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"Merger of the Century: Why Canada and America Should Become One Country," A Conversation with Diane Francis

March 19, 2014 // 9:00am11:00am
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EVENT SUMMARY

Introduction

  • David Biette, Director, Canada Institute, Wilson Center
  • Diane Francis, Editor-at-Large, The National Post

Diane Francis began the discussion of her book Merger of the Century: Why Canada and America Should Become One Country by outlining the existential challenges facing the United States and Canada. For the United States, she foresees a “Cold War 2.0”, wherein capitalist and former communist countries with state controlled industries continue to grow rapidly, threatening Western economies and thereby necessitating a merger. Francis then summarized the problems facing Canada, namely its inability to develop its own resources (especially in the Arctic), the brain drain to the United States, the thickening of the border, and Canada’s potential demotion from the G20 in the next 10 years. She asserted that the Canada-U.S. border has continuously thickened since 2001 and has led to a 30% decrease in tourism to Canada and noted, on the energy side, that no border would mean no impediments to energy infrastructure projects like Keystone XL. In conclusion, she stated: “Let’s fast track integration with the United States and eliminate some of these problems.”

Panel One – Merger of the Century: The New North America

  • Diane Francis, Editor-at-Large, The National Post
  • Michael Geary, Global Fellow, Global Europe Program, Wilson Center
  • Kevin Lees, Founder and Editor, Suffragio

Michael Geary began the first panel by offering his response to the claims Francis made in her book. Primarily, Geary advocated for “enhanced cooperation” on a variety of economic initiatives, rather than a merger. He believes the most promising area of advancement is in the consolidation of a trade relationship that takes the form of a partnership. Geary used the European Union as a point of comparison for lessons on integration, and argued that the federalism experiment in the EU was largely a failure. He does note, however, that the EU has been successful in the areas of justice and home affairs and so asserts that the United States and Canada would do well to work together more on the border and the Arctic.

Kevin Lees followed up on Geary’s remarks by noting that a Canada-U.S. merger would be politically untenable, but that there is low-hanging fruit from which both countries could benefit. He advocated for a North American economic zone, similar to Schengen. Reinforcing his idea that a merger was infeasible, he also outlined the key difference between Canada and the United States: Canada was born of evolution, while America was born from revolution. Citing the book, The Big Shift, by Darrel Bricker and John Ibbitson, Lees also discussed the growing polarization within Canada, between the east and the west, as well as the growing political importance of immigrant communities, noting that this could bring additional complications to any idea of a merger.

Panel Two – The Outcome of a Canada-U.S. Merger

  • Diane Francis, Editor-at-Large, The National Post
  • Kent Hughes, Public Policy Scholar, Wilson Center
  • Christopher Wilson, Associate, Mexico Institute, Wilson Center 

Kent Hughes discussed the outcome of a united Canada and United States and argued that the merger of the two countries would have a greater effect on politics than on the economy. Furthermore, Hughes asserts that the adaptation of universal health care would increase the merged country’s soft power and that moving “back to our shared pragmatic past” would make it easier to respond to “miracle East Asian countries.”

Chris Wilson then analyzed Mexico’s role in North American integration. He noted that “in order for dual-bilateralism to function without tearing apart what we’ve created in North America, we need to ensure that we are on the same track, and the only way to make sure we are on the same track is to have a strategic vision.” Wilson argued that any discussion of a future North American topography needs to include Mexico, so that “it doesn’t happen in a way that is divergent, but convergent, in the long term.” Wilson commended Francis for emphasizing the importance of strong relationships with our shared neighbors, but asserts that Mexico cannot be ignored.

Location: 
5th Floor, Woodrow Wilson Center
 
Event Documents: 
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Event Sessions: 

David Biette, Director, Wilson Center’s Canada Institute  (4:23-5:07)

Diane Francis, Editor-at-Large, The National Post (5:08-28:44)

Question and Answers Session Part 1 (28:45-32:34)

Michael Geary, Global Fellow, Wilson Center’s Global Europe Program(33:08-48:10)

Kevin Lees, Founder and Editor, Suffragio (48:22-1:07:50)

Kent Hughes, Public Policy Scholar, Wilson Center (1:13:26-1:23:13)

Christopher Wilson, Associate, Wilson Center’s Mexico Institute (1:23:20-1:34:29)

Question and Answers Session Part 2 (1:36:10-2:00:11)

David Biette (2:00:12-2:00:25)

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Event Resources: 

For information on Diane Francis’s book Merger of the Century: Why Canada and America Should Become One Country, please follow this link.

For the book, The Big Shift, by Darrel Bricker and John Ibbitson, please follow this link.

The Guardian's Dan Roberts commented on Diane Francis' "thought experiment".

In this CBC Radio interview from March 21, 2014, Diane Francis argues that Canada and the United States should merge.

The Washington Times' reporter Meghan Drake explores the viability of Diane Francis' arguments and provides a brief summary of the event.

Amanda Murphyao, PhD candidate at Carleton University, provides other instances of proposals for a merger between the United States and Canada.

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