Ralph Nader: Open letter to Stephen Harper on Canada-U.S. 'deep integration'

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April 27, 2011

Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper, P.C., M.P. 

Prime Minister of Canada

80 Wellington Street

Ottawa, ON K1A 0A2

Dear Prime Minister:

The on-going negotiations, under excessive secrecy, regarding "deep integration" between the U.S. and Canada -- countries of vastly unequal bargaining power -- have received too little attention during this election period. The serious issues and consequences of any forthcoming agreement to Canadians deserve immediate public discussion among the candidates prior to the May 2 election.

Inasmuch as you are both the protagonist and the chief negotiator with the Obama administration, it is your responsibility to inform the Canadian citizenry about the general frameworks, directions and any subordinations of sovereignty that are on the table. Additionally, you can certainly disclose what is off the table and the general timetable for concluding the deliberations and announcing the proposed agreement.

Voters in a democratic society are rightfully irritated to find that a subject of such gravity excluded from public debate before Election Day. Canadians do not want a fiat accompli shorn of any public knowledge and participation. Such a process reveals a deep concentration of power in the executive that tears away the pretense of the deliberative parliamentary democracy that Canada holds out to the world.

The designs of "deep integration" are reflected in your interest in purchasing F-35 fighter jets (already estimated at $29 billion by a Parliamentary office) that has no Canadian defence rationale but serves to help bail out the Pentagon's procurement mess with Lockheed-Martin's delayed, troubled and way over budget aircraft.

The early tangle of "deep integration" within the framework of a proposed North American Security Perimeter Agreement will wrap many Canadian concerns -- your Arctic, water, energy, anti-monopoly and foreign investment reviews -- in a bi-national security blanket to the disadvantage of both the Canadian and American people. The corporatist lobbies and what President Eisenhower warned Americans about in his farewell address 50 years ago -- "the military-industrial complex" -- will favour this lucrative and anti-democratic initiative.

Such a Perimeter Agreement would place Canada under further pressure to forego its leading peacekeeping role -- now at its lowest ebb -- in favour of joining what is becoming open-ended, unconstitutional and unlawful military adventures by the U.S. government overseas. Involvement in the Afghanistan war could be only the beginning of this dismaying Canadian turnaround.

As an economist, you must know what the post-war Canadian Consensus has meant to the well-being of all Canadians --such that your country has often led the world in overall standards of living. You know that this understanding in the past received support from Liberals, Conservatives and the New Democrats. "Deep integration" will further the contrary corporatist uber alles philosophy that marks what has become known as the Washington Consensus.In a contest under deep integration, you don't have to wonder which will prevail, especially given your own strong predilections in favour of an ideology of corporate globalization, militarism, privatization and de-regulation so identified with the Washington Consensus.

Since you are known to be proud of your views and what Harper's Canada would look like, how can you not share forthrightly the scenarios you are conjoining between Ottawa and Washington so that the Canadian voters can register their response? Our corporate-hi-jacked government in Washington is not known for its sensitivity to the notion of Canadian independence. But having co-authored the book Canada Firsts in 1993, I learned that many Canadians treasure their sovereignty and associate it with making possible many advances long in your land that are still not prevalent in our country. Canada's prudent bank regulation prevented a Wall Street style collapse of your economy.

Please recognize your peoples' right to know now about what is going on in these deliberations over "deep integration."

Sincerely yours,

Ralph Nader

Washington, DC

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