|Mel Hurtig implores, "Please, let us be a normal country." By "normal country," he means any other developed nation no other country would sell off its resources, along with control of many of its industries. So why are we selling Canada to America?
Hurtig asked this question over a decade ago in The Betrayal of Canada. Now hes returned with The Vanishing Country, asking a question intended to light a fire beneath us: "Is it too late to save Canada?"
If you didnt know that Canada has been and is continuing to be handed over to investors from other nations at a much greater rate than any other developed country, Hurtigs book is worth reading. If youre already concerned, the book will fuel your fire as it points out the many and shocking ways that we are losing our country. Hurtig illustrates his concerns with statistics and quotes from newspapers as well as Canadian and American politicos and famous folk.
If you dont care that Canada is getting sold to America, or if sharing currency or "dollarizing" doesnt seem so bad to you, ask yourself, as Lawrence Martin does: "How long can a country continue to integrate with a neighbour 10 times its size without eventually losing itself in the process?" Hurtig cautions that, in the end, "We wouldnt be the 51st state; wed be a poor Northern Puerto Rico".
He chronicles the consequences of the disappearance of head offices in Canada and the economic effects of the FTA and NAFTA. He suggests that while America talks about free trade, it acts in a way more consistent with protectionism.
One of the six sections of The Vanishing Country is devoted to the differences that remain between Canada and the U.S. differences that most Canadians hold dear. Hurtigs research on the number of homicides in the U.S. is comparable to the statistics Michael Moore uses in Bowling for Columbine. With consideration given to population difference, Americans kill each other with firearms at five times the rate of Canadians. He suggests that Americans are more sexist, and that the poverty rate is 10 times higher in the U.S. than in Canada.
Hurtig says that as he wrote this book, he started using two words that hed never used before: conspiracy and plutocracy. He suggests that there is an elite, well-funded group of "Americanizers" who want to sell Canada to the U.S. for their own gain. Among them are some of our elected politicians who fail to represent us appropriately because, says Hurtig, our poorly devised system of government allows for major donations to political parties in exchange for better representation.
"Corporations cant vote. Trade unions cant vote," he says. Government also fails to serve us because there is no transparency. The use of public funds and resources needs to be quickly and accurately reported. Once there existed a "Foreign Interest Review Agency" that tracked foreign expansion in Canada, but no more. Other factors that speed the sale of Canada include our media being largely controlled by "right wing continentalists" and so-called "think tanks" being funded by big business.
What to do? According to Hurtig, young people need to stay better informed than watching American TV. He recommends reading the Globe and Mail every day and, of course, he recommends reading The Vanishing Country. Without an awareness of our national situation, how can we care about it? For the truly ignited, he recommends initiating political parties that represent our concerns.
Throughout Canada, Hurtig hears people saying, "We love our country and we dont want to see it disappear." He responds, "Wed better bloody well do something about it soon."