I have to respond to recent opinions expressing that our federal government should not be spending as much as it is. In fact, now is a great time for governments to borrow because 1) interest rates are so low, 2) investing in infrastructure not only creates jobs, it creates the lasting value of the infrastructure, and 3) failing to stimulate the economy could lead to much more dangerous economic depression.
Everybody knows that economies are cyclical: growth and recession follow each other like winter follows summer.
Anybody with a bit of sense prepares for bad times by saving as much as they can when times are good so that they are ready for the inevitable downturn. Instead of pretending that the party would never end, the federal government should have raised taxes when times were good, when we could afford it.
If the last government had done so, we would have had the savings to stimulate the economy now.
Instead, the last government failed to tax adequately and let the rich hide their money in tax havens, leaving us with reduced services and a deficit (while selling off Canadians’ assets to fake a surplus).
So, the current government has few choices.
Worrying too much about debt is a mistake. The real danger to Canada is protectionist policies emerging in our biggest market: the US. Three American presidential candidates – Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders – are all opposed to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and Trump and Sanders are adamantly opposed to free trade of any kind.
Where does that leave us?
It’s important to remember that free trade isn’t just about money.
Since the Second World War, it’s primarily been a political tool used by the allies to avoid war in Europe and prop up “friends”.
Never mind the national debt: in this era of looming protectionism, we should be focusing on our relationship with our trading partners, particularly our neighbour to the south.
It’s worth pointing out that Stephen Harper was never officially invited to the White House: not once.
Justin Trudeau received an official invitation to the White House within months of being elected, and was honoured with a state dinner.
Americans love Trudeau, the world loves Trudeau and they’re going to do business with him.
The question is, will we?
I hope Alberta’s leaders – in media and politics – stop making political hay out of talking trash. It is not helping. It’s time to grow up, shut up, slap on a smile, shake hands with our federal government and get down to the business of making deals that benefit Albertans.
CEO, Green Party of Canada for Battle River – Crowfoot