THE TORONTO STAR, Monday, November 8, 1999
U.S. `would reshape Canada' if Quebec splits
Will demand equal role in negotiations,
By Kathleen Kenna
Toronto Star Washington Bureau
WASHINGTON - A ``cold-blooded'' America
will demand an equal - and even the primary - role in future
negotiations if Quebec separates, and could wreak even more
damage on an already fractured nation, political experts
``A divided Canada will have a tough
time standing up to American vital interests,'' three McGill
University professors state in a new analysis. ``While high-level
American policy-makers truthfully say they prefer a
united Canada . . . separation may be accelerated or exaggerated
by powerful American players,'' the trio warns in a foreign
policy paper to be published this month.
``The final outcome (will be) a
North America redesigned in accord with American public
and private directives . . . There will be a `what hit me'
look on the faces of many former Canadians.''
Canadian and Quebec leaders are
naive to insist it won't happen, co-author Tom Velk told
a weekend forum at the School of Advanced International
Studies at Johns Hopkins University. He's an economics professor
at McGill and co-director of its North American studies
``Although Quebec separatists want
the future of their province to be decided by Quebeckers,
and Canadian federalists insist the rest of Canada (ROC)
must have a voice as well, they both forget that American
vital interests require that America have a prominent, if
not dominant, place at the table upon which any new plan
for the political re-organization of
North America will be drawn up,'' Velk told a forum on Canada's
America will do everything it must do to protect its national
economic and other interests - even use force if necessary,
``If the U.S. is asked by the federal
government, because they have lost control over their troops,
or if it's asked by Quebec, because they fear an invasion,
or if the request is put in terms of terrorism, then the
American military, order-keeping, law-enforcing agents may
very well take a role,'' Velk said in response to questions
about U.S. troops entering Canada if separation involved
``A great power does not allow its
border states to fall into serious instability.'' Current
Canada-Quebec debate about separation glosses over America's
critical interest in the 320 treaties, thousands of political
agreements, ``tens of thousands of private, cross-border
contracts and hundreds of thousands of daily exchanges of
people, money, goods and securities,'' Velk said.
In addition to two-way trade of
$1 billion (U.S.) a day between the two nations, they share
``the costs and benefits of hundreds of billions of dollars
worth of common assets, liabilities, responsibilities and
opportunities'' affected by Quebec separation, he said.
All of this will be on the table
at any separation talks, and ``Americans will call the tune,''
Velk warned. Negotiations with the U.S. will be long and
painful despite any Canadian urgency in a separation crisis,
Velk insists in a report co-written by political scientist
Harold Waller and historian A. R. Riggs.
``The American negotiating style,
driven by self-interest, will be potentially cold-blooded,''
they write in a paper entitled, U.S. Foreign Policy and
Canadian Fragmentation: Balancing vital interests during
Powerful lobbies, unions and diverse
interests - from big business to the White House to a divided
Congress - will demand a role in talks that must cover everything
from water, energy, transportation and air space to boundary
waters and the integrated North American defence system.
The experts speculate ``parts of Canada may be sold off
in bargains with American and local interests before far-off
Canadian claimants have a chance at it."
``If negotiations on (Quebec) independence
ever do occur, the U.S. . . more than ever before, will
be in a position to shape the destiny of a continent in
a manner best suited to the protection of its own interests.''