M.D. Harmon: Canada "Open for Business" and Outgrowing U.S.


“South of the Border, down Mexico way …” is a perfect song to lead into this column, if you understand the Mexico reference to be the town across the river from Rumford instead of the dysfunctional nation across the river from Brownsville.

That’s because the border that’s been making the most interesting news recently isn’t the one on the Rio Grande.

It’s the one over our heads, the “longest undefended border in the world,” as it was called when I was a kid and the World Trade Center had yet to be built, let alone destroyed. Crossing over has gotten a bit more difficult since then, as many Mainers have noticed.

Sadly, it’s not just people that have had a harder time crossing the border. So, it seems, have sensible economic policies recently instituted by the right-of-center government in Ottawa that have led “the true North wild and free” on a path far different from the wild-spending, domestic-resource-rejecting Obama administration in Washington.

Yes, Canada still has a health-care system that Canadians generally like because it parcels out routine care more broadly and conveniently than we do. But people who require specialists’ care or non-routine tests and procedures can wait months or even years longer for attention there than here, which is why people who can afford it come south for procedures that sometimes are a matter of life or death.

However, Canada is more than a health-care system. It now has a conservative government that is overseeing an economy growing faster than the U.S. rate, with lower rates of inflation and unemployment.

That’s because, as Investors’ Business Daily reported Dec. 29, a nation once known as being “institutionally socialist” is making moves based on “tax cuts, fiscal discipline, free trade and energy production” that have left the United States “on the outside looking in.”

As of Jan 1, national corporate tax rates have been reduced to 15 percent in Canada (provincial rates add another 10 percent), with the finance minister boasting that,

“Through our government low-tax plan … we are continuing to send the message that Canada is open for business and the best place to invest.”

Sound like a governor we know?

Prime Minister Stephen Harper is also working on shrinking the national government, with “a strategic objective to disembed the federal state from the lives of citizens,” according to University of Calgary’s Professor Barry Cooper.

Canada now has 11 free trade pacts in force, and is working on 14 more, logically concluding that boosting exports and giving consumers access to lower-cost imports helps the economic well-being of the nation as a whole.

And then there’s oil. By reducing government regulation, the nation — which, by the way, is the major source of oil for the United States — has seen an incredible increase in production from its Alberta tar sands.

To send the oil here, it wants to build a new pipeline, the Keystone XL project, that would further reduce U.S. energy dependence on Middle East sources.

But the Obama administration, giving in to unfounded environmentalist concerns, has stalled what should be a routine approval, leading Harper to point out that the Chinese are also interested in buying what Canada produces.

Obama preaches energy independence, but when the time comes to act, he prefers to have us pay OPEC rather than our largest trading partner.

And there’s more: Canada has seen the green agenda clearly, and on Dec. 13 made the unexpected but logical decision to be the first nation to withdraw from the Kyoto Protocol, a phony-baloney “carbon reduction” pact that the United States wisely never signed.

According to Environment Minister Peter Kent, as reported by Reuters, the decision to withdraw from Kyoto would save Canada $14 billion ($13.6 billion U.S.) in penalties.

But that expense pales in comparison to what it would cost Canada to comply with the pact: “To meet the targets under Kyoto for 2012,” Kent said, “would be the equivalent of either removing every car, truck, ATV, tractor, ambulance, police car and vehicle of every kind from Canadian roads or closing down the entire farming and agriculture sector and cutting heat to every home, office, hospital, factory and building in Canada” for not achieving its Kyoto targets.

He added that he would not be surprised if other countries follow Canada in pulling out of Kyoto. Can anyone not believe that? The green agenda has always been to curb growth and impose huge costs on petroleum products, which are the lifeblood of western economies.

Now, one nation has called the warmists’ bluff, saying it prefers prosperity to freezing in the dark.

What would it take for the United States to act boldly from the same job-promoting priorities?

Note the words I used above: “right-of-center government.” ‘Nuff said.

M.D. Harmon is a retired journalist and free-lance writer. He can be contacted at: