Brian Lee Crowley's piece in yesterday's Financial Post is the most provocative piece I have read in some time. It not only contains one of the most open challenges to Canadian sovereignty I've read, but it is written at a time when Europe—a continent which reflects most closely the policy proposal he offers in the article—is in the midst of a 26-alarm economic and political disaster.
Mr. Crowley proposes a planned disintegration of North American borders in favour of integration of economies. To wit:
The economic energy of North America surges in all directions, and is increasingly unconstrained by considerations of political jurisdiction—unless, of course, jurisdictions forcefully intrude, as in the case of, say, the Keystone XL pipeline or "Buy America."
There's the rub. Politicians respond only to national voters, and so live in a closed political system. Alas, that closed polity is superimposed on an open economy.
The integration of the North American economy is a good thing. It is usually positive when artificial barriers to trade are removed, so that individuals and companies can trade and produce in a way that best serves themselves or their customers. In fact, Cardus has done a great deal of work on this exact issue through our trade corridors project.
But on the other hand, there is something about this proposal which is sinister and worthy of strong dissent. The proposal assumes that politics—democratic politics—is an "imposition" to business and that we would be better off to minimize politics in favour of the prosperity which will come as a result of easier trade.
I'm skeptical that politics—the hurly burly accommodation of a diverse set of of individual and institutional interests according to a common constitution—is something that should be jettisoned, even for something as desirable as prosperity. "Politicians respond only to national voters," Crowley writes. Whom else should they be responding to? The answer, Crowley implies, is business interest.
Business—big or small —should absolutely influence Canadian politicians, but surely there are other voices—other interests—that need attention. Hear Janet Ajzenstat's understanding of what our parliament is for:
The Canadian Parliament is a national institution, representing all Canadians. Each Member of Parliament speaks for her/his home constituency and also for the country of Canada from coast to coast to coast. The great strength of a parliament is that in law each member must debate national issues with his home constituency in mind, and matters of importance to his constituents with the nation in mind.
Increased trade? Sure, but it better be something that is subject to the approval of responsible government. The Mr. Van Rompuy's of the world can keep what they have—an economy in shambles and the imposition of unelected technocrats on a nation's electorate—on the other side of the pond.