New Diane Francis article on merger, in the WSJ

New Diane Francis article on merger, in the WSJ

Postby O. W. Kenobi » Dec 08, 2013 8:06 am

Why Canada and the U.S. Should Merge, Eh?
It's past time for the two countries to eliminate their border

When Americans think about Canada—and that doesn't happen often—they usually think of us as the nice, predictable guy next door who never plays his stereo too loud. Even Rob Ford, Toronto's ranting, crack-smoking mayor, has barely dented our squeaky-clean image.

But Americans shouldn't just think more about Canada. They should consider building on the two countries' free-trade deal and forming a more perfect North American union. It is past time for the U.S. and Canada to eliminate their border—either by creating a customs and monetary union or, more radically, by merging outright into a single nation-state or a European Union-style partnership.

Such a merger makes perfect sense. No two countries on Earth are as socially and economically integrated as the U.S. and Canada. They share geography, values and a gigantic border. Their populations study, travel and do business together and intermarry in great numbers. If they were corporations (or European states), they would have merged a long time ago. And each has what the other needs: The U.S. has capital, manpower, technology and the world's strongest military; Canada has vast reserves of undeveloped resources.

Of course, even the most mild-mannered Canadian may sputter at the prospect of being swallowed up by the U.S., and Americans may wonder about the wisdom of absorbing their huge neighbor. But it needn't be so radical. Nobody is proposing that Canada become the 51st state.

Like modern businesses, modern nations must constantly recalibrate their economic and political models. The smartest people in a room prevail until a smarter group comes along. And unless winners adapt, they eventually lose out, in economic and political life as in nature. Today's U.S. or Canada could become tomorrow's Portugal or Greece. In the competitive and interconnected world of the 21st century, countries that stand still will be left behind.

The two North American neighbors increasingly find themselves staring down the barrel of state capitalism, as practiced above all by China, whose state-owned enterprises and sovereign-wealth funds have made a concerted effort to capture markets and resources. In October, the International Monetary Fund's World Economic Outlook database forecast that by 2018, China's economy will be bigger than that of the U.S.—and Asian economies will be bigger than those of the U.S., Canada, Germany, Britain, Italy, France and Russia combined.

If Canada and the U.S. were to join forces, the tables might well be turned. The North American neighbors would become an even more formidable superpower, with an economy larger than the European Union's and a land mass bigger than South America's. The new union would top the world in energy, minerals, water, arable land and technology, and all of it would be protected by the U.S. military. Size matters.

Canadians have traditionally bristled at the thought of falling under the sway of the U.S., but without a deeper cross-border partnership, we face some grim existential challenges. With its small, aging population and relatively small economy, Canada lacks the resources to develop and defend its gigantic piece of real estate. Through a series of aggressive buyout attempts and transactions, China has targeted Canada's resources and empty landmass. In 2007, Russia used a small submarine to symbolically plant its flag on the ocean floor beneath the North Pole and underscore its claim to a large swath of the resource-rich Arctic, and Russian President Vladimir Putin has been pushing the U.N. to affirm his claims to the region.

The U.S. faces serious challenges of its own. It must create millions of jobs for its relatively young population, and even as its political system grows more sclerotic, it must compete for markets, resources and Arctic access with the aggressive practitioners of state capitalism.

Truth be told, the merger of the U.S. and Canada is already well under way. As many as one in 10 Canadians (more than 3 million people) live full- or part-time in the U.S., and an estimated
1 million Americans live in Canada. As of 2010, U.S. enterprises controlled about 10% of Canada's assets, 17% of its revenues and 13% of its corporate profits, according to Statistics Canada. Canadians bought more goods and services from Americans than did the 340 million people living in the European Union—a population 10 times as large.

A still deeper integration could drive major economic growth. Canada's hinterland is largely without infrastructure or development, even though it contains enormous untapped natural resources. Political disputes have also stranded some of the world's most promising hydroelectric and tidal power prospects in the Canadian provinces of Quebec, British Columbia, Manitoba, Newfoundland and Nova Scotia.

Despite the powerful logic of a U.S.-Canada merger, the obstacles remain daunting. Both countries are divided politically and heavily regionalized. To execute so audacious a move would require a level of statesmanship now lacking in both countries.

