Saturday, March 12, 2005

Help wanted - brave Canadian leader

North American economic integration is inevitable. No amount of political will can stop this flow. Unfortunately, the flow is more glacial at this time. Yes, NAFTA represented an important step for the national governments of Canada, Mexico, and the United States. But there has been far too little debate about the next steps beyond the smattering of papers that are published by the likes of the C.D. Howe Institute and other forward-minded think-tanks. The political consciousness is still divided by historical boundaries that separate our nations. There is no single voice that seeks to embody an new vision of North America. This must end.

Visionaries are brave and crazy people. This is their appearance to contemporaries rooted in past realities. Fear is the anchor that prevents the population from even thinking aloud about brave solutions, or even recognizing that there is a problem. Many prophets have had to risk their lives and their well-being to put forth honest self-criticism and bold new visions. Canada needs a prophet. It needs a political and cultural leader who will speak truthfully and convincingly about Canada's state. A leader who will stand up and say enough to sweeping under the carpet. Enough to the foundations of confederation that shackle Canadians and deny them a better life. Canada needs a leader who will carve out a future for Canadians before one is thrust upon us. Bring us this messiah who can spell out the costs of Confederation, and the benefits of Continentalism. Better that we grapple with the choices that are at hand while we have a credible bargaining position with our powerful neighbour.

Leaders in Mexico and Canada would best now deliberate a proper strategy toward negotiating a customs union with the United States. Issues of security and labour migration must be dealt with before the hurling forces of global demands create unfortunate circumstances for North Americans. Global terrorism and globalization will put these issues at the forefront soon enough. We need not wait for crisis. This is not simply about American security and economic interests. we are all intertwined in one community.

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