Long term consequences of a lopsided trade deal need to be carefully evaluated

It s now more than thirty years ago on October 4th 1987 that Canada ,under the direction of the then Conservative prime minister Brian Mulroney , agreed to a free trade agreement with the United States. In doing so it abandoned a near century old position that after the failure of reciprocity under Prime Minister Wilfred Laurier,  Canada had adhered to  the independent economic and social development of a separate Canadian vision of the northern half of North America .  We built a very successful , not without imperfections and some failures, nation state that we now identify as a precious contribution to democratic diversity. We did so through creative federalism and co-operative compromise. The Canadian federation  has protected and nurtured a linguistic partnership of two of the western world’s great cultural communities with immigrants drawn from all over the world building the nation and the nations within.


At the time of this original agreement which over time developed into NAFTA there were many critical voices in the intellectual community and in the national Liberal party and the social democratic New Democratic Party that warned the agreement in the long run might threaten both the prosperity and the ethical values of an independent Canada. Trade liberalization is not two dimensional winners versus losers. It is , if is to be successful, mutually nurturing as well as enhancing freedoms and prosperity. Like any serious relationship it must not be rushed into under the pressure of circumstance. It is complex not simple. There is in this era of globalization much to be debated.The Canadians need to resist the pressure to sign immediately onto an agreement that has already been established without their participation on terms that may turn out to be very unattractive in the years to come. There are domestic political considerations as well as federal considerations and not just economic ones that need to be weighed in the balance. We must not forget that energy self sufficiency is an asset and not a burden. Trade diversification on better terms is also possible.

Canada is a vast storehouse of resources both natural and human that will grow in value over the coming years. We need to be mindful of these facts in the days to come.


About haroldchorneyeconomist

I am Professor of political economy at Concordia university in Montréal, Québec, Canada. I received my B.A.Hons (econ.&poli sci) from the University of Manitoba. I also completed my M.A. degree in economics there. Went on to spend two years at the London School of Economics as a Ph.D. student in economics and then completed my Ph.D. in political economy at the University of Toronto. Was named a John W.Dafoe fellow, a CMHC fellow and a Canada Council fellow. I also was named a Woodrow Wilson fellow in 1968 after completing my first class honours undergraduate degree. Worked as an economist in the area of education, labour economics and as the senior economist with the Manitoba Housing and Renewal Corporation for the Government of Manitoba from 1972 to 1978. I also have worked as an economic consultant for MDT socio-economic consultants and have been consulted on urban planning, health policy, linguistic duality and public sector finance questions by the governments of Manitoba, Saskatchewan,the cities of Regina and Saskatoon, Ontario and the Federal government of Canada. I have also been consulted by senior leaders of the British Labour party, MPs from the Progressive Conservative party, the Liberal party and the New Democrats on economic policy questions. Members of the Government of France under the Presidency of Francois Mitterand discussed my work on public sector deficits. I have also run for elected office at the municipal level. I first began to write about quantitative easing as a useful policy option during the early 1980s.
This entry was posted in Canada, Free trade and Canadian history, NAFTA negotiations, U.S., Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

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