Saturday, February 6, 2010

A New Generation of North American Citizens

By Dana Gabriel

The North American Forum on Integration (NAFI) was created in 2002, and is one of many think tanks pushing for closer continental ties. In 2005, NAFI organized the Triumvirate, a North American model parliament which meets once a year. The exercise brings together university students from the U.S., Mexico and Canada with participants assigned the roles of legislators, journalists or lobbyists. Over the years, the mock parliament has debated and drafted resolutions on such key issues as trade corridors, immigration, NAFTA’s Chapter 11, along with the creation of a North American investment fund and a customs union. Infowars reported that last year’s Triumvirate gathering was cancelled due to the swine flu pandemic scare.

The Triumvirate 2010 will be held in QuerĂ©taro, Mexico. A description on its website states that, “This 5th edition will gather a hundred university students from Mexico, the United States and Canada to participate, from May 30th to June 4th, 2010, in an international negotiation exercise in which they will simulate a parliamentary meeting.” Some of the main objectives of the Triumvirate event include, “To allow participants to familiarize themselves with the functioning of democratic institutions as well as North American political, economic, environmental and social realities; to develop the participants’ sense of belonging to North America (and) to increase intercultural exchanges and promote the creation of academia networks.” This year’s delegates will address such topics as making smart borders more efficient, managing transboundary water in North America, as well as countering human trafficking and consolidating North American governance. While the model legislature is seen as an opportunity for students to better understand the political process and the challenges facing the continent, in many ways it mirrors actual efforts to further integrate the three countries. This includes the vision of a real functioning North American parliament similar to the European Union (EU) model.