Monday, June 21, 2010

Canada's Economy the Envy of the World

After having spent a fabulous week of fun with our friends the Wares (who were, unsurprisingly, not keen on returning to 105°F heat of Florida after three weeks in the Pacific Northwest), we realised that some of the bragging on Canada we do in this blog really applies to the whole region; we love Canada for the country it is, but part of what attracted us to British Columbia in the first place was the same natural beauty that Washington, Oregon, northern California and even parts of Idaho lay claim to. We greatly enjoyed exploring the regions of very northwest Washington such as Lake Crescent, Hoh National Forrest and Mount Olympus (warning to Twilight fans: there really is nothing in Forks of much interest to you. Stick to Port Angeles).

I probably shouldn’t promote the Pacific Northwest so much, we don’t want everyone moving up here and ruining it (insert smiley here), but it’s a refreshing geographic change from what I’ll call “the flatter states.” It’s also (at least way up here in this corner of the region) quite a bit cooler, even in summer. As I write this on the morning of 21-June, it’s about 12C/54F and cloudy. It’s not expected to crack 70°F this week (admittedly it was maybe ten degrees warmer this time last year) and we still get a modest amount of rain (normally by this time the rain has more or less stopped for the summer months). We are loving it.

Although Portland and other cities in this region of the world stand out as wonderful places to live, though, we still chose to move to Canada rather than somewhere in the US, and there was a reason for that. In part that was due to what we perceived as the saner and sounder economic, foreign and domestic policies of Canada, in short the overall mindset of the politics here.

It was some of these policies (started by a Liberal government and mostly continued by the current Conservative government) that carried the country through the bankster-caused financial meltdown with a huge degree of relative comfort. After 12 years of budget surpluses, the government was in a position to cut taxes and increase spending (running a modest deficit) to help offset some of the economic hardships -- but the country as a whole never ran into the sort of trouble we saw in states like Florida on our recent visits, in part because banks here are far more tightly regulated and not allowed to take the kind of risky or overly-complex chances the US banks did. There was no subprime-mortgage crisis and no mass defaulting of loans, no repackaging of bad debts as good investments or Vegas-esque betting on Wall Street. It’s simply not allowed up here.

Obviously, as the Canadian economy is very heavily tied to our number-one trading partner the US, pensions were affected and stocks dropped -- but we really got away relatively unscathed, with strong prospects for full recovery which is already well underway. There’s a lot of confidence in the air that the next two years should be a boom time of opportunity for Canadian growth and profit. We don’t lurch through endless crises of boom and bust like the more volatile US, and we find that this increases confidence and stability, which seems to us to be more business-friendly in the long run. It also means we feel better about investing in infrastructure and the intangibles of good living (like the arts and cultural aspects of the economy) because we have less fear of the future.

It turns out that our gut feeling about Canada’s economy (which we must admit we can only judge from how this province is doing, we don’t keep as close a tab on the other provinces or the larger federal picture) seems to have been correct. The Seattle Times, on the eve of the G20 summit (the country is hosting both the G20 and G8 conferences this year), did an article calling Canada’s economy “the envy of the world” at the moment, and having just come off hosting the Winter Olympics, it seems that the rest of the world is finally noticing what Heather and I figured out years ago: liberal social policies backed up with conservative fiscal policy seems to generally lead to “no drama” economic stability and a high quality of life.

Obviously we can pick plenty of nits with this or that government decision or policy, and Canada is not without problems by any stretch of the imagination -- but overall we do feel that Canada’s “boring” lack of continual crisis and institutional drama frees the country to focus more on the things that make life enjoyable for all. Don’t take our word for it, though – watch a typical US network newscast tonight, then head over to CBC.ca and check out the main nightly news broadcast, The National. There are 10-minute and full-hour versions available.

I think you’ll spot the difference.

3 comments:

REVO said...

Those Wares don't have the height genes, do they?

heddo said...

"As I write this on the morning of 21-June, it’s about 12C/54F and cloudy. It’s not expected to crack 70°F this week (admittedly it was maybe ten degrees warmer this time last year) and we still get a modest amount of rain (normally by this time the rain has more or less stopped for the summer months). We are loving it."

Personally, I'd love it to be about 10 degrees warmer...I'm itching to wear my sandals and tank tops more, and a jump into Thetis Lake or Durrance Lake is on my mind...but it has to be way hotter to do that. Later this summer, hopefully.

Anonymous said...

That's why it's called "Junuary" in this part of the world.

We all want it to be summer, we are waiting for summer, we can't wait for it to be summer. We yearn for summer. But June is not summer here.

We all have found memories of warm summer evenings in June. Of getting sweaty in the garden in June ..... but that was BBC (before BC).... sigh.

Though this June may have been a bit more pre-February than most. Even on Salt Spring our peas are waiting for some warmth.

But it will be July soon.....

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