RM Issue #031115
Last night the Liberal convention in Toronto celebrated Jean Chretien. Today the party looks forward to a new leader, Paul Martin. Murray Dobbin is a Vancouver author who's a member of the Council of Canadians. On Commentary he predicts the course of Martin's economic policy.
Paul Martin will be just one step away from the prime minister's job later today. Where will Prime Minister Martin take us?
I don't think we have to waste a lot of time gazing into a crystal ball. He will take us down exactly the same path he took us down for nine years as finance minister. That path was the systematic dismantling of the Canadian government - from radical decentralization, to huge cuts in social spending and the gutting of the federal revenue base to the largest tax cuts in Canadian history.
Those with longer memories will recall the rigid free market medicine prescribed by Paul Martin. What is less well known is who sold him that medicine: Tom d'Aquino of the Business Council on National Issues - now called the Canadian Council of Chief Executives. It's an organization that represents the 150 most powerful corporations in the country.
In 1994 the BCNI presented Paul Martin with Bay Street's ten point policy wish list. It's key elements were radical decentralization, abandoning any federal leadership in social policy, and huge cuts to social programs as the only acceptable method of deficit reduction. It also included massive tax cuts for the wealthy and Canada's largest corporations. In the subsequent six years Paul Martin delivered on every one of those ten items.
For those trying to divine where Mr. Martin will take us in the future we need look no further than the Council of Chief Executives and its annual general meeting held last January. Paul Martin was conspicuously in attendance. It was at this high powered affair that Tom d'Aquino announced the new medicine for the country - a radical initiative for continental integration.
The new plan would result in the most comprehensive surrender of Canadian sovereignty ever proposed. The Chief Executives are suggesting that the border be no more than - and I quote - an "internal check point." We would be issued with "North American Identity Cards." Four key policy areas - borders, the military, economic efficiencies, such as environmental regulation, and energy security - would be jointly managed by so-called "Joint Commissions." But jointly managed clearly means U.S. controlled. In all of these policy areas, Canada would end up changing its policies to match those of the U.S.
The implications are staggering. Our defence policy - and therefore much of our foreign policy - would be decided at the Pentagon. Our electricity prices would be determined by U.S. demand. And our fresh water would be subject to export to solve the looming American water crisis.
Will Paul Martin deliver on this radical plan? The Council of Chief Executives - made up of the same people who ponied up $12 million for his leadership campaign - have every reason to be optimistic.
For Commentary, I'm Murray Dobbin in Vancouver.