Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Ibbitson - The Anchor Around Canada's Neck

The Globe's John Ibbitson writes that Canada has a serious problem, one only tangentially connected to the Covid-19 virus we're all dealing with.
Any hope of economic recovery in Canada from the novel coronavirus pandemic hinges on the American economy recovering first. This is the worst possible news. For the United States is self-immolating. 
There has been a coup within the Republican Party, and the irrational part has taken over," says Brian Bow, a political scientist at Dalhousie University who studies Canada-U.S. relations. “What it means for us is serious trouble.” 
The pandemic has savaged both the American and Canadian economies. Borders are closed, tourism and hospitality industries have cratered, airlines are on government life support, supply chains are disrupted, retail is operating at a fraction of normal, food security is at risk. Both economies are contracting and unemployment increasing at a frightening pace. 
This is the inevitable economic emergency brought on by COVID-19, which forced both countries to shut down their economies. But the U.S. is doing everything in its power to make things worse. 
The United States poses a huge threat to its trading partners and to key international institutions,” says Kristen Hopewell, who specializes in international trade and global governance at the University of British Columbia. “They are mishandling both the health and the economic crisis.”
"The U.S. is a country whose President has given up,” observes Judy Garber, a political scientist at the University of Alberta who studies American politics. At the President’s urging, governors in many states are risking a second wave of COVID-19 infections by reopening their economies sooner than epidemiologists advise. 
Consequently, Prof. Garber says, “if things are under control in Canada, I would keep the border with the U.S. closed."
What? Ibbitson sees hope that Americans will come to their senses in November and toss Donald Trump.
But there is more to the United States than the likes of the National Rifle Association. While the Democratic Party has its own internal struggles and, at 77, former vice-president Joe Biden is a less-than-ideal candidate, a Biden presidency might restore some sanity to American economic and foreign policy. He is ahead in the polls, but Mr. Trump has the advantage of incumbency. So even odds.

Beyond that, says Prof. Bow, Canada “should borrow money and spend it,” on training, job creation and infrastructure, to prepare the work force for whatever economy emerges from the the wreckage. While Prof. Hopewell urges the federal government “to work with like-minded countries, where possible, to try to maintain the key institutions and rules of the liberal international economic order.”
Let them get it out of their system first. Then we can talk.

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