With the discussions Canadian politicians and business people are having about the Dutch disease, (resources and higher dollar values undermining manufacturing), maybe it's time for Canadians to revive our moribund manufacturing sector with a little good old-fashioned Canuck resolve.
We could begin with “buy Canadian” policies, and that would include our resources and environmental projects. We would not be defying any free trade agreements currently in place since no country involved in any free trade agreement with Canada has had any problem in breaking the spirit of the agreement whenever they find it convenient. Our foremost trading partner, the United States, has no compunction in implementing America First policies when they find it to their advantage and nobody holds them to task for it, nor do we blame them. They wear their patriotism on their sleeves. Ours occasionally shows up during international hockey tournaments.
International trade agreements should always be about making deals and we need not make excuses for taking hard-line stances. Most of the time these deals and contracts work well for both sides. You get what you want in goods, money, service or future considerations. As long as all those who sign the agreements live up to the commitments, there should be no major problems.
So signing deals within and then from beyond our borders could be the first priority.
If the resource sector in Western Canada is really to blame for manufacturing malaise in Eastern Canada and the high value of the Canadian dollar that supposedly restricts foreign trade (debatable), then maybe we should do something about it.
Are all our oil and gas drilling rigs made in Canada?
Who builds our coal haulers and locomotives? We have the capabilities to make that happen in Canada, but do we? Do we keep the higher valued Canadian dollar circulating in Canada, or do we ship it out to the slightly lower bidder in another country? What are the consequences if we keep the manufacturing business at home at the expense of a higher price? What does that do to our international reputation as fair traders? Do we even have a positive international reputation these days?
What's so wrong with Canadian-made tractors and combines? Could we prove we can build something more than grain storage bins?
Are Canadians capable of mass producing anything other than a few automobiles anymore? Can we even identify and manufacture anything for niche markets?
If we, in Western Canada, are to be relegated to the ranks of being simple hewers of wood and haulers of water, then perhaps someone in Eastern Canada should be manufacturing axes and buckets for us, or we'll have to do that ourselves too.
In other words, instead of whining about the current imbalance in our country's set-up, maybe we need to get the inventive and entrepreneurial juices flowing again with, or without, the politicians on side.
What we do know for sure is that this current situation of one side of the country pointing at the other side of the country crying that “they got the bigger piece” isn't serving anyone any good and is only dividing us into the old have and have-not arguments that only politicians can mine for their own benefit.
They won't be looking for the solution, therefore we have to find it.