This will be the first generation of Canadians in our history to be worse off than their parents. That blunt fact is the new reality of our country, where seven per cent of workers are officially jobless (and much more if hidden unemployment is included) and youth unemployment stands at over 13 per cent. And that reality is a direct result of the policies and actions of this Conservative government and the Mulroney government that came before it. Friday's headlines point to the 26,000 auto parts jobs at risk as Harper drives ahead to sign the Trans-Pacific Partnership deal.
Monday's Munk Debate is probably going to generate a lot chatter about in the small circles in Canada that actually care about foreign policy. That the three candidates themselves had trouble staying on the foreign side of issues and had to be dragged, kicking and screaming, back to foreign policy is only one indication.
Trade negotiations are growing in importance as developed and developing countries alike increasingly realize that protectionism is not a path to prosperity. Federalism poses challenges for our trade negotiations that are exacerbated by elections at both levels of government in Canada, and among our trading partners. The electoral clock is also ticking on Japanese Diet elections next summer and on U.S. presidential and congressional elections next fall. If the machinery of trade talks ground to a halt every time an election approached, there would be no trade agreements at all -- which is, perhaps, what some people desire.
German chancellor Angela Merkel will be in Ottawa for a visit on Monday, but she may not be bringing the news Stephen Harper wants to hear when it comes to the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA). That's because the German government wants to re-open CETA and amend the investor-state dispute settlement mechanism. This controversial provision allows a transnational corporation to sue a national government that passes public interest or environmental legislation that impacts their future profits.
According to the Oil & Gas Journal (OGJ), Norway had 5.83 billion barrels of proven crude oil reserves as of January 1, 2014, the largest oil reserves in Western Europe. The enormous income to the state from the industry made it possible to create a global pension fund that now owns more than one per cent of global share value.
Recently there is an increasing need for exports to be built into the growth strategy of any business. Without exports, businesses, whether they are small businesses or multinationals, increasingly risk their long term health and prosperity by ceding rapidly growing markets and brand awareness to up and coming competitors over the long term.
It has been over two decades since B.C.'s wineries first received international gold medals for producing premium wines, yet most Canadian consumers still struggle to get their hands on a bottle. To make matters worse, FedEx has recently given notice it will no longer ship B.C. wine products without provincial regulations that allow for it.
Moves like this don't escape the notice of financial markets, though. Exports will increasingly benefit from the nascent weakening of the Canadian dollar, but the emergence of surpluses may attract portfolio inflows that stem the slide of the loonie. On balance, we don't expect a reversal in our dollar, but there is a risk that as in the past, markets will overreact.
Ever wonder why some Canadian small businesses have a harder time selling their goods in the next province than they do in Europe? That's because we Canadians put a lot of effort in crafting trade deals with countries around the world -- which is a very good thing. But we fail to do the same within our borders.
Canada needs to make more use of direct programming with target countries (nearly 80 per cent of official aid went to foreign agencies in 2013, often on a sole-sourced basis). And more should be done to connect Canadian expertise to multilateral development banks and international humanitarian institutions.
Canada has actually become an international leader in the fight against "pirate" fishing. Shouldn't we be demanding that same level of leadership from others? Shouldn't we be at the table pushing for an agreement that makes strong, legally-binding environmental legislation the foundation for a prosperous and sustainable global economy?
The Obama administration, the Harper government and the Peña Nieto administration in Mexico all hope to boost economic growth and create jobs by opening up global markets and letting the best North American firms and workers compete. Before stepping into the ring with the world's heavyweight economies, North America needs to listen to Muhammad Ali.