Born in 1933, John Warnock taught political economy in Saskatchewan prior to becoming an orchardist in the Okanagan Valley. His books are Partner to Behemoth (New Press, 1970) and a critical study of the food manufacturing and distribution system in Canada, Profit Hungry: The Food Industry in Canada (New Star. 1978). His most recent book is Free Trade and the New Right Agenda, which criticizes the Free Trade Agreement with the U.S.
[BCBW 1992] "Economics"
Free Trade and the New Right Agenda
CANADA WAS INVADED BY THE UNITED States for the first time on November 13, 1775. Richard Montgomery of George Washington's American Revolutionary Army entered Montreal and declared Canada to be the fourteenth American colony.
Since then, for over 200 years, prominent Americans have prophesied Canada must be brought under the protective wing of the American eagle.
If we disregard the American invasion of Canada in 1812, there have been three earlier attempts to negotiate free trade. All attempts -like the, current Mulroney/ U.S.
Each time Canada, with difficulty, has ultimately said no.
This time around Canadian opponents of free trade are saying we're in danger of losing our sovereignty, perhaps even becoming the 51st state. Meanwhile Canadian proponents of free trade argue that our standard of living will rise and that if Canada doesn't accept complete free trade (free trade already exists for over 80 per cent of our products) we're going to suffer the imposition of crippling trade sanctions from our American friends.
All the free trade boosters and bashers have thus far only been able to agree on one thing: Free Trade with the U.S. represents the most far-reaching and significant change for Canada since Confederation.
There is only one B.C. book that offers an in-depth examination of the free trade deal. John W. Warnock's Free Trade and the New Right Agenda (New Star $11.95/19.95) explains why large corporations on both sides of the border have been the driving force behind the Reagan/Mulroney deal.
Warnock, an economist and author of three previous books, concludes that free trade will invariably encourage further American domination of Canadian life. With copious economic data he provides an historical summary of the North American economy, examines global precedents for free trade associations and concludes that many of our distinguishing cultural and social institutions in Canada -from socialized medicine to the CBC will inevitably be eroded by the Free Trade deal.
"American nationalism is a reality," he writes, "and it leads to the official position that the nationalisms of other countries are simply barriers or hindrances to what Americans perceive to be 'international culture,' but which is probably best described as The American Way of Life.
"Therefore, in their view, national protections for cultural industries are unfair trade practices."
Warnock's book also analyses the probable impact of Free Trade on Canadian concerns such as regional disparities, the labour movement, agriculture and the food industry, women and the service industry, mass media and culture.
To substantiate his position that Free Trade is an outgrowth of the New Right's political and economic agenda satisfying the demand of large corporations to operate on a global basis, recent Canadian cultural 'surrenders' even before Free Trade takes effect of January 1, 1989.
In 1987 Minister of Communications Flora MacDonald announced a film licensing bill to prevent foreign film corporations from almost entirely controlling distribution rights to movies and videos (thereby allowing Canadian distributors to gain up to 20 per cent of revenues). Hollywood kingpin Jack Valenti called his old friend Ronald Reagan. Reagan then expressed his dissatisfaction to Brian Mulroney during their Ottawa summit. The bill was held back.
After the Foreign Investment Review Act was scrapped by the Mulroney government, Gulf & Western purchased Prentice-Hall Canada Ltd., the largest single provider of textbooks in the country. Communications Minister Marcel Masse nonetheless urged for a review of the takeover. Gulf & Western threatened that it would carry out "a scorched earth policy in Canada" if the deal was halted. Prior to Mulroney's visit to Washington in March of 1986, Marcel Masse's initiative was dropped.
Free trade already exists in the book industry. (B.C. writers W.P. Kinsella and David Watmough resigned from the Writers Union of Canada after the Union endorsed an anti-Free Trade stance.)
Although the overwhelming majority of publishing companies in Canada are Canadian-owned, approximately 75 per cent of revenues from book sales accrue to non-Canadian companies. In 1985 foreign-owned firms had 64 per cent of the elementary and high school textbook market.
For an alternative analysis of the Free Trade text, readers can consult Richard Lipsey and Robert York's Evaluating the Free Trade Deal (Prentice-Hall $14.95), produced by the C.D. Howe Institute.
[Winter / BCBW 1988]