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The Ignorance Of Canada In The U.S.

Yesterday a friend sent me a link to the L.A. Times article re: the amazingly good health of Canada’s economy:  Canada’s economy can teach the U.S. a thing or two.

An excerpt from the piece: 

“We did a lot of things right going into the financial crisis,” said Glen Hodgson, senior vice president at the Conference Board of Canada, a business-membership and research group in Ottawa.

One of the most important, he said: Back in the 1990s, it cleaned up the fiscal mess that most every developed nation is now facing.

Earlier that decade, Canada too was straining from years of excessive government spending that bloated the nation’s total debts, to 70% of annual economic output — a figure the U.S. is projected to approach in two years.

Well it was back in the 1990s that my father was working hard on Canada’s budgets. From his bio:

Between March 1994 and September 1995, Dr. Nicholson was Clifford Clark Visiting Economist in the federal Department of Finance. He participated in the key decisions that led to a sustained turnaround in Canada’s fiscal position.

From September 1995 to June 2002, he was Chief Strategy Officer of BCE Inc., Canada’s largest telecommunications company.

Anyway, being a proud daughter I wanted to give pop a shout out and thanks for making Canada a highly functioning country. I forwarded the L.A. Times piece to him…

Here’s his candid response…a worthwhile read for anyone interested in the relationship between Canada and the U.S.

Hi Chris  This is a good article—and about time. A few of the “facts” are a bit off base but the story is basically correct.

What has always frustrated me is the extent to which all the media outside Canada—and especially The Economist—ignore the lessons from Canada when comparing the US to others. The comparisons are almost always with countries like Japan, Korea, UK, Germany, even Sweden and Australia; but almost never with Canada, despite the fact that Canada and the US are far more comparable culturally, linguistically, historically, geographically, etc etc. The two economies are also the most tightly linked in the world. This means that most of the factors that confound attempts to compare the US with the usual group drop out in a Canada-US comparison leaving the differences to be caused largely by different policies and institutions—and it is precisely policies or institutions that the Canada-ignoring commentators are usually trying to explain. For most of these cases, Canada is the hard-to-find “controlled experiment” whereas the usual comparators have too many other factors in play that muddle an understanding of the differences relative to the US. For almost every social science question, Canada is the best—and often the only—valid comparator with the US. But we are almost always treated as irrelevant, or invisible, even to academics and government policy people, who ought to know better.

The ignorance of Canada in the US is so deeply-rooted that it will take years of stories like the one in the LA Times to change the prejudice. I don’t think it will ever happen.   Love  Dad

This entry was written by Christie, posted on July 13, 2010 at 9:48 am, filed under Home and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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