Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The Pavement On the Road To Hell

So the world is living in tough economic times and Barack Obama has the pleasure of taking over the US with no moola or prospects. So he puts together this ginormous stimulus and bailout package that includes a tiny, little catch. The catch is that infrastructure projects must "buy American". Sounds fine and dandy until Canada got wind and got its panties in a giant twist.

See Canada (and more precisely here, the conservatives) fear that it will start a trade war and that the loss of jobs here in Canada will be tremendous, since the US won't be relying on Canadian metal exports.

A valid point.

But an equally valid point is what Mr. Layton has just proposed, which is a "Buy Canadian" clause to how we operate. (Keeping in mind of course, that Canadian standards for "Made in Canada" products are sketchy and patchy at best. Maybe this should be the main issue?)

But "Buying Canadian" is a complicated request. If Canadians bought Canadian products, then we would give the economy a nice little boost. But unfortunately, there are little to no Canadian products left to buy, even if we wanted to.

And personally, I want to. I desperately want to. I'm one of those patriotic Canadian suckers who sheds a tear everytime a Canadian company gets bought or shipped overseas. (I'm looking at you, HBC). I mean, Tim Hortons is considered a Canadian icon and it doesn't even belong to us anymore! All we have left is Giant Tiger, Rona and a peppering of a few others.

So we couldn't simply "Buy Canadian" anyway, otherwise we'd starve. Or at the very least get scurvy and wear really ugly clothes.

But had we kept these companies here, we would have created jobs, stimulated the economy and possibly been able to avoid the giant fear of US protectionism. But that would have required not having a neo-liberal attitude and creating decent products that people actually wanted to buy. *coughFordcough*. We don't buy North American vehicles or North American clothes because the companies are cheap and consumers are cheap. And now, it's costing us.

Personally, I don't blame President Obama for wanting to include that clause. He's the President of the United States, not the world. And how can the US even be competitive traders, comrades or allies if they can't take care of their own first?

I think Canada should take this as a wake-up call to start really reading the fine-print and doing your homework on what you buy and where you buy it. And holding people accountable! I think the real lesson here is that is important that everyone do their part.

These past few years have taught us that its important to read the label, test products and use your consumer power. If we're going to be consumer whores, then let's make it productive at the very least.

1 comment:

Making !T Work said...

Very well said. It is easy to blame the next country when in fact the complacent attitude of Canadians is the real cause of the imbalance.

Well said.