Free Trade and the New Right Agenda

Warnock, John
Publisher:  New Star Books, Vancouver, Canada
Year Published:  1988
Pages:  324pp   ISBN:  0-919573-79-7
Library of Congress Number:  HF1766,W37 1988   Dewey:  382.0971'073
Resource Type:  Book
Cx Number:  CX7429

A useful snapshot of the 'free trade' debate at the time of the 1988 Free Trade Agreement between the United States and Canada.

Warnock argues that FTA represents an imposition of the New Right agenda on Canada. He stresses that while 'free trade' is an issue of sovereignty for Canada, it also signifies a class conflict between the political left and right.

This book is divided into three parts. The first examines the context that drove the Canadian elite to seek 'free trade'. Warnock traces the events that led to the international economic crisis of the early 1980s. He explains that Canada's reaction to the recession was the business-oriented Macdonald Commission, which legitimized the view that free trade is the solution to Canada's economic woes. This part also fits free trade into the agenda and ideology of the New Right.

The second part predicts the dangers of the FTA. Warnock illustrates how the free trade debate is framed along class lines. He warns that should free trade be realized, it would force Canada to harmonize its economic and social policy with the US. In effect, the FTA would lock in the neo-conservative agenda in Canada. It then looks at the impacts FTA would have on the provinces, labour, and various sectors of the economy.

The third part proposes alternative strategies for Canada. Despite Warnock's criticism of free trade, he does not advocate economic nationalism or protectionism. Instead, he believes an independent Canada is possible, by diversifying trade away from the US and establishing democratic control of the economy. The book ends with the hope that the Canadian public would reject FTA when the time came.

This book holds an interesting position in the free trade debate as it was published after FTA was finalized, but before it was implemented in 1988. While other books better document the actual effects of free trade, this book still serves as a useful snapshot of the debate. A list of selected references is provided.

[Abstract by Jared Ong]

Table of Contents

Part I: The New Right Solution to the International Economic Crisis
1. The International Economic Crisis
2. The Great Recession in Canada
3. The New International Economy
4. The Development of the New Business Agenda
5. The Ideology of Free Trade
6. Continental Integration

Part II: Canada/U.S. Economic Integration: The Dangers
7. U.S. Trade Objectives
8. Canadian Support for Free Trade
9. Foreign Ownership and the Branch Plant Problem
10. Regional Disparities and Free Trade
11. Policy Harmonization and Canadian Sovereignty
12. Sectoral Free Trade Agreements
13. The Threat to Labour
14. Women and the Service Industry
15. Agriculture and the Food Industry
16. Canadian Culture and the Mass Media

Part III: Alternative Strategies for a Free Canada
17. Diversifying Trade
18. Managing Capitalism: Canada in World War II
19. Social Democracy in Sweden and France
20. The Option of Greater Self-Reliance
21. An Alternative Direction for Canada
22. Mobilizing for Popular Democracy

Conclusion: Defeating the Mulroney Free Trade Deal
Selected References

Subject Headings

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