To the average Quebec citizen the precise arrangements governing the European
Union are probably a deep mystery in which they have little or no interest.
In all probability this is why these politicians are using this ploy to
lull the population into supporting an idea which will probably get another
airing at the next referendum. However, in spite of these frequent allusions
to the EU, closer study of the specific arrangements makes one wonder just
how much these same politicians know about the European Union anyway.
While, on the surface, there are some similarities between the present
federal arrangement and the European federal system there are also many
differences. Like Canada the European Union has an elected, and better
paid, Parliament, a Council of Ministers (similar to our Federal Provincial
meeting of First Ministers) but it has also something that we do not have:
a twenty member Commission. This is an unelected body of recycled and possibly
corrupt politicians, called Commissioners, each in charge of a different
area like trade or agriculture, who cannot be dismissed, dictating policy
to the constituent elements who run the European Union.
The European Commission was once described as « …unelected
reject politicians with no accountability to anybody ».
A group which can and does wield such awesome power that it affects almost
every aspect of the daily lives of Europeans. When one of these Commissioners
was asked if he would take any notice of the views of elected MEP's (Members
of the European Parliament), Franz Fischler, then EU Commissioner of Agriculture,
cheerfully replied « the answer lies in the treaty
». That is to say that the EU need take no notice at all of
the elected body that is supposed to run Europe. In fact these reject politicians
can, at a whim, affect the lives of 300 million people with little of no
reference to any elected body at all.
The Commissioners can and do initiate legislation and issue masses of regulations
that may or may not make any sense in any given state. They can make any
language they wish the working language of the European Union, and of late
studies show that more and more English is being used instead of French.
This is in a Union where there are fifteen official languages, not two
as in Canada.
There are also an Economic and Social Committee and a Committee of the
Regions. The latter refers to the division of the EU into 111 «
Regions » each of which is represented in the EU Parliament.
The plan is to make these regions responsible directly to Brussels thus
dismantling the national sovereignty of each existing state. I find it
hard to believe that our secessionist friends have such a thing in mind
integration of various countries
What is happening in Europe today is little short of the totalitarian integration
of various countries into one superstate. The President of the above Commission,
one Signor Romano Prodi, an Italian politician whose political past is
alleged by some to be somewhat shady, has made a number of statements of
late which show the direction in which he intends to move the European
Union. His latest manifesto was issued earlier this year under the guise
of a « five year plan ».
The twelve-page document was described as a « communication
from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, The Economic
and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions ».
It is roughly the equivalent of our Speech from the Throne which sets out
government policy. The difference being that Mr Prodi has no intention
of allowing something as inefficient and traditional as an elected government
to implement his programme. He is no doubt pleased that there is no «
Loyal opposition », no disruptive and argumentative
backbenchers and certainly no second chamber containing difficult Senators
able to derail his plans. No sober second thought is envisaged.
Mr Prodi seems to be aiming for what he describes as « a
new kind of governance to manage the global economy and environment
» claiming that this will show that the « Europe
we want is the Europe which can show genuine leadership on the world stage
». While nowhere in the document can be found a clear statement
to this effect, it is quite obvious that what he has in mind is to make
the European Union a candidate for joint superpower status with the United
States. Perhaps as a step on the way to creating a World Government. Mr.
Prodi believes that the European growth performance compares favourably
with that of the USA over the long term, although he does admit that recent
US growth and employment rates have outstripped those of the EU.
« One can just imagine the screams of outrage and Mr Bouchard's claims
of humiliation if a Quebecker from Lac St-Jean were to be arrested in the
middle of the night by the RCMP without any charge, transported to Alberta
and held there for a few months before being tried. »
Using the term Europe as a synonym for the European Union, Mr. Prodi believes
that Europe will lead the world because its « model
of integration, working successfully on a continental scale, is a quarry
from which ideas for global governance can be drawn ».
An interesting turn of phrase which implies that the domicile of many of
our world-wide institutions may not be the USA in the future. Then he goes
on to claim that the Commission « ...has always been
the driving force for European integration ». Unless
I have misunderstood my secessionist friends for all these years, this
would not appear to be what Quebec has always claimed to want; improved
integration into the Canadian union.
It is also obvious that Mr. Prodi is anxious to get the European snout
into the UN trough when he says, « The Union is not
yet fully represented in international financial institutions or United
Nations agencies. This anomaly needs to be corrected. »
Just imagine all those air miles and expense accounts to benefit your friends
at the Commission; one can easily visualise the drooling. The deeper implications
are of course what will happen to the representatives of the member countries
of the EU who already have representation at the UN? Will they have to
vote along with the EU or will they be simply replaced by it? Again my
secessionist friends always led me to believe that they wanted their own
representation at the UN.
In the 1930's there was another fellow who talked of « Ein
Volk, ein Reich, ein Fuhrer » and reading through
the Prodi document one hears again the echoes of that menacing phrase.
Particularly when one reads, « The Commission will shortly
present an initiative on how to strengthen civil society's voice in the
process of policy shaping and implementation to ensure a proper representation
of the [EU's] social and economic diversity at EU level. »
This means that the EU itself will be replacing all the existing institutions
in its member states. Prodi then promises to « develop
a genuine common foreign policy ... we must develop our civilian and military
capabilities in a common defence and security policy »
and « The Commission intends to play a full role as
a political contributor in this process and not just provide technical
support. This requires ... [among other things] the creation of a Rapid
Reaction Fund for non-military crises. »
What is a non-military crisis? What will there be left to resist in this
« area of freedom, security and justice »?
Could it be something like resistance by a member state to the large increases
in taxes that will be required in some member states to pay for the grossly
underfunded pensions in some other parts of the Union? Or is it simply
resistance to Mr. Prodi's continued governance? Perhaps he is referring
to the recent proposal to send « observers » to
Austria before the EU sanctions applied to that country are lifted?
until proven innocent
Another stated intention is to introduce Corpus Juris which will
abolish trial by jury, habeas corpus, innocence until proved guilty and
the rule against double jeopardy. A new Euro-Pol police force will have
the right to arrest people in any part of the Union and to extradite them
without a hearing to another part of the Union. There they may be held
without trial, charge or representation for 6 months, renewable for a further
3 months without any limit to the number of renewals. A « trial
» when it occurs shall be heard by professional judges, specifically
without « simple jurors » a clear
and specific reference to our system of justice where ordinary people take
the crucial decisions.
In addition, an accused can be retried on the same charge if found innocent
(i.e. the prosecution can appeal against an acquittal). Do our friends
believe that this is a better federal system than the one we have? One
can just imagine the screams of outrage and Mr. Bouchard's claims of humiliation
if a Quebecker from Lac St-Jean were to be arrested in the middle of the
night by the RCMP without any charge, transported to Alberta and held there
for a few months before being tried.
All that the European Convention on Human Rights offers is a right to a
« fair and public hearing before an impartial tribunal
in a reasonable time » (Art. 6.1 ECHR), with no indication
at all as to what is meant by « fair » or by «
reasonable ». Would it be the 24 hours we enjoy presently
in Quebec or the usual 6 months in a country like Turkey? Quebec often
disagrees with Canadian Supreme Court rulings, and some of its more intemperate
politicians have indicated that they might not even accept its verdicts.
The Court of Justice of the European Communities has TOTALLY
UNRESTRICTED JURISDICTION. The Court, according to
the section of the treaty which created it, has unlimited powers since
the treaty states that « no restrictions whatsoever
shall henceforth be placed on the jurisdiction of the Court of Justice
». That is an unusually clear and unambiguous statement.
The legislation on sex discrimination introduced when member states signed
the Amsterdam Treaty exposed employers to lawsuits that treat them as guilty
until proved innocent in cases involving female staff. The future offers
other elements involving race, sexual orientation, disability and age.
New concepts will become law. For example, in Corpus Juris there is a reference
to « Fraud » which makes mention of the offence
of « committing fraud even though there was no such
intention to commit fraud ». An example would be that
by error some government department overpaid you by $5 and you then spent
it because you thought it was yours; you have now committed fraud!
I would strongly suggest that anyone listening to these siren songs proposing
a Canadian Union based on the European model should carefully investigate
exactly what is going on over there. We would do well to recall the statement
made in 1925 by the same fellow quoted earlier, who wrote in his book Mein
Kampf, « The broad mass of a nation...will more
easily fall victim to a big lie than a small one ».
He also said, « Thinking people then become the tyrant's
greatest enemy. » Of all people, he should have known.