Saturday, 2 July 2016

Canada Should Join the European Union

It's been just over a week since the people of the United Kingdom made what I believe was a terrible decision to leave the European Union.  In fact, as I mentioned in my previous blog post, May Brexit Spell the End of the United Kingdom and the British Empire, the vote by the British to leave the EU may even lead to the breakup of their country.  Time will tell what Brexit will ultimately do to the U.K.  In any event, the EU has suffered a devastating blow at a time when it is still dealing with severe economic problems and an ongoing refugee crisis.  The political and economic bloc could really use a pick-me-up.  And this is where I think Canada can help.

Canada as it is now is a tiny economy compared to the giant juggernaut to the south that we call the United States of America.  Canada's economy is heavily dependent on what happens in the U.S., as is the defense of our country.  After all, there's no way Canada could fight potential future military aggression by Russia or China without American help.  We have very much in common with our American neighbours, yet we continually struggle to distinguish ourselves from them.  Indeed, I think there is even more that makes us distinct from Americans than makes us like them.  Things like universal health care and more tolerance for historically marginalized groups of people, such as visible minorities and members of the LGBTQ community.  To tell you the truth, I think we're a lot more similar to the folks in the European Union than we are to our southern neighbours, which is why I would recommend that Canada enter negotiations to join the EU.

Okay, I understand that Canada is not physically part of Europe, but as we should all know, much of this country's heritage is rooted in Europe.  Canada is of course a product of European colonialism, for better or for worse.  Most of our population also has European origins, although I understand that this is changing rapidly as most of our immigration hasn't come from Europe for a long time now. Nevertheless, Canada still has strong cultural ties to Europe.  We also have strong political ties to the continent as members of NATO and other Western-led organizations.  Furthermore, although the U.S. is by far Canada's largest trading partner, we still do billions of dollars in trade with several EU countries (including the U.K. while it is still part of the bloc).  In fact, now would be a great opportunity to negotiate with the EU about joining as we are currently in negotiating a free trade agreement with them.

Being members of the EU would have tremendous advantages for Canada.  First of all, our businesses would gain unfettered access to a market of over 400 million people, which is a bigger market than that of the U.S. with a population in excess of 300 million.  I should also mention that many European businesses may opt to relocate some of their operations here to take advantage of labour and production costs that are cheaper than in some EU states.  This could mean jobs for a lot of Canadians.  Furthermore, Canadians would also be allowed to live and work freely in any EU country, which would mean a lot more work opportunities for Canadians abroad, without the bother of passports or work permits.  

I know that there are plenty of folks out there who would argue that it makes more sense to integrate more closely with the U.S. because they are our largest trading partner and are physically much closer to us than Europe.  But the reality is that Canada's values are more in sync with Europe's when it comes to things like social justice, environmental policies and various other political and social issues.  Personally, I would prefer to be more closely integrated with people who also have universal health care systems, strong environmental protection policies and progressive tax systems, rather than get closer to a country that gives a person like Donald Trump respectability and legitimacy.  

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