ALSO SEE MY NEXT ARTICLE ON MEXICO: Neighbor Policy: A Friend in Mexico
The European Union is not looking its best since the economic crisis. Uniting twenty-seven countries with 600 million people speaking dozens of languages is a herculean task. However the Europeans are trying and, as I have argued in the past on this site, so they should. But wouldn’t it be a simpler process to unite only two democratic countries instead of twenty-seven? What would be the barriers to such a union? So here we go…
As you know, like most of the world Canada is greatly affected by US policy yet has no direct influence on US decision making. But Canada has a unique relationship with the US that should be taken advantage of. The potential gains are truly enormous. While age-old prejudices make us instinctively shrink from this type of grand strategy, the world is not a safe enough place for such ideas to be dismissed outright.
Canadians have much to gain
Is there a good reason why Canadians shouldn’t have the ability to run for US federal office including the courts, Congress and President of the United States? Imagine Canadians being able to vote in US federal elections including the Presidential elections. To state what should be obvious, these changes would give the Canadian people much more power over the world around them without material sacrifice.
To start, Canadians would irrefutably be a more integral part of decision making on the global stage. Canadians would gain, from nothing, influence over one of veto wielding members of UN Security Council with the world’s largest defense and foreign aid budgets and unrivaled impact on the great international debates of our time. Canadians would ensure themselves a seat at the negotiating table with giants like Europe, China and India over crucial issues like economic policy, trade, finance, security, crime, climate change, energy and even the internet.
Canadians would also gain from an erased border and removal of all barriers to access to the world’s largest economy. No identification of any kind would be required to visit Alaska or Florida and Canadians would gain more complete access to the US university system. Access to US defense technology and spending is the tip of the iceberg on security. Even from the US perspective, there would overnight be a bigger military with a bigger recruitment pool and a budget based on a larger tax base.
On the New Country’s Size
The combined size of our countries is much larger than the two taken separately. Comprising the entire northern section of North America from the Mexican border to the Arctic Circle, the resulting behemoth would be by far the biggest country in the world by area. The Great Lakes, the St. Lawrence Canal and even the Northwest Passage are North American water systems, unique in the world.
On top of this, as most have now read the US is already poised to be the world’s largest producer of natural gas in the next few years and oil in a couple decades. Combined with Canada, the US would be the largest now with tremendous power over markets worldwide. The same goes for many other natural resources including mining, lumber and even freshwater.
In fact, policies that have been based on the existing state of national separation have made it difficult to work effectively on a myriad of needs. A great example is that, due to geography, there are few environmental issues that would not be better addressed jointly including everything from agriculture and fisheries to disaster response and prevention.
The European process of unification, while much more complex, offers something else particularly appealing: an opportunity for true change to the ossified political systems of both countries. Just like in Europe, unification is a logical opportunity for constitutional reforms that are needed regardless including proportional representation in the US Senate or Electoral College reform.
Because of the nature of the relationship, the changes can be relatively gradual to accommodate for some problems and sticking points that stand in the way. Perhaps most difficult is the social safety net including two vastly different healthcare systems. Also, what would be the exact structure of the new system? Is Canada the newest state like Texas in 1845 or would it be thirteen new states? Another issue would be updating government titles, flags, symbols, etc. but this is more fun than serious concerns.
Canada Joining the United States Makes Sense
Just like the EU, unification between the North American giants would send a strong signal to the world about the strength of the democratic world, the temporary nature of national borders and that history itself can indeed come to a close. Like the EU, such a union would be an example of hope for unification of democracies in Africa, South America, the Middle East, the Caribbean or Polynesia. Americans and Canadians could demonstrate how peaceful and organized a unification of democracies could be. But I guess the general question I would ask readers after taking the time to write this is: why not?