A ‘must’ shift

Many years ago, in an unprecedented exercise of leadership, President Franklin D. Roosevelt insisted that passage of a certain piece of legislation was a “must.”
Today, we have to copy that. Unquestionably, we “must” diversify our foreign trade literally for our independence, and of course for our economic welfare. It is remarkable that so few of our commentators recognize that our dependence on our exports to the U.S. market poses a threat to our national identity.
Inasmuch as 80 per cent of our exports go to our neighbour to the south, and that represents 45 per cent of our Gross Domestic Product, clearly something must be done now. Prime Minister John Diefenbaker railed against our overall reliance on the U.S. import market, but business was happy with the status quo as long as it could “make a buck.”
Diefenbaker wanted to shift 15 per cent of our exports away from the United States, but was derided for that proposal. However, now more than ever we now must take up a cudgel for a vigorous defence of our interests.
Now that a “Buy American” program is sweeping the United States, it is more important than ever that we diversify our export trade. To his credit, Prime Minister Steven Harper has opened talks with the European Union for a free trade agreement with that group, yet much more than that is an absolute necessity. The United States attempted to veto our trade links with Cuba and with communist China, but fortunately we ignored that. We must be free of that kind of interference.
Every year, we should organize a trade fair with other nations; say with Britain, then France, Germany, Japan and so forth. A top Canadian official, perhaps led by the Prime Minister, should head a delegation, simultaneously speaking to the national legislature where the fair is being held.
Coupons could be distributed, offering discounts on travel and Canadian merchandise.
Advertisements should be placed in those nations, promoting Canadian products, our geography and a realistic portrayal of our reasonable climate. Few are aware of our varied resources, some of which are not available in other lands, such as potash.
Some maintain we must suffer and go along with the wave of existing trends. That is a recipe for disaster. For instance, to take only one of many examples, a Texas oil company required complicated machinery that was sold by General Electric.
However, that was rejected as part of the “Buy American” program because the filter in the GE machinery came from Canada. That is just an illustration of the counterproductive course on which the United States now is embarked.
The North American Free Trade Agreement promised free trade among the United States, Mexico, and ourselves. However, too frequently it has not been honoured, but ignored.
It has become obvious that we must diversify our foreign trade, essential for our national as well as our economic independence. A continuation of the existing state of affairs is not a viable option.

Bruce Whitestone