Over three decades ago, in 1984 Brian Mulroney was “elected” Prime Minister of Canada. Among his election trail utterances was a solemn declaration of dedication to the “No Truck or Trade with Yankees”. Soon after John Turner lost the 1984 Election and Mulroney took Mila and the kids to 24 Sussex, it became increasingly evident that Mulroney was there to sell Canada to the Yankees. Before long he would be singing duets with Ronald Reagan (one for the Gipper).
Mulroney quickly earned the nickname “Lyin’ Brian”. But this is no longer, because we the people, willy nilly, paid some $5.5M in legal fees to wash clean his tarnished reputation and to shore up the “Rt. Hon.” prefix to his name.
Mulroney dragged us to Free Trade bit by bit, getting us used to it, one step at a time. Throughout the journey, he kept talking about the “Free Trade Initiative” insinuating that it was a Canadian move and hiding the American push for it.
The Fraser Institute’s Michael Walker put out the first book for the Free Trade. Weeks after that, I published the first book against the Free Trade: “Requiem for Canada – A Critical Review of the Free Trade Initiative”.
A few months down the road to Free Trade, in an editorial, the Globe and Mail lamented the ignorance of the Nation about the nature of Free Trade. This without apologizing for the media leaving us in ignorance contrary to their mandate, nor suggesting belated enlightenment. Yet, by then there were a dozen books about Free Trade. And as it happened half of the dozen were “for”, the other six were “against” Free Trade. I mailed to the G&M the 12 - book list asking them to publish it so that people may recover from the ignorance the G&M had identified editorially. I received a reply that “my letter to the editor” would not be published due to lack of space, or something equally silly.
This was not the only manifestation that inducing ignorance was a prominent feature of the design they had for imposing NAFTA upon us. Nothing new really – Ulysses had got the Greeks into Troy in a Wooden Horse, sometime earlier. Evidently, “induced ignorance” was important to the hidden persuaders of Free Trade.
After Free Trade was in place, the strategy was metamorphosed from aggression to stabilization. Each happy happening would be attributed to Free Trade with fanfare. But we were not let into the horror stories from NAFTA which were not infrequent , either. Now after 30 years of enduring it, we have become addicted to it and leery of protecting it.
Becoming addicted is effortless and painless, it just happens – getting free of an addiction is diffilult and painful. “If we do not like it, we can get out of it”, Mulroney and his cronies chanted to ease us into a false security and let them do Free Trade. Ignorant as they had left us, we believed them. But there is nothing, no matter how bad, that cannot be turned into a horn of plenty for some people. Look at the tobacco industry, the distillers and the “Military-Industrial Complex”, about which Dwight Eisenhower, warned the world. War has stronger defenders than Peace, does it not?
The voices we hear now about losing NAFTA are the moans of addicts in an ill-run rehab center. Countless innocent people have developed a reliance on Free Trade and feel the deprivation pain. Their cries are cleverly amplified by those who drive the process so as to spread concern and prepare us for more of it. For let’s not fool ourselves; “they” are labouring to escalate the Free Trade affliction. A bit like the tobacco industry boosting nicotine in cigarettes to make quitting more difficult.
Thing being as they are now I am not ready to say let’s bite the bullet and walk out of NAFTA, as some other old anti-Free Trade Warriors suggest. But after seeing “our” government buy that rusty pipeline for $5.5B, I just could not trust them to negotiate a decent NAFTA. Like W.A.C. Bennett would say, “they cannot run a hot dog stand on the beach”. When the going gets tough ...
It saddens me to observe that before Free Trade one breadwinner would feed a family and shelter it in a bungalow. Now, after three decades of Free Trade “bliss” it takes two breadwinners to shelter their family in a condo and to make ends meet ...
Let’s not loose sight of the forest for the trees ... this did not happen despite NAFTA – It did happen substantially because of it.