But remember, the Europeans pulled off something far more dramatic, uniting populations that shared no language and had slaughtered one another for centuries. Other recent examples of deeper integration include the Eastern Caribbean Economic and Monetary Union and the Economic Community of West African States. They all did it by opening their borders to trade and travel—while at the same time leaving governments intact.

Opinion surveys about an outright merger are scant, but as far back as 1964, a poll showed support from 49% of Canadians. In 2007, the World Values Survey Association, a research network of thousands of social scientists, found that about 77% of Americans and 41% of Canadians said they would opt for political union if it meant a better quality of life. In 2011, another poll by Harris/Decima showed that 65% of Canadians backed greater integration with the U.S. and supported a plan to eliminate the border by blending U.S. and Canadian customs, immigration, security and law enforcement efforts.

Those who oppose such a merger are on the wrong side of history. When the North American Free Trade Agreement passed in 1987, the U.S. and Canada (along with Mexico) began a mutually beneficial process of integration that now needs strengthening. Untended, the border has become clogged, damaging trade and tourism. And the wolves are at the door. Just this year China, Inc. picked off a large Canadian oil company and a large American food processor and exporter, without promising either country any reciprocal buyout privileges in China.

Serious discussion of a merger should be a top priority for both the U.S. and Canada. The continental neighbors need one another more now than ever before, and the status quo grows less viable by the day.

—Ms. Francis, a dual Canadian-American citizen, is the author of "Merger of the Century: Why Canada and America Should Become One Country," published by HarperCollins.

http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB1 ... ding_now_2
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Re: New Diane Francis article on merger, in the WSJ

Postby Americalex » Dec 08, 2013 12:16 pm

Great article, thanks for posting this Obiwan,

She's doing more now than anybody to make this idea move forward... what if a woman with dual-citizenship ends up being the person that makes everything happen? That would be pretty cool. I like how she dug up all those ancient and newer polls in order to build her case.

I also like how she paints Bearsy, Nightshade, CTMountaineer and other opponents as being on the wrong side of history: I agree. There is no denying that our countries are already integrated economically and militarily.... it is indeed time to face the ingrained prejudices and confront the political aspect as well.

As I was saying on Facebook where somone also linked up this new article of hers: 'The idea is like a beautiful sailing vessel from the ship of the line era, all that is missing is the gust of wind that will fill up it's sails and breath full life into that worthy dream'. And right now, she's the one who seems to have the media access and credibility that can achieve that.

I looks like there will be more articles coming from her on this topic, I look forward to them.
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Re: New Diane Francis article on merger, in the WSJ

Postby Hephaestos » Dec 09, 2013 10:22 am

God bless Diane Francis, she has already done so much for the cause. I've shared her book with friends and stirred a lot of interest regarding a North American Union which is all the more amazing since for most of my friends a North American Union was previously a shadowy conspiracy theory but now Diane Francis has made this a topic of open conversation which is where it must be. I hope she perseveres in spreading the message and we should all do out part too and eventually our great noble dream may come true.
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Re: New Diane Francis article on merger, in the WSJ

Postby O. W. Kenobi » Dec 09, 2013 3:34 pm

It's interesting that this article appeared in a high-visibility publication like the Wall Street Journal. US politicians may not see much beyond the next election, but the people who bankroll their campaigns might.

While I applaud Diane Francis's efforts, there are serious problems with the details of what she is saying. We would do well to keep that in mind too. Here's an article from the National Post:

Jonathan Kay: Diane Francis’ plan to merge Canada and the United States has many, many problems

Veteran National Post columnist Diane Francis has written 10 books. Merger of the Century: Why Canada and America Should Become One Country is easily her most ambitious.

Perhaps a little too ambitious, many readers might conclude.

It is also, in a way, her most personal. As an American-born dual citizen, Ms. Francis writes passionately about the many historical and cultural ties that bind her ancestral and adopted countries. Merger of the Century makes the case for erasing the formal distinction between the two entirely. “After all, we’re both melting-pot societies,” she says. So why not turn the whole continent north of the Rio Grande into the world’s biggest pot?

But Merger of the Century is not just a stew of touchy-feely geopolitical metaphors: Ms. Francis is a business writer, and her book is full of numbers.

