December 12, 2010

Accidental Deliberations: If only it were so

From the progressive The Jurist blog:

(and I say too true. Those Harperistas are so snakey ...)

John Ibbitson's cheerleading to make Canada a fully-owned subsidiary of the U.S. takes a surprising turn as he describes the process he thinks would be followed in further signing away Canada's authority to govern itself:
Some observers, including this writer, would like to see both countries go further. The Big Bang theory, as it’s called, envisions a fully integrated North American security perimeter and a fully integrated North American economic sphere that would include a customs union and labour mobility agreement.

This will never happen, because most Canadians don’t want to get that close to the Americans, wrongly fearing the federal government would lose control over its immigration and refugee policies. Such a comprehensive accord would require legislation – heck, it would probably require a referendum – and the political environment in Ottawa is too fragile and unstable for any government to attempt such a thing.
So let's see how much truth there is to Ibbitson's effective claim that we have a problem with democracy interfering with the negotiating of corporate trade deals, rather than the other way around.

Last I checked, agreements encompassing at least part of what Ibbitson wants to see put in place with the U.S. had been negotiated between multiple sets of Canadian provinces. Exactly one carried out even the slightest consultation with citizens before entering into a binding deal - and there, a new government implemented the deal even though the consultation concluded against it.

What's more, on the national level, both the Cons and the Libs have been backing further international trade deals at every turn. Which means that absent a 1988-style turnaround by the Libs, it looks far more likely that legislation would be quickly rammed through Parliament than that anybody beyond the NDP and Bloc would even think to demand public input. And even in the face of such a call, it's hard to see how anybody who's paid the slightest attention to Canadian politics in the Harper era can claim with a straight face that the Cons would voluntarily order an unpredictable referendum on a policy they want to push through, rather than (at most) hand-picking an "expert" panel to give them the result they want.

So the real risk is that by pretending there are far more hurdles in the way of deep integration than actually exist, the likes of Ibbitson will make it all the easier for the Cons to make radical changes to Canada's ability to govern itself without a trace of public debate.

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