As I watch the US election tonight, I think about how things have changed between Canada and our neighbours to the south. Once the butt of jokes from our American friends, Canada today, is in far better shape financially then our neighbours to the south.
Where we felt we were the most indebted nation in the early nineties today we look at the USA and also Europe and realise that these countries are in terrible shape economically. Remember when “Canada was a Northern European welfare state in the worst sense of the term, and very proud of it.” Compared to the U.S., Canada had low economic growth, high unemployment, and a lower standard of living—all of which contributed to a constant “brain drain” to the USA that threatened to leave us even further behind.
Not so long ago we were the basket case – drenched in debt, torn apart by constitutional crises. The USA was more dynamic, more productive and more creative, to say nothing of a whole lot sexier and richer. But things have changed and life in Canada is pretty good, all things considered. i.e. less debt and lower unemployment etc.
Canada has held its own financially, while the USA has a financial cliff to contend with and many of the states and cities in the US have serious financial problems.
The quarter-century trend of the Canadian dollar losing about a cent a year against the U.S. dollar has reversed. Today our dollar is slightly higher than the USA (Canadians remember when the loonie was over 30 cents lower than the American dollar).
Many American homes are under water especially Florida, California and Arizona while Canadians are buying homes in these states for bargain basement prices.
Since the late 60’s Canadian’s have had universal health care and a single payer system while in the USA the President gets slammed for trying to bring in a more universal system of health care. To make matters worse the majority of Americans are against Obama-care.
Consider that prior to Obama-care; 47 million Americans had no medical coverage. Also close to 50% of personal bankruptcies in the USA result from health care costs. In Canada bankruptcy resulting from health care is almost unheard of. Also Canada spends 10% of its GDP on health care, compared to 15.3% in the United States, yet we generally get more services
Canada is still the world’s rogue anarchist when it comes to abortion, and Canadians take more pride every day in granting access to same-sex marriage. The US. immigration policy is clearly a problem while in Canada we’re quite good at attracting talented people from around the world.
The Canadian political system produces stable governments that can actually get stuff done. Canadian banks are solid and our pension funds e.g Canada Pension Plan is a model for the world, while the US. Social Security has severe financial problems.
Our elections are 4 week wonders and people still complain that they are too long. The US elections seem to last forever and at the cost of 6 billion dollars to run an election you wonder if that money could not be better spent on things like infrastructure. (Not to mention the influence of billionaires on the democratic process)
So as we watch tonight as spectators to what must be the super bowl of elections , let’s remember that Canadians may be dull boring and low key but we should be thankful for what we’ve got.
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DATE: November 14, 2012
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DATE: February 06, 2013
TIME: 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Location: Delta Barrington Halifax