Friday, July 22, 2005

The Aussies and us

Babble on.

Australian Prime Minister John Howard's terrific response (ht:Instapundit) to an idiotic question by a dimwitted reporter in London yesterday had Greg Staples thinking about the good folks Down Under. Specifically, Greg questioned the wisdom of allowing Australia to replace Canada as the third leg of the Anglosphere stool.

He commented that by any number of economic measures, Canada should be more important to the UK than Australia. He went on to point out:

...I was struck by how well Australian PM John Howard carried himself and how a bi-lateral meeting between Canada and the UK is pretty much the furthest thing from anyones consciousness. (Babbler's italics)
So by the quick measures I have found Canada should be more important to the United Kingdom than Australia. For political reasons it appears that Canada and the United Kingdom are drifting apart and Australia and the United Kingdom are tightening their relationship.

Canada's influence on international politics is negligible (ht:Inkless) for a country of our size, position, history, and economic clout.

Speaking of economic clout, as Derek Burney pointed out earlier this year, Australia is a natural competitor to Canada, and the similarities between the two nations provide a good opportunity to measure Canadian performance in a number of areas. In fact, a StatsCan paper was written on just that topic:

In the 1990s, Australia’s standard of living increased more rapidly than its Canadian counterpart (2.1% compared to 1.4% in Canada) as a result of higher productivity gains (1.8% compared to 1.3% in Canada) and improved labour utilization performance (0.4% compared to 0.1% in Canada).

Note that we're talking about more than simple GDP per capita, here. StatsCan is talking about a complex formula that blends a number of factors to arrive at a measure for "standard of living."

I won't even mention international athletics. Or military strength (or budget) for that matter.

When folks like me express concern that Canada's place is slipping in the world, that we're not living up to our potential, this is the sort of thing we're talking about. That's why a slogan like "Demand Better" resonates for us.

Successive federal governments over the past few decades (most of them Liberal) have underperformed - not in one specific area, but pretty much across the board - and Canada with them. I have two young children, and I'll be damned if I hand over a country that's worse off, a country of which they can be less proud, than the one I inherited. We need to do better in the years ahead.

Babble off.


At 1:18 p.m., Blogger Alan said...

You silly, silly man. Don't you know where you are? This is Canada, the Greatest Country in the World. Everything is wonderful!

We have international clout with the only constituency that really matters - gay foreigners looking for a drive-thru wedding.


At 2:23 p.m., Blogger Babbling Brooks said...

He lives! Good to hear from you.

And yes, my wife, friends, and employers tell me every day what a silly, silly man I am. No news there.

At 11:29 a.m., Blogger Greg said...

Good on Australia. I like the Aussies. Damian, you know I support the military (I am still shaking my head over the fact that our navy isn't arctic ready), but if the cost of "clout", is fighting in Iraq, then I say let Australia go for it.

You are right, we can do better(the Liberals are adrift and useless). I agree with you completely. But I will never be convinced that doing better means fighting in Iraq (Afghanistan, on the other hand, is another matter) .

At 1:41 p.m., Blogger deaner said...

Greg - wouldn't it be nice, though, if making a material contribution in Iraq were at least a possibility? As it is, Chretien was able to preempt any Iraq involvement just by extending a limited deployment in Af'stan. We don't have real discussions of foreign policy in this country, becasue we know that we are a pimple on a dimple, no matter what we decide.

That's fine for -say- Luxembourg or Monaco, but as a G7 (then G8) nation, we should at least be able to "punch our weight" - instead, we punch well below our weight. No wonder our international concerns are not taken seriously; we are not willing to act on them by funding a military (or even foreign aid infrastucture, if that is your choice for manner of influence) commensurate with our bleating, why should anyone else even listen to them?



At 12:20 a.m., Blogger Pat Patterson said...

If the Canadians do not act for themselves then perhaps their nightmare of American hegemony will come true. The US, or Australia, or China, or Japan, etc., will simply act in place of the Canadians. Not acting when a country still has the physical and moral power to act does not end the problem. Rather it shifts to some country that has the inclination and power to rush into the vaccuum.

At 8:11 p.m., Blogger Paul said...

I think any fair comparison should reveal the brilliance of Canada's international strategy.

Let's see.

Fun? Rideau Canal ice skating. Gold Coast surfing.
Beer? Molson-Coors Canadian. Victoria Bitters.
Sport? CFL. Aussie Rules Football.
Olympics? Montreal. Sydney.
And? Air Canada. Qantas.
And? Paul Martin. John Howard.

Yup. I think any fair comparison would show Canada's brilliance. Unfortunately, it seems that there is no comparison at all.

At 1:05 a.m., Blogger Candace said...

Paul seems to have summed it up nicely. I watched on BBC as Howard ripped the idiