How Would the U.S. and Canada (Legally) Merge?
I love Canada, and I have long been intrigued by plans to unite the U.S. and Canada in deeper political and economic integration (See this post from 2005(!)). So I have been excited to see the idea getting some mainstream media love with discussions of Diane Francis’s new book Merger of the Century: Why the U.S. and Canada Should Become One Country.
I haven’t read the book, but judging from the zillions of media excerpts, her argument appears pretty straightforward. The U.S. and Canada should merge, largely on economic grounds, so that the two countries can compete with rising economic powers controlled by state-owned enterprises (e.g. China) and with growing military power (China and Russia). I am not sure merger is really needed here, and I am also unsure what the Canadians get out of merger since they already get U.S. military protection and seem to move in and out of the U.S. in large numbers at will. But whatever, I love this idea.
Still, how exactly would such a “merger” work legally? Francis suggests either the Germany 1990 model (would Canada be East Germany?) or some sort of European Union-type treaty. Let’s put aside the “merger” idea because unless Canada just entered the U.S. as a gigantic state, or even several states, any merger would require a U.S. constitutional amendment. And bringing in Canada as states would make the Democratic Party the governing party in the U.S. for the rest of my lifetime and my daughters’. Republicans know this, and would never agree.
An E.U.-style customs union would be much more realistic. The U.S. and Canada could create by treaty a common external trade policy, and work to eliminate restrictions on the freedom of movement, goods, investment, and services within North America. NAFTA is sort of halfway there, actually, without the common external trade policy.
The U.S. and Canada could also unify their external foreign and military policies (much harder, I admit), again on the EU model. With respect to North American domestic defense, the US and Canada are already kind of there with a joint Air Defense Identification Zone. Naval cooperation would be pretty easy too. Now about foreign policy, though. That would be really hard. We don’t like killing baby seals, and Canadians are not psyched about invading Middle Eastern or Central Asian countries.
In reality, I think Francis might be satisfied with a U.S.-Canada customs union (Mexico might have to be left out for now). She is mostly making her case on economic grounds, and I think a customs union would accomplish most of her goals. It is not legally that hard, and it is politically plausible. The only downside is that we wouldn’t get to design new flags or new country names. The United States of North America (USNA)? The North American Union? Camerica? Americanada?…