Tuesday, June 16, 2009

A Conspicuous Absence: Canada and the Unfolding Global Crisis

As the mainstream media begins to catch up to the blogosphere, grudgingly acknowledging the economic and socio-political turmoil presently underway, the headlines we absorb direct our attention to matters both broad and specific.

We read about the bailouts and massive capital injections in America and Britain; we witness the economic hobbling of the Irish and Icelandic countries; we catch brief references to food and fuel riots in Haiti, Mexico, Venezuela. We hear proclamations of solidarity from the great European economies.

We hear a lot about China. Every day we read detailed musings on China's economy, China's foreign policy, tainted Chinese products. Especially, we hear about China's apparently inevitable rise to Global prominence. (Most commentators forget that China has been around for five thousand years.) We hear a lot about India. Of course we are always hearing about Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, Iraq - an uncomfortable din at best. We hear about new alliances like the BRIC (oh yes, we hear a lot about Russia, too). From the more pragmatic commentators, we hear about the coming inflationary explosion in the USA and how it compares to stricken Argentina. We hear about crime in Australia, uncertainty in Japan, rumblings in Georgia and the shuffling of accounts in Saudi Arabia and Switzerland.

And of course, we begin to see the formation of 'necessary' global governing authorities to rein in the whole mess.

Conspicuously absent from this global hootenanny of anxiety and confusion is everyone's favourite peace-loving, pot-growing neighbour, the place I call home: Canada.


Did you know that Canada has one of the world's largest supplies of freshwater? It's true.

We also have the greatest store of natural wealth of practically any nation on Earth. Our forests, mineral-rich mountains, end endless fields of grain comprise one of the most environmentally diverse countries of the world.

Canada is massive in size. It hosts just over 30 million people within its 9 million square kilometres. For contrast, Japan has just 375 000 square kilometres. To hold 130 million people.

Did I mention that Canada is among the nations leading the world in quality of life? Our infrastructure is in fantastic shape. Our municipal water and waste systems are second to none. Our entire health care system is free, for God's sake. I had a broken femur repaired so well that the surgery and implant would have cost 25 000 dollars in the US. All I had to pay for were my crutches: $48.00.

I'm off topic. Health care systems are the result of political decisions, ones that actually represent the will of the people. I was trying to tell you about resources.

Oil. The black gold that makes men crazy, because it buys that yellow metal that the same men also go crazy for, Gold.

We have a lot of both, in fact. Diamonds too. Uranium too.

We have one of the most advanced and juiciest hydroelectric system in North America. We could power the entire eastern seaboard of the US while yawning and pouring a beer. In fact, we do. Canada is basically the closest humanity has come to an ideal society in living memory. In a nutshell, everything is great.

Which is precisely what concerns me.

All the headlines, all the in-depth assessments, all the debate: Not once has the word 'Canada' entered the discussion. Sure, we have our own "newspapers" speculating about speculation, making sure to make their bisases clear, documenting the ebb and flow of our daily economic and political reality, such as it is. Socially and culturally, we have the pro-business pundits and we have the left (who don't own a paper, just a few blogs :).

Nothing out of the ordinary here.

The US dollar, having long since been detached from the gold standard, has lost 96 percent of its value over the past thirty years. It will only lose more. We hear about this all the time and the impending inflationary chaos that the bailouts will only exacerbate. Canada detached it's dollar from gold at the same time. Our dollar has also lost 96 percent of its value, and in perfect tandem with our southern neighbour. Granted, we have not printed up several trillion dollars of fake money to pay for real obligations recently, but…

We have a 1-billion-a-day trade party going with the US.

We have a central banking system comparable to that of the Federal Reserve System.

We have thousands of soldiers in Afghanistan - and some in Iraq, too. Did you know that?

Our cops help American cops do 'renditions' to countries where electrifying testicles is a routine part of interrogation - but, like the Canadians we are, we always apologize.

Our cops, like American cops, kill civilians with multiple taser deployments.

Canada, Mexico, and the United States work together on the SPP, the Security and Prosperity Partnership. This union is intended to harmonize trade, economic, security, military, and legislative co-operation. Of course, if some people see through the comforting language, they can be dealt with.

Canada and the United States have signed an agreement allowing the use of each other's military forces in each other's countries. (This is especially discomforting since FEMA is conducting its first National Level Exercise in 'terrorism prevention and security operations' throughout the US in July of this year - using Canadian, Mexican, Australian, and British troops.)

Did I mention that the Canadian military is the laughingstock of the First World? Seriously. Men in caves with AK-47's and poor dental hygiene laugh when they see our octogenarian helicopters "on patrol". This is no reflection on the integrity of my fellow citizens in uniform, just the opposite. What bothers me is how our soldiers are treated by their superiors.


Looking at history, examining the blood-soaked scriptures of our past , the rise and fall of great empires and societies, the transformation from mythological foundations to moral ones and back again…And looking at where we stand today, on the precipice of some great undoing, some re-structuring of cosmic and karmic debt…and finally taking this macro perspective down to street level, among the players today…

I look at Canada in 2010, and I see a sitting duck.