Re your story (Canada called to lead fight for global free trade, noted academic says, Sunday May 23, 1999):
Professor Doran makes many fallacious statements in this piece, with no attempt at verification (which would very difficult in any event). I should like very much to go through this article line by line, and refute virtually everything he says, but I presume that amount of space would not be available to me. Please allow the following:
1. Most of Mr. Doran’s comments sing the praises of the FTA and NAFTA, and he suggests that because of this great success we need even more such treaties. I suppose from the hallowed halls of academia and government offices where he seems to spend his time Mr. Doran is somewhat isolated from the real world, and is apt to spend more time with corporate sponsors and politicians than real working people, but that is no excuse for a scholar who has attained his stature to be so lax on actual research (no excuse but, unfortunately, rather common). There are many recent studies available which demonstrate quite clearly that, although a small sector of the Canadian economy may be showing some improvement since the FTA, for most Canadians conditions have deteriorated substantially. Ask the many Canadians whose health care is suddenly full of holes and delays if their life is better. Ask the children living in poverty, whose numbers have almost doubled in the ten years since FTA. Ask the unemployed, whose numbers have increased greatly and whose unemployment entitlements decreased almost as much. Ask the students whose tuition fees have doubled. Etc. etc.
2. His “four options” are really two (promote more free trade or do nothing), and ignore the most obvious and necessary choice - cancel these agreements, and refuse to participate in further discussions until it is clearly understood that the corporations in whose favor these agreements have all been negotiated have, first and foremost, real responsibilities to the communities and countries in which they operate. This may not be the current corporate dogma, but surely the 80% of Canadians who are not benefitting from these agreements should be considered, and allowed to have some say in a NATIONAL treaty?
3. Related to the above, Mr. Doran says . " ... negotiations on (issues such as environmental or worker protection) should be conducted on a separate track from trade negotiations. If you start tying a whole series of matters to a trade agreement which already is extremely complex, you're going to kill the agreement. It's not such a good idea to insist that a trade agreement solve human rights problems, too.”
As a scholar studying these issues, Mr. Doran seems to be blissfully ignorant of the MAI, which tried (and still tries, under new names) to be the mother of all of these treaties - one of the main reasons the MAI was met with such resistance (once we learned of the secret negotiations) was that it wished, as evidently Mr. Doran supports, to specifically prevent formerly sovereign nations from negotiating any sort of agreements or even passing any laws to protect workers or the environment following the implementation of the MAI, if any corporation decided such an agreement constituted an “unfair trade restriction” by pointing to some other country where it had a base of operations where such agreements did not exist (we see this in a smaller way already under the NAFTA, as Mr. Doran should be well aware). Finding the lowest common denominator (think Maquiladoras or Nike sweatshops in Indonesia) enforceable in such agreements will hardly lead to better conditions for either workers or the environment (although as we see time and time again it is certainly good for corporate profits).
Are there any awards being passed out for people who support Canada?
Canada called to lead fight for global free trade
Sunday May 23, 1999
With separatists quiet, it's time to move on, noted academic says
Kate Jaimet The Ottawa Citizen
A U.S. professor who sparked controversy in 1996 by suggesting that America must prepare for the breakup of Canada now says separatism has been quelled -- and Canada should focus its energy on fostering free trade with the United States, and with the rest of the world.
"In the 21st century, there is no other option for either (the Canadian or U.S.) government than to proceed with increasingly close trade and investment and financial ties," said Johns Hopkins University professor Charles Doran yesterday "That is what underlies and strengthens the pattern of growth which provides the revenues and jobs that citizens in both countries want."
Mr. Doran will be honored next Wednesday with the Governor General's International Award for Canadian Studies, the top academic award for scholars studying Canada. A native of Minnesota, Mr. Doran has specialized in Canadian studies since 1979. He has travelled extensively in Canada, taught for a year at the University of Toronto, and has a special fondness for Saskatoon.
A strong proponent of free trade who nevertheless understands Canada's need for cultural distinctiveness, Mr. Doran has the "ear" of Washington. His behind-the-scenes role in explaining the Canadian viewpoint to Americans has helped in everything from trade negotiations to the Clinton government's stance on Canadian unity, said University of Toronto political science professor Peter Russell.
"I think he's one of a handful of scholars who are listened to in Washington on Canadian issues," Mr. Russell said. "He (supports) having a well-integrated economy in North America, but maintaining the political differences and the cultural differences between Canada and the U.S.A."
Mr. Doran created waves three years ago when he published an article in the influential journal Foreign Affairs, arguing that Canada might break up into fragments if Quebec separated. He argued that Atlantic Canada's isolation, the West's alienation and Ontario's disproportionate power might rip Canada apart after Quebec separation.
That would leave the United States with a disorganized mess on its northern border and force Washington to take on the jobs of "peacemaker, adjudicator, rule-maker, and police officer."
Mr. Doran said his article got Americans thinking and talking about the consequences of Quebec separation for the U.S. It may also have influenced the American government's attitude toward the Canadian constitutional question, Mr. Russell said.
"The U.S. under Clinton has, in a very quiet way, supported the unity of Canada and given the cold shoulder to separatists," he pointed out.
But now, with no referendum looming on the Saguenay horizon, Mr. Doran said separatism does not appear to pose an immediate threat.
"As far as I can tell, the constitutional question has been put to rest for a while," he said. "There will always be separatists. But if the issue is simply enough space, so that Quebecers can conduct the kinds of policies and do the kind of things that they normally would do on a day-to-day basis without excessive interference, I think they're very likely to be happy with Canada as it is."
In a speech to be given when he accepts his award next Wednesday, Mr. Doran will turn his attention to economic issues. He plans to argue that NAFTA has been an enormous success, and that Canada and the U.S. must continue to knock down trade barriers, expanding free trade to Latin America, South America and the world.
"I think we have had an enormous success in North America, in part because of NAFTA," he said. "The wealth that has been generated in the last 10 years, the growth in trade itself is incredible, the explosion of technology and its applications."
He said the negative predictions surrounding free trade -- that plants would be closed down and jobs lost -- did not come true overall, since for every business closed, another opened.
"It seems to me that NAFTA can take some of the credit for this enormous expansion in the 1990s."
Now, Mr. Doran said, Canada and the United States are at a crossroads where free trade is concerned. There are four options, he said:
- Build on NAFTA and create a free-trade zone for the Americas.
- Work on creating universal free trade.
- Work on both pan-American and universal free trade at the same time.
- Or do nothing.
"I am confident that there's only one route to go," he said. "In the end, globalization is going to force us in North America to do the right thing -- and that is to proceed with further financial investment and trade interaction and interdependence."
In terms of universal free trade, Mr. Doran said Canada is ahead of the United States right now.
In a reversal of attitudes since NAFTA was first signed, Canada is now pursuing more international free trade agreements, while American society has become more protectionist.
Mr. Doran said that countries should also negotiate agreements on issues like working conditions, environmental protection, and human rights.
"When somebody says that workers ought to have the right to organize, to bargain for contracts, I agree. And I think that is denied in a number of places," he said.
"Defending the environment is one of the most important tasks at the turn of the century. It has to have one of the highest priorities."
But, he said, negotiations on these issues should be conducted no a separate track from trade negotiations.
"If you start tying a whole series of matters to a trade agreement which already is extremely complex, you're going to kill the agreement," he said. "It's not such a good idea to insist that a trade agreement solve human rights problems, too."