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Bank towers in Toronto's financial district (Mark Blinch)
Bank towers in Toronto's financial district (Mark Blinch)

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Jeffrey Simpson on sovereignty, globalization Add to ...

"Globalization, or at least the remorseless internationalization of the market economy, is changing the nature of Canadian politics, sharpening the cleavage between those who embrace and those who fear the consequences," writes Jeffrey Simpson, The Globe and Mail's national affairs columnist in Wednesday's column, painting the backdrop to this week's Time to Lead series on protecting strategic assets.

Mr. Simpson took questions at 2 p.m. ET Wednesday on the continental perimeter negotiations, the TMX-LSE stock exchange merger, free trade with Europe and more related to this thorny topic. A transcript follows, or skip to the bottom to follow the discussion in its original window.

Guy Nicholson: Hi, I'm Guy Nicholson, an editor with The Globe and Mail's opinions section. We're here today with Jeffrey Simpson to discuss sovereignty and globalization, including his latest column on that subject.

Please start submitting your questions now - we may not get to them all, but will try to answer as many as possible. As we wait for readers to chime in, I'll start with a question for our columnist.

Jeffrey, you say in today's column that issues such as free trade with Europe, perimeter security with the United States and the possible TMX-LSE stock exchange merger are sensitive because "Canada is the smaller partner and therefore will probably have to adjust domestically more than the larger partners." Are the adjustments worth the partnership?

Winning 'pegger: I am not a globalization-phobe and I believe that Canada can compete and win in the 21st century. However, my biggest apprehension about Canada's "open-season" stance on foreign ownership (potash notwithstanding) is that it risks ceding control over our natural resources and further, the method by which they are extracted. Is my concern warranted?

Alex: Do you thik the emrger would be a net benefit to Canada? How would this be measured and is there data available to make this estimate?

Guy Nicholson: I believe Alex is referring to the stock exchange merger.

Louis: I believe that Quebec should approve the deal ASAP. It was bad because the advance made in Montreal in the field of electronic platform was in the hands of Toronto. With London in charge it will rid this operation from the nation building handicap and release creativity. It would be a net benefit to Quebec.

Jeffrey Simpson: Guy - all such arrangements should be assessed, if possible, on a cost-benefit basis, knowing that there is much that is unknowable about how the arrangements will work out over time. If you think back to the free-trade debate with the U.S., the people who said that Canada would sacrifice its social programs were wrong, as were promoters who said Canadian productivity would rise. In these instances, the laws of international economics would likely favour the arrangements, but at some cost of domestic ability to act unilaterally.

Jeffrey Simpson: Winnipegger - If you believe that Canada can win in the 21st century, then it likely will be necessary to re-think the notion of sovereignty to some extent, because much of what we think of as globalization (trade, communications, services) does not respect traditional political boundaries. For Canada to truly "win," in mhy opinion, it would be better if we processed more of the resources here and had built up more world-size companies headquartered here.

Guy Nicholson: I'll also relay a question from reader Archie1954, who said offline: "America at the moment is in decline in every way except its military. … Why pray tell would we want a more porous border with a basket case?"

Jeffrey Simpson: Louis - If you believe that, then you would believe that a small exchange such as Montreal's would have more freedom and influence working under London (and Toronto) than under just Toronto alone. That is an illusion. But by this logic that Montreal is better off as part of something bigger, presumably you would favor Quebec and other provinces fold their little provincial securities regulators into something national. We are the only major country, as you know, that has these little fiefdoms.

Jeffrey Simpson: Archie1954, I have often written that the apogee of U.S. power came in 1990 with the collapse of Communism, and that it has been in relative decline ever since, in part because of tragic decisions it made such as the invasion of Iraq and in part because of ones it failed to make such as attending to its fiscal deficits. Having said that, the U.S. is where it is: next to us. It's economy remains ten times larger than ours. As Bismark once said, geography determines much in the world. To refuse to work on keeping open the border to our neighbor and largest customer (and friend) would be a serious error.

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