Project Canada, Part 4: A brief history of the subject

September 8, 2008, 3:33 PM UTC
Fortune





I know that in my prior posting, I promised to get to the How To on this matter. In the process of thinking through this crucial terminal issue, however, we come face-to-face with the fact that this is by no means the first investigation of this particular merger/acquisition. In fact, the question has been around for as long as this corporation has been in existence. Some backgrounding, then, is in order, lest we succumb to past failures or neglect the lessons of history.

When this corporation was formed in the late 18th Century, it turns out, there were significant efforts to include the entity to the north in the new enterprise. These efforts foundered because the Canadian organization was simply too protean, violent and amorphous, and our corporation too exhausted from its leveraged buyout from Great Britain. This did not stop the new United States from including Canada in its Articles of Confederation of 1777. Subsequent attempts at joint venture or straight acquisition continued through the unpleasantness of 1812, but were abandoned, as such projects are when other quotidian matters intrude. Projects of this scale need champions, individuals with the attention span, passion and political legerdemain to get them done. There was no such individual at hand in either company.

I want to thank a reader for acquainting me with the existence of the Annexation Bill of 1866, which was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives during that year but never made it to the Senate. It was quite a well thought-out document, by no means the product of some crackpot, and I commend you to the website provided in the link. The kernel of the notion is not altogether dissimilar to the concepts discussed in this venue, to wit:

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the President of the United States is hereby authorized and directed, whenever notice shall be deposited in the Department of State that the governments of Great Britain and the provinces of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland, Canada, British Columbia, and Vancouver’s Island have accepted the proposition hereinafter made by the United States, to publish by proclamation that, from the date thereof, the States of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Canada East, and Canada West, and the Territories of Selkirk, Saskatchewan, and Columbia, with limits and rights as by the act defined, are constituted and admitted as States and Territories of the United States of America.

Again, events intruded, most particularly a number of extremely violent developments in the Canadian space that made the acquisition target more problematic for a corporate entity then recovering from its own Civil War. Nationalist incorporation efforts then developed in the north that produced another barrier to progress.

The idea has never quite died down, however. In 1971, a proposal was made for the United States to offer every Canadian citizen $1,000,000 and an employee ID to U.S. Inc. The suggestion was viewed as less than serious, perhaps, which may be why it never received the extensive investigation it might have deserved. We will look at something similar in our final posting on this subject. It would represent a peaceful means of resolving the question, certainly less expensive than other, more violent ways that corporate states have accomplished such strategic expansions in the past.

Today, according to Wikipedia, some 20% of Canadians and 40% of the residents of the United States support the annexation of Canada to the United States. Not a majority, or even a plurality, but a surprising base of support for a project that might, at first, be considered the realm of humorists and business bloggers. An interesting and comprehensive website “dedicated to the exploration of the potentialities for a democratic annexation of Canada to the United States of America” may be found at http://www.annexation.ca/.  I have just joined as a registered member of their Forum.

And here I thought I was kidding.

Next: How to get it done — the options.