Other Canadians know hardships

In reality, there are many examples throughout Canada of communities suffering through plant closures, industry collapses and loss of high paying jobs.

Jonny Harris in his CBC series, “Still Standing”, criss-crosses the country telling those stories of communities and their people coping with unexpected and unwanted losses.

I lived in the East Kootenay region of southeastern B.C. in the 1990s when it was losing many of its long-standing industrial industries.

The zinc-producing Sullivan mine in Kimberley was into final decommissioning and closure.

At the same time, coal mines were closing in the Sparwood area throwing thousands of high-paid workers onto unemployment lines and devastating communities.

With unfair trade practices and tariffs by the United States, British Columbia’s number one industry, forestry, is under constant threat and has suffered a 50 per cent decline in highpaid forestry jobs over the last two decades.

By the mid-1900s, the steel mill and automobile plant were the two pillars upon which Ontario and the rest of Canada’s industrial growth and wealth were based.

Since NAFTA, communities throughout Ontario have faced the economic hardship of losing tens of thousands of high-paid automotive jobs to Mexico.

Experts believe the car manufacturing industry will be gone completely from Canada within a couple of decades.

In addition, tariffs and unfair trade practices by South Korea, China and the United States have cost Ontario thousands of steelworker jobs.

Since 2006, Ontario manufacturing job losses have topped 250,000.

At its peak in the mid-1980s, Canadian fishermen were hauling in 266,000 tonnes of cod each year.

Today, under the moratorium, Newfoundland and Labrador’s fishermen are allowed an annual take of just over 3,600 pounds.

This harsh, but necessary, decision by the federal government to rebuild cod stocks decimated a 500-year-old fishing industry and wiped out 15 per cent of that province’s permanent workforce overnight.

When Alberta first ‘got rich’, Premier Peter Lougheed did not flaunt our wealth but rather shared its benefits by offering low-interest loans to poorer provinces and started saving for the future using the newly-created Heritage Trust Fund.

However, since his tenure, our savings have gone down the toilet and every time there is a collapse in world oil prices and a subsequent downturn in Alberta’s economic fortunes, our premiers don’t look for solutions, but look for others to blame.

The distaste Western Canadians have towards Pierre Trudeau’s national energy program lingers here, but be assured the distaste that other Canadians have from being the target of verbal attacks from our premiers, “let those Eastern bastards freeze in the dark”, lingers there.

Kenney has come out swinging using inflammatory and hurtful words, such as “greedy and ungrateful” to describe hard-working Canadians in other parts of the country rather than doing the hard work of diversifying Alberta’s economic base.

One reason Canada has been a successful federation is when one region struggles economically another region is often strong.

To accuse fellow Canadians of not understanding Alberta’s economic hardships shows a disregard for all those Canadians in other provinces who have or are suffering through economic hard times of their own.

 

B. Schimke

ECA Review

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