Summary

Bill Curry reports on the Canadian portion of the USMCA ratification process, the “new NAFTA,” the updated trade agreement among Canada, Mexico and the USA, noting modest changes to the twenty-five-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement.

Getting Started

Appropriate Subject Area(s):

Social studies, geography, current events

Key Question(s) to Explore:

  • What are some ways that Canada and Mexico are different and similar, relative to their histories, economies and cultures?

New Terminology:

USMCA, ratifying, ratification, trilateral

Materials Needed:

Globe article, Internet

Learning Activity

Introduction:

The North American Trade Agreement (NAFTA) among Canada, the United States and Mexico is about to be replaced with the United States Mexico Canada Agreement (USMCA), which allows for continuing expedited—and in most cases—free trade among the three partner nations. Canadian students are likely considerably knowledgeable about the USA, its culture, language, and geography. But, what of Mexico?

Senior students can benefit from a lesson on Mexico: its economy, politics, population and geography. They separately address each of those four topics and gain an overview of the country now bound closely to Canada.

Action:

Read aloud the article by Bill Curry. Jump to the subject of Mexico.

If you have been to Mexico, try to remember what you can about it. Try this Q&A together:

  • Which do you think has a larger population, Mexico or Canada? (Mexico: ~127 million; Canada: ~39 million)
  • What is the official name of Mexico? (The United States of Mexico)
  • Can you name any Mexican states? How many do you think there are, in total? (32)
  • Which is larger, Mexico City or Toronto? (Mexico City, at ~8.5 million, is about three times larger than Toronto)

Start on one of the following four work sheets. Discuss your findings after each one.

Recommended: Wikipedia offers well-documented pages on Canada and Mexico; links below if you choose to use them.

Worksheet #1

Provide a brief political history of the country of Mexico, with comparisons to Canada as prompted.

  • In what year did Mexico gain its independence and become a nation-state? From which country did it separate?
  • What year was Canadian Confederation?
  • Which political party dominated Mexican politics for most of the twentieth century?
  • What is Mexico’s form of government? What title is held by the leader of the government?
  • How is Canada’s form of government different from Mexico? In what ways are they similar?
  • Who is the current leader of Mexico, and when was he elected?

Worksheet #2

Provide a brief economic picture of Mexico, with comparisons to Canada as prompted.

  • Based on the latest available numbers, compare the GDP (nominal and PPP) of Mexico and Canada. Did these numbers surprise you, and if so, in what way?
  • What is the currency of Mexico and how does it compare to the Canadian dollar?
  • What is the GPD per capita of each country? How might these numbers be reflected in average individual incomes in either country?
  • What is the largest industry in Mexico? In terms of GDP, how does it compare to the same industry in Canada?
  • Every winter many Canadians enjoy primarily what kind of imports from Mexico?
  • Tourism between Canada and Mexico is big business. Using the Internet, find out how many Canadians visited Mexico in 2019; as well, how many Mexicans visited Canada during the same period?
  • Describe poverty in Mexico, relative to income, and compare this with Canada.
  • Bonus question: From 2010-2013, Forbes magazine listed this Mexican as the richest person in the world. Who is he and on what business is his fortune built?

Worksheet #3

Provide a brief geographical history of Mexico, with comparisons to Canada, as prompted.

  • What is the geographic size of Mexico relative to Canada? How many kilometers long is Mexico, at its longest? Canada?
  • Name the countries that border on Mexico, today. Which countries were once part of Mexico, historically?
  • Describe some geographical variations across Mexico. For example, how does the climate in the state of Yucatan compare to the climate in the state of Oaxaca? How much of the country is tropical, desert, forested?
  • Name the three main bodies of water on Mexico’s saltwater coastlines.

Worksheet #4

Provide a brief cultural and linguistic history of Mexico, with comparisons to Canada.

  • What is the official language of Mexico?
  • What does Egypt have in common with Mexico, relative to tourism?
  • Regarding ethnicity, name some of the indigenous peoples of Mexico, and note the percentage of the population they represent in the state in which they live.
  • Approximately how many indigenous languages does the Mexican federal government recognize? Which are the most used?
  • What is the primary religion of Mexico? How might this relate to its political history?
  • What are some of the principal foods most Mexicans consume?
  • Most non-Indigenous Mexicans tend to be of which cultural origin?

Consolidation:

  • Discuss the answers together with your children.
Success

Success Criteria:

  • Students can describe key features of Mexico, its politics, economics and culture, in simple terms, and relative to the same in Canada.

Confirming Activity:

  • Students note media reports on news about Mexico.