Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Canada's place in the G8...

Everyone should read Jeffrey Simpson's column in today's Globe and Mail on Canada's place (economically) in the G8. Here's an extensive quote:

"Canada has a balanced national budget. No other G8 country (Russia excluded) comes close. The U.S. budget deficit is horrible... The British, Italians, Germans and French all have deficits above 3 per cent of GNP.

Canada has a trade surplus, built exclusively, it should be said, on bilateral trade with the Americans. The Japanese and Germans have trade surpluses, too, but the others don't...

The U.S., in other words, is running a triple D, with deficits on budget, trade and current account; Canada is running a triple S, with surpluses in all three categories.

Canada's unemployment rate stands in the middle of the G8 pack. But its employment rate — the share of the population working — rose faster from 1976 to 2003 (9.1 per cent, to 73.3 per cent from 64.2 per cent) than in other G8 countries. Next best was the U.S., with a 6.9-per-cent increase.

From 1995 to 1999... a growth rate of 3.7 per cent put Canada second, and growth of 3.1 per cent from 2000 to 2004 placed Canada first.

So, Canada is first or second in economic growth, the only country with a balanced national budget, and the only one with budgetary, trade and current account surpluses."

Not too shabby eh?

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Scott Tribe said...

Welcome aboard to Progressive Bloggers - hope to see more of your posts soon.

Lord Kitchener's Own said...

Thanks Scott,

Still pretty new to this (posting and commenting that is... I've been reading many of the blogs from "Progresive Bloggers" for some time).

I'll try to keep up with the prolific rate of posts of so many around the blogosphere!

Wish me luck!


Brad said...

Great post and welcome to Progressive Bloggers.

Noel M said...

It's not hard to do when you're the smallest member, population wise (half the size of the next largest member), but the second largest in land area (lots of natural resources to sell). It would take some pretty god-awful management of the country to screw that one up.

On the other hand, do you really believe the statistics published by our government? I can tell you that when I worked for The Unemployment Insurance Commission, Stats Canada wouldn't use our figures for the number of people that were unemployed, as they looked too bad.

And there's that "seasonal adjustment" thingy. What's that about? Built in fudging?


Lord Kitchener's Own said...

Well Noel,

I never said it was "hard" for us to be ahead of our G8 friends, I merely said that we are (or, more accurately Jeffrey Simpson said that we are). And Mr. Simpson frely admits that other countries are messing up as much as we are succeeding, which contributes to the gap. Here's a lengthy excerpt:

"Canada couldn't claim modest G8 bragging rights if others had properly attended to their knitting. The British have certainly done well, with unemployment below 5 per cent, growth strong, a flexible labour market and large investments in public services coursing through the country. But the budgetary deficit will have to be tamed either with higher taxes or spending cuts, or both.

France, Germany and Italy just don't seem able or willing to make their economies sufficiently flexible. Germany, in fairness, is still absorbing the huge burden of integrating the former East Germany.

Japan's growth is perking up, but the country needs large structural adjustments that its culture doesn't seem capable of expediting.

The Americans are borrowing themselves into big trouble down the road, as Chinese, Japanese and Korean banks absorb U.S. debts, fearful that if they don't lend, the U.S. dollar will crash. A sharply lower U.S. dollar would diminish their countries' exports and so drive up their own unemployment.

It's a situation of apparent stability built on a rickety foundation. The world's superpower is borrowing voraciously while fighting a war with no end in sight and cutting taxes on itself. The combination of false triumphalism and tax-cutting ideology is storing up a tectonic economic shift only the scale and timing of which remain unknown.

As for the voracity of the statistics, you'd probably have to take that up with Mr. Simpson as well. I don't know why you assume that he got them from "our government"... I rather assumed he got them from a third party... perhaps the OECD. However, if you don't trust him, you'll have to email him and ask. If you find out that he took his numbers from an email he got from Tim Murphy then by all means let me know and I'll modify the post, but I rather doubt I'll have to. Personally, I think Mr. Simpson is a largely non-partisan, thoughtful writer, and so I take him at his word when he cites stats to me. However, feel free to revel in your paranoia, and seek out the "real truth"!


Noel M said...

Have alook at this intersting article about the G8 Summit - note the comment about Canada.

What a guy wants

Lord Kitchener's Own said...


That is an interesting little piece (I'd seen it before actually, but thank you for the link!).

Again, however, it says little in regard to the points in Simpson's column. Simpson wasn't claiming that we are more powerful, or more influencial, or more exciting, or more "relevant" than our G-8 partners, but merely that we're doing better in many economic and fiscal areas. And you'll note that in my post I state quite explicitly that it is about Canada's place (ECONOMICALLY) within the G-8. We're obviously much better off than Russia, but that doesn't mean I think people will start treating us the way they treat Russia in their strategic planning!

Also, I wanted to apologize for my earlier "paranoia" comment. I should point out that I posted this item in response to those many conservative blogs that basically came out saying "Canada Sucks" on, of all days, Canada Day!!! My intent was to point out some of Canada's great successes to my fellow bloggers, and I had a bit of a knee-jerk response to your criticisms of the column (given my increased sensitivity in response to all that Canada bashing by others in the blogosphere!). Nonetheless, no excuse for rudeness. Sorry!

Finally, let me say that, although it was meant as a cheeky little slight, I actually sort of like that "Canada will continue to lobby for the expansion of the G-8, which would make itself even less relevant." True, we may be "even less relevant" individually if we expanded the G-8, but I also think that Canada plus Brazil plus India would be MORE relevant, and get more good things done... and I like the idea of more of the world's people feeling that they have some say in how the planet is run!

This really shows me that our government is not just interested in cold calculated self-interest, but also what is best for the international community as a whole (and also because they realize, of course, that a more prosperous and free world will lead to a more prosperous and free Canada, and that we can work towards these goals in peacful ways).

We really do suffer from an inferiority complex in Canada sometimes due to our proximity to the famous and powerful U.S., but I don't think that we should feel ashamed just because as a nation of 32 million we don't have as much influence on world affairs as much larger countries. It's true that we probably don't "punch above our weight" as much as we used to, and we should work to improve on that, but we still do pretty well, and I think our citizens can be proud of the nation that we have, even if other nations don't pay as much attention to us as we might sometimes like.


Mike said...

That's fantastic. I knew we were doing OK but this shows we are doing quite well.

And yet the Blogging Tories complained how bad we were on Canada Day. And Noel just can't accept that Canada might just have somethings to be rpoud of.

Nice Post sir.

Noel M said...

No offence taken, Kit.

When Pearson was the Prime Minister, we certainly had a lot to be proud of in terms of Foreign Policy and world affairs. These days, I don't think we have the credibility we once had. Successive governments ignoring the importance of foreign aid have eroded our standing internationally, I believe.

Don't get me wrong. I'm all for "blowing our own horn", but I do believe that the canadian media contributes to an exaggerated nationalism and an overblown sense of our importance in the arena of world affairs.

Also, given those economic indicators, why aren't we doing more? Why are we balking at the .7 percent of GDP? I don't think those indicators give us "bragging rights". Instead, I think they shame our government for not doing more when, clearly, we have the means to.

Great Blog, BTW. Healthy discussion of the issues, without the name-calling rants, is always useful.

Mike said...


You are right. We certainly need a more comprehensive and sensible foriegn policy. Actually I think we need A foriegn policy...

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