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North American Union?

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://www.thestar.com/NASApp/cs/ContentServer?pagename=thestar/Layout/Article_Type1&c=Article&cid=1108336208455&call_pageid=970599119419 Feb. 14, 2005. 06:50
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 16, 2005

      Feb. 14, 2005. 06:50 AM

      Border talks called `disturbing'
      Blue-ribbon panel looks at North American integration
      Canadian vice-chair insists group has no hidden agenda


      OTTAWA´┐ŻAn influential tri-national panel has
      considered a raft of bold proposals for an integrated
      North America, including a continental customs union,
      single passport and contiguous security perimeter.

      According to a confidential internal summary from the
      first of three meetings of the Task Force on the
      Future of North America, discussions also broached the
      possibility of lifting trade exemptions on cultural
      goods and Canadian water exports.

      Those last two suggestions were dismissed in
      subsequent deliberations, say members of the task
      force, an advisory group of academics, trade experts,
      former politicians and diplomats from Canada, the
      United States and Mexico sponsored by the New
      York-based Council on Foreign Relations.

      Members said the task force's final report this spring
      will focus on "achievable" rather than simply academic
      questions like that of a single North American

      Nevertheless, the initial debates prompted a sharp
      reaction from trade skeptics and nationalist groups
      like the Council of Canadians, who fear business
      leaders and the politically connected are concocting
      plans to cede important areas of sovereignty at the
      behest of American business interests.

      Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow said the
      summary, a copy of which was obtained by the Toronto
      Star, was "disturbing" and "shocking."

      "What they envisage is a new North American reality
      with one passport, one immigration and refugee policy,
      one security regime, one foreign policy, one common
      set of environmental, health and safety standards ...
      a brand name that will be sold to school kids, all
      based on the interests and the needs of the U.S.," she

      She said the discussions have added weight because the
      panel includes such political heavyweights as former
      federal finance minister John Manley.

      Thomas d'Aquino, head of the Canadian Council of Chief
      Executives and one of the task force's vice-chairs,
      said the summary reflected only preliminary
      discussions and scoffed at Barlow's concerns, saying
      insinuations of a secret agenda are "totally wrong."

      "There is an acute awareness that we have three
      independent countries who have no intention of
      compromising their sovereignty," he said, adding the
      discussions on water and culture particularly "had no
      legs whatsoever."

      Federal officials stressed the panel is independent of
      government policy, and that while efforts will
      continue to work with the United States to address
      common security and trade concerns, there are no
      discussions regarding more formal continental

      D'Aquino brushed aside the concerns stemming from the
      summary document, saying "every member of the task
      force is an independent, the first meeting was
      basically a scattering of ideas ... a great deal of
      ground has been covered since then."

      And where Barlow and others see a sinister plot to
      serve the interests of corporate America, d'Aquino
      sees an effort to co-operate in the face of emerging
      economic powerhouses in Asia.

      The document talks about the need to develop a North
      American brand, and muses about the possibility of
      common immigration and customs policies, closer
      consultation on monetary policy and integrated
      security policies. Points of discussion included:

      "Trilateralizing customs and immigration at airports,
      ports and land borders."

      "Applying the principle of inspection, one test, one
      certification throughout North America" for

      "Treating all North American citizens as domestic
      investors in each country."
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