Montréal, 10 juin 2000  /  No 63
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Ralph Maddocks is a retired textile executive and former management consultant. He lives in Cowansville.
by Ralph Maddocks
          From time to time, our Quebec politicians, especially those of the secessionist persuasion, send up a trial balloon expressing their wish for an arrangement with Canada similar to that of the European Union. Quebec politicians seem to believe that the arrangements in the European Union are much better than the arrangement they now have with Canada. 
          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 either. 
Totalitarian 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? 
Guilty 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. 
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