3 min

Trade deficits – not a good thing for an exporting nation

The day opened on grim economic news. The December numbers showed that for the first time since 1976, Canada posted a trade deficit – that is, we imported more than we exported.

Apparently it was all related to the price of crude oil, and the decreased demand of the recession in the States, but it still didn’t sit well with either the Liberals or the NDP, who opened each of their Question Period rounds with portents of the doom of this trade deficit.

To Ignatieff, Harper expressed hope that the change in the value of our dollar would help the situation. To Layton he pointed out that the Canadian stimulus spending had not yet been passed by the House, and that the NDP wanted to start a trade war with the Americans – so there.

Duceppe’s lead question had to do with arts funding, and the revelations that some of the proposed “partners” for the future Canada Prize had never been consulted on the prize, let alone their endorsement or participation. Carole Lavallée followed up on this, as did Liberal heritage critic Pablo Rodriguez later on in Question Period. Heritage Minister James Moore maintained each time, in both official languages, that this document was not a government one, but it was just one proposal for the Prize. Not that his reassurances mollified anyone from either party.

Whereas yesterday it was BC Liberals rising to ask about their province’s economy, today it was Ontario’s turn – Anthony Rota, Judy Sgro (wearing a chunky knit jacket and leather skirt), Rob Oliphant, Francis Valeriote, and Ruby Dhalla, each giving stories about constituents hard hit by the economy.

During the scrums in the foyer after Question Period, Scott Brison gave a statement about the trade deficit revelations.

“We’re now buying more as a country than we’re selling. For a country that has traditionally been such a strong export nation, this is ominous in terms of what it represents to the Canadian economy. The Harper government is helping create these conditions in several ways. Number one – its isolationist approach in terms of trade has left us completely dependent on the US economy. While the US economy tanks, China and India continue to grow by six percent this year, and the Harper government has treated the Indian relationship with content, the Chinese relationship it has virtually destroyed over the past two years based on ideological reasons, and by ignoring India and treating China contemptuously, the Harper government has left Canada tremendously dependent on the US economy, and by failing to diversity our economy, particularly in failing to defend manufacturing, we are now completely reliant on commodities at a time of global commodity crisis. So the Harper government has failed to plan ahead in terms of value-added manufacturing industry, and failed to plan ahead in terms of trade relationships with the emerging economies of India and China today when we need it as the US economy tanks.”

There wasn’t much in the way of sartorial snaps to be handed out in the House today, though I will give props to Libby Davies for one of her best ensembles to date this session, with a nice jacket and a flattering skirt, and no sign of a scarf. Oh, and Irwin Cotler’s jacket did have elbow patches today, which completes his professorial look.

There were, however, a few fashion citations to be handed out. Like NDP MP Megan Leslie’s unfortunate choice of a pumpkin-coloured wrap-dress? No. And with the dark blue tights? That’s especially a no. Try again. Kristy Duncan’s colour block today was purple, and it didn’t look any better than yesterday’s green. Bev Oda’s ability to match her blocky lime green jacket with the frames of her glasses might have been cooler under other circumstances, and finally, Diane Finley’s gold-coloured jacket over a brown shirt made her look like a realtor – not like someone who should be reassuring us about our EI benefits.