The most important figures are contained in Chapter 5, entitled “How a Merger Deal Might Be Structured,” in which Ms. Francis tallies up the trillions of dollars worth of land, irrigated crops, oil and gas reserves and gold that Canada would be bringing to merger negotiations. After crunching the numbers, she concludes that under her full-merger model, “every Canadian would be entitled to a lump sum payment [from the United States] of $492,529” (though she adds that older Canadians would get more, and children would get much less).

Also, to ensure continuity with our hallowed universal-health-care ideals, we Canadians would be provided with “fraud-proof health cards, valid anywhere in the 50 states, 10 provinces or three territories. Americans would not be entitled to this benefit.” (The notion that U.S.-born citizens would tolerate living in a society in which they have fewer government-given rights than their Canadian-born neighbours is just one of the many eyebrow-raising assumptions contained in this book.)

In total, the United States would pay Canada about $17-trillion in debt bonds (with payments stretched out over two decades) in exchange for our agreement to merge. For the sake of comparison, the United States public debt currently stands at just $12-trillion. So this variation of Ms. Francis’ merger plan would cause America’s debt-to-GDP ratio to explode from 79% to 179% overnight. She argues that this might be financed, in part, with a massive gas tax (despite the fact that both Democrats and Republicans have repeatedly run screaming from such gas-tax proposals in the past).

America is now an increasingly isolationist, inward-looking country where the mere act of raising the debt ceiling casts Washington into a state of paralysis, where state governors can’t scratch together the money to provide mental-health services to dangerous psychotics, and where universal health care is deemed (by much of the country, at least) to be an unaffordable luxury. Putting aside the massive constitutional issues that would attend a merger here at home (we Canadians can’t even reform our Senate, a project this is perhaps one-thousandth as complex as merging with the United States), how on Earth can the voters of our near-bankrupt neighbour be expected to support the cutting of half-million-dollar IOUs to 35-million citizens from (what is currently) another country? If, say, Republican Senator Rand Paul were sitting in on our interview, I ask Ms. Francis, do you really think he would be getting excited about this plan?

She doesn’t miss a beat. “What would appeal to the Republicans is the way this plan would help secure the borders of the continent,” she tells me. “The other thing that would appeal to the GOP would be the job-creation and business opportunities that would come from Canada’s enormous resources. National security and capitalism — those are two things they will always support.”

“As for Democrats,” she adds, “They’d be happy by the prospect of 35-million [Canadian] Democrats becoming voters. There would never be another Republican president again.”

(An obvious follow-up question would be why Senator Paul, or indeed any Republican, would ever support an expansion of U.S. territory guaranteed to freeze them out of the power. But I must confess: I failed to ask it.)

The United States rose to the heights required to lead the free world to victory against the Nazis; and then, relatively bloodlessly, and without a shot being exchanged between the superpowers, against Soviet Communism. And then, at the moment of its greatest triumph, it suddenly became a purposeless and progressively more silly country. This latter development is aberrant and will not continue. But those of us accustomed to sheltering in the shadow of America, while carping almost inaudibly about its relatively insignificant shortcomings, are going to have to do better. The United States delivered the world from evil. Others, certainly including this country, have done our part, but as the geopolitical cards are reshuffled and national ambitions and aptitudes evolve, we will have to raise our game.

There are limits to what a country of 35-million can do, but it wouldn’t kill Canadians to develop their own brand of exceptionalism. Canada is exceptionally racially tolerant, has been exceptionally careful never to engage in an unjust or unsuccessful war. It has been exceptionally successful at joining forces between the private and public sectors, and should do so again in the field of medical care, and in ownership of the automobile industry and the aerospace industry (so we can finally recover from the disaster of the Avro Arrow cancellation in 1959).

Ms. Francis concedes that there are regions of both the United States and Canada that may be difficult to assimilate into a single nation — Quebec, in particular. Yet her book is extremely vague on the issue of how the province, whose Francophones already are anxious about the disappearance of their language within a country of 35-million, could be made to go along with a plan that would dilute them in an Anglophone mega-nation 10 times that size.

“Quebec could have commonwealth status [within a new, unified country], like Puerto Rico,” she tells me. “In Puerto Rico, they have the right to immigrate into the United States, and vote in federal elections, and they pay federal taxes … It’s an interesting model. Maybe it’s something Quebec would go for — or maybe even other provinces. I’m not setting down an [iron-clad] model here. I’m really just trying to start a conversation about how this kind of project could be done.”

