Canada has what we need to rebuild our global economic advantage—except strong leadership

Canada's political leaders should use COVID-19 as a "wake-up call" and realize that the most sustainable trade, is trade within our Confederation.

Warren Steinley Regina SK.

Canada is a truly great nation, but many of us worry about the structural problems our next generation will inherit. With debt-to-GDP levels, growth figures, and unemployment numbers looking less and less competitive compared to other G7 nations, it's easy to become pessimistic about our future. The unfortunate reality is most of this underperformance can be attributed to a failure of leadership from the Trudeau Liberals. However, a shakeup in Ottawa could change everything for the better.

Conservatives support sending federal relief dollars to those who need it, but we cannot borrow untold billions to boost our economy forever. If private capital continues to permanently relocates to other countries, the jobs we have lost in the wake of the pandemic will never come back. Without a thriving private sector to provide long-term job stability and tax revenues, there is no pathway to recovery for Canada

Where does Canada go from here? Will we be relegated to a debt-burdened future, forever chipping away at our mountainous trillion-dollar-plus deficit? Or can we somehow identify a way to rapidly grow our economy, provide ample employment opportunities for everybody, and strengthen the foundations of our essential services? In a world of doom and gloom news cycles and apocalyptic predictions, I argue Canada still has plenty to be optimistic about.

The first key to Canada's economic recovery lies in interprovincial trade and promoting more self-sufficiency in our economy. According to the International Monetary Fund, Canada could expand its per-capita GDP by around 3.8 percent nationally by smashing trade barriers in just 9 key sectors. Canada's political leaders should use COVID-19 as a "wake-up call" and realize that the most sustainable trade, is trade within our Confederation. Future global pandemics, downward market shifts, or geopolitical instability will have far less impact on Canada if a greater share of our total trade activity happens within our own borders.

For most of Canada's history, we have largely been a global exporter of unrefined commodities. In the 21st century, this needs to change. By investing in value-added processes and services in agriculture, energy, and manufacturing, we can keep more of the economic activity generated by Canadian resources in Canada.

It's time Canada graduates from a supplier of "ingredients" to an exporter of ready-made consumer goods. This can be done by working with producers who engage in value-added manufacturing, eliminating regulatory barriers and disadvantages, and by providing better access to export markets. With a targeted and concerted approach, I am confident Canadian producers can add more value to their products and maximize the economic impact of our exports.

Finally, Canada's greatest strength lies in the raw power of our natural resources. Canada is home to some of the largest reserves of fresh water in the world, massive untapped oil deposits, agriculture production with immense capacity, and so much more. With an extremely low population density this advantage is further exacerbated, as much of Canada's geography remains untapped.

The fact is, that scarce, life-sustaining, natural resources will always be in demand. This is especially true as we see continued population growth in the developing world and supply of key goods being strained. Wherever there are human beings there must also be food, energy, and fresh water. These are three things that Canada has an abundance of, all of which present a promising potential for economic growth.

It's no secret that on paper, Canada's current fiscal outlook appears dire. This Liberal government's reckless spending and inability to create sustainable growth means that our short-to-medium term economic outlook likely won't include job growth and recovery. However, with a change of leadership and a change of outlook, Canada's fundamentals as a nation remain strong.

As a G7 nation with a strong network of powerful alliances, world-class natural resources, and a population with above-average education levels, I have no doubt in Canada's ability to get back on our feet. Until then, our new recovery approach must be focused on identifying where the jobs of tomorrow exist and creating competitive environments where those industries can thrive. Canada can position itself to be a world leader well into the coming century, but only if we remember to play to our strengths.

Warren Steinley is a Conservative MP for Regina-Lewvan.

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