Thursday, May 10, 2007

My Canada Doesn’t Include the Fraser Institute

One of the best things ever shown on Canadian television was Paul Gross’ two-part political thriller ‘H2O’. I know, it’s hard to imagine a Canadian political thriller, but believe me - this thing was slick, well written, and extremely disturbing. When I first saw it three years ago, I thought it presented a fascinating but unlikely, maybe even paranoid scenario.

Right now, I’m starting to wonder if the writers didn’t somehow arrange to have Steven Harper’s memoirs transmitted from the future.

The story centres around the son of a beloved Canadian prime minister who dies under suspicious circumstances during a canoe trip. The son makes a stirring speech during the funeral (sound familiar?), and is encouraged to run, which he does - seemingly reluctantly. He wins the party leadership and thus the prime minister’s office, at which point he begins to do some very strange things like creating loopholes in environmental assessment laws, stacking the bilateral committee overseeing boundary waters, and bribing the premiers of Ontario and Quebec into opening the door to bulk water sales to the U.S.

Behind all the machinations and intrigue stands a shadowy group of international power brokers, businessmen and right-wing economists who belong to ‘The Burnham-Wood Institute’, a thinly-veiled reference to The Fraser Institute and other similar organizations.

As it turns out, the sale of water is only the first step in a much larger Machiavellian scheme which is articulated at the climax of the film in a speech that sounds a lot like…

Well, like THIS:
Canada must reduce trade and ownership barriers, integrate economy with U.S., say Manning and Harris

Toronto, ON - Canada needs to fully open its economy and drop restrictions on foreign ownership in all business sectors including banking, financial services and telecommunications, Preston Manning and Mike Harris say in a new policy paper released today by independent research organizations The Fraser Institute and the Montreal Economic Institute.

The two also call for eliminating Canada’s supply boards and agricultural subsidies, establishing a customs union and common external tariff with the United States, and reforming Canada’s approach to foreign aid.

The recommendations are laid out in International Leadership by a Canada Strong and Free, a policy paper in which Manning and Harris argue that Canada should redefine its international position by becoming the world’s leading proponent of free trade.

And that's just the tarted-up version for the press release. The report itself is somewhat more blunt:
"For Canada, Mexico’s presence at the NAFTA table is no reason to avoid action on our urgent national interest in pursuing a formal structure to manage irreversible economic and security integration with the United States."

And my personal favourite:
"Government has no place in the decision-making of Canadian consumers, importers, or exporters."

Other bloggers have done a terrific job of excerpting the juiciest bits of this steaming pile of excrement document and explaining why these ideas are so dangerous to our country, so I won’t repeat all that here. Go read Creekside and The Galloping Beaver for a summary.

Go ahead. I’ll wait.


I’m old enough to remember when NAFTA was first brought in. I even remember its predecessor, the U.S./ Canada Free Trade Agreement. Those of us who protested loudly at the time were generally dismissed as paranoid protectionists with no faith in Canada’s ability to compete and thrive in the open marketplace.

Since then we have seen American corporations shutting down factories in Canada and the U.S. and re-opening them in Mexico or wherever else they can exploit people willing to work for pennies an hour. We have seen how the U.S. can simply chose to ignore any trade rules that they don’t like, even when court after court insists that they abide by them. We have seen Canada having to import oil despite producing more than enough to supply ourselves, simply because there is a clause in NAFTA that says we have to export the same percentage of our oil to the U.S. no matter how much more we are producing.

Now substitute the word ‘water’ for ‘oil’ in that last sentence and see who’s being paranoid.

I spent some time this afternoon composing a lengthy (ok, lengthier) tirade against free trade and globalization, but I’ve decided to spare you since a) other people more knowledgeable than myself have already said it better (including my grandfather), and b) the elimination of trade barriers is one of the least obnoxious recommendations in this report.

The real issue here is this: do we want our country to become more like the United States, or less? And don’t kid yourselves - economic and military integration will inevitably result in social and cultural integration. At that point, it won’t even matter if we still have our own government and our own flag. In every other respect we will be indistinguishable from Americans. I’m sure this would all be very good for business, but very bad for anyone who would rather be Canadian.

That’s ok, though, since I am quite sure that the Fraser Institute and it’s members are not even remotely interested in what’s best for Canadians.


  1. Oh, this is just upsetting. Which is a very inadequate comment, but I can't articulate properly what this makes me think/feel.

    Also, Preston Manning and Mike Harris? Since when is anything they said a good thing to listen to? Argh.

  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  3. Hi Jennifer
    I remember reading this excellent post but I didn't realize that the picture was from a film shot in Canada. I thought it was a US location. Maybe a tiny caption...?