Yesterday, with great fanfare, Stephen Harper signed a free trade deal with South Korea. He claims that the deal signals prosperity for Canada. There will be winners. But, Tom Walkom writes, they won't include the auto industry:
Some Canadian high-tech firms, including those making aerospace equipment, hope to profit from the deal announced Monday in Seoul. And perhaps some will.
But the real Canadian winners will be beef and pork farmers, who will be able to sell their wares in South Korea duty-free. Meat products now account for roughly 4 per cent of Canadian exports to South Korea.
The biggest Canadian export to South Korea is coal. That’s unlikely to change.
Meanwhile, the losers will be auto workers displaced by cheaper, duty-free Korean cars. A study commissioned by Ottawa estimates that up to 1,150 Ontario jobs will be lost as a result of both this deal and an earlier one signed between Washington and Seoul. (That 2012 pact is expected to result in Korean imports displacing some autos manufactured in Canada for sale south of the border.)
So our environmental reputation will be reinforced by this deal. And one area of the country will benefit. According to The Canadian Press,
When it comes to job creation in Canada, there's Alberta and then there's everybody else.
The latest employment data for February showed the oil-rich western province created an impressive 18,800 jobs, largely in construction, mining and oil and gas, while in the rest of the country overall employment fell.
As the Statistics Canada report issued Friday showed, Alberta is responsible for almost all the new net jobs generated in the past year — 82,300 of the 94,700 countrywide, or 87 per cent — as the province saw employment rise an impressive 3.8 per cent.
By comparison, provinces not called Alberta only gained about 12,000 which, for the purposes of the agency's survey, constitutes a rounding error.
You can bet that data will find its way into the Quebec election. We are sleepwalking into a constitutional crisis -- brought to you by a man who claims to be an economist.
The problem is that Harper's economics is straight out of the 19th century. Walkom writes:
Ottawa is retreating to the economy of a much earlier time, when Canada concentrated on selling raw materials abroad and then imported whatever manufactured goods were needed.
The prime minister enjoys living in the 19th century. His goal is to make the rest of us share his enjoyment.