Joe Oliver: Canada and the US Share a Litany of Harmful Policies

May 27, 2022 Updated: May 27, 2022

Commentary

Victor Davis Hanson raised an alarm in a recent column about a litany of unchartered developments besetting the United States that risk becoming unimaginable. Hanson believes the traditional bedrocks of the American system are dissolving, including a stable economy, energy independence, hallowed universities, and a credible criminal justice system. Many of these damaging assaults on America’s economy and body politic have direct parallels in Canada.

Like Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s obsession since 2015, President Biden is determined to throttle his country’s immense oil and gas potential to the detriment of jobs, economic growth, funding for social programs, stable prices, personal and public indebtedness, and energy security, all of which weaken Western democracies’ ability to confront the menace from China, Russia, and Iran. It is as if our most threatening competitors are in charge of energy policy in Washington and Ottawa. They must be flabbergasted  and grateful that North America’s politicians are deliberately facilitating fossil fuel imports.

Inflation is at a 40-year high in the United States and a 31-year high in Canada. Gas and diesel prices hit historic levels. Starter homes are unaffordable without family assistance. But inflation was a deliberate political choice. “For short-term political advantage, he (Biden) kept printing trillions of dollars, incentivizing labour non-participation, and keeping interest rates at historical lows—at a time of pent-up global demand,” Hanson wrote. Sound familiar? Furthermore, central bankers in both countries were late to respond to burgeoning inflation and now have to play catch-up, so that higher rates risk precipitating a recession.

After its humiliating withdrawal from Afghanistan, America lost a deterrence abroad that had been invaluable in averting dangerous geopolitical conflicts. Canada surrendered its role as an influential middle power because chronic military underfunding has relegated us to freeloader status with diminished ability to meaningfully assist our allies or defend our polar sovereignty.

Hanson claims America’s southern border does not exist. While Canadian numbers pale in comparison, over 8,000 asylum seekers entered Quebec illegally via Roxham Road from last November to March. Last week, Trudeau acknowledged he would keep it open since we cannot prevent people from entering the country—a startling admission that he won’t even try to defend its border. Instead, he seems eager for “irregulars” to start receiving welfare benefits immediately.

Some Canadians are dismayed that the U.S. Supreme Court may overturn its landmark Roe v. Wade decision permitting abortion, which would lead to a patchwork of conflicting state rules. This decision may be the Democrats’ only hope of mitigating a resounding defeat in the Congressional elections. In stark contrast, Canada has no laws restricting abortion, an approach shared only with North Korea and China, but supported by 72 percent of Canadians, according to a Maru Public Opinion poll. Nevertheless, many oppose late-term and sex-selective abortions. Meanwhile, the Liberals regularly exploit abortion as a wedge issue against the Conservatives, notwithstanding their commitment to preserve the status quo.

Crime has been compromised by ideology, race, and politics, which can influence whether or how the law is applied. Canadians are critical that the United States incarcerates almost two million prisoners, while their parole system is notoriously lenient. Last week, the Supreme Court of Canada declared unconstitutional a Criminal Code section that states extreme intoxication cannot be used as a defence when an accused voluntarily ingested the intoxicating substance. A lot of Canadians, especially women, will be alarmed that an assailant can avoid prosecution for rape by first getting stone drunk. This week, the Supreme Court unanimously struck down life without parole for multiple murderers.

Once recognizably unsound and bizarre academic ideas, like modern monetary and critical race theories, now pervade policymaking in both countries. The result is economic profligacy, academic mediocrity, and erosion of free speech.

The common denominator is that ruling elites prioritize ideology and political correctness over policies that actually serve the national interest and protect our standard of living. Like their southern fellow travellers, Canadian progressives lack confidence in constitutional government and our proud history. They support the imposition of an unnecessary Emergencies Act that deprived 38 million Canadians of their civil liberties because police declined to remove illegally parked trucks. We now know the government’s claim that the act was invoked because of police and RCMP requests is false.

Too often, when our two governments undermine the democratic system, sow division, and denigrate dissent, they respond to public antipathy by doubling down with patently untrue accusations of racism, homophobia, and misogyny.

There are obviously many important differences between Canada and the United States, including on the positive side a less polarized Canadian public but also less resistance to draconian rules and poorer economic prospects. Fortunately, the challenges are not intractable for either country. However, fundamental change is urgently needed to avert a continued decline that can become irreversible, let alone to achieve our immense potential. Since the harm is self-inflicted, that will likely require new political leadership.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

Joe Oliver
Joe Oliver was the minister of finance and minister of natural resources in the government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper in Canada.