Canada and the Politics of Regional Economic Integration in the Americas
As a key actor in two intersecting regional integration projects, Canada’s position can arguably reveal much about the complex dynamics of economic integration in the Americas. Canada has undergone a fundamental shift in its economic and foreign policy priorities since the late 1980s that has brought it closer to the hemisphere. After a long history of rejection of a comprehensive free trade relationship with the United States, the Canadian government first sought, and later signed, the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement (CUSFTA), which entered into effect in 1989 (against much popular opposition). Canada was a less willing participant in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) after Mexico decided to imitate Canada’s success in gaining preferential access to the U.S. economy, but the Canadian state has since become a proud NAFTA booster. As well, after belatedly entering into inter-American politics by joining the Organization of American States (OAS) in 1990, Canada has become one of the most active and prominent countries in promoting a Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA). As discussed elsewhere in this volume, the prominent role of the United States is one of the most controversial aspects of the ongoing process of regional economic integration in the Americas. Can Canada present a “kindler, gentler” face to the economic integration project?