During the intense negotiations around NAFTA, the Trudeau government made this blatantly nationalistic statement regarding Canadian media.
“We’ve made it very clear that defending that cultural exemption is something fundamental to Canadians,” Trudeau said last week. “It is inconceivable to Canadians that an American network might buy Canadian media affiliates, whether it’s newspapers or TV stations or TV networks. It would be a giving up of our sovereignty and our identity and that is something that we will simply not accept.”
Trudeau’s chief counsellor, put it best when it came to the same intent in foreign policy: “The prime objective of our diplomacy must be the well-being of Canadians.”
Yes, we are proud of our country. Yes, we want the best for our country. And yet, we allocate our civic pride and funds in the most arbitrary places, while actively denouncing every other nation for making the same bizarre choices we do.
Defining misguided Canadian nationalism
According to Wiki, Nationalism is a political, social, and economic ideology and movement characterized by the promotion of the interests of a particular nation.
Canadian nationalism seems to be a movement characterized by frivolous spending on programs which provide minimal results while grandstanding on what those programs do.
For example, the Canadian government acts like the Canadian people want a strong national broadcaster and strong source for Canadian content, but not a strong and well cared for military.
Many politicians call out the dairy industry for its involvement in our politics while ignoring big telecom and the plethora of other special interest groups choking out the competition and limiting the growth of the Canadian economy.
Even when it comes to actual results there are problems.
The CBC, Canada’s biggest news network and the recipient of a $1.5 billion grant in 2017 alone, is unable to keep the attention of Canadians even with a massive government subsidy, and thus decides to air Murdoch Mysteries on during the recent Ontario municipal election. All this, while actively sucking up advertising revenue and making it harder for private companies (who are actually producing content that Canadians want) to compete.
Just look at Canada’s disastrous telecoms oligopoly, which has given you and I the dubious honour of some of the highest fees on the planet for basic internet and telephone through reduced competition in the market.
Notice how an entire schism occurred within the conservative movement over the dairy industry, but the telecoms industry is unassailable to the point of silence as a main point of contention for libertarian politicians.
Another example of Canadian misguided nationalism
We even have Statistics Canada, an organization which attempted to grab the daily detailed financial transaction data of 500,000 randomly selected Canadian households, while keeping the privacy commissioner and the government in the dark. Data that will likely be used to help continue increasing the revenue brought in from Statistics Canada’s private data company which actively sells the data of Canadians to for-profit companies.
When the #CPC govt made the long-form census optional, Statistics Canada’s customs data business dropped 25% from $112M in 2012 to $86m. #LPC makes it mandatory in 2015, gives StatCan new independence and its white-label data biz booms 32% to $113 in FY17. #INDU pic.twitter.com/uJxhVuoXlw
— David Akin 🇨🇦 (@davidakin) November 19, 2018
This, and still our government scolds private companies who, at the very least, are providing a service by way of genuine competition in the market.
Canada Post strike in 2018 update
But none of these sources of misguided nationalism seem more preposterous than the current strike circumstances surrounding Canada Post. At this moment the company remains entrenched in a bitter union dispute which could see our holidays cancelled.
But don’t worry!
The Prime Minister is here and he is willing to use the power of Parliament to sidestep the bargaining rights of thousands of Canadians to put Canada Post individuals back to work.
Now I get it, the holidays are important, it is a time for families to sit beside the fireplace, carbon emissions notwithstanding, and open gifts with a cup of hot chocolate in hand.
But the use of government force to side-step postal workers’ rights truly makes no sense here.
Canada Post has for years been a profitable company, and since 2011 massively increased its revenue including a $144 million surplus for 2017.
This was a result of moving directly into services which can be handled in a competitive market by private companies and are not a part of the core mandate of Canada Post.
With revenue increasing so fast, realistically, either your parcels should be getting cheaper, there should be more investment, or employees should receive better compensation.
Sadly, that is what would occur in a competitive market, instead the negotiators for Canada Post will get to put their feet up, and rely on the coercive power of the state to ensure a “stable” outcome.
Or well…a momentarily stable outcome, as the Supreme Court of Canada in a 5-2 ruling has already stated that the right to strike is fundamental and protected by the Constitution.
Trudeau will have to make an extremely costly decision in order to ensure each Canadian child has a toy on Christmas morning… Man doesn’t that sentence expose how much we love to consume.
And this epitomizes the bizarre nature of our government’s current variety of nationalism. We will give millions of dollars to a man who killed allied soldiers in war, but we will not spend millions through a crown corporation to pay employees a genuine market rate.
The truth here is that there could be plenty of competition in the postal market, and through that, there could be far better conditions for workers and consumers alike.
One company should not be able to completely stonewall the nation’s postal capabilities, just as the government should not be able to tell postal workers they must end their strikes.
It is time the crown corporation was truly privatized, and competition allowed into the marketplace.
As pointed out in a 2011 study, several countries have liberalized and privatized their postal services, and the world did not end.
Canada could do the same, and finally, free itself from one of the disastrous instances of misguided nationalism by releasing itself from running the postal service.
What do you think about privatizing Canada Post? What do you see as the pros and cons? Do you think Canada has a problem with misguided nationalism?
Join the conversation by commenting below.