The United States and Canada share more than just the world’s longest border or large portions of Florida, where snowbirds live. Americans and Canadians share the same values, lifestyles and aspirations; and their societies and economies are gradually merging in significant ways.
Borders disappear or appear. Trends come and go, along with technology and businesses. It’s in this context that I’ve written Merger of the Century: Why Canada and America Should Become One Country. There’s a reality hidden in plain sight: Canada and the United States are merging and should consider joining forces to form an even more perfect union.
After all, European countries and corporations merge all the time and it’s been 26 years since the Canada-U.S. free trade deal. Now it’s time to look at eliminating the border by forming a customs and monetary union or, more radically, by merging into a single nation-state or a European Union-style partnership.
Reaction to this thesis has been mixed north of the border, but south of the border an increasing number of policymakers agree that this makes sense. Here are some of the reasons:
A new Cold War has been underway since the fall of the Iron Curtain and is pitting free enterprise against state capitalism as practiced in China, Japan, Russia, Arab nations, South Korea, Singapore and elsewhere. These countries control or own their corporations and back their efforts with an arsenal of weaponry — such as bribery, protectionism, diplomacy, bullying or subsidies — to capture markets and resources.
We are losing this war abroad and at home by allowing their companies to buy our assets and corporations without reciprocal rights to buy theirs. For instance, China is finally able to make strategic takeovers in Canada and the United States as part of its long-term resource strategy. In late December 2012, oil giant Nexen Inc. of Calgary was bought for $15 billion and agri-business and export agri-business giant Smithfield Foods of Virginia was bought in September for $8 billion. The loss of more strategically important corporations will follow unless policies, and attitudes, change.
The International Monetary Fund’s World Economic Outlook Database in fall 2013 forecasted that by 2018 China’s economy will overtake the United States’ and Asia will overtake the U.S., Germany, Britain, France, Italy, Russia and Canada combined. So geopolitical realignment becomes more necessary than ever and size matters as does smarts. A merger would level a playing field that’s becoming increasingly lopsided in favor of the state capitalists. Mexico may eventually become more deeply integrated but that may take years. In the meantime, Canada and America must strengthen their partnership.
A combined U.S. and Canada would become the world’s biggest superpower with more land than South America, a bigger economy than the 28 countries that form the European Union and the biggest coastline on the planet. They would have a population of more than 350 million, the biggest military force in the world to protect themselves and the best universities, research facilities and technology sector in the world.
The two would control the world’s greatest resource base. This is the ultimate trump card for the future in an increasingly crowded and more prosperous world. The middle classes in China and India are equivalent to the population of North America and the European Union combined, or roughly 800 million, and they want meat every day, indoor plumbing, better housing, televisions, cell phones, iPads, motorbikes, cars, air conditioners and refrigerators. America and Canada have more metals and minerals, energy resources, farmland and water than any region in the world.
Millions of jobs could be created because only a merger of some kind would enable development of Canada’s untapped resources. The top half of Canada is virtually empty, three times’ larger than Alaska but with one-seventh its population or only 100,000 people.
The Canadian North needs roads, airports, railways, seaports, military outposts, bridges, power generation facilities and other infrastructure to tap its vast buried treasure. An estimated $17 trillion worth of metals and minerals are known to exist already but there’s more. Much of the territory has not been mapped, been trodden by human beings or explored for resource development. This can only be accomplished with American capital, know-how and military protection.
It’s a perfect partnership because the two are complementary. America has the capital, manpower, know-how and military might (and good climates to live in) and Canada has vast resources and the strategically important Arctic. They are already one another’s biggest investors, customers and suppliers. Canada ships more oil to the United States than any other country, roughly two million barrels a day, and is an important source of electrical power, uranium, metals and natural gas. America ships more goods and services to Canada than to any other country and Canadians buy more U.S. products than does the entire European Union.
A merger also makes sense because, in essence, one is already underway. I moved to Canada in 1966 and have seen it change from a protectionist backwater controlled by a few families or conglomerates to a dynamic free enterprise nation. At the same time, the United States has become more progressive and liberal in terms of its social policies.
Demographically, the two are already joined. About 3 million Canadians live full- or part-time in the United States and more than 1 million Americans live in Canada. Seven million Canadians immigrated to the United States in the past century so millions more Americans have Canadian roots, such as Ellen DeGeneres, Alex Baldwin, Vince Vaughn, Madonna, Angelina Jolie, Hillary Clinton, Jack Kerouac, Walt Disney, Walter Chrysler and Thomas Edison.
Economically, U.S. corporations own roughly 11 percent of Canada’s corporate assets and Canadian corporations are the third biggest investors in the United States. Individual Canadians have been the largest foreign purchasers of real estate in the U.S. for three years in a row. Americans and Canadians work, marry, study, invest, travel, play and compete with one another.
And last, but not least, they like one another. These two great countries have been dating for years, and it’s time to consider marriage or, at the very least, a common-law arrangement in the not-too-distant future.