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Chrétien on Canada

From the Globe and Mail, an article on Canadian Prime Minister Chrétien's criticism of the US:

Prime Minister Jean Chrétien criticized the massive deficits being posted by the "right-wing" Bush administration in the United States yesterday, while boasting of his own government's economic management.

"The Americans will have a deficit of $500-billion [U.S.] this year, and it is a right-wing government," Mr. Chrétien told reporters travelling on the plane with him to Europe. "If we were to equal that, it would be a $75-billion [Canadian] deficit because we're 10 times smaller. Imagine!" ...

He said Canada is now the envy of the world, with a strong economy, political stability, and a diverse and tolerant population. He chided Canadians -- and the media in particular -- for failing to celebrate the country's successes.

The Prime Minister said Canada is the only country among the G8 industrialized nations to have put its public pension system on a sound financial footing.

He also said European leaders are envious of Canada's ability to absorb roughly 200,000 immigrants a year without the kind of political backlash that is roiling their countries. Italy, for example, expects to see its population decline from 60 million people to 40 million in a few decades, he said, but has trouble winning public support for higher immigration levels.

"How can you run a country with social programs when you have a population that is decreasing?" he said.

He added that his "failure" was that he was unable to achieve the target immigration level of 1 per cent of the Canadian population, or more than 300,000 new arrivals a year.

"For them, the question is how to accept a few."

As I noted back in January (edited slightly for clarity):

From Statistics Canada, Canada's population in 2001 was 31.0 million. From the US Census Bureau, the US population in 2001 was 285.3 million. From the Canadian Forces, the defense budgets for the US and Canada in 2001 were USD$310.5 billion and USD$7.3 billion respectively. Doing the math, in 2001, Canada spent USD$235 per capita on defense, while the US spent USD$1,088 per capita.

Had Canada spent at the US rate of USD$1,088 per capita, their total defense budget would have been USD$33.7 billion, or CDN$52.3 billion. Projecting forward into 2002-3, instead of a CDN$8.7 billion surplus, Canada would have run a deficit of CDN$43.6 billion. Had the US spent at the Canadian rate of USD$235 per capita, their total defense budget would have been USD$67.0 billion. Projecting forward into 2002, instead of a USD$159 billion deficit, the US would have run a surplus of USD$84.5 billion.

What I find interesting is that had Canada spent on defense at the same rate on the US, their deficit still would have been only CDN$43.6 billion -- not the CDN$75.0 billion figure implied by their population, which is one-tenth that of the US.

In other words, even if Canadians spent the same amount proportionally on defense as their counterparts in the US, they would still have a budget deficit 40 percent smaller, while maintaining universal health care and other benefits not present in the US.

Is the US too proud to learn from Canada?


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No argument with you here, but I do think we could be charging Canada for providing de facto security for their nation. It would help our deficit ;-)

Our Prime Minister tends to speak in such a manner that no one up here notices with much surprise at his un-diplomatic statements any longer. The 'little guy from Shawinigan' is proud about taking this stance, and more often than not the public rewards him for his policy stance. For example with the recent 'Weapons of Mass Deception' argument the Liberal's decision to keep Canada out of the Iraq situation is being applauded.

However there is significant momentum afoot (supported by the press) regarding the moribund state of the Canadian military. The public wants improvement here and Paul Martin knows it. When Martin steps in as Prime Minister next year there will certainly be more spending allocated to the military. The public will certainly support this move.

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