Saturday, February 26, 2005

Truth About Canada-US Relations

In the aftermath of Paul Martin's refusal to participate in missile defense, critics of the Canadian left have suggested the decision is emblematic of a knee-jerk rejection against all things American. While it may be politically beneficial for conservatives to make that claim, it's far from true. In truth, the Canadian left's discontent is not with America as a hole, but rather with its current neoconservative leadership. Far from growing further apart, Canada and the 'Blue' States are developing an ever closer relationship.

While there can be no denying that Federal relations between Canada and the United States have reached a nadir, a series of regional groups have grown in power and represent a new avenue of relations between our two countries. PNWER (Pacific Northwest Economic Region), the NEG/ECP (Council of New England Governors and East Coast Premiers) and the Council of Great Lake Governors have linked our two nations in ways that our leaders have been unable to do.

Jeremy Rifkin recently published an article in Walrus Magazine (no link, they don't publish feature articles online) suggesting that ties between Canada and the Blue States will continue to grow stronger. The article, however, largely ignores the already strong relationship and strong accomplishments of these transnational organizations.

PNWER covers five Western states in addition to two Canadian Provinces. Their website boasts that if a nation they would have the world's tenth largest economy and covers a landmass roughly the same size as Australia. The group lobbied hard for President Bush to remove the ban on Alberta beef and also backed Vancouver's winning bid for the 2010 Olympics. The organization boasts twelve working groups designed to foster cooperation and find solutions for regional problems.

The Council of Great Lake Governors includes eight states as well as Ontario and Quebec. The group controls 1/5th of the world's fresh water and is responsible 60% of North America's steel and automobile manufacturing. Based on their mission of promoting economic growth while respecting the environment, the Council has enacted several environmental measures to protect the region"s environment. The group also has shared trade offices around the world, fostering economic cooperation between the Great Lakes region and foreign nations like Brazil, South Africa and Australia.

The NEG/ECP was established in 1973 and is perhaps the most effective of all the groups. The group has created internal climate change legislation which has effectively put many New England states in line with Kyoto. Additionally, they have created strong economic ties and trade agreements.

The 'Blue' States are involved in heavy trade with Canada, particularly in the realm of energy. New England gets a large portion of their electricity from Quebec hydroelectric plants, while Washington receives the same from similar facilities in British Columbia. Along the same lines, BC provides water to west coast States and Alberta exports millions of barrels of oil south of the border annually. Detroit is no longer the sole hub of the auto-industry, but rather a link in a chain that runs up to the suburbs of Toronto. We're also seeing an explosion of intellectual cooperation, as professional schools develop joint programs. From the Osgoode Hall - NYU join degree in law to the Kellogg-Schulich joint MBA, academic institutions in Canada and the Northeastern States are showing an increasing level of cooperation.

Canadian conservatives have been complaining of the left's hatred of the US, while Republicans claim Canada is becoming increasingly irrelevant. We on the left must ignore their rhetoric and spread the word of the increasing levels of cooperation between our two great nations. This is not an issue of Canada's dislike of the United States, but rather Canada's dislike of George Bush and his policies.


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10:10 p.m.  

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