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Russ Blinch

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We Need to Save Canada From the Harper Economy

Posted: 03/11/2014 8:32 am

Canada's economy has lost its balance. Trouble looms.

Those are not words you will hear from Prime Minister Stephen Harper but it is the grim reality of the unsustainable economic ethos of his Conservative government.

Instead of the telling us the truth, the government is spending unprecedented gobs of our money to mislead us about the health of the country with the Canada Action Plan advertising campaign saturating the airwaves. In reality, our petro premier has transformed a balanced country into a petro-state that is "hollowing out" the economy.

Last Friday, we found out we lost 7,000 jobs in February. Statistics Canada noted "there has been little overall employment growth in Canada since August 2013." Economists, in their typical veiled language, are warning us about the dark shadows stalking the economy.

The strongest barrage, however, has come from outside. Ray Dalio's Bridgewater Associates, which the Globe and Mail hailed as one of the world's biggest and most respected hedge funds, says the Canadian economy is "unbalanced and at risk for the next decade."

A decade is a long time to forecast pain.

"The rest of the Canadian manufacturing economy has been hollowed out to a significant degree due to years of underinvestment, as the commodity-driven surge in the currency made other industries unprofitable," according to the note from Bridgewater, as reported by the Globe.

Canada's manufacturing sector has taken it on the chin from the high dollar, which was propped up by the oil mania. "Export growth has shifted from the leading edge of the Canadian economy in the 1990s to a lagging edge," Glen Hodgson, chief economist at the Conference Board of Canada, wrote in a recent dispatch.

Hodgson believes something needs to be done. He called for an "aggressive strategy" to diversify trade while opening up new markets. You could say Harper's initiative to ink a trade deal with Europe helps the country diversify its markets but the problem here is, what if we don't have anything to sell but dirty oil from Alberta?

Right now we are bombarded with headlines from the likes of Heinz, Kellogg's and Novartis saying they are shutting down their plants. Government officials are doing the money dance around the limping auto sector, begging them to stay. Our once techno bright spot, Blackberry, is now Reverse in Motion and slipping fast.

Since 2002, Ontario's manufacturing sector has shriveled by nearly 30 percent, a loss of some 30,000 jobs, according to the economist Jeffrey Rubin. "Once the top employer in Ontario, the manufacturing sector is now a shadow of its former self," he wrote.

You may be thinking we can just wait for oil prices to rise again. Perhaps. But most smart countries are moving as fast as they can away from fossil fuels. We are in danger of stranding billion of dollars of investments in the tar sands while the manufacturing sector implodes.

Canada needs bold new ideas and you can bet we won't get it from the 20th century mob with their anti-democratic tendencies holding a majority in the Parliament (Otherwise knows as the Conservative Party.)

We need to transition to a 21st-century economy with sustainable products produced by sustainable companies. And yes government incentives and welcome mats can go a long way to foster the changes we need.

Let me leave you with two pictures for your mind's eye.

Elon Musk and his Tesla juggernaut have announced plans fora new "Gigafactory" to mass-produce batteries for the company's electricity powered vehicles. It could bring revolutionary changes to not only the auto sector but the solar energy world as well. The company issued a sketch of its vision of a plant, not in China, but somewhere in the U.S., powered by wind and solar energy. That's the future.

Now think of the Alberta tar sands. The massive oil project produces vast lakes of toxic sludge that are a catastrophe waiting to happen. As of last January, tar sands mining has disturbed 715 square kilometres of boreal forest. In 2012, 56 per cent of Canada's oil production came from the tar sands and a doubling of current production of the tar sands has been approved by Ottawa.

Is that Canada's future? We can certainly do better.

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  • Whoops, How Did This Get In Here...

    Part of a painting of Prime Minister Stephen Harper fully nude, by Kingston artist Maggie Sutherland, is shown at the Central Kingston public library in Kingston, Ont. on May 18, 2012.

  • Stephen Harper and wife Laureen in 2011. Source: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/pmharper/8472663517/in/photostream" target="_blank">Flickr</a>

  • Beer Me!

    Prime Minister Stephen Harper gets behind the bar at the Victoria pub in Montreal Friday, March 16, 2012 where he stopped in to meet some supporters and have a drink for St. Patricks Day.

  • You Eat Half, And I'll Eat Half

    Conservative leader Stephen Harper and Laureen Harper stand next to a tray of hot cross buns at a bakery in Mississauga, on April 23, 2011.

  • Cuddle Time!

