Connie Fogal is a member of the Canadian Action Party, whose leader, Paul Hellyer has written a book called 'Stop, Think' all about globalisation which includes a chapter on monetary reform.

E-mail from: Connie Fogal <[email protected]> To: [email protected]


Connie Fogal, October 22, 2001

In the Spring of 2001 the province of British Columbia, Canada ushered in a government with only two opposition members as citizens punished the preceding party tossing them almost into oblivion. In its overweaning power, the new government has quickly exposed its subservience to the altar of international financial greed.

On September 18,2001 the Hon Mr Gary Collins, B.C.'s Minister of Finance, showed his ignorance or worse yet his submission to the interest of banks in priority to those of the public. Collins sent  a BC constituent to the website of our Bank of Canada to answer why BC would not use our Bank of Canada to fund  public needs, (like infrastructure or education or health). Rather than familiarize himself with the existing law in Canada that was put into place precisely to assist governments and the citizenry, Mr Collins basically told the citizen, there is no help or tool for us in the Bank of Canada.

This is just incorrect. For the Bank of Canada website and our elected representatives to withhold the information on the law is unacceptable. Such position is presented over and over by officials and government. It could be called treasonous at worst, stupidity at best. It could be called a conspiracy to fool the people.



Achieving more meaningful economic and social integration obviously involves huge, complex issues, from Mexican immigration and US development aid to the relationships between currencies, legal systems and environmental standards. But the most difficult issue, one that cannot be evaded, is wages. No one should pretend that US-Mexican wage tensions can be entirely reconciled -- of course not -- but what is required is a wage-floor trade agreement that, as labour likes to say, "brings the bottom up, instead of pulling the top down." Mexico could only accept this arrangement if it had a genuine preferential status with the United States and Canada -- including both significant trade privileges and investor guarantees of long-term commitments as well as serious aid for education, health and infrastructure. Think of this "North American union" as a first step toward someday imposing an international "living wage" standard on the production of traded goods, enforced by penalty tariffs on countries and companies that decline to participate. Producers would have a choice: Pay decent wages to their workers or pay penalty tariffs on their exports, the money to be recycled into development aid.

Obviously, the world is not ready for this (neither are Mexican and American politics), but the road to global reform has to start with a few like-minded nations willing to experiment with new terms because they see mutual self-interest in the bargain. A healthier, self-sustaining Mexico would be a lot better for the United States than a cheap-labour export zone that makes a few people very rich but survives on the backs of desperate immigrants and drug smugglers. US consumers might have to pay marginally higher prices on some items, but US commerce would gain a far more promising market for its exports, and that would help to reduce US trade deficits. Mexico would regain a measure of self-determination, the ability to chart its own course free of the neoliberal straitjacket.

The relationship would borrow a lot from the European Union's economic integration of rich and poor nations ranging from wealthy Germany to low-wage Portugal and Spain. The European Union delivers substantial aid conditioned on democratic standards and labour rights, implicitly encouraging rising wages in the poorer countries. The poorer countries enjoy the considerable trade advantages extended exclusively to EU members. A North American union, in addition to North/South development aid, would require concrete legal obligations: If US taxpayers are asked to invest in Mexico's future, US commerce cannot be allowed to enjoy NAFTA benefits, then pick up and leave whenever it sees fit.

The wage-enforcement system might not be as difficult to implement as it sounds. As things stand now, every component and input into goods produced in the three North American countries must be carefully measured to determine whether the goods qualify for NAFTA's trading preferences. Wage standards could simply be grafted onto those calculations. If the three countries formed a customs union similar to Europe's and adopted a common trade policy, this mechanism could also protect against free riders from outside -- including China. None of this halts the "race to the