Canada used to be controlled by a few families, banks and conglomerates. It’s now a more dynamic, multicultural country powered by free enterprise. At the same time, the United States has become more progressive on issues like civil rights, women’s rights, gay rights and, yes, universal health care. Canadians and Americans are so indistinguishable to the rest of the world that some Canadians put maple-leaf flags on their lapels or backpacks so as not to be mistaken for Americans. That’s easy enough to do, as we tend to marry, study, date, play, work, invest and travel alike.

Put together, the United States and Canada would be a colossus, with an economy larger than the European Union’s—larger, in fact, than those of China, Taiwan, Japan and South Korea combined. We would control more oil, water, arable land and resources than any jurisdiction on Earth, all protected by the world’s most powerful military.

Far-fetched? Maybe. But consider this: Two Canadian prime ministers – one after the First World War and another after the Second World War – seriously considered proposing a merger with the United States. They did not proceed for political reasons.