A very wise Canadian friend suggested that she didn’t mind paying her taxes, and appreciated the work that public servants did. She wanted her taxes to pay for daycare and free tertiary tuition. She wanted these things, instead of the fighter jets and the money spent sending refugees home before they arrived that her tax dollars were currently being used for.
I responded that I was struck by how European these comments seemed, both in tone and substance. I had been equally impressed by how Canada had felt very European when I visited Montreal in the summer. Quebec really did have a lot in common with Scotland.
I suggested, semi-jokingly that Canada should apply to should join the EU instead of NAFTA.
My wise friend thought the suggestion an impossibly pleasant daydream – and went on to give a long list of policy areas where she and Canada were much closer to the EU position than that of the US. Her fear was that the EU would reject an application, thinking Canada too much like the US – with some cause.
She complained of the Canadian right always banging on about the growth of the “nanny state” – without seeming to realise that if Canada thought the phrase was an American import, in fact it was, to all intents and purposes, Mrs Thatcher who invented the term (right slap bang in the middle of the EU she so hates to this day!). Even the Canadian right wing is, it seems, much closer to the European equivalent than it is to the Tea Party!
And so I let it turn itself into that impossibly pleasant day dream......
The Canadians, New Zealanders and Australians start to consider whether they are actually much closer in their politically values to the Scandinavians, the UK and Ireland, than they are to the increasingly bizarre and worrying politics of the “leader of the free world”. They decide that it’s true and, quite soon decide to do something about it.
They successfully apply to join the EU - and it immensely strengthens the institutions and democratic roots of the EU. Having a few more anglophone states in the Union helps Britain to finally come to terms with membership (because the Tories think that at last OUR empire can counterbalance the French and the German one). France is very happy because it gets to play with Quebec. Quebec joins a grand coalition with Scotland and Sicily, Catalunya and Corsica, arguing that there are now so many seats at the top table, a few more won't make that much difference.
The whole process gives a very, very serious message to the US. Their imperialist antics have become seriously unacceptable to the rest of us in the West - not to mention what the rest of the world thinks. The United States has to grapple with the reality that it is not a good neighbour. It really has turned into more than a bit of a bully.
And then on to the elaboration......
If there existed a global political "power" that was NOT a state, but an entity firmly based in European liberal democratic values (as opposed to the sort of democratic, continentaI bloc the EU currently is), would any other states be interested in applying for membership?
Would the “white commonwealth” countries apply to join the EU? Probably not, but they might find it an interesting fantasy. On the other hand, Iceland have already applied to join and they’re geographically and geologically as close to Canada as we are!
How would the EU react if the idea caught on in the three states? Would it quail in front of American wrath and might? Or would it welcome the applicants with open arms and a profound sense of relief and possibility?
Could we all be a real force for good if we were better organised? Or are we stronger apart?
Boy! Did I enjoy that day dream! Please forgive my self indulgence.