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Sunday, July 08, 2007

The Coming European-Canadian Union


Here’s an interesting bit: Quebec premier Charest has been talking to French president Sarkozy about a free trade deal between Canada and the EU.

What a great idea that would be. Canada would then be perfectly placed to resume its old familiar role, as a bridge between the US and Europe. This is where we belong, and where we feel most comfortable. Anglo-Canadians would strengthen their ties to Britain, which most Anglophone Canadians favour as a counterbalance to the inevitable influence of the US. But Francophone Canadians would not be left out, as they would be concurrently and equally strengthening their ties to France. Not to mention Italian-Canadians, Polish-Canadians, German-Canadians, and so on. The EU makes this possible. The EU seems almost made for the cause of Canadian unity. We are a little Europe to begin with.

Better still, imagine the economic benefits. If Canada could manage uniquely to establish free trade with both the US and EU, we would, at a stroke, have sole access to the world’s largest market. Any international operation worthy of the name would need a Canadian presence. Not to mention the chance for individual Canadians to compete for jobs abroad.

The time seems ripe: we now have a French president who is pro-free trade and Westward-looking, who might well endorse the idea. The pro-free trade party is in power in Ottawa. Quebec is on board. We can surely count on some good will in Britain.

And Canada has a considerable ace in the hole: Canadian oil. Europe’s supplies from Russia and the Middle East are always a little problematic. With the oil sands, Canada has the world’s second-largest proven reserves. We’re the kind of guy it’s good to have on your team.

If Canada’s leaders have vision, this might be Canada’s main chance, and Canada’s destiny. The twenty-first century might belong to us.

The obvious benefits might also, longer term, force a merger of NAFTA and the EU. This would diminish Canada’s advantages; but would be in the broader interests of mankind. A free-trade area that large would become almost irresistible to other nations.

Canada would have the considerable consolation of having become a world leader.

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