Monday, September 29, 2008
Canada Should Join The European Union
I have been thinking this from some weeks now and the idea just seems better and better everyday. Particularly today, with the failure of the bail out scheme in Washington. No doubt an alternative bill will be agreed to, and no doubt the effects will be felt in both Canada and the EU, but at a time when successive Canadian governments have worked to put us on a strong fiscal footing here we have our strong ties to US markets pulling us towards an abyss while America's own leadership seems unable to rally around a solution.
I know there are lots of objections. Some believe are close trade links to the US are natural. Trade has always flowed north-south. We are so much like Americans in so many ways. There are even those who would push to eliminate the border altogether and advocate a North American Union. But just because some on Bay Street like the idea, doesn't mean its our destiny. Trade used to flow east-west in this country, along the St. Laurence and across the rails. And while we do share a common heritage with the US, but that common heritage is an Anglo-European one.
The most common objection I've heard is that Canada simply isn't a part of Europe, so how can we join the EU? The fact that most of Turkey is in Asia hasn't kept it from becoming a perpetual bridesmaid when it comes to EU membership. And we have much more in common with the EU than Turkey when it comes to values and history. We began as a colony of Europe and our culture, languages, and ideals all stem from those historic ties. We have a large number of the immigrants from other parts of the world, but a great many of them come from countries with which we share colonial ties. The Indian and Jamaican communities, for example, come from fellow Commonwealth states, and our Chinese community has its foundation in Hong Kong, which was a British colony for most of its history.
Geography seems to be the biggest stumbling block for many. There is an ocean between Canada and Europe. My answer to that is simple: so what? We live in an age of globalization, with the world becoming a smaller and smaller place every day. Thanks to international travel, container traffic, and the internet, the entire world is at our doorstep. Communication between any two points in Europe and Canada is instantaneous, and travel and shipment times can be measured in hours and days.
Even if we don't become full members of the EU, I think strengthening our ties is a positive way of reasserting our sovereignty. Being one of twenty eight voices may seem a strange way of doing that, but our current situation puts us together with a partner who is so much stronger than us, economically, that it doesn't take any consideration of our policies or sovereignty when acting. I am not saying that the US doesn't care about us. I am saying that it doesn't even think about us in the first place. As an EU nation we would double the geographic size of the community, while bringing a rich, educated, and skilled population of 32 million. Its a win-win situation, and if its an idea that takes a little getting used to, then let's start getting used to it today.