Canadas 4-Fs status will help to ensure its prosperity

In the Unites States, at Armed Forces’ induction stations those deemed medically unfit have been labeled as 4-F, ineligible for participation in any branch of the military.

On the other hand, in Canada the designation 4-F symbolizes the principal factors that underwrite our prosperity. In a recent book authors Don Campbell, Peter Kinch and Barry McGuire first list them; they are the crucial elements that ensure that Canada will continue to prosper. Almost all economists agree that they are the keys to Canada’s economic future. They are food, fertilizer, fuel and forestry.

Canada is among the foremost grain and livestock producers in the world. Most are exported as our population of about 33 million consumes only a small fraction of the food we produce. Our generally favourable growing climate and the fact that we have more fresh water than any other nation helps our agricultural sector.

Too, of course, the fresh water is available for export to places in the western sections of the United States and that is another plus.

Backing up our agriculture industry, we are a leading producer of fertilizer, principally coming from Saskatchewan’s huge potash reserves. The extensive use of fertilizer is an immense source of present and future economic growth.

With the billions of barrels of oil in our tar sands, we are among the top dozen sources of oil in the world (so essential for our economic development). Our proximity to the United States will entail years of strong exports and our economic progress.

Immense areas of Canada are covered by vast forests. They will be very useful in our economy for the construction industry, a substantial consumer of lumber, and for exports, notably to China, which has been a big buyer of wood products.

This era of globalization of international trade will have a major, negative impact on much of the world. Asian countries are turning out millions of highly trained “knowledge workers” whose wages are only a very small percentage of those prevailing in the Western world.

In the past, rich countries that lost manufacturing jobs to low-wage developing countries could shelter their hard-pressed workers in non-tradable services.

That does not work any longer. In the new globalization the lines of distinction have blurred between tradable and non-tradables. The explosion of the Internet, the cross-border connectivity of globalization, has spread from manufacturing to services. As a result, the blue collar factory worker and the white collar knowledge workers will have their jobs in jeopardy.

Hence, those 4-Fs serve as a buttress that makes us almost immune to the troubles besetting other nations’ high-wage workers, who are in long-range difficulty.

Canada is indeed fortunate that we have the 4-Fs to maintain our prosperity.


Bruce Whitestone