An Interesting Proposal

At first the idea sounds like a pipe dream, a joke. In fact, it sounds more like the story line from a novel (Night Probe) rather than an idea to be taken seriously. But someone is thinking it and the more I think about, the more sense it makes.

What is that idea?

The United States of North America.

Froma Harrop puts forth an idea from Diane Francis that maybe the time has come to consider merging the US and Canada.

What country do Americans overwhelmingly like the most? Canada.

What country do Canadians pretty much like the most? America.

What country has the natural resources America needs? Canada.

What country has the entrepreneurship, technology and defense capability Canada needs? America.

Has the time come to face the music and dance? Yes, says Diane Francis, editor-at-large at the National Post in Toronto. Her book "Merger of the Century: Why Canada and America Should Become One Country" is both provocative and persuasive.

Indeed. One might think the cultural differences might be insurmountable, but the differences are much smaller obstacles than one might think. And the more I think about it the more I think the positives far outweigh the negatives for both nations.

I live in a state that borders Canada and we see a lot of Canadian business people and tourists. The same is true of Maine, Vermont, and New York. Sometimes the only way we can tell folks are from Canada is when we see the license plates on their cars or trucks. New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Quebec, and Ontario plates are quite common in this area. More than a few people here have close ties with family on the other side of the border.

But there's more.

What does each partner have to offer? "Canada's best assets include its resources, stability and banking system, its strong relationship with the United States and an educated, law-abiding people," according to Francis.

America offers a culture of risk taking and entrepreneurship. It leads the world in technology and defense.

"There's no excuse for two countries as similar as us to not get rid of the border after 26 years of free trade," Francis says.

A merged Canada and U.S. would occupy more land than Russia or all of South America. It would become an energy and economic powerhouse less subject to foreign intrigue.

Because both nations have similar cultural roots, being settled by both British and French colonists, have many of the same traditions, and speak the same languages (there's a lot more French spoken in Canada than the US...with the exception maybe of northern New England and Louisiana), a political union is more likely to work.

The forms of government are different, with Canada being based upon the British parliamentary system and the US on its constitutional republic system which has at its basic level the same roots - the British parliamentary system. The head of state in Canada is selected by its parliament while the head of state in the US is selected indirectly by voters by way of the electoral college. The differences shrink when you get down the the province/state level, though there are still differences. They all but disappear at the town level, with the variances being no wider than what we presently see within the US alone. The differences could be worked out over time, perhaps by taking the best from each system. But this is something that would have to be worked out once a decision to merge is made.

On the whole I believe both nations would be better off by creating one larger nation. There are some downsides, of course, but for the most part I think they are outweighed by the upsides. It wouldn't be an easy thing to do by any means and would likely take a decade or more to work out the kinks, but I thinks it is something Americans and Canadians should consider.