It’s Time for the Canadian Government to Wake Up;

In the past couple of months, we have had the opportunity to watch governments in the news both here and abroad tackle challenges. Canada clearly has some independent issues that I believe are reaching a boiling point. Watching Canada Post implode; our oil industry falter; our largest auto manufacturer propose closing their oldest and most efficient plants; and the Federal Liberals building a self-serving case to run their next election campaign on – National Pharmacare, is just too much. Add in the Federal bailout of newsprint media, where they may be influencing the press, and certainly is a very large potential conflict of interest. Also, the head of RBC Canada in a rare statement of its kind, warned months ago about the outflow of money from this country and that not only are Canadians no longer investing at the same levels at home but foreign investment in Canada also appears to be sliding. His admonishment was hardly reported. Globalization is seeing Canadian firms move headquarters elsewhere or the use of employees or contractors from other nations. What does this mean for Canada?

While Hon. Minister Morneau and Prime Minister Trudeau trumpet how strong our economy is currently, they don’t give the public the underlying fact that it is mostly government subsidized spending that is creating the economic activity. If the economy was as strong as they suggest, why not pay down some of the massive deficit we are running? We are crippling future generations with debt, pollution and a shrinking economy.

Canada Post had an opportunity to evolve and compete in the online delivery space, as regular mail and bill paying by cheques disappear from their revenue stream. The union forcing negotiations at this time of year when most Canadians use and rely on them, has provided a huge loss of future business. If forced to use other means of shipping, as many small businesses and consumers have had to do, they will not all revert back to Canada Post afterwards. When existing packages, already mailed, are delivered late, those consumers will have a bad taste in their mouth, and will be reluctant to use Canada Post again. Going forward, the union may have had some legitimate concerns but leveraging your consumers to ratchet up your labour negotiations, is not an effective strategy, when you lose your client base. If not a crown corporation, this tactic would destroy the business model completely.

I watched Mr Morneau in a Global TV Toronto interview last night and he was heavily questioned about how, with such an expensive fiscal budget, there was no support for the oil patch. He, of course, stayed true to the Party line, didn’t answer much and evaded all the tough questions. The Feds ineffectiveness to get the pipeline built, the only real solution for Alberta, is discouraging. The revenue flowing out of the country while we import from nations with horrific human rights records, is shameful. We’re continually subsidizing US Oil de facto. The fix to this situation is visible, and while it would take some resolve, it is necessary. Add in supplementary environmental protection if need be, but the additional cost will still be less than the daily loss of revenue, as things currently stand. Get it done!

When you combine this philosophy with their announced bailout of printed news media, it makes no sense. Anyone with the tiniest bit of foresight, could see media moving online 10 years ago! If they haven’t evolved effectively to reinvent themselves, why is that the public’s responsibility? If I don’t modernize my business, there’s no bailout for me. This stinks of media manipulation a year before an election. Why would we subsidize the print industry and not oil, which is a far bigger driver of our overall economic engine?

The GM situation is another head scratcher. After giving GM and other auto manufacturers billions, they sold back their stakes at virtually no return. If they had maintained some control of the shares and added some conditions, we would not be facing this dilemma. GM declares that it is simply part of “global restructuring” but I didn’t see any Mexican plants on the list of closures. The reality is, it’s hard to do business here, and I get that. Unions’ rotating attacks on the big 3 hasn’t helped, so they’re not innocent in their own demise. However, wages, taxes and power costs are all more expensive here. Saying it’s because of tech platforms and keeping all Mexican plants alive is absurd. The real reasons are: the mismanagement of government, taxes and power generation and union stances.

Also of concern is the Liberal’s potential campaign platform of a single-payer National Pharmacare system. This is something with the potential to add $25 billion to our current deficit. Yet behind the scenes, it’s widely known big pharma lobby groups continue to spend enormous amounts of resources on preventing things like drug caps. Given that globally only the US pays more for drugs than Canadians, and that many prescriptions are manufactured and developed here, it’s absurd we wouldn’t factor that in. Putting in a program more in-line with Mrs. Philpot’s recommendations and a nationally coordinated buying program, and increasing competition are all things that save the system money, versus adding to it. However advance polling tells the Liberals this is a good policy to run on, regardless of the long-term costs.

The governments, regardless of political persuasion, have to start making difficult and better long term decisions. We are going to leave the equivalent of Venezuela to our children if we don’t turn this ship around- quickly. The Conservatives need to let go of their right side stances on certain social reforms and provide visible solutions before the elections. If it’s a popularity contest with unlimited spending they will not win. They need substantive solutions that they convey to voters before the election. They have to promote an environmental policy to replace cap and trade, they have to deal better with our countries natural resources and they need solid fiscal policy that makes some sense. If they do not succeed in the next election, our economy will continue it’s largely unreported slide. The biggest challenge they have is getting their message out, something Mr Trudeau just made harder. One can only hope they are successful and the have enough sense to move slightly left.

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