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Prime Minister Paul Martin is continuing his chest-thumping, saying he will not “be dictated to” by the United States.

If he were telling the truth, he’d admit that he’s intensifying integration with the U.S. quite willingly. Washington knows they have a prime minister they can do business with, electioneering notwithstanding.

Even as Martin bashes the U.S. to garner votes, Canadian officials are working feverishly on developing further Canada-U.S. integration. For years, many task forces, working groups, commissions, coordinating committees and cross-border consultations have been operating to harmonize Canada-U.S. programs and procedures.

This is leading to an incremental and systematic harmonization of Canadian and American regulations and standards governing health, energy, immigration, border issues, food safety and all aspects of the environment.

This makes Martin’s stand on Canada-U.S. relations all the more deceitful.

This “integration” and “harmonization” process has been central to the demands of those in the big-business community in Canada. They say that the only way to secure trade across the border and continued access to the U.S. market is to merge trade and border policies, including all regulatory, environmental and inspection systems.

The Canadian Council of Chief Executives (CCCE), a lobby group representing Canada’s largest corporations, argues that because the economies of the two countries are now so integrated, our domestic laws are essentially redundant.

What do they want? They are exploring having a common customs union and harmonizing policies, standards and regulations. Combined with joint Canada-U.S. inspection and security procedures, this would essentially wipe out the Canada-U.S. border.

This push will lead to the further privatization of our health care and other social programs and public services, the loss of control of our energy and water and further losses in trade deals (like softwood lumber).

What we want is a plan for economic development, through industrial and job creation policies, that puts Canadian workers’ and citizens’ interests first, not those of big business. We want the power to protect the environment, enhance our public services and to implement fair trade policies that benefit communities everywhere. The current direction of Canada-U.S. integration does none of that.