By: Robert Roach, VP, Research
In an article in today’s Globe and Mail, John Ibbitson argues that "One question will define national politics in our time: Are Western Canadians prepared to sacrifice for the sake of the nation, now that Ontario is less able to help?"
In addition to incorrectly implying that western Canadians chipping in to help the rest of the country is a new phenomenon, the question is the wrong one to ask.
The question Canadians should be focused on is how to ensure that the nation successfully adjusts to the evolving global economy. It is a mistake to start with a negative question that assumes the need for "sacrifice"—whatever that means—or puts pressure on the nation’s fault lines by immediately assuming that regional wealth redistribution is the solution to central Canada’s problems. This is the old way of thinking and this is not the time to bring it back.
The West knows what it is like to have its interests and economic prospects ignored and how damaging this is to the country and its potential. It will not, therefore, make the same mistake that central Canada has made in the past and be blithe to the blight of the other regions.
The West gets it—all regions benefit when all regions are heard and respected. The West will do its part, as it always has.
Ensuring Canada’s prosperity will happen naturally as the western economy continues to provide jobs and returns on investment. It will also happen at the political level through the equalization program, a strong tax base in the West that helps fill the national treasury, and by ongoing efforts by Canadians to ensure strong regional representation within the national government.
Ultimately, however, the economic recovery of Canada's industrial heartland will depend on the efforts of individual Canadians and their ability to harness the changes happening at a global level.