In his first major speech Erin O’Toole hit some real policy high notes, saying, according to the Globe and Mail, that “his party will be tough on China: “We will trade freely with free nations and not spend our time chasing trade deals with predatory countries like Communist China.”” Good! That’s a good, clear statement of principle … a principle is something this country has not seen much of since Justin Trudeau, Chrystia Freeland, Ahmed Hussen and Maryam Monsef …
… came to office in 2015, have we?
Mr O’Toole is right to make free(er) trade a priority. As I have said before, free(er) trade is part of a “virtuous circle” which tend to reinforce both peace and prosperity which ought to be any good government’s overarching aims.
But trade is just one of many things that are needed to, as Mr O’Toole says, “get this country back on track.”
First we ~ Mr O’Toole and all of us, Conservatives, Liberals and Dippers, alike ~ need to restore Canadians’ faith in politics and politicians. As Andrew MacDougall says, in an opinion piece in the Ottawa Citizen, Justin Trudeau has dragged politics to new lows. “Move over Frank Underwood … [of House of Cards fame, he says] …
… there’s a new villain in town.” Step one for Erin O’Toole is to convince Canadians that an honest, decent man can succeed in politics.
Step two is to continue to enunciate polices that make sense.
He has done that by promoting free(er) trade with others. He is correct to de-emphasize China. China is trying to upset the balance … but China
wants needs the resources ~ petroleum, minerals, food, etc ~ that Canada wants to sell and Canada needs to diversify its trade so that it is less dependent on the USA.
However, the USA must remain Canada’s (and Erin O’Toole’s) No 1 Priority. I’m sorry to keep harping on this, but, like it or not, and many of Justin Trudeau’s and Jagmeet Singh’s supporters hate it, America is Canada’s good neighbour, best friend, most important trading partner, by an order of magnitude, and the the guarantor of our security and sovereignty. Our relationship with the USA ~ even with the madness of Donald Trump ~ is more important that ALL other relationships combined. The USA is not, at this moment, friendly; in fact, there appears to be a campaign, orchestrated from the Trump White House to disparage Canada. But that doesn’t matter: the relationship is too important ~ to both countries but to Canada above all ~ to allow a temporary tempest in a teapot (or Donald J Trump) to derail it. One area where the Americans have a legitimate complaint is that Canada is too reliant on the USA for its security. Canada has been shirking its continental defence responsibilities ~ responsibilities Canada asked to share over 60 years ago ~ since about 1970.
But the top priority must be to get Canada working again. The Government of Canada’s own reports show that our economy has been in decline since shortly after Justin Trudeau took power. The COVID-19 pandemic has just allowed the Trudeau to borrow more and spend without much in the way if a coherent plan. The economy is now tanking. Eventually you and I and our children and grandchildren, through our taxes, will have to pay back every dollar that Prime Minister Trudeau has borrowed, with compounding interest because he’s now borrowing to pay the interest on the money he borrowed earlier. We need Canadians at work, producing things ~ natural resources, agricultural products, finished goods and services ~ that other Canadians and people around the world need and want to buy.
There is nothing wrong with trading with China as long as they are buying what we have to sell at a fair market price. There’s nothing wrong with buying from China as long as they are selling what we need and want at a fair price in a free market. Ditto for America, Britain, Cuba, Denmark and so on.
Erin O’Toole needs to persuade us all that he has a plan to get Canadians back to work ~ off the pogey and back into work boots and business suits. Then he needs to persuade Canadians that he, unlike Justin Trudeau, is an honest, trustworthy man in whom we can all repose trust and confidence. Next he needs to explain how he is going to balance the budget, again ~ Canadians will understand that it will be a long, occasionally painful process, but they will want to know that he has a plan. Finally he must promise Canadians and the world that Canada will be back: back doing a full and fair share to help keep the peace, globally, and to help the poorest of the poor, including here in Canada, when disaster strikes.