Thursday, May 31, 2012

If this is cured, what was the disease?

Earlier this month NDP leader Thomas Mulcair caused a furor in the west and among conservatives for having the audacity to suggest that the  singular focus on a resource based economy with total disregard for the impact on the environment and the economy in the rest of Canada may not be the best approach and that there should be public discussion and consultation about alternatives.  

Mr. Mulcair’s “Dutch disease” reference was the final straw and erupted into a media storm, both print and social, that is ongoing – a good thing as the issue is now receiving a great deal of attention.
Brad Wall, Saskatchewan’s Premier, has emerged as the defender of the West.  In a recent tweet Mr. Wall stated “Resources have been the cure not the problem”.  

Perhaps I’m missing something, but continued high unemployment, record deficits, ravaging of our environment and the widening inequality in wealth distribution, while oil companies make record profits, doesn’t sound very healthy to me, let alone “cured”. 

The economic debate about whether we have “Dutch disease”, or not, is largely irrelevant.  We have a disease that is common in resource based economies:  We are sacrificing our natural resources and environment on the alter of economic expediency.  We allow (even encourage) mining companies to plunder our finite resources with impunity from the destruction they cause to our  environment or other segments of the economy and without any consideration for economic longevity and environmental sustainability.  We provide lucrative tax breaks to corporations that make billions in profit and allow them to export raw materials without even the attempt to establish secondary industry in Canada.  And we don’t make them pay for the damage they cause to our environment.  This was generally the outcome from colonization – what is it called when it is self-inflicted?

The way I see it we are not immune and we are not “cured”, not by a long shot.  Perhaps it’s not “Dutch disease” in the purest sense – maybe it’s mutated into a local strain – say “Canadian malaise”!  But whatever it is we are far from healthy and we can and must do better! 

Mr. Mulcair has struck the debate.  Now Canadians from coast to coast to coast must become active and vocal about this issue of great concern to all, now and for future generations!

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