The tragedy of war once again plays out before us on our television screens. Commentators on various western television networks comment on the state of the war, declaring its support for brave Ukrainian fighters and decrying the destruction and loss of Ukrainian lives. One does not have to be an ardent student of modern history to know that wars are disorderly, disruptive, and destructive events in which people, including civilians, are injured or killed. As we watch the war coverage, let us pray for the war to end, and that the loss of Ukrainian and Russian lives ceases.
There is also hypocrisy in war. For example, the United States is supplying arms and supplies to Ukraine but warning The People’s Republic of China not to supply arms or supplies to the Russian Federation, and western politicians and political commentators are lamenting the death of Ukrainian soldiers but not those of Russia.
The NATO democracies, including Canada, are not without fault when it comes to the Russia Federation-Ukraine War, as can be seen from a brief review of defensive arrangements in Europe. After World War II, the nations of western Europe had reasons to become concerned about their physical and internal political security as the Soviet Union held power and influence over many countries in eastern Europe and communist movements elsewhere in Europe. The Americans did not want the western European nations to negotiate with the Soviet Union over matters of security, and therefore suggested an arrangement for collective security. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was created in 1949 by the United States, Canada, and several western European nations to provide collective security against the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union did not want eastern Europe to have enemy soldiers along its border. During the Cold War and in response to the inclusion of West Germany into NATO, a collective defense treaty was signed in 1955 between the Soviet Union and seven other Eastern Bloc socialist republics of central and eastern Europe creating the Warsaw Pact Both NATO and the Warsaw Pact were defensive arrangements against the perceived threats of aggression by opposing political forces. Several communist (state socialist) governments fell to popular movements in the period 1989-1991, and the Warsaw Pact ended in February 1991. The Soviet Union itself was dissolved in December 1991. Although several of the former Soviet republics initially formed a Collective Security Treaty Organization, the threat to western democracies from a unified Soviet Union and a collection of communist central and eastern European countries had greatly diminished. The Soviet Union and the Warsaw pact were gone yet NATO remained, and expanded eastward. Instead of guiding Russia towards closer relationship with the west and greater democracy, several western countries maintained a confrontational attitude towards Russia. Russia could only perceive NATO as a military alliance against them. Russia faced a growing threat as several neighbouring Baltic states joined NATO, but the potential addition of Ukraine joining NATO was too great a threat and Russia reacted. If existing NATO members like Canada did not support NATO expansionism to the borders of Russia, perhaps the Russian Federation-Ukraine War could have been avoided.
The Canadian government has clearly sided with Ukraine. However, as citizens in a democracy, we need to question our government’s position and actions. We need to be patriotic but not nationalistic. We should consider how long and to what extent the supply of weapons to the Ukraine and the imposition of economic sanctions on Russia are justifiable. Canada needs to advocate for peace. In the long term, Canada should strive for good relations with both the Ukraine and the Russian Federation.
CANADA’S FOREIGN TRADE
The trade balance of goods is the amount of exports minus the amount of imports. A positive trade balance means a trade surplus; a negative trade balance means a trade deficit. Between 1970 and 2008 Canada recorded trade surpluses every year, but since 2009 Canada has trade deficits, with an exception of years 2011 and 2014. In other words, Canada buys more than it sells. Overall, Canada incurred a $6.6 billion trade deficit during 2019, with trade deficits in both goods and services. The largest trade deficits by country were recorded with China, Mexico, Germany, Italy, and Vietnam while the biggest trade surpluses were recorded with the US, the UK, HK (China), the UAE, and Norway.
Canada is a trading country, and our prosperity as a nation and people is tied to international trade. However, the Canadian government and Canadians should recognize that our country’s foreign trade policy and practices must be advantageous foremost to Canada and Canadians. Below are seven thoughts as to what Canada’s trade policy should accomplish.
- First, Canada should diversify its trade, as about 15 countries account for over 90% of Canada’s trade. Especially, Canada should decrease its dependence on trade with the United States. Trade with the USA, in terms of the percentage of trade exports should be reduced from about 75% of total goods exported to the range of 50% to 60% of total goods exported. This would give Canada greater economic and political independence from the United States, increasing the capability of our government to make decisions that are primarily in Canada’s best interest.
- Second, Canada should be willing to sacrifice some trade with China if China mistreats its or our citizens. Our trade with People’s Republic of China (PR China) accounts for about 4% of exported goods, which means that Canada does not need to kowtow to the communist regime there. As PR China is unafraid to use trade sanctions and restrictions for political purposes, perhaps Canada should do the same. Canada should also consider itself free to establish closer trade ties with Taiwan, perhaps leading to free trade with respect to some commodities, e.g., the import of Taiwanese tropical fruits.
