How healthy is our democracy?
By Connie Fogal
Written June 19, 2004 for CBC's The House
Democracy in Canada is on the critical list. Our nation’s life support system is being systematically and deliberately withdrawn in the process of globalization and deep integration with The United States of America.  It is our own elected members of Parliament  who are abdicating their responsibility to uphold the rights and protections of the citizens guaranteed to us by our Constitution.. By committing Canadians to international arrangements like NAFTA and the Smart Border Plan they shatter our liberties. They need to read the dictionary definition of democracy, and take heed of the admonitions of our Supreme Court of Canada.

According to the Oxford Dictionary, “Democracy is that form of government in which the sovereign power resides in the people, and is exercised either directly by them or by officers elected by them. In modern use often denoting a social state in which all have equal rights. A state or community in which the government is vested in the people.”

Our Supreme Court of Canada said in A.G. of Nova Scotia and A.G. of Canada, S.C.R. 1951 pp 32-33, “The Constitution of Canada does not belong either to Parliament, or to the Legislatures; it belongs to the country and it is there that the citizens of the country will find the protection of the rights to which they are entitled.”

Our democracy and constitutional rights are being destroyed by our own governments and no one is talking about it in this crucial election. The deep economic and military integration of Canada with the United States of America is on fast forward against the wishes of the electorate, and without their informed consent or full knowledge.

The day the FTA was signed, Clayton Yeutter, the chief negotiator for  the Unites States,  said, “The Canadians don’t understand what they have signed.  In 20 years they will be sucked into the U.S. economy.

Economically, integration is facilitated  by the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) and  the North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), promoted and signed by Liberal and Conservative governments who won elections promising not to enter those agreements.

In his book, "The selling of Free Trade: NAFTA, Washington, and the Subversion of American Democracy," John R. MacArthur discusses the hypocrisy of Brian Mulroney and of Jean Chrétien towards the electorate.  At page 267 he writes,”The Liberal party had taken a highly critical position against NAFTA during the election campaign, denouncing the Conservatives  in its 'Red Book’ for allowing Mexico to get protection for its energy resources that Canada does  not have.”

He quotes Chrétien who said after the election, “My desire was to be able to sign and not lose face. I named a minister, MacLaren, who was an absolute free trader. . . They say we flip-flopped, but we changed.  I changed the policy of the party, and moved. . .  to accepting NAFTA.”

John MacArthur points out that Chrétien, to appease his own anti-NAFTA Liberals, achieved symbolic re-negotiations addressing four sensitive points:  creation of a subsidies code, an anti-dumping code, a more effective dispute resolution mechanism, and protection of Canadian energy resources equal to Mexico’s.  Nothing substantive was changed, but Chrétien got the political cover he needed. These sensitive points remain a major problem today.

On or about March 2004, Mel Hurtig summed up his analysis of NAFTA this way:  “It is entirely beyond my comprehension how any Canadians could negotiate and agree to an agreement that is so blatantly harmful to the best interests of our country and its citizens. NAFTA broke new ground in several areas including some that were only indirectly related to existing trade agreements, expanding into services, intellectual property rights, trampling on domestic legislation to favour corporate rights, compromising government’s ability at all levels to take action in many key areas including health care, education, and other areas where the  public interest would normally prevail over corporate interests.”

Deeper economic integration is in process under negotiations for the Free Trade Area of the Americas,  (FTAA) the General Agreements on Trade and Services, (GATS) which extend the NAFTA like terms to the Americas and to other developed nations.

NAFTA and these other such agreements strip us of our sovereignty in many ways, including:

  1. They violate the fundamental principle of equality before the law as enshrined in ss7 and 15 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in giving investors recourse to courts and tribunals which are denied to Canadians, and conferring on investors a status and immunity from Canadian laws which is denied to Canadians.
  2. They elevate the rights of investors over the rights of Canadian citizens, over Canadian domestic, regulatory, and common law, and over governments in Canada, whether federal, provincial, local or aboriginal.
  3. They trample on provincial jurisdiction with respect to matters of exclusive provincial jurisdiction.
  4. They delegate Canadian sovereignty to foreign bodies not subject to the Constitution of Canada which is the birthright and protection of Canada’s citizens.
  5. They call for the spending of monies for the establishment of international tribunals and the paying of compensation to foreign investors contrary to taxing and spending powers under ss53 and 90 of the Constitution Act 1867.

Liberal and Conservative governments have submitted Canadian citizens to the privatization and structural adjustment demands of the World Trade Organization,  International Monetary Fund and World Bank, rather than being a leader to demand global arrangements that are in the interest of people.

It is these international pressures in the interest of corporate greed that drive our Canadian government  to take money from our health care, our education programs, and our unemployment insurance programs, all the while asserting that  we cannot afford them. Meanwhile a surplus accumulates which government turns over to make unnecessary interest payments to the chartered banks and to reduce the taxes on large corporations.

