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Opinion: No crisis for Canada

Thursday, June 14, 2012

For all of the grumbling about the global financial crisis, with anemic growth in the U.S. and Europe and concerns about inflation and investment bubbles in China, there is one nation that has seemed immune to this stagnation: Canada. American and European leaders could learn from this example of liberty, and the economic growth that has accompanied it.

Our northern neighbor, governed since 2006 by Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Conservatives, has emerged from the global recession stronger than ever.

Canada's national debt, unemployment rate and trade deficit are all lower than the comparable relative numbers for the rest of the G7 nations (U.S., U.K., Germany, Italy, France and Japan), but economic growth and median household income are rising.

The Canadian economy is smaller, but these statistics take relative size into account and still show Canada leading -- by a growing margin -- over European and U.S. performance.

Why this change in position after decades of Canadian weakness in comparison to American economic strength?

Capitalism has found more friendly terrain north of the U.S. border. In recent years, Canada has passed the U.S. in economic freedom, according to an analysis by the Heritage Foundation. Additionally, under Prime Minister Harper, spending by the Canadian government has fallen below 40 percent of their overall economy; in the United States, President Obama has gone in the opposite direction, with overall federal spending now at 45 percent of the total economy.

Canada has embraced the challenge of discovering new energy sources, with tar sands in the province of Alberta providing jobs, domestic supplies and oil for export.

Unemployment in Alberta is less than 5 percent, an enviable level. The Obama administration, by clear contrast, has refused to allow Canada and U.S. investors to build the Keystone XL pipeline to allow for these oil resources to come to market.

Obama's energy policies seem designed to hinder, rather than encourage, domestic production, with moratoriums on oil exploration and crushing regulations on mining and use of coal -- our most abundant fuel.

The same administration pumped millions into shady solar investments, subsidizes electric cars no one wants to drive, and loans money to speculative wind farms -- whose major beneficiaries in Missouri have been relatives of prominent Obama supporters.

Canada has also embraced free markets abroad, breaking from a protectionist sentiment that dominated public opinion until recently.

Beginning with the North American Free Trade Agreement -- implemented by the last Conservative government of the 1990s -- Canada has ratified free trade agreements with 10 nations. It is enthusiastically negotiating additional treaties with eight additional states, plus the European Union and a group of Central American nations.

Compare this to the years of delays by President Obama of free trade agreements negotiated with our allies South Korea and Colombia, held hostage until labor union demands for additional provisions were met -- including spending on their favorite domestic programs.

Is it any wonder that Canada has a higher credit rating than the United States? Canadians recognize effective leadership, and appreciate the growth of both economic liberty and prosperity in their nation.

Harper's Conservative government, which first came to power in 2006, was reconfirmed by a national vote in 2008 and in 2011 earned an absolute majority in the Canadian parliament.

In a country governed for decades by the Canadian Liberal Party and its left-wing allies, and which has an electorate traditionally far more receptive to big government, the continued success of Harper is even more remarkable.

The Canadian example should serve as an encouragement to those in the United States who still believe in the power of the market, as well as a warning to the current Democratic administration. Economic freedom brings economic prosperity, with Canada providing strong evidence that even decades of socialism can be overcome with leadership, integrity and diligence.

If the Canadians can learn this lesson, despite what had been an even larger government than what we are currently enduring, there is hope that the American electorate will make a similar reversal this November.

Dr. Wayne H. Bowen, professor and chairman of the Department of History at Southeast Missouri State University, is also a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve.

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My My professor, surely you haven't forgotten the socialized healthcare system that American conservatives swore would be the death of us as they claimed it had for Canada. Miss a little something in you story did you Professor?

-- Posted by wrcactus on Thu, Jun 14, 2012, at 7:57 AM

Bravo professor! An excellent observation. Canada has indeed embraced the market.

Mr. Cactus - my my, surely you haven't forgotten the huge military budget the US has to keep peace in the world and keep the US a world power. Canada's military budget pales in comparison to ours and affords them the opportunity for their medical care system. We don't have that option as the leader of the free world.

Cactus - miss a little something in you(r) comments did you?

-- Posted by Dug on Thu, Jun 14, 2012, at 8:04 AM

The professor is only telling the half of the story. The half he likes. -- Posted by Spaniard on Thu, Jun 14, 2012, at 11:42 AM

I believe you've got half truths. The restrictions on lending are much much higher in Canada. To get a home loan you must have larger down payments - 20% in many cases. Half my family live in Canada so your opinion, once again, is wrong.

Maxine Waters, Barney Frank and other liberals ruined the US housing market by forcing banks to loan to those who can't afford a loan and in many cases with ZERO money down.

Canada has it right. The US did until the democrats took over congress. Everything went downhill (except deficits) when they took over. Nice try Spaniard - it won't float.

-- Posted by Dug on Thu, Jun 14, 2012, at 2:41 PM

"The same administration pumped millions into shady solar investments, subsidizes electric cars no one wants to drive, and loans money to speculative wind farms -- whose major beneficiaries in Missouri have been relatives of prominent Obama supporters."

You use the word shady as a pun right? But seriously, renewable energy is far more valuable than fossil fuels. In Europe 1.1 million people are employed in renewable energy. Reports from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Brookings Institute (a non-partisan think tank) show that this kind of employment has already started to take hold here and shows enormous promise and potential for the future.

Electric cars may not be big in our small fare Cape Girardeau, but they are taking off in bigger cities where they are cleaner for the environment and more useful.

A study showed that "during the early years of what would become the U.S. oil and gas industries, federal subsidies for producers averaged half a percent of the federal budget. By contrast, the current support for renewables is barely a fifth that size, just one-tenth of 1 percent of federal spending."

Just somethings to think about when it comes to renewable energy. Remember EVERYone benefits from renewable energy even if it's not in direct cash.

-- Posted by non-believer on Thu, Jun 14, 2012, at 9:16 PM

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Wayne Bowen
The Pen and the Sword
Wayne Bowen received his Ph.D. in history from Northwestern University, and is also an Army veteran.