Should We Annex Canada (and Mexico)?

by Julian Ku

In a conference in Brussels, Quebec’s Premier Jean Charest “called for closer economic and trade ties among Canada, Mexico and the United States, saying the three North American countries should take the European Union as an example of closer integration.”

In particular, Charest says the NAFTA countries should move toward “NAFTA-plus, that we should look at dispute settlement mechanisms that have binding effects on jurisdictions and whether we can open up to more trade and services and move forward. . .”

I doubt that Charest means that the NAFTA countries should try to emulate the proto-superstate that the European Union has become. But his comments do suggest that NAFTA dispute settlement provisions should become “binding” perhaps in the sense that they will be self-executing in the way that European Court of Justice decisions have become self-executing within Europe.

There might or might not be constitutional questions raised by such binding dispute settlement, but Charest’s comments reminded me one of my favorite thought experiments: what would happen if the three NAFTA countries really did want to move toward a EU-style confederation? Is that even permissible under the current U.S. Constitution? I’m not sure. While the U.S. could surely welcome Canada and Mexico into the Union as states (just as Texas and Hawaii entered as foreign countries via treaties), I somehow doubt that is what Charest or the Mexicans have that in mind.

2 Responses

  1. Interesting; more interesting will be the inevitable clarifications to follow. It all puts me in mind of a conversation I had at a party some years back. My somewhat-inebriated partner-in-conversation, a management consultant by day, was explaining some point about Canada’s infrastructure that he’d come across during a study. Stream-of-consciousness, he mentioned that nearly all of the country’s population and industry, and pretty much anything else of substance up there was concentrated in their South, “just over the border”. A (dim) light went on and he leaned in conspiratorially to say, “You know, we should invade them; they’d never see it coming.” In light of that blazing insight, I’m concerned that some sort of super-NAFTA alliance would tip our hand. We’re not going to be tied-down in Iraq forever, you know.

  2. I have always envisioned the most likely Canadian accession scenario to follow from a successful secession of Quebec from the Dominion: Western Canada always had more in common with Seattle and the US Northwest than it did Ontario, so I would expect the Provinces individually then to petition the US for admission into the Union as States. Traditionally, the US Congress prefers to accept States in pairs designed to balance perceived political alignments, e.g., Hawaii and Alaska were expected to be 1 GOP and 1 Dem state (altho the reverse, interestingly, from what alignment actually transpired…. just as a century earlier, the usual calculus was the Free-Slave State balance in the Senate).. So, I would expect one or two of the rural western provinces like Alberta or Saskatchewan to be counterbalanced by British Columbia (and the all-important land bridge to Alaska!) and perhaps Newfoundland or Maritime Provinces.. Expect Ontario to remain freestanding as a rump-Canada…

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