Coming from a country that may soon choose to be led by either a cognitively challenged second-rate codger or a vengeful lunatic, one would like to look north, to Canada, for some inspiration.
This is an idea many Canadians no doubt find inspiring. A decade ago, The Globe and Mail published an essay that made the case that Canada was a better role model than the U.S. due to its approach of “mutual accommodation” — what the late Quebec premier Robert Bourassa called “one of the world’s rare and privileged countries in terms of peace, justice, liberty and standard of living.”
Canada, as my wife’s late uncle Morris, a product of the Montreal ghetto, always said, was always “a good country” where politics were polite, the poor were taken care of, and immigration accepted as part of the national civil mission. But sadly, from this vantage point, the great north seems to be suffering many of the same maladies, and sometimes worse, than the awful giant to the south.
Perhaps most surprising is how poorly Canada is doing economically. A country rich in resources and people nevertheless has become a perpetual laggard in terms of economic growth. TD Economics recently found that Canada’s economy, once roughly equal to the U.S., has slipped behind not only the U.S., but most other advanced countries. The increasingly unpopular Trudeau may try to blame the public’s sour mood on Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre, but somehow it may have to do more with reality than right-wing fearmongering.
As the Spectator recently reported, over the last ten years, Canada has had the most persistently slow growth of any major economy — the worst in the nation’s history since the Great Depression. Between 2016 and 2022, Philip Cross, a senior fellow at the Fraser Institute, noted in May, “real per capita GDP rose 11.7 percent in the US, but only 2.8 percent in Canada.”
One riposte here is that Canadian growth is more egalitarian, and that remains true. But like the U.S., Canada is also becoming ever more unequal; University of Toronto researchers predict this trend will persist for the rest of the decade. Their report notes that, “In 1980, for example, there were five very low-income neighbourhoods in Toronto. In 2015, the number grew to 88. In the same period, the authors write, the number of highest earners more than doubled.”
Nowhere is the growing class divide more evident than in the cost to purchase or rent a home. Like the U.S., Canada has experienced a huge surge in housing prices. In fact, Vancouver, according to research by demographer Wendell Cox, has the second highest housing costs, adjusted for income, in the English speaking world, while Toronto is about as expensive as San Diego, and twice as costly as American cities on the southern side of border.
Read the rest of this piece at National Post.
Joel Kotkin is the author of The Coming of Neo-Feudalism: A Warning to the Global Middle Class. He is the Roger Hobbs Presidential Fellow in Urban Futures at Chapman University and Executive Director for Urban Reform Institute. Learn more at joelkotkin.com and follow him on Twitter @joelkotkin.