- Third, Canada should diversify its sources of supply to ensure that the international supply chain of goods e.g., semiconductors, needed by domestic industries are not severely disrupted by war, interruptions in foreign manufacturing or international transportation (due to pandemics, labour disruptions, etc.), or trade disputes.
- Fourth, Canada should double its amount of trade with Commonwealth countries within the next 5 to 7 years. The Canadian government should develop new mechanisms for this to be accomplished, and encourage Canadian companies to take advantage of the arrangements under the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), in which five other Commonwealth nations participate. Our trade with the United Kingdom should also be increased strengthening ties between the two countries. Increasing Canada’s trade with Commonwealth nations would increase Canada’s standing in that organization, thereby potentially enhancing our international political influence and opportunities for multilateral cooperation.
- Fifth, Canada should develop country-specific strategies to strengthen its overall position in international trade. You do not have to be a great businessperson to understand that if you buy more goods than you sell, your business will not prosper. Specifically, Canada needs to reduce and possibly eliminate its large trade deficit with PR China, which is Canada’s greatest trade deficit with any country. The Canadian government also needs to address the competitive disadvantage it has with PR China and the outflow of Canadian money to that country.
- Sixth, trade policy should never override food security. Canada should ensure it does not rely on any country for food to feed its people.
- Seventh, the Canadian government and business community should recognize that there are limits to free trade, and that unlimited free trade may not be in our country’s best interest. Canada needs to manufacture items important to its domestic security, including certain vaccines, medical supplies, protective gear, military hardware, and agricultural equipment. The government also needs to protect our financial institutions and industries from corporate and industrial espionage, that occurs when foreign countries and companies practice unfair trade practices.
Trade policy must complement foreign policy, and vice versa. Trade policy must also be aligned with policies concerning industrial and fiscal growth, domestic food production and distribution, and national security. Media must report on trade issues with this in mind, thereby focussing on what is in the best interest of Canada and Canadians. Finally, governments must be held accountable for trade deficits and trade policies. Canadians need to consider a party’s or candidate’s statements on trade when elections are held.
Canadian English contains major elements of both British and American English, as well as some uniquely Canadian characteristics. Spelling in Canadian English varies regionally and within social groups, yet general trends are as follows:
- The letter u is retained in words such as colour and odour,
- ‘re’ is used rather than ‘er’ ending in words such as metre (length of measure), and centre,
- the consonant “l’ is doubled when adding suffixes to words even when the final syllable (before the suffix) is not stressed, for example, travelled, counselling, and marvellous,
- the British spellings of defence and offence are used,
- Nouns are spelled with -ice while matching verbs take -ise – for example, practice and licence are nouns while practise and license are the corresponding verbs.
- Canadian English uses curb, tire, and aluminum, which in British English are spelled kerb, tyre, and aluminium.
Language is an important feature of culture, and culture is an important factor in national identity. Canadians should try to use Canadian English as much as possible.
Canadians often do not use Canadian English in correspondence and reports as the default setting is American English in many word-processing software packages. Generally, this is easy to correct by changing language preferences. So, change your language settings today (if necessary) and keep your computer and work Canadian!
Revisionist history is alteration of the historical record to downplay individuals or events that are in drastic disagreement with the historical record and/or a (socio-) political view or agenda. Of course, the sins of slavery and racial injustice done in the past should be condemned, but be careful not to overlook the accomplishments of the past and of individuals who lived in earlier centuries. Therefore, modern society needs to be avoid tearing down or removing statues of persons who in the context of today’s morals and sensitivities are deemed to have acted inappropriately. We should be careful not to judge others and this applies to historical persons. This is especially true considering that we do not live in their time periods or face the challenges and (or) hardships they endured. Furthermore, our history needs to be preserved, as part of our national identity and as potential lessons for the future.
Foreign governments exist which are human-right abusers or which threaten Canada’s citizens, territorial sovereignty, national unity, and system of government. Canada’s foreign policy and security apparatus should recognize this problem. Canadians cannot take an idealistic view that every country and every person is a friend to Canada.
Canada should expel foreign agencies which have the purpose of spreading propaganda in Canada that intentionally undermines Canada or misinforms Canadians about international events. Of course, diplomatic missions can express their political messages on behalf of the governments of their countries, but agencies that purport to be news agencies and cultural-exchange institutions should not have this right.
Canada should create a special agency to investigate adverse foreign influence on politics, politicians, and the electoral process in Canada. Corrective action should be taken to lessen or remove the power and impact of Canadian business and political leaders, who are under the influence or control (through blackmail, intimidation, or financial enticement) to adversarial foreign governments.
It may also be worthwhile for the Canadian government to establish a judicial inquiry or public hearings about foreign influence on Canadian business and politics. This may result in new information being brought forward to investigators, and raise the level of concern among the Canadian public. Of course, care must be taken not to create racial or ethnic tensions or to curtail the legitimate and worthwhile cultural exchanges that benefit Canadians.