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Monday, June 16, 2008

Sure we care about Ontario’s problems. No, really

In the spirit of fairness and presenting all sides of the story, the following article appeared in today's Halifax Chronicle Herald and contains an opposing view to the article posted on Web Talk yesterday from the Toronto Star. Both articles make some very good sense and, between them, likely express the conflicting sentiments of most people here in the middle of the North Atlantic.

Sure we care about Ontario’s problems. No, really
Mon. Jun 16 - 5:55 AM

CALLING all proletarians and Canadians! Rise up! Defend the oppressed autoworkers of Ontario! Fight for their jobs against globalization and General Motors! Make Ottawa ride to the rescue, and damn the cost!

At the risk of sounding alarmist, noble workers, this is a fight for the ages. General Motors is shutting down a truck plant in Oshawa and laying off 2,600 workers. In Oshawa, Ontario. You heard me right, people. Ontario.
This isn’t just some piddling fishery collapse or the end of Cape Breton coal mining. This is serious stuff, a national emergency.

Sure, tens of thousands of people were displaced in the Maritimes and Newfoundland when the fish got fished out. Thousands more got pitched when the coal mines shut down.

Thousands of Maritime jobs went when the forest industry fell, and it’s still falling. Sawmills that operated for generations are rusting out. Pulp and paper towns are ghostly.

But those things happened in the backward, dependent and lazy Maritimes, or over in Newfie-joke Newfoundland. You know, places sick with Stephen Harper’s culture of defeat. You expect economic calamities to happen in those places.

Besides, the collapse of fishing, coal mining and forestry Down East freed up strong backs and willing hands for the oil fields Out West. Even some skilled, smart folks headed there after getting their good educations back home.

You have got to love how that worked out. And in the nick of time too, just as the new oil boom hit.
No, you can’t compare the sad-but-inevitable depopulation of rural Atlantic Canada with the totally unexpected trimming of fat off the big old economic pork chop that is Ontario. What happened down East was progress. This Ontario thing is a crisis, people.

It’s so bad that premiers Jean Charest and Dalton McGuinty recently rounded up their ministers for a giant Central Canada cabinet meeting and weenie roast. They all signed "historic agreements" and got their pictures taken.

Ontario-Quebec is now "Central Canada," chirped McGuinty, the Maxwell Smart of Canadian politics. He looked like he had just found the place on a map. Even better, the Ontario premier reassured us that the Great Central Canada Photo-op was for the general good of all.

Any Maritimer could see what he meant by that. After all, Canada was built on the notion that what’s good for Ontario and Quebec is good for all the Bluenoses, Newfies, herring-chokers, cowboys, West Coasters, Northerners and whoever lives in the big flat space between Ontario and Calgary, if anyone.

"Whenever Quebec and Ontario do things together, that stands to the benefit not only of our people but to the benefit of the country as a whole," quipped McGuinty.

Whatever, his comment warmed my Maritime heart no end. To think the place that has swallowed our sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, neighbours and friends is acting with such altruism. Why, it just makes a fellow go all mellow.

Forget that Premier Maxwell Smart thinks equalization is unfair because it robs little Ontario. As to the provinces that benefit from it, why, let them eat codfish. Their well-being has nothing to do with Ontario or its $597-billion economy.

But back to the truck plant shutdown. It’s hard to tell, but one wonders whether anyone noticed that GM is closing it because nobody wants to buy gas-guzzling Silverados and GMC Sierras when the precious liquid is $1.40 a litre and rising. Or maybe people don’t want vehicles that belch lots of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Or maybe they just want cheaper and more reliable transportation.

Whatever the cause, truck sales were down 39 per cent at GM last quarter and getting worse. The company lost $38 billion in 2007.

But McGuinty and Buzz Hargrove and the Central Canada crowd are calling down the Almighty on anyone who doesn’t see the wisdom of spending billions or changing trade rules to keep gas-guzzler production going in Oshawa.

To make matters worse, the warm and fuzzy Finance Minister Jim Flaherty forgot that he’s MP for Whitby-Oshawa, the very place where the plant’s closing down. He doesn’t want to send money to GM and insensitively suggests that Ontario help itself by lowering its business taxes.

Losing jobs is never a good thing. But shouldn’t people realize there’s no point building products that consumers don’t want? Central Canada stayed calm when the crises were here in the East. What it needs now is leadership, not subsidies and sympathy.


Anonymous said...

With all the Federal concern, over the years, for Ontario and Quebec through the nurturing of their economies with Federal taxpayers dollars and the constant attention paid to bringing business to Centra Canada, doesn't that equate into something akin to Ottawa building economies from the base up.

That in my opinion is Grade 3 Economic Thinking.

I wonder what the other Anon, who posted to your last article thinks of that opinion. I am sure he/she has a viewpoint on it whether or not he/she wants to share it. It sure shoots down the idea that Ottawa or Governments do not create economies.

Please Anon I would love your opinion.

agnes grade three teacher said...

Sorry I was wrong. I forgot that Jean-Joseph Bombardier was a federal bureaucrat from Montreal, Henry Ford was an Ontario cabinet Minister, and that politicians invented the internal combustion engine. Thank you for correcting me.

Calvin said...

Ha Ha ,Myles ,I'm justing going to shut-up and say nothing !!!

NL-ExPatriate said...

2000 jobs from a population of 10+ million with an unemployment rate somewhere in the range of 4%.

40,000 from a population of 500,000 with an unemployment rate of 15%.

You do the % math.

With no equality for the different members of the federation,Per capita colonialism is what we have in canada masquerading as a democracy.

NL-First, Equality or Exit!