Time to get serious

From the February 2024 print edition

I began thinking seriously about my first Supply Professional column of 2024 on January 1. When
I was starting to make rough notes, I got an e-mail from a friend I hadn’t spoken to in a while. He wished me well, then asked if I had any resolutions for the upcoming year.

Toronto-based Michael Hlinka is a tenured professor at George Brown College. He hosts a weekly podcast about wagering on professional football. His website is www.michaelhlinka.com.

I replied that my resolutions for 2024 were identical to those of 2023. I resolved to put on 15 pounds of weight, drink more alcohol more frequently, and take up smoking. Then I noted that I had succeeded last year with the first two but for the life of me I simply can’t bear inhaling tobacco products.

Of course, I wasn’t being serious. But it strikes me that I’m living in a country that is singularly not serious.

A bright future
It would therefore be wonderful if our Parliamentarians spent their time thinking systematically about what is best for Canada and what could be done to ensure the brightest future for this blessed country instead of the matters that seem to occupy their attention. But if they’re not going to, I will. And here are three resolutions that would propel Canada to become a global economic powerhouse: 1) become the world’s number-one producer and refiner of oil and natural gas; 2) become the world’s foremost manufacturer of semi-conductors; 3) balance budgets at all levels of government, municipal, provincial, and federal.

Let me take these one at a time.

I don’t know if anyone in Parliament noticed, but at the end
of 2023 there were wars raging in both Eastern Europe and the Middle East. The reason why this impacts the world so profoundly is because combined, Russia and Saudi Arabia account for in excess of 25 per cent of global oil production.

Let’s face it, if Canada doesn’t pump out oil, someone else will. According to the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, this industry contributes approximately $12 billion in average annual revenue to government coffers. We should commit to double production, which would mean another $12 billion in revenue. Spending by all levels of government (according to Statistics Canada) totalled $963 billion – 24/963 is not an insignificant percentage.

And there is legitimate fear that China might make a move on Taiwan and its 25 million citizens. Why is this so concerning? It’s because this tiny nation (Ontario is approximately 30 times its size) is the world’s leader in semiconductor production. Why is this so? Because it wanted to be. Taiwan gave subsidies and tax breaks to the industry, as well as focused on educating technicians and engineers in the field. Canada should double its own tax breaks and credits, close every liberal arts department in every university, then reallocate those resources to meaningful degrees that generate real economic growth.

Either of these geopolitical situations could easily escalate into something wider and more serious. Everyone prays that this doesn’t happen and, somewhat magically, peace breaks out.
But a pretty good adage when it comes to almost anything is to hope for the best, then prepare for the worst. If we were dragged into a global conflict, it would require massive deficit spending. But here’s the problem: we’re already currently running a $40-billion deficit.

Fiscal responsibility
I’m old enough to remember that in April 2015, newly elected Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised that his government’s platform would be – and here I’m quoting – “fully costed, fiscally responsible and a balanced budget.”

If anyone lied this openly and baldly in a court of law, we would call it perjury. In the political realm, we call it business as usual. There is a self-selection process that results in, how can I put this nicely, not the best and the brightest, nor the most honest, ending up running for office and ultimately elected. So, at the end of the day, we get the government we deserve.

For what it’s worth, those are my three economic resolutions for Canada in 2024. Unfortunately, I’m absolutely certain that this country won’t follow through on any of them.