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Superpower in waiting

National Post

As global economic forces rearrange the international competitive landscape, all nations are struggling to find a way through the turmoil. In the face of what appears to be a grand realignment of power and economic interests, Canada seems less prepared that most nations to meet the challenge — a conclusion reinforced this week by two papers that attempt to reposition Canada in the global scheme of things.

Various forces are at work, few of them automatically beneficial to Canada: The rise of China and India, the world financial crisis, a stagnating U.S. economy, and a continuing global effort to somehow reduce carbon emissions to levels that are guaranteed to wrench growth out of most economies.

What should Canada do? The Canadian Council of Central Planning Executives, otherwise known as the CCCE, yesterday produced Clean Growth 2.0: How Canada can be a Leader in Energy and Environmental Innovation, the second in a series of strategy papers that propose turning Canada into an “environmental superpower” and “an energy and resource powerhouse.”

The captains of Canadian industry and leaders of our free market economy want a “road map that provides clarity and predictability,” with key sectors of the economy — government, industry, stakeholders — all pulling in the same direction set by “smart” policy. Such policy would include a national energy strategy, a nationwide carbon tax, subsidized investment in technology, mass government indoctrination to force lifestyle changes, including programs to “get more people out of their cars and using public transit, car-pooling, cycling and walking.”

To get to superpower status, the CCCE paper calls for a new Canada-U.S. agreement on energy and climate. Canada already has an energy policy with the U.S. — it’s called free trade. But the paper says it is now time to “build on what already exists in the FTA and NAFTA” by forging a new energy agreement that aims to ward off U.S. protectionism and bring Canada into some form of policy harmonization with the United States.

But any new trade deal may require a lot more than the CCCE expects. In some ways, Canada is caught in the headlights of a changing global trade regime. In another new paper this week for The School of Public Policy in Calgary, Wendy Dobson and Diana Kuzmanovic review somewhat different policy options. Updating NAFTA likely means something close to a full renegotiation, and only in the context of the latest U.S. trade focus, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

The Dobson-Kuzmanovic paper suggests Canada is missing the TPP trade boat (see below). At right, former trade negotiator Peter Clark says the situation is even more dire, with Ottawa frozen out of the TPP process by the United States that the CCCE wants to negotiate carbon policy with. Peter Barnes and other members of a Canada-Asia trade council also believe Canada needs to start taking an active role in the TPP talks.

In this context, grand plans to corner the United States into a new energy and climate pact that will turn Canada into a global energy powerhouse seem more fantasy than realistic options.

El contenido de las noticias que se presentan en esta sección es responsabilidad directa de las agencias emisoras de noticias y no necesariamente reflejan la posición del Gobierno de México en este u otros temas relacionados.


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