Much of Merger of the Century is written up like a business plan, with Ms. Francis demonstrating how the benefits of a union outweigh the costs. It’s an analogy that feels clunkier and clunkier as the chapters march on. Corporations exist to make money. But nations exist principally to give expression to some guiding ethno-religious identity or creed. In Canada’s case, much of its identity can be traced to an almost neurotic fear of being subsumed within the United States. The most militant manifestations of this anti-American spirit have been on the wane since Barack Obama came to office. But it still seems odd to think that even a sizeable minority of Canadians could be convinced to give up our flag, our monarchist traditions, the legal supremacy of Parliament, and our seat at the UN in favour of a cash payout from Uncle Sam.

And then there are the nuts-and-bolts issues — like guns. There’s no way Americans will give up their Second Amendment rights merely to gain access to a bunch of potash and bitumen. In a merged country, Americans presumably would be free to tote their beloved weapons from one end of the continent to the other. Is that something Canadians would put up with? Wouldn’t any incipient merger become politically unviable the first time some nutcase from Arizona headed north and shot up a Canadian Tire?

“Well, remember that there already are something like 3-million Canadians living in the United States,” Ms. Francis tells me. “And clearly the presence of so many guns there isn’t a disincentive for them.”

“And remember, there are many great safe places to live in the United States — like Manhattan, where I have my home — which are great. You just have to avoid the places where sociological conditions are deteriorating, which is where the teen gangs and guns are concentrated. And remember that we have the same sort of socioeconomic problem in Canada — on [native] reserves. Innocent people get killed in both countries.”

Many other questions abound. Would Quebec beach-goers in Maine have a right to a trial in French if they’re caught shoplifting at the local Cumberland Farms? And what about America’s insane war on drugs: How would ski bums at Whistler tolerate the sight of SWAT teams and sniffer dogs descending on their pot parties? Ms. Francis’ faith in the fundamental sameness of Americans and Canadians is touching. But the fact is that the two countries are divided by real and important differences in culture, politics and even Christian religiosity. Merging our two legal systems alone would seem to be an impossibility.

Plus, what would happen to the CFL? Would we still be permitted to play with three downs?

‘We’ve been dating heavily for generations. So now let’s talk about common law — or even go all the way and get married’

Moreover, trends in public opinion, especially here in Canada, would seem to go against the grain of Ms. Francis’ thesis. A decade ago, many Canadians were envious of America’s more-vibrant economy, and there was much talk of a “brain drain.” But since the 2008 financial crisis in particular, such talk largely has evaporated, as per-capita GDP levels have equalized between the two nations.

When I raise such concerns, Ms. Francis warns me that I am missing the big picture. In her book, she argues that a “new cold war” is being fought between the U.S.-led west and the Chinese-led east — a war that “divides the world into players who are open and those who are secretive.”

She believes that the increasing Chinese ownership of Canadian resource companies shows that we’re losing this struggle. (Indeed, much of the book is dedicated to raising awareness of Chinese “economic aggression” within Canada’s borders.) And unless we Canadians embrace a full-fledged union with the United States, she argues, we are destined to become “neo-colonial” vassals of Beijing, and victims of Russian gunboat diplomacy in the Arctic Ocean. In a dystopian scenario sketched out by military historian Jack Granatstein in the book’s first chapter, readers are presented with the dubious prospect of whole flotillas of “dope smugglers” and terrorists being ferried through our Arctic waters by Chinese ships.

On the day of our interview, there was fresh news that Ukraine had inked a deal with a Chinese company to lease a full 5% of its land mass to Chinese agricultural operations. When I ask Ms. Francis if this is the type of “neo-colonialist” scenario she fears might play out in Canada, she nods solemnly.

“Canadians aren’t talking about this threat,” she says. “We have a Prime Minister who has been taking some steps [in the Arctic], yes. But then you have the four opposition leaders. Three are from Quebec and that’s what they talk about. And then there’s [the Green Party’s Elizabeth May] from B.C. who wants to turn the country into a giant park. Meanwhile, the world is hungry for our resources. If we don’t develop them [with American help], it might all be taken away from us.”

