Borders Matter: Homeland Security and the Search for North America


162 pages
Contains Bibliography, Index
ISBN 1-55266-123-7
DDC 971




Reviewed by John R. Abbott

John Abbott is a professor of history at Laurentian University’s Algoma University College. He is the co-author of The Border at Sault Ste Marie and The History of Fort St. Joseph.


The author of Borders Matter argues that Canadians must resist the
pressure from corporate advocates of an open border to trade their
birthright of political culture and social justice for a mess of
American materialist potage. The policies of the Bush administration,
the Iraq war, and the regime of homeland security elaborated by 9/11
have, Drache believes, stiffened Canadian resolve to remain Canadian. He
also believes that Canadians are likely to be shocked when they discover
the consequences of the brutal border regime stemming from homeland
security measures—consequences that will transform the undefended
border “into a heavily policed and militarized frontier.” That
shock, he suggests, should be managed to foster resolve in Canadians,
rather than an inclination to surrender.

The author enumerates Canadian values worth protecting and fostering: a
much greater commitment to income security, to a system that values
citizenship more highly than national identity, to “social bonding”
and a respect for the state’s role in promoting the public as opposed
to the individual interest. Given American commitment to unilateralism,
Canada must “redefine its objectives and chart its own course. It
needs to distance itself, as much as possible, from the entangling web
of US unilateralism.” Drache encourages an active and persistent
questioning of American policy and administration in light of Canadian
interests, especially those that define us. He also argues that there is
no economic advantage for Canadians in “continentalism,” and that
Americans in any event will not tolerate a continental supragovernment:
it will be their way or the doorway.

Drache assumes that American “manifest destiny” remains a lively
ideological virus. But one person’s poison may be another’s meat.
While within the confines of his premises he develops a logical
argument, it is possible to reject both the premises and their
corollaries. One might define private right and private property as
virtuous and regret that rampant statism and an overemphasis on public
responsibility and collective well-being have had deleterious outcomes
in Canada. From that point of view, economic union with the United
States and all that implies might be a positive outcome. That said,
Border Matters represents one of the best, most carefully argued cases
for old-fashioned Canadian autonomy yet published.


Drache, Daniel., “Borders Matter: Homeland Security and the Search for North America,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed April 25, 2024,