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2008 05 01
Is Ontario A “Have Not” Province?

Let's face it. We were all a little bit shocked when the Toronto Star announced yesterday that Ontario was now a bit player in the Canadian provincial hierarchy.
"Ontario is not the mighty king of the economy any more," said TD's chief economist, Don Drummond, predicting the province could get $400 million in 2010 and $1.3 billion the following year.

"It's one of the weaker partners, but again it's not so much Ontario's being weak as the other provinces are really roaring along."

The report noted that one traditional "have-not" province, Newfoundland and Labrador, is about to join the "have" club, thanks to revenues from offshore oil and gas production.
There is the argument neatly summed up by one of the Country's more respected economists. Unless we are either pumping oil or making cars for some other country's automobile sector, we are nothing. Well, I don't buy it. Rather than wail that the sky is falling, in a quarterly driven profit and loss blinkered vision of reality, why not use this obvious sign that industry is changing as a reason to revamp our economy and prepare to take on the real big "NEXT" markets?

We all know what they are. I wasn't surprised to read a few short weeks ago that the German industrial sector has made a few good deals buying up Canadian environmental technology companies and relocating them to Europe. Some European countries are literally changing their landscapes because of an economic shift to sustainable, knowledge-driven industries.

What about this picture don't our policy makers understand? Big cars pollute, cause global warming, and use too much of a non-renewable commodity. Plus, no one in their right mind wants them now except as a symbol of conspicuous consumption that would make Thorstein Veblen blush.

Still, here we are bemoaning the fact that people aren't buying enough obsolete car designs, and our smokestack industries are failing. Come on! We've predicted this failure for a generation and a half. That it seems to surprise government should be a warning sign to the electorate: Why can't our elected representatives think outside of the short term and plan for the future?

Change is good. Change usually involves short to mid term pain. If we are going to experience that pain anyway—as a have-not province—let's make something out of it. Let's build an economy for tomorrow's markets using the best of today's ideas—you know, the ones that far-seeing countries are buying up from under us. Then when residents of other provinces can't breath because they've burned up so much fossil fuel to convert sand to oil, we'll have clean air, livable cities, and an economy with a future.
[email this story] Posted by R Ouellette on 05/01 at 12:24 PM

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