties - that NAFTA was a blow to our country that continues to hurt us. I actually agree with many of the criticisms of NAFTA, especially considering how little peace it's actually bought us - see, for example, beef, softwood lumber, and even threatened US tariffs on Canadian-made movies.

Nevertheless, it's simply not the case that NAFTA was "forced" on us by the Americans. Canada - with the generous help of a broken electoral system - elected a government that signed FTA, and expanded it in to NAFTA. The Liberals - elected in 1993 based partly on the promise to renegotiate NAFTA, did nothing. (This is why I have no time for Liberals who want to blame the NDP for the 1988 election.) If NAFTA was forced on us at all, it was by our own two "national" parties, led by Mulroney and Chretien.

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