“The bottom line,” Ms. Francis adds, “is that in this world, you need to be a big player. If Canada is going to be the target of a creeping takeover from a big player, we may as well manage the process, instead of being victimized. That’s what the book is about. For Canada and the United States, one plus one is going to equal four. We’ve been dating heavily for generations. So now let’s talk about common law — or even go all the way and get married.”

— Jonathan Kay is Managing Editor for Comment at the National Post, and a Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies in Washington, D.C.

http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/201 ... -problems/
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Re: New Diane Francis article on merger, in the WSJ

Postby Americalex » Dec 09, 2013 3:46 pm

Yeah, she's completely off track in so many of the facets.. Quebec as a commonwealth is probably the most ignorant/preposterous of her suggestions. And her focus is entirely centered on the Washington political machine which Americans themselves generally despise and correctly blame for putting them into the current economic mess.

I think the decade of discussions gives us a clear and present level of expertise that pundits simply can't hope to match. They'll fumble over and over about it, because they're focus is entirely different. As salaried propagandists, they are more concerned with the perpetuation of their order than in the actual best practices to implement in order to realize such an annexation.

Funny to see Jonathan Kay having a talk with her about this. I have him on Facebook and he never asked me any questions about it lol I think this is going to be a game the media assets play up in their little select sandbox, but I don't think they can spin this into anything significant because at the core they simply have no idea what it would take to get everybody on board.

Ideally, you run a Canadian campaign to launch negations that is backed by a promise of the U.S. congress to fast track negotiations if Canadians vote yes to hold annexation negotiations. Once negotiations conclude and a deal is on the table, you run a campaign in the U.S. that sidelines congress by requiring 75% of U.S. states to ratify it.

This is done by putting down a proposal that includes several changes to the U.S. constitutional compact, namely an undemocratization of the U.S. senate, an entering/exiting the union amendment, a space exploration amendment etc. Whatever would come about would be a rejuvenated North America, not some expanded version of the current failboat.

P.S. Jonathan's mom is the rabid anti-Quebec pundit spearheading/spinning the English-Canada/Quebec divide to the fullest. Jonathan doesn't have that pit bull role luckily for him he gets paid being more normal but I guess his stance is one where the carefully crafted status quo is empowered to persist.
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Re: New Diane Francis article on merger, in the WSJ

Postby Hephaestos » Dec 09, 2013 4:27 pm

While I greatly admire Diane Francis' geopolitical vision I must concede that some of her strategic calculations were way off such as her proposal for US reimbursement of Canadians for lost state benefits to the tune of more than doubling our national debt and her idea of a Quebec commonwealth. The solution is for a comprehensive accession treaty that addresses all of our mutual outstanding concerns whether it be the future of state benefits, the status of Quebec, the status of the Senate or how representation in the house will be properly proportioned. This treaty will be part of the organic law of a United North America and be considered as Ms. Francis would put it as our prenup so to speak.
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Re: New Diane Francis article on merger, in the WSJ

Postby -MM- » Dec 21, 2013 2:57 am

While it's good to see this article spread on more popular sites and publications, it's rather discouraging to see the high percentage of folks that are vehemently against the idea.

Looking around in forums and comments on the publications, I gather around 95% of Canadians and 80% of Americans are against it. Some folks think Canada would be annexed as the 51st state (as opposed to each province becoming a state), concerns about health care, guns, education, parliamentary vs congress, and so on. Americans also have concerns about the health care system (afraid of having to wait on a long line if they need immediate treatment) as well as the fact that the US is having a hard enough time as is, getting bigger would only make it worse. While I do agree the US needs to fix itself first before any annexation takes place, it shouldn't be a detriment to the goal in hand.

I can only hope that's the case of a very vocal internet minority that is uneducated and/or afraid of change as opposed to what the majority of people really think and want. If something like this were to happen and some polls were to take places in states and provinces, I would be very curious to know the results.
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Re: New Diane Francis article on merger, in the WSJ

Postby N. American Reality » Feb 15, 2014 1:30 am

Thanks for the article. I know I haven't posted in a long time. The reason I've returned is because geopolitical developments in the past five years have led me to re-contemplate the idea of US-Canada annexation. The emergence of govt-funded channels like CCTV, AJAM and RT has finally convinced me that oceans no longer matter (and it really didn't on 9/11) and world powers feel increasingly confident about curbing Western influence to the point of openly propagandizing to an increasingly-cynical home population.
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