The following is an excerpt from an article that appeared recently in the Canadian media.
"A business-backed task force issued a 48-page report calling for a single market encompassing Canada, the United States and Mexico with a common security perimeter. Just as it was being released, Conservative MP Belinda Stronach crossed the floor, becoming the newest minister in the Liberal cabinet.
Tom d'Aquino, vice-chair of the task force and president of the Canadian Council of Chief Executives, did his best to grab a ray of the spotlight. "The very fact that 26 eminent men and women representing widely different interests and backgrounds have agreed on these recommendations sends a powerful and unmistakable signal to elected representatives in all three countries," he declared.
But the report received almost no news coverage.
It would be tempting to conclude that continental integration has fallen off the political agenda.
But no one who has watched d'Aquino work the corridors of power — or followed the free trade debate for the last 20 years — would make such an assumption.
Nationalist groups aren't letting down their guard. The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives is hosting a conference in Ottawa tomorrow entitled Living with Uncle: Canada-U.S. Relations in a Time of Empire. Its goal is to mobilize civil society to resist the drive toward continental integration.
But the battle lines are no longer as clear as they once were and the business lobby has found new allies.
Its latest manifesto bears the imprimatur of three prominent public figures: former deputy prime minister John Manley of Canada, former governor William Weld of Massachusetts and former Mexican finance minister Pedro Aspe. Its signatories include diplomats, academics and trade analysts.
It stops short of calling for an institutional framework like the European Union with its own parliament, constitution and currency. But it urges decision-makers in Ottawa, Washington and Mexico City to move quickly to open their borders, co-ordinate their defences, share their resources and create a "seamless" continental market.
Specifically, it proposes:
The establishment of a North American security perimeter by 2010.
The adoption of a common external tariff.
The development of a North American energy strategy.
The harmonization of visa and asylum regulations.
The elimination of restrictions on labour mobility between Canada and the U.S. and later Mexico.
The sharing of intelligence about foreign nationals entering and leaving each country.
The expansion of NORAD (North American Aerospace Defence Command) to include land and naval forces.
A review of NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) to see whether sectors that were excluded from the 1994 pact can now be brought in.
At first glance, many of these recommendations seem quite innocuous. Few Canadians would object to visa-free access to the American job market or expedited border-crossing procedures.
But on closer examination, the stakes are higher than they look. Reopening NAFTA, for example, would mean exposing Canadian culture to the full brunt of competition from the American entertainment industry.
Sharing intelligence with U.S. security officials could put more Canadians at risk of an ordeal like the one faced by Maher Arar. Three years ago, the Ottawa computer engineer was pulled off a flight in New York by U.S. authorities and shipped to Syria where he was tortured and held without charge. A public inquiry is still trying to determine what role Canadian police and security agents played in his deportation.
Bringing Canada's refugee rules into conformity with those of the U.S. could leave Ottawa powerless to help people who now qualify for asylum, such as women fleeing abusive relationships."
This does not augur well. There is nothing innocuous about this plan. This is a plan (in addition to the obvious advantages it will give the US, as there is no parity between the US and Canada and certainly not between the US and Mexico) to prevent Americans who wish to escape the present trends in the US by going to Canada from doing so. After 2010 it will avail them nothing to emigrate to or to be domiciled in Canada.
American borders will effectively be all of North America and the US government will control who goes in and who gets out on the entire continent.
The potential threat to Jews is written on the wall.
If the US is eliminating its citizens' ability to opt out of US policy by taking control of Candada, will they continue to allow Jews to emigrate to Israel at will?
This is the time to leave the US. The next five years may be too late.
Doreen Ellen Bell-Dotan, Tzfat, Israel