Canadians need to ask themselves seriously how theywould like becoming second-class Americans.Right now, the business leaders of the country areworking on projects that will do just that to all of us.

Groups like the Canadian Chamber of Commerce andthe Canadian Council of Chief Executives haveclimbed into bed with U.S. interests and are activelypursuing goals that will destroy Canadian sovereignty.They want to expand NAFTA and surrender morecontrol over our energy and culture. They want toharmonize immigration, security and trade policieswhich in practical terms means handing them over tothe Americans.

For Canada it would be like a chickendancing with a clumsy elephant.

Canadians need to look south across the border and askthemselves how they feel about American-stylehealth care, about disregard for international law andcooperation, about pre-emptive wars based on spuriousjustifications, about wasted billions spent on these pre-emptive wars and other fantasies of fear that are used tofuel a defence budget that pads the bank accounts ofAmerica’s élite.

Becoming full-fledged participants inthis madness is what is in store if Canada’s businessleaders have their way. Of course, they stand to make alot of profit out of the deal. The rest of us, however,will pay the price.

Their attitudes were plainly exposed recently when thePaul Martin government wisely declined to participate in theballistic missile defence scam. James Westlake, Chairof the Chamber of Commerce, criticized the movebecause it might affect business relations. Businessrelations are more important than sovereignty? Thattells you on which side of the border Westlake’sloyalties lie.

And Tom d’Aquino, head of the CanadianCouncil of Chief Executives, criticized Martin’sdecision calling it “pandering to vocal opponents” — aninteresting way to characterize Martin’s response to theposition of a majority of Canadians. Would that wehave much more of the same kind of pandering. Somuch for d’Aquino’s appreciation for democracy andrespect for Canadians.

Martin and his government would be well-advisedto remain very leery of George W. Bush and the reactionariesbehind him who are driving U.S. policy. There is nogood in any of it except for the Halliburtons and otherswho will grow fat on the taxpayers’ money.

It would bea crime if Canada were to join the U.S. in its folly,contributing Canadian money and lives so that ahandful of our business élites can nose up to the troughwith their American counterparts. It would be a follybecause in the end the things that set us apart asCanadians and make Canada one of the most desirableplaces in the world to live would disappear as more andmore of what it is to be Canadian is surrendered to thedemands of a closer relationship with the U.S.

Rather than seeking closer ties to the United States, tiesthat might certainly destroy us, Canada should belooking abroad to Europe and South America for alliesand closer trade relations. This would be prudent because asthe U.S. moves farther and farther right, away from itsfounding ideals and into the pit of what may wellbecome fascism, we lose what we have in common with Americanswhile what we have in common with Europe and someof the new democratic regimes in South Americagrows.

In addition, any economy that is too dependenton the U.S. for its survival will be in deep trouble oncethe Americans’ reckless fiscal policy finally catches upto them and the dollar collapses. It could well be thatd’Aquino and his ilk are betting on a horse that is aboutto break its leg. It is a bet we should not place.

This week Kofi Annan, the Secretary General of theUN, released a report on the future of the UN, areport that incorporates many Canadian ideas forreform of the organization. In it he said, “we will notenjoy development without security, we will not enjoysecurity without development, and we will enjoy neitherwithout respect for human rights.”

Whether the U.S.endorses this report remains to be seen in light of theirmiserable human rights record these days, but it is areport worth endorsing. It represents a better visionthan anything we’ve seen from the Americans or our businessleaders, and more Canadian, too.