The New Canada: Can I get fries with that?


In just a few weeks, the votes will be in and we will have a new government in Ottawa.

I woke up last night, in a cold sweat, thinking about all this. I have no idea who to vote for. I now realize what the problem is. None of the parties is speaking to me. They are all talking in platitudes, blue-skying it.

As Jack Nicholson once said, “I’m drowning here, and you’re describing the water.”

None of the parties has a real solution to the problems that are threatening this nation. Sure, each of them had a pound of calking weighing down their shorts that could plug a hole here and there. But there doesn’t seem to be a general contractor who can make us a right and proper house.

Put another way, if this election were held on Hallowe’en, we’d all be getting those cheap yucky candies, the ones that taste like ass instead of chocolate bars and chips. There is nothing in their goodie bags that are worth anything.

It occurred to me that there was something missing in all of this.

Not one of the parties, that I’ve heard, has a plan to help Canadians adjust and react to the effect of globalization. Remember that word…globalization…it was the din in our ears during protests at the world leaders’ meeting in Toronto a few years back. A few people went to jail, but mostly their cries were ignored.

Most of us tuned it out because we really didn’t understand what the whole deal was about.

Now we’re feeling it

Globalization is the reason so many Canadians — young, middle aged, old — are in such trouble these days. It’s like we’re all caught in a tsunami and there aren’t any trees to hold on to.

I’ll give you a few real life examples. There once was a time when a person could buy a taxi licence for a horrendous price in Ottawa and feed his family on the proceeds from his job. He only had to take a course at Algonquin College, borrow some money from the rellies, and set himself up. Then Uber came along. Now taxi drivers are out with baseball bats running down hipsters in their cheap Chryslers who are making pennies on the dollar, but making a living still, carting around students and government workers for a fraction of the price of a taxi.

Two years ago, a taxi driver could make a living. Not anymore. Now they’re working at Walmart.

When I was a kid living in St. Catharines, Ontario, if you didn’t want to go to university, you could get a job at General Motors and buy yourself a nice house and raise your family. Today, those good manufacturing jobs have gone to Mexico, and you are working at Walmart.

It’s happening in agriculture, too. I hear that the Harper government is set to announce a new trade deal that will effectively gut the dairy industry in Canada and let the U.S. dump cheap milk into Canada. We’ve always paid a little more for our milk. Now, we can drink it by the gallon for a buck, and buy it at Walmart. Meanwhile, dairy families are raising their kids on the proceeds from mom’s job driving school bus.

No one prepared us for these kinds of changes. There aren’t many unions anymore, and if Harper has his way, there will be fewer of them in the future. He’s already set his sights on dismantling the public service unions. The good unionized jobs have all gone to Mexico and the best anyone can hope for is a career in retail. Thank goodness someone thought to raise the minimum wage.

I’m feeling the effects of globalization in my own life. I’m having to compete, as a writer and editor, with people in foreign lands who will do the same work as me for pennies on the dollar. I could always earn a living writing. Not anymore. I’m making less money today working full time than I did working part-time in high school.

Our young people are suffering the most.

Even those with good educations are having trouble getting jobs. Kids coming out of school with general degrees can look forward to working for the rest of their lives as baristas, bartenders and shop clerks. And they’re competing with old people, who have lost their good jobs, for the 5 a.m. produce shift at Walmart.

See what I mean?

In the good old days, Canadians could look forward to making enough money to buy a house, raise their kids, and retire. Now real estate is beyond the reach of most people especially in B.C. where the Japanese are snapping up all the condos.

Fewer people today are middle class — the target market of all the political parties — and the most they can hope for is to eek out a living, find a roommate and have a McDrug Plan that will pay for their chemotherapy.

I’d like one politician talk about that in this election.

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