First aired on The Current (30/09/13)
Diane Francis makes her agenda plain in the title of her new book, Merger of the Century: Why Canada and America Should Become One Country. It's the award-winning columnist and author's 10th book, and in it she outlines the political and economic reasons why Canada and America should join forces, and provides a number of scenarios illustrating how this could be done. She recently joined Anna Maria Tremonti on The Current to elaborate on her ideas.
"The book provides a menu of options -- a huge menu of options for Canadians and Americans to consider," Francis said. But why would Canada want to join forces with a country that is $300 trillion in debt and so culturally different? "We've just got to collaborate because the world around us is becoming more dangerous," she added.
Her main argument has to do with protecting and developing the Canadian North. Francis pointed out that Canada has natural resources in the North that other countries have their eye on. "Russia has its eye on the Arctic," she said. "Yes, [on] our North. The three territories are hostile, cold and remote, and hard to explore and develop well, but Alaska is one-third of the size and they have oil flowing, they have 25 seaports and they have rail."
Francis told Tremonti that the North hasn't reached its maximum potential. "We found huge amounts of gasoline and oil 30 years ago and it's remained stranded," she said. She sees developing the North as an important nation-building exercise. Moreover, she sees the U.S. as a necessary player in this because according to her, Canada's navy can't protect the North on its own. "The bottom line is we have the most valuable and unexploited piece of real estate in the world and we can't even protect it or develop it," she said. "We need capital and manpower and military protection."
In her book, Francis offers various models for a merger, including a European-style arrangement with a fourth level of government. But ideally Francis doesn't want to go halfway. "If you go all the way with political union there would never be a log-jam for years in the United States because 35 million Canadians will be Democrats."
Francis believes that merging makes sense from a business point of view. "I don't write about politics. I'm a business writer. I'm a dual [citizen], I love both countries." But she also acknowledged that the idea of merging isn't the most popular. "This is a thought experiment. This is my Macdonald Commission 2.0. This is let's look at the future of Canada from a fact-based situation."
It may not be a popular idea in North America, but there are other countries that talk about merging. Francis used the example of New Zealand and Australia where the talks have already begun. Australia has issued an open invitation to New Zealand to merge. The two countries speak regularly about this and Francis said that's what we need to do in North America. "I want the conversation," she said. "I want Americans to get how wonderful and valuable Canada is to them and I want Canadians to understand how important and valuable America is to them. Then we can do better stuff together."
So what should we call this super-nation? "I would call it the United States of North America," said Francis.