Brian Lee Crowley

Getting real about China, on NAFTA, national security and trade diversification

I have a bit of a bee in my bonnet these days about China, as any sensible person should. Everyone seems fixated on Donald Trump bullying Canada (and that is a reasonable concern) but the number of people who hold up China as some kind of alternative is truly staggering. If you want real, subtle, long-term bullying in unapologetic pursuit of national interests, you cannot do better than China. Add to that that China is an authoritarian, autocratic and repressive country without even a nodding acquaintance with the rule of law and a hostile relationship with the western alliance, etc., etc., etc., and China gets less appealing every day as a partner for Canada. Here are three recent op-eds in which I develop these various themes:

In the 30 May 2018 edition of the Globe, I took aim at China for its clear threats to Canadians’ national security. The context was Ottawa’s rather unexpected but welcome decision to veto the takeover of Canadian construction giant Aecon by a Chinese firm. As I pointed out, if this means that Ottawa is going to take national security threats from China more seriously (including their to-date insouciance about Huawei’s deep involvement in building Canada’s next generation 5G wireless network) that is very good news indeed and not before time.

Then came the G7 Summit. The G7 seems to me a little adrift these days, an organisation in search of a mission that would unite the disparate interests of Japan, North America and the largest European economies. My suggestion in an 8 July piece in Inside Policy: they should all agree to unite and reinforce their current disparate efforts to confront China’s disgraceful behaviour in the South China Sea that is an affront to the rule of law and freedom of navigation. There is also a video version of this piece.

Finally, Ottawa has been ramping up its focus on “trade diversification” as a kind of defensive card to play in its NAFTA negotiations with Washington. But of all the daft ideas, the one that China can replace or even partially compensate for our trade relationship with the US is surely the daftest. Read my op-ed, co-authored with Sean Speer, in the Globe of 20 July 2018 about why China is no trade saviour for Canada.

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Keeping up with the Joneses in the UK

If you thought that Britain was an ageing doddery has-been barely managing the gentility of its decline, think again. In a stunning proof that how countries manage themselves matters, Britain is on a tear. How this happened is full of lessons for the rest of us. At least that’s what I argued in my Globe column for Economy Lab on February 19th. Britain is leading the western indsutrialised countries in growth, and is set to overtake Germany as the EU’s largest economy by around 2030. That’s if they don’t bugger it up, to use a good old British expression. To learn how Britain did it, and the challenges that still lie before it, check out the column!

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Of unicorns, sasquatches and supply management

At the exact moment where Canada is risking its spot at the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations in a quixotic effort to buttress supply management, the EU, that bastion of neo-liberalism, is abandoning milk quotas to the delight of both consumers and entrepreneurial dairy farmers. In my column for the Globe’s Economy Lab (Aug. 21st edition), I walk readers through the massive changes shaking the milk world globally, and why Canada’s efforts (endorsed by every political party) to “protect” dairy farmers are in fact harming the industry and costing consumers handsomely to boot.

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VIDEO: Ottawa subsidizing risky provincial borrowing

VIDEO: Ottawa subsidizing risky provincial borrowing

 

New MLI video shows that Euro-style debt crises can happen here if status quo continues

Alberta and Ontario lead the parade of Canadian provinces running unsustainable public finances, in part thanks to the market’s belief that Ottawa will never let a province default on its debt. Based upon an exhaustive study by the Macdonald-Laurier Institute – Canada’s premier non-partisan think tank – this video explains the risk all Canadians face: that federal taxpayers will have to pick up the tab for profligate provincial governments. It also explains what we can do to fix the problem!

Click here to watch “Debtbusters: Who’re broke provinces going to call?”

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Brian Lee Crowley