Mel Hurtig died last week. He was an economic nationalist who watched as Lester Pearson sacked his hero, Walter Gordon. And he watched yet again as Brian Mulroney and Stephen Harper integrated Canada into the American Empire. But, if you look around the world, economic nationalism is making a comeback. Tom Walkom writes:
Globalization is under attack in the U.S. and Europe. Americans fret about the proposed Trans Pacific Partnership deal and the existing North American Free Trade Agreement. They have come to understand that such trade and investment pacts don’t always work for them.
The entire European Union project is being questioned in France, Italy and the Netherlands. The single European currency is rightly viewed by many of the countries that use it as a Trojan horse.The Council of Canadians, which Hurtig helped found, didn’t have much luck in Canada when it argued against the proposed Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement with the EU.But it did have some success in Europe where its agitation helped produce a backlash that may well sink CETA.
The signs are everywhere. But those signs have been ignored by Canadian businesses:
Today, there is little support for economic nationalism among Canadian business. Conversely, there is little desire among the general population to protect Canadian firms that ultimately don’t want protection.Still, this does not mean the urge for autonomy has disappeared completely from the country. If economic nationalism means economic democracy then the spirit of Mel Hurtig arguably lives on among those who want a fairer shake for the middle and working classes.It also lives on among those who don’t want the laws of the land overturned by foreign business in the name of free trade.
It may be one of history's ironies that Mel Hurtig's ideas will be more powerful after his death than they were when he was alive.