Friday, September 21, 2007


With yesterday's news that the loonie reached parity with the greenback, one has to take a look at the flip-side. Perhaps Americans would have been stunned by this news -- it was mentioned on the network newscasts stateside last night. But they would perhaps be even more shocked to learn that their beloved George has actually devalued 60% against its Canadian counterpart since 9/11, about 50% against the Euro and about 30% against the pound sterling.

Partly it's the irresponsible upper class tax cut in 2001 before the terrorist atrocities. Partly it's the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and in part it's the credit crunch, particularly in sub-prime -- a crisis which is now starting to hit many Canadians as well.

But I think it has a lot to do with American complacency for letting things get out of hand. Blame it on long-term downsizing, near-shoring and off-shoring. Blame it on the media who think of higher ratings with celebrity gossip than about news people can really use. Blame it too on a culture where laws which technically favour small and medium businesses for the awarding of contracts, are routinely ignored in favour of the Halliburtons and Enrons of the world. And where when small businesses do get in on the game, find they're hounded by the paperwork the big guys just aren't.

Some guys like Lou Dobbs drive this home night after night and while I certainly don't agree with everything he stands for (his stance on immigration comes close to xenophobic despite his denials) he has a point about the middle class getting crunched by those who don't care about the middle class.

Neither the Democrats nor the Republicans can claim moral high ground on this.

And maybe that's why the reaction I found both at work and across Canada was consternation, more than joy, at the news we hit par. Not because Canada has gotten most of its fundamentals right (balanced budgets, a steady track towards paying off the debt entirely, and tax cuts aimed at working families; as well as strong energy and hi-tech industries) but because of what America got wrong. Canadians actually admire America for what it's been able to do -- and are appalled all that has been squandered in just a few short years. The opportunities have become crises, rather than the other way around.

Now of course, I think we Canadians have earned a windfall. Such as dropping our retail prices to match theirs.

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