The Chinese are coming, and other problematic Canadian sovereignty woes
Some analysts say a little bit of economic imperialism isn't all that bad.
“After all, concern about a potential US invasion was one of the motivations for Confederation. I don't think it's surprising that there's persistent anxiety either, though usually at a pretty low well. We are next door to a country with ten times more people and the largest economy in the world.”
Canadians worry about national sovereignty at some times more than others.
“There are some periods when economic or policy developments bring those concerns to the fore than others. For instance the debate about Canada-US free trade in 1988. The proposed expansion of shipments of natural resources—coal, oil, natural gas—towards Asian markets is new, at least in scale,” she said.
High-profile pipeline expansion deals, slated to bring more Canadian fuels to the US have in turn fueled polemics on Canadian self-determination, Harrison argues.
“Export of large quantities of oil and gas is not new, but as long as we could rely on existing pipelines to do so, it was under the public's radar. With the debate in the US over the Keystone XL pipeline and in Canada over the Enbridge Northern Gateway and, potentially, the Kinder Morgan pipeline [expansion] as well, people are more aware of those exports,” she added.
The problematic politics of polemics
Some analysts at both ends of the political spectrum say the debate on Canadian national sovereignty—directed most often against international business deals and pitting politics against profit—works against the national interest.
“They are classic know-nothing arguments. They are in some cases suicidal -- maybe suicidal is too strong a word, but they certainly don't support Canada's national interest,” said renowned libertarian and McGill University economics and public policy professor Tom Velk.
Velk believes that what has been worded as an argument against economic imperialism is in fact a blow to globalization and economic development.
“Politically imposed isolation have been costly and unwise. I suppose the extreme examples are places like North Korea or Cuba,” Velk said.
“The word imperial has an automatic negative notion or weight attached to it. Great nations large and small are far more likely to benefit from working with one another,” Velk added.
“Where would we be without Roman empire and its language?” he asked.
Velk believes that the arguments for Canadian sovereignty are economically unsound, because various gestures to develop stronger economic ties with the Chinese and non-traditional partners will lessen Canada's dependence on US business—and political directives.
“We don't have the ability to pursue national goals against those of the United States... [but] Canada does have some levers,” Velk said.
“What Canada has been doing with the rest of the world is trying to expand a range of trading partners in Asia and Europe that may give Canada some limited degree of flexibility vis-a-vis the US markets,” he added.