Following is the viewpoint of the writer, a
Saskatchewan farmer and the Liberal candidate for
the Desnethé-Missinippi-Churchill River riding in
the last federal election.
For decades we have
endured the unrelenting promotion of the virtues of
deregulation, free trade, privatization and
Canadian ownership of its corporations became
passé. Institutions and programs serving Canadians
were swept away.
Free markets were the future and any "barriers"
inefficient relics. Government itself was best
dismantled as far as possible. Canada should
integrate its economy into the U.S. and, for greater
efficiency, adopt the greenback, we were told.
Those who objected, including Liberal leader John
Turner who led the fight against the 1988 Canada-U.S.
Free Trade Agreement, were vilified as Luddites,
protectionists and xenophobic.
Some of yesterday's preachers for an unregulated,
borderless world now have turned 180 degrees. Prime
Minister Stephen Harper and Finance Minister Jim
Flaherty, who until recently promoted further
deregulation of our financial sector by slamming
"protectionists" and "socialists," now brag about
Canada's independent banking and financial
institutions. Separatist leaders, who said they
didn't need the Canadian market any more, are
alarmed at Quebec's dependence on a U.S. economy
that's in free-fall. Former advocates of adopting
the U.S. dollar now laud Canada's financial system
as a model for the world.
We who fought to maintain our sovereignty and
institutions watch in disbelief.
Yet, incomprehensibly, the drum beat for even
deeper integration into the U.S. continues. Its
promoters see Barack Obama's election as a golden
opportunity. Former foreign affairs minister David
Emerson says Canadians are "less defensive" now.
Decrying the "tyranny of small differences" between
Canada and the U.S., he says now is "an opportunity
to really carry a much bigger vision ... of North
America as an economic and environmental and
What Emerson and his colleagues brazenly propose
is to adopt a North American border and U.S. foreign
policy, and to end Canada's sovereignty.
Handing our resources and corporations to foreign
owners has cost Canadians billions of dollars and
thousands of jobs. To our surprise, we now learn
that the "globalized" world has not followed suit,
that 77 per cent of the world's oil belongs to
national oil companies, not multinationals.
While America has a national energy policy aimed
at self-sufficiency, national energy security and
domestic control, Canada does not. Our leaders seem
terrified at the very idea. So Quebecers, Atlantic
Canadians and almost half of Ontarians depend on
imported oil, and all Canadians pay an outrageous
"world price" for a resource we own in abundance.
And the bottom line of this policy?
After decades of pumping oil south at giveaway
royalties, Alberta is in deficit and about to tap
its small heritage savings fund of $14 billion.
Norway, in a similar oil-rich position, has saved
its oil profits (some $400 billion in its heritage
fund) and kept its industry in Norwegian hands.
Canada has not saved a penny.
Are the Norwegians -- whose standard of living
exceeds Canada's -- Luddites and protectionists, or
simply good managers?
For years I have advocated a
Canadian industrial policy built on our needs --
embracing our own ship building industry, east-west
energy security, a domestic farm machinery and a
manufacturing base that includes a cutting edge
Canadian automobile sector. Instead of fostering a
clean Canadian car, our government has billions
ready to bail out the foreign-owned industry, which
we don't control and whose track record is neither
cutting edge nor clean.
No great power has arisen by relying on foreign
ownership; yet following the disastrous giveaway of
our steel industry, Ottawa is ready to give away
more industries including -- by destroying the
Canadian Wheat Board --delivering the western grain
trade to foreign hands.
Already, more than half the country's
manufacturing profits go to foreign owners. Instead
of continuing the giveaway of our economy under a
thoroughly discredited ideology of globalization, we
should enhance control of what we have.
We could start by constructing an east-west
electricity super-grid to allow existing hydro power
from Newfoundland, Manitoba, B.C. and Quebec to flow
across Canada. This would reduce costs, attract
industry, make new nuclear stations unnecessary and
help bind Canada together. There would be no more
Our parents built an international airline, the
world's third largest shipping fleet and the world's
fastest jet interceptor, the Avro Arrow. Their
parents constructed the country's great railways and
Canada's founders conceived of a powerful country
that was nobody's satellite. Louis Riel spoke of
Canada as a visionary nation where the oppressed of
the Earth could come. Georges-Etienne Cartier and
John A. Macdonald saw Canada becoming a continental
What would they say to those who have allowed the
selloff of Canada's companies, dismantled its
institutions and now go cap in hand, pleading to bid
on bit pieces of U.S. contracts and beg to become
part of a "North American entity?"
All this precisely when U.S. power has peaked and
is fading fast, while ours, with a spark of
leadership, could begin to emerge.