Thinking North America

Pathways and Prospects

Thomas J. Courchene March 21st, 2005

Written by Thomas J. Courchene (Queen’s University economist and IRPP Senior Scholar), the introductory chapter to Thinking North America is an overview of all eight contributions in the series, which together provide a comprehensive examination of the multifaceted challenges and opportunities presented by North American integration. Some of the issues he looks at include the following:

  • A Treaty for North America looks at Daniel Schwanen’s proposed treaty, a far-reaching vision for the evolution of North America that proposes to enhance existing mutually beneficial linkages between the three countries.
  • North-South Integration describes the dramatic increase in post-FTA Canada-US trade and reviews some of the implications, such as the shift from an east-west trading axis to a series of north-south trading axes.
  • Challenges Arising from the Operations of NAFTA focuses on the challenges and opportunities emerging from Canada-US trade, such as border security concerns, regulatory differences and NAFTA’s institutional weaknesses.
  • Toward a New Accommodation with the United States: The Big Idea Movement reviews proposals for broadening and deepening NAFTA based on a comprehensive approach.
  • NAFTA and Political Deepening weighs in on the debate over economic integration and sovereignty.
  • Does NAFTA Deepening require a North American Citizenship Regime? focuses on the vision of forging a North American “community.”
  • Giving Direct Effect to NAFTA examines the concept of direct effect as a means to extend North American integration beyond the trade dimension and more significantly, beyond the current reality, where NAFTA is “owned” by Washington, Ottawa and Mexico City.
  • Pluralism, Subsidiarity and NAFTA: Creating a Community of North Americans from the Bottom Up diverges from the mainstream “top down” arguments for deepening NAFTA and/or North American integration and instead looks at proposals such as bringing subnational governments formally under the NAFTA umbrella and encouraging more private and public cross-border linkages.
  • NAFTA and the Environment addresses issues ranging from whether NAFTA is creating pollution havens or overseeing environmental “races to the bottom,” to whether the environmental institutions associated with NAFTA are sufficiently robust to become a platform for a North American environmental-management regime.
  • NAFTA and Global Trends considers prospects for NAFTA in the context of the broader multilateral trade environment.