A big idea

Yesterday I talked about two, interconnected, ideas that I want Andrew Scheer to pursue: building pipelines and re-equipping Canada’s military with Canadian made vehicles.  Now here’s another …

Watch this short video, please. It shows the world’s GDP from 1960 until 2017 … you’ll see that the USA is consistently on the top and Canada is, almost always, near the bottom of your window, somewhere in about 10th to 12th place ~ in other words always in the top 10% of the world.

At the beginning (early 1960s) the UK is in second place and Canada is the 7th largest economy. By 1970 both Japan and France have overtaken Great Britain, Canada remains 7th. In 1980 Germany has risen far and fast and China, which had been in the top 10 has fallen away; Canada is still 7th. By 1990 Not much has changed, but in 2000 we see that Britain has climbed ahead of France and China is beginning its rise. In 2010 China and Japan are virtually tied as the 2nd largest economy and Canada has fallen to 11th place and both Brazil and India have entered the top 10. By 2015 China is firmly in 2nd place and Canada remains mired around 10th or 11th. In 2017 Canada is in the number 10 spot, India is 6th, almost tied with the United Kingdom and Brazil in in eighth spot, just behind France and just ahead of Italy.

Screen Shot 2018-12-14 at 19.29.39

Canada, population about 37 million, is doing pretty well, having a GDP that is 85% of Italy’s (population 60 million) and 80% of Brazil’s (population 210 million).

How did we get there?

Part of it was good geographic luck: we possess half of a super-rich continent and, in the 20th century we were spared the destruction of great wars by two wide oceans. Part of it is historical: we were, in 1763, conquered by the British who imposed a rile of law based government system and supplied us, for 150+ years, with a steady stream of educated, industrious immigrants; those immigrants were followed, in turn by a polyglot group, over the last century, who enriched the mix. Part of it was good management. In the Second World War the great C.D. Howe literally transformed an essential agrarian nation into an industrial powerhouse. In the 1950s when Japan and Germany and Italy and Britain were still digging their ways out of the rubble we built a solid industrial base. That explains how we ended up, even in 1960, still being the sixth largest economy in the world … good trade policies, thanks, above all to Louis St Laurent in the late 1940s and Brian Mulroney in the 1980s, kept us there.

The world is changing, but not as radically as it seems. The BRICs (Brazil, Russia, India and China ~ a phrase coined by a Goldman Sachs executive almost 20 years ago) even after being expanded to the BRICS (by adding South Africa) are divided: China and India are doing fine, Brazil, Russia and South Africa all have serious socio-economical and political problems. Italy remains hard to govern, even (perhaps especially) within the €zone where what the Italian people want and what the Finns, Dutch and Germans are willing to pay for are at odds. Given good trade policies ~ waiting for America to wake up from its nationalist/isolationist/go-it-alone nightmare, negotiating free(er) trade with China and India (RCEP, anyone?), pushing for a free(er) trade plus CANZUK+ deal, IF the Brexit goes ahead, and so on ~ Canada can remain in the top ten of the world’s economies and, despite our relatively small population ~ which we should aim to grow, substantially, through immigration so that we have 100 Million people by about 2100 ~ we should be in the top ten in most areas and the top 10% in almost all of the ones that matter.

I have argued, in the past, that the Conservatives need some, at least one, big idea to shake the suburban voters’ apparent tendency, according to many polls, to give Justin Trudeau the benefit of the doubt, to forgive his rookie mistakes and to elect his Liberals for a second term. That big idea may, in fact, be an amalgam of several policies: free(er) trade, but trade agreements that work to Canada’s advantage, too plus increased immigration, but immigration that also works to Canada’s advantage, even if that means that we turn tens of thousands of migrants away at the border. We should set a goal, an ambitious goal, that by, say, 2100 we will have a population larger than Britains and that our GDP will rank higher than 10th in the world … we will aim to our produce Italy. And the Conservatives should promise to do that without gutting social programmes. I believe it can be done, and I believe that “it” includes a decent defence budget, too, without raising taxes.

 

 

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