Now Canadians are facing “NAFTA-Plus”.
NAFTA-Plus  is a catchword for the deep military integration in process since the 9/11 event in the USA.  In April 2004, Tom D’Aquino, president of the influential Canadian Council of Chief Executives, along with 100 blue-ribbon Canadian CEOs,  lobbied the United States lawmakers to implement deeper integration as swiftly as possible.  These CEOs want  “harmonization” of Canada’s foreign, security, and energy policies, despite the fact that the USA has made it clear that independent Canadian foreign policy will not be tolerated.

Submitting to the pressures of the USA and Canadian CEOs, the Liberal government already has entered arrangements on the “security” and military  front that strip Canadians of our democratic rights of liberty and real security. The Liberals have created a new Ministry of Public Safety which mirrors the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, which agency strips citizens of their civil liberties.

In December 2001 Deputy Prime Minister John Manley signed the Smart Border Declaration and Associated 30-point Action Plan which strips Canadians further of our liberties. Among the many offensive terms, there is now  an integration of all the tax and immigration data of Canadians in the hands of the USA.  Information about every Canadian respecting  income, assets, debts, social insurance numbers, employment status, occupation, birth place, marriage, divorce, number of children, citizenship status, immigration history, refugee concerns -- everything private to us -- is in a foreign data bank to be used against Canadians at the whim of the USA.

The U.S. Canada Smart Border Plan effectively removes Canada’s sovereignty over our border and over our personal previously privileged data.  Under this plan Canadian tax information is already in the hands of the United States authorities  for “security reasons”.  Our border will be patrolled by the US military. We will all be required to undergo “biometric Identifiers” , i.e. eye prints and finger prints to be shared with the U.S.  Among many other insidious terms, there is to be a new  VISA  policy coordination system where Canada  no longer decides who gets a VISA to Canada.

In this  process of deep integration, we suffer the criminalisation of the state. Our government has deeply tied us already to the U.S. new liberty-stripping regime, as created under their Patriot Act and Homeland Security Act. The Liberals gave us overreaching anti-Terrorist legislation (Bill C 36)  and they are in process of creating a  law (Bill C7) that gives dictatorial powers to a number of Ministers who will  have the capacity to shut down the country and declare martial law  without any checks and balances, and without going to Parliament.

Recently, the Liberals created a Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Act which is Canada’s mirror to the U.S. Homeland Security Act. Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge has said that if the U.S. goes to Red Code Alert, that would shut down the U.S.  Canada would follow suit.  All this in the face of overwhelming evidence that the U.S. fabricated the claim of  weapons of mass destruction to justify its attack Iraq.

The integration is so deep already that our own RCMP suggested to the Americans that Maher Arar was a terrorist, which misinformation led to Arar’s deportation from Canada and torture. Then the RCMP raided the office of the journalist who blew the whistle.

The Canadian government is already submitting Canada to USA military control. In August 2002, after the Canadian government declined to join NORTHCOM (U.S. Northern Command), it joined the U.S.- Canadian Binational Planning Group(BNG). Again the Liberal deception, pretending the rejection of a military takeover by declining NORTHCOM, but then participating in a planning group that prepares just exactly for that. An option on the table is a North American Defense Command that carries the full spectrum of responsibility for land, maritime, and civil forces, and possibly space. Such a move will be a significant step toward a full integration of North American Defence according to Air Force Lt. Gen. Edward Anderson, the Deputy Command of U.S. Northern Command (NORTHCOM) who was speaking at the Institute of Foreign Policy Analysis-Fletcher Conference held in Washington DC late in 2003.

This means the USA can deploy troops, special forces on Canadian territory, all in the context of collaboration. The Northern Command’s area of operations is the USA home front. Its charter includes the land, sea, and air approaches to the USA and encompasses the continental United States, Alaska, Canada, Mexico, and the surrounding waters out to approximately 500 nautical miles.

There are 40 Canadians who are part of the Binational Planning Group, who are working at US Northern Command headquarters in Colorado, preparing a plan that would consolidate a myriad of military arrangements extending conceivably to missile defence.  The U.S. and Canada are reviewing more than 250 cross border agreements and plans that span several decades, preparing a framework to join the nations under a mutual-defence organization that supercedes the North American Aeropsace Defence Command (NORAD).

Michel Chossudovsky, author, economist, University of Ottawa, researcher and editor of Global Outlook stated: “We are dealing with a road map to a police state in America to be implemented in the wake of a national emergency, either under a military form of government or under a police state, which maintains all the appearances of a functioning two-party ‘Democracy’”.

Because of the deep integration in process, Canadians will suffer similar violations of our freedoms in any U.S. Red Alert. The electorate in a democracy expects its government to rule and make laws in our interest, not to remove our democratic rights.

How healthy is our democracy?  Very ill and in palliative care.

Connie Fogal is Leader of the Canadian Action Party and can be reached by phoning (604) 872 2128; or (604) 708 3372; E-mailing ; or writing  her at the Canadian Action Party Head office, # 385- 916 West Broadway, Vancouver BC, V52 1K7.