    Stephen Harper with wife Laureen and their chinchilla Charlie. Source: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/pmharper/8425819048/in/photostream" target="_blank">Flickr</a>

  • Easy Rider

    Prime Minister Stephen Harper waves after going for an ATV ride as he visits a farm for a campaign event in Wainfleet Ont., on Monday, April 4, 2011.

  • Nom Nom Nom

    Prime Minister Stephen Harper eats maple taffy as he visits a sugar shack in Norbertville, Quebec on Tuesday, April 5, 2011.

  • Muahhh

    Prime Minister Stephen Harper gives his wife Laureen a kiss following a day of G-20 meetings in Toronto. June 27, 2010. Source: <a href="http://www.pm.gc.ca/eng/media_gallery.asp?media_category_id=938&media_category_typ_id=6#cont" target="_blank">Pm.gc.ca</a>

  • Can I Keep Them?

    Prime Minister Stephen Harper plays with foster kittens at 24 Sussex. May 1, 2010. Source: <a href="http://www.pm.gc.ca/eng/media_gallery.asp?media_category_id=900&media_category_typ_id=6&media_id=5512" target="_blank">Pm.gc.ca</a>

  • Incoming!

    Conservative Leader Stephen Harper throws a small snowball at photographers after talking with reporters at a campaign stop in Guelph, Ontario Saturday, Jan. 21, 2006.

  • Thank God You're Not Wearing Overalls

    Prime Minister Stephen Harper gives Taylor Swift the book "Maple Leaf Forever" before her concert at Scotiabank Place in Ottawa. May 20, 2010. Source: <a href="http://www.pm.gc.ca/eng/media_gallery.asp?media_category_id=900&media_category_typ_id=6&media_id=5512" target="_blank">Pm.gc.ca</a>

  • Wedding Crasher

    Stephen Harper <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/10/23/harper-wedding-photos-ottawa_n_2006374.html" target="_blank">surprises an Ottawa couple on their wedding day</a> in 2012.

  • Yep, Definitely A Cat Person

    Laureen Harper laughs as she holds a husky dog with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper as they tour Caribou Crossing, Yukon, south of Whitehorse Monday August 20, 2012.

  • Harper Road

    Stephen Harper, his children Ben and Rachel, and wife Laureen cross Abbey Road in 2009. Source: <a href="http://on.fb.me/12OfGXN" target="_blank">Facebook</a>

  • Bonjour, Bonhomme

    Prime Minister Stephen Harper hams it up with Bonhomme Carnaval in the Prime Minister's Centre Block Office. November 25, 2010. Source: <a href="http://www.pm.gc.ca/eng/media_gallery.asp?media_category_id=1238&media_category_typ_id=6#cont" target="_blank">Pm.gc.ca</a>

  • Trendsetter

    Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, far left, watches a third round match between Agnieszka Radwanska, of Poland, and Serbia's Jelena Jankovic with his children Rachel, center, and Benjamin, right, at the 2012 US Open tennis tournament, Saturday, Sept. 1, 2012, in New York.

  • Psst! I Like Your Hat

    Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, speaks with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper during Canada Day celebrations on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on July 1, 2011.

  • Giggle Fit!

    Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his son Ben watch a bloopers show while attending the Calgary Flames NHL hockey game against the Edmonton Oilers in Calgary, Saturday, April 11, 2009.

  • In The Key Of C Major

    Prime Minister Stephen Harper practices a few chords after arriving at home from work. February 19, 2011. Source: <a href="http://www.pm.gc.ca/eng/media_gallery.asp?media_category_id=1457&media_category_typ_id=6#cont" target="_blank">Pm.gc.ca</a>

  • Love You, Mom

    Conservative leader Stephen Harper gets a hug from his mother Margaret during a visit to his campaign office in Calgary, Saturday May 29, 2004.

  • We Can't All Grow A Pirate 'Stache Like Trudeau

    Prime Minister Stephen Harper holds up a moustache scarf to kick off the start of ‘Movember’, November 1, 2012 Source: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/pmharper/8146161138/in/photostream" target="_blank">Flickr</a>

  • The Sweet Side Of Politics

    Senior Legislative Assistant, Katherine Locke, left, and Government House Leader Special Assistant, Zoe Lawson, show off their House of Commons gingerbread house to Prime Minister Stephen Harper in his office on Dec. 16, 2010. The gingerbread house was filled with rows of gummi bears as members of Parliament. Source: <a href="http://www.pm.gc.ca/eng/media_gallery.asp?media_category_id=1355&media_category_typ_id=6#cont" target="_blank">Pm.gc.ca</a>

  • Beach Boy

    Prime Minister Stephen Harper waves to tourists as he walks on the beach after the closing of the VI Summit of the Americas on April 15, 2012 in Cartagena de Indias, Colombia.

  • Game Face

    Prime Minister Stephen Harper plays a game of table tennis with Team Canada's Mo Zhang at Canada House in London on Tuesday, June 5, 2012.

  • Whaddya Mean It Doesn't Fit?

    Prime Minister Stephen Harper tries on an old hockey helmet at he tours the Yukon's Hockey History exhibit at the McBride Museum in Whitehorse, Yukon on Thursday, August 25, 2011.

  • Goooaaaaallll!

    Stephen Harper, his son Ben, and Wayne Gretzky watch the men's ice hockey team's gold medal game at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. Source: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/pmharper/8457917081/in/photostream" target="_blank">Flickr</a>

  • Who Said Politics Can't Be Fun?

    Stephen Harper and his son Ben hit balloons into the crowd after his speech at the party's three-day policy convention in Montreal on Friday March 18, 2005.

  • Jam Sesh

    Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Jamie Robinson (guitar) play along with Blue Rodeo's front man Jim Cuddy, and recording artist Jimmy Rankin as they belt out a tune during a Juno Awards reception at 24, Sussex March 31, 2012. Source: <a href="http://www.pm.gc.ca/eng/media_gallery.asp?media_category_id=2099&media_category_typ_id=6#cont" target="_blank">Pm.gc.ca</a>

  • Party Politics

    Prime Minister Stephen Harper, looks up from dishing out pancakes at Stampede breakfast in Calgary, Alta., Sunday, July 10, 2011.

  • I Spy Something Cute

    Stephen Harper welcomes two Chinese pandas at Toronto's Pearson Airport on March 25, 2013. Source: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/pmharper/8588948719/in/photostream" target="_blank">Flickr</a>

  • Flashback

    A young Stephen Harper.

  • Just Smile And Back Away Slowly

    Clowns ham it up with Prime Minister Stephen Harper at the IAAF World Junior Championships in Moncton, New Brunswick. July 19, 2010. Source: <a href="http://www.pm.gc.ca/eng/media_gallery.asp?media_category_id=1037&media_category_typ_id=6#cont" target="_blank">Pm.gc.ca</a>

  • Hats Off

    Prime Minister Stephen Harper, left, throws Senator Gerry St. Germain's cowboy hat into the crowd after presenting him with a new one as his wife Margaret St. Germain, right, laughs during a barbecue at St. Germain's ranch in Surrey, B.C., on Monday August 6, 2012.

  • Thumbs Up, Up And Away

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  • He's A Belieber

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  • I'm With Him

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  • Shhh... This Is The Best Part

    Stephen Harper, wife Laureen and Suraksha, Grade 10, visit an IMAX theatre in Bangalore, India on Nov. 8, 2012.

  • Umm... This Is My Costume

    Prime Minister Stephen Harper poses for a photograph with Halloween trick-or-treaters at his official residence in Ottawa, Wednesday, October 31, 2012.

  • Is It Cold, Or Is It Just Me?

    Prime Minister Stephen Harper bundles up in a parka as he tours Frobisher Bay in Iqaluit, Nunavut on Thursday, February 23, 2012.

  • One Of Harper's Many Hats

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  • D'awww

    Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his wife Laureen play with some furry friends at the official opening of the new Ottawa Humane Society facility on July 6, 2011. Source: <a href="http://www.pm.gc.ca/eng/media_gallery.asp?media_category_id=1724&media_category_typ_id=6#cont" target="_blank">Pm.gc.ca</a>

  • Omigod, So Cute

    Met Batisse X, official mascot of the Royal 22nd Regiment, prior to welcoming French PM Jean-Marc Ayrault to Ottawa. Source: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/pmharper/8554783327/in/photostream" target="_blank">Flickr</a>

  • I Can Totally Take You

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  • Mush!

    Prime Minister Stephen Harper drives a dog sled after meeting mushing teams at the Arctic Winter Games in Yellowknife, N.W.T., Monday, March 10, 2008.

  • A Very Harper Holiday

  • Hanging With The Golden Girls

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  • Tough Cookie

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  • Does This Mean I'm In The Band?

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  • Stanley's Not Going To Be Happy About This

    Met with Constable Dan Allen of the Child at Risk Response Team (and Cagney the dog) while in Calgary. Source: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/pmharper/8640427193/in/photostream" target="_blank">Flickr</a>

  • Say, 'Happy Halloween!'

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  • Bear Hug

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