As former members of our countries' congresses we believe that it is time to create a North American Parliamentary Union (NAPU) to address the growing number of big issues that North America's national governments have pushed to the sidelines. Both past and present have been burdened by the ad hoc nature of relations among the United States, Mexico, and Canada. A fairer, more prosperous future for all three countries demands that we take a bold step forward.
Despite US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's snide reference to ``Old Europe,'' North Americans can learn much from the European Union and European Parliament. In the 1950's, most of Europe considered the idea of a Union with a single Parliament a pipe dream. Today the EU elects its Parliament, shares a single currency, and controls a budget that emphasizes raising living standards within the less developed member countries. Within the near future, the EU is likely to be 450 million people strong.
The combined population of the US, Mexico, and Canada is about 410 million people. Yet North America has failed to match Europe in building the political structures necessary to focus the hemisphere on the problems of immigration, cross border security, labor rights, and environmental degradation; or in facilitating a more united approach to strong economic competition from Europe and Asia.
On the contrary, in the aftermath of the Iraq War, relations between the US and its neighbors, Canada and Mexico, are at their lowest level in years. Clearly, efforts to deepen North American political and economic integration will be an uphill battle.