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Wake up, Canada!

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16Jun

By: Graham Lane
Published in the Winnipeg Sun on June 15, 2017

Canadians are a diverse bunch. Not just with respect to ethnicity, country of origin, religion, political leanings, sexual orientation, wealth, and health, but also as to recognizing why we are a fortunate bunch.

Our country was not born out of a war, we have liberal laws that are mostly followed, our society provides for upward mobility (jobs and wealth) and we get to elect our political leaders (some work out). For all these blessings, too often too many of us forget what got us here and what still “butters our bread.”

There is but one major asset — leaving aside our people — that puts Canada in the “rich country” category, and it allows us to have universal health and education, pension and welfare systems. We are certainly not in the first tier of countries when it comes to technology, innovation and manufacturing. What put us and has kept us in the first tier is our God-given natural resources: Space, agricultural land, minerals, fossil fuels, and forestry.

Without our natural resources we wouldn’t be a first tier country, let alone have the population we have. The millions of immigrants that have come here over the years didn’t come for our savage winters. Without our natural resources, equalization transfers to the “poorer” provinces would never had begun. Without our resource revenues, how would the $18 billion or more that flows annually from federal and provincial taxes to First Nations be funded? Without natural resources, would Canada be able to increase funding to our military, increased funding now demanded by our major ally?

Natural resources have supported our economy from the days of the fur trade. Today, segments of our diverse society delude themselves into thinking we would do better if we left our oil and gas in the ground, walked away from mining opportunities and focused on being greener than green.

In recent years, the Canadian dollar has been in the “dumps,” having fallen from par with the U.S. greenback to now hovering around 75 cents. The fast fall from currency grace pushed up the cost of our imports, reduced our travel expectations and lowered our standard of living. We enjoyed our dollar being a par, a situation brought almost solely by our exports of then higher-priced fossil fuels.

Our low dollar now suffers not only from currently stuck low fossil fuel pricing, but also because the Bank of Canada’s holding its base interest rate well below that of the U.S. In doing so, our central bank deprives savers from reasonable yields while allowing foreigners to pick up our properties at discount prices, all to boost manufacturing exports by lowering the USD price of those exports. The Bank of Canada recognizes poor manufacturing productivity resulting in uncompetitive results. To compensate, we rely on currency manipulation that hurts consumers.

Our richness of natural resources allow us to play the currency game while resource prices remain low. The groups that fight pipelines and resource exploration — such as B.C. Green and NDP supporters — should understand that the flow of tax-generated funds that they would devote to their causes would dry up if they ruin our extraction industries. And, extraction industries keep the lights on for scores of uneconomic northern reserves and climate-obsessed agencies.

Wake up, Canada!

— Graham Lane leads Manitoba Forward (www.manitobaforward.ca)

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