Feb. 26, 2020

Looking down on Canada — it ain’t pretty

When you get up some days and ponder how in the world we, this country, ever “manage” to get to such a place. 

Oh, yes we hear all the niceties but the real basics relating to a vibrant parliamentary democracy and free market economy are in trouble :

Governance 

  1. The Prime Minister of this Country has broken the law five times without any measurable accountability.
  2. The governing party shuts down a Parliamentary Committee from hearing more information on the SNC Lavalin scandal. 
  3. Members of the Government and public servants are prevented from testifying to the Ethics Commissioner on the SNC Lavalin scandal. 
  4. The Leader of the Opposition using party funds to educate his children and the non-disclosure of how all the party money was spent. 
  5. The treatment of Mark Norman speaks to an insidious in-house character assassination scheme within the federal government
  6. The Federal Government illegally banning legitimate press to political events – this press forced to go to court which overturned the ban. Does this sound like a democracy? 

Either one of these events would have triggered serious repercussions a couple of decades ago. Not anymore. This is a serious erosion of our democracy – both in the events themselves but more importantly in the lack of concern by the body politic. Except for the case of the Leader of The Opposition few repercussions have ensued.  

As corollaries to all of this is the erosion of the importance of the Member of Parliament and the Cabinet and the subsequent rise of the unchallenged power of the Prime Minister and his office and that of the Privy Council Office. 

The MP is a mere rubber stamp and glorified social worker, seeking favour to become a parliamentary secretary or even a Cabinet Minister. They do not even answer questions put to them in writing by a citizen. I am the example on that one. Cabinet is merely a sounding board for the PM and ordered around by the PM’s office and the Privy Council Office. Through this latest crisis it was a cabinet committee that met, not the full cabinet. At least that is all the public heard. Effectively our PM is acting like he was a President. Turning up in Parliament is now just a formality. 

 Economically 

  1. We have dropped two places on our world competitive ranking (World Economic Forum) in the last two years, now at 14th.
  2. We are 24th in ease of doing business according to the World Bank, 122 in getting an electrical permit.
  3. We have SNC Lavalin, an alleged engineering power house, and supported by the Federal Government, charged and convicted of wrong doing, and banned from doing business with the World Bank for ten years. 
  4. Private sector companies vacating the country, often going to our trading partner to the south whom we denigrate at almost every turn. 
  5. The cancellation of the Northern Gateway Pipeline
  6. Cancellation the Energy East Pipeline; 
  7. Kinder Morgan vacating the expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline costing Canadians over $4 billion already, 
  8. And now the $20 billion Frontier Mine being cancelled although passing every regulation and law,  and supported aggressively by all Indigenous people in the area. 
  9. Our dollar hovers at 75 cents U.S. 
  10. Just about every industry has Government support of one kind or another. 
  11. We have a dysfunctional First Nation governance system which is delaying the Coastal Gas Link Pipeline which will impact the multi-billion dollar Kitimat LNG project. 
  12. Our debt has been growing in recent years – this year our deficit, in one year, went from $19 billion to $26 billion. This is unsustainable. 
  13. Last year five provinces received substantial equalization payments totalling $19.8 billion.
  14. We celebrate dubious climate theories, while our resource industry languishes – look no further than the U.S. or Australian LNG industry versus ours. This last 24 hours the American President signed deals in India for exporting more American LNG. If it was our PM it is likely we would be pouring more money into environment killing wind and solar projects that in the end cannot scientifically replace fossil fuels as an energy supplier. 
  15. If all large projects are to be politicized like the Frontier Mine, after passing all regulations and laws – as the Canadian Chamber of Commerce has said, there will be few, if any, new projects of this kind in our country. 

Socially 

 We blindly tout our health care system while over 5 million (it was 4.7 million in 2017 according to Statistics Canada) Canadians do not have a family physician. It is now the country that is near last in the OECD in wait times to see a specialist. So says the independent Commonwealth Fund. The number of doctors per 1,000 is lower than most industrialized countries, the number of CT scans, the number of MRIs.

We have no university in the top 15 in the world (Times Higher Education Rankings) or top 25 in the QS rankings or top 35 in Round University Rankings.

We have a giant multi-billion ($180 billion over 12 years) national infrastructure program that is failing according to even the government-friendly newspapers, and the Parliamentary Budget office. 

Almost all the print media in this country is now receiving money from the federal government. So much for free press.  

More Canadians emigrate to the U.S. than Americans coming to Canada even though America is nine times the population, according to the last figures from Statistics Canada.  

This is the information many Canadians do not want to hear. And often it is not extensively covered by our media, and now less likely than ever given most of them are receiving money from the federal government. They would rather attack the U.S. than expose our own shortcomings. But we must be made aware of the true state of our federation. Sugar coating is not an option. 

We must confront this reality head on if we are to compete and leave a sound and democratic country to our children. Why is that we are one of the most-formally-educated societies on the planet but yet face this unfortunate situation?