Friday, February 5, 2010

The Universal Marketplace

Yesterday, in commenting about The Games, I pointed out the lovely and imaginative Canada Pavilion was made by a Chicago company.

I mention such things as part of my ongoing and long-running complaint about how we love to shoot ourselves in the food - usually with an imported weapon.

Whether it is stamps or flags or movies or packing boxes (disguised as pavilions), we seem to embrace a self-destructive impulse to favor off-shore suppliers.

God forbid, anyone in Canada could actually make or build or sew or weave or assemble anything that we might use, anything that might employ, you know like, I think you call them, uh, Canadians, eh?


My perpetual kvetch on this score may be, like so many of my quaint notions, simply not in tune with the real world.


Today, newspapers across the land announced with great fanfare that we Canuckleheads can now return to bidding on American contracts. US protectionism has been declared dead.

"Canadian companies can now bid on U.S. infrastructure projects financed under their $787-billion economic stimulus package ending the year-long Buy America dispute."

The local press pretty much greeted this development as the Second Coming. It actually knocked a certain Event off the front pages.

So far, so good.

But just a border minute, now.

What this really means is that all bets are off.

All companies in North America (with a few restrictions) can bid for all deals in Dallas or Kapuskasing.

In udder woids, boys & girls, yes, we get the opening to those VAAAST yanqui markets, but our friends south of the 49th have equal access to ours.

In addition, the EU is negotiating for similar reciprocates with us.

For so many years, suppliers and workers in Saskatchewan couldn't bid on jobs in Manitoba or BC, and Quebec and Ontario might as well have had high stone walls separating their attempts at commerce.

Much of that has gone the way of elk meat.

And now, trade barriers are melting into the Arctic seas on a daily basis.

At first blush, that is a bad thing for us under-producing, latte-sucking urban elite geeks in Canada.

But now, I think the message is clear.

Work harder.

Work smarter.

Support and encourage local manufacturing wherever possible.

If you think times have been a bit tough of late, hang onto your hats.

They will get tougher.

Are we up to the challenge?