Poverty Policy and Politics in Canada and Mexico: “Inclusive” Liberalism?
The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was supposed to bring prosperity and well-being to the peoples of Canada and Mexico. It has perhaps contributed to growth in both countries over the last decade, but the fruits of that growth have been very unevenly distributed. In contrast with the vision of “Social Europe” incorporated in the European Union, NAFTA was and remains a neoliberal form of continental economic governance. As such, it contributes to pressures on Canada and Mexico to restructure their social policies to become competitive in a continental market dominated by the United States. As discussed in the chapter by Mary Hawkesworth in this volume, the latter has never had a strong welfare state and, since the Reagan era, even limited existing welfare policies have been subject to substantial retrenchment. The question this chapter addresses is to what extent North American integration has pushed Canada and Mexico to follow suit, embracing a punitive workfare approach to poverty alleviation typical of neoliberal America?