English Canada is scared of what our national broadcasters couldn’t be bothered to spell and thus called “the R word“. Yes, people – we have devolved to the point where our best defense against another fucking recession (after the last one that we totally recovered from with the awesome trifecta of subprime mortgages, unstable staple resources, and a housing market most in the sane world are staying well away from) is just not saying the word recession. It’s not a recession – it’s a Canadian correction! And Canada’s madness ensures that Canada reacts to it by doing exactly the same things that got them into trouble in the first place.
We honestly have a situation here where Ottawa is falling over itself to provide tax shelter to the liquified natural gas sector of the make-believe nonconomy of British Columbia, because staple resources are nothing short of genius even though the province next door is experiencing economic meltdown akin to Toht’s face in Raiders of the Lost Ark precisely because it overleaned on staple resources. We have a continuation of overvalued condos, precarious labor markets, and hidden inflation. Ontario is using Bay Street bankers and lawyers to cold-store and sell of Hydro One – to Bay Street investors, bankers, and their ilk.
Here’s a question for you: outside of “because jobs”, what economic benefit comes from short-term bursts of ersatz growth? Because that’s what we’re building here. Will Toronto’s housing market and Vancouver’s condos remain absurdly overpriced forever more as more and more are crushed out from those cities by sheer costs? How is liquified natural gas any different from Alberta’s oil system, especially when there’s little evidence that anyone has learned anything from the lesson of literally a few months ago? How does any of this help small, rusted-over towns that aren’t experiencing the magic burst in manufacturing that the Bank of Canada seems to expect and can’t reasonably be expected to with populations who have long since hung up their tools or moved on?
This is what ad-hoc looks like – a smattering of fiscal steroids that leave our provinces, cities, and regions with aching bones and tiny balls. I’ve been reading a lot about the differences between streets and roads, where streets are local economic engines and roads and methods of transit between economic engines. Canada, like the United States, has a fixation on stroads – hybrid abominations that work at cross-purposes and thus can’t be serious generators of any sort of growth. Our cities are choked with them (that’s why they’re cultureless morasses) and our economic logic is entirely predicated on mega-project magic-bullets that will totally work this time you guys because reasons.
The real solution to Canada’s problems lies in brutal, critical honesty. We have to get over the Staples Trap that we’ve been falling into for the last 150 years. There’s a reason most settler-dominated countries turf their colonial economic policies as quickly as they can and opt to do something more useful. For whatever reasons, Canada refuses to make this crucial jump. It holds so much back – our relations with the Indians and actually following the Constitution, the brutal work that will be fixing Canada’s completely broken, stroad-ridden cities, honest cultural development – the whole thing. Canada is in no small part useless because it reacts like this to economic downturn.
The Greeks had the balls to turn away from an obviously untenable economic model, earning derision and scorn for daring to take care of themselves. It was honestly kind of inspiring to see the Greeks saying that their beloved country had seen enough non-starter austerity. Canada, by contrast, lacks the courage to even build things worthy of being cared about, far less the ability to speak honestly about what’s happening here.
The R word, indeed. I can think of another R word to define this trouser-stain.