Monday, January 27, 2014

Harper government leads by example at Davos

That headline is lifted from a news release from Canada's Dept of Foreign Affairs. It's got about as much veracity to it as some of the headlines you've seen on this blog that claim to reveal the anti-Christ or the messiah. The difference is that when I'm flogging crop circles and such, most readers of average intelligence will assume I'm joking. When they read the above headline at a Government of Canada website, they assume it's true.

Guess the joke's on them!

I've read both the press release and the appended Quick Facts more than once, and the only item referenced that can be construed as being about Canadian leadership is that our banking sector is not  as bankrupt as those in some other developed countries. Does this have anything to do with the Harper government? Absolutely not. The reason Canada escaped the worst of the 2007-8 collapse is because we avoided the worst excesses of the deregulation frenzy of the 1990s, and avoided them only because we had the good fortune of not having a Conservative government at the time.

So we're "leaders" by default in that arena, but where the Harper government supporters can correctly raise a chant of "we're almost number one" is in the "Bloomberg Ease of Business" ranking. That's pretty much what it sounds like. How easy is it for foreign investors to set up shop here?  Ponder that for a moment. What sort of impediments might disuade foreign investors?

Strict environmental regulations?
Stringent protection of workers' health and safety?
A living minimum wage?..

Sounds to me like leading the Bloomberg Ease of Business ranking is another way of saying we're winning the race to the bottom!

What's shocking is that the news release itself concedes that foreign investment is responsible for only one in ten Canadian jobs. For this we're selling out our workers and destroying the environment?

That may be leadership, Mr. Harper, but I'm not sure it's where Canadians want to be led.

Tossed in as it is with all the bogus leadership jive, one barely notices Trade Minister Ed Fast congratulating FerroAtlantica on investing $375 millions in a new plant in Quebec. Seems chucking the environment and flushing the workers pays off when you can attrack big sums of foreign boodle like that, eh?

Not that I don't want to take Mr. Fast's good news story at face value, but lets see what else we can learn about this foreign investment.

Here's what the trade website PLANT tells us;

“Very favourable” conditions attracted the company to Quebec, said Pedro Larrea, the company’s director general. These include discounted rates for hydroelectricity and a 10-year tax holiday.

Oh look what Mr. Fast forgot to mention!

Discounts on electricity!

A ten year tax holiday!

Sounds to me like they're pretty much giving away the store, but that may be the price of leadership in this competitive era.

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