Twenty-five years ago this week, the signing of the Canada – U.S. free-trade agreement (FTA) sparked one of the most passionate political debates in Canadian history.
Reflecting on the debate, and the outcomes of the FTA, can we now say who was right, and who was wrong?
Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney recently delivered a widely-publicized major speech in Calgary on the economic phenomenon known as the “Dutch Disease.” This was more nuanced than much of the media coverage.
Governor Carney argued that the booming energy and wider resource sector concentrated in Western Canada has provided a significant boost to the national economy, creating jobs in the rest of the country in both manufacturing and services. Overall, he said, high resource prices have been a plus for Canada.
Right-wing commentators like to claim that unions undermine good economic performance. But respected organizations such as the OECD, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank have shown this isn’t so. They have recognized that unions promote more equitable societies, and that countries with strong unions have less extremes of rich and poor, stronger public services and social safety nets, without adversely affecting good economic performance.
So why are Conservatives in Ottawa and the provinces disturbingly adopting the anti-union rhetoric of the American right?
12 June 2012, Toronto Star (Op-Ed)
Stephen Harper is often portrayed by his supporters as a pragmatist, a man who simply wants to do what works. But the evidence suggests that the “major transformation” he promised at the World Economic Forum in Davos in January is aimed in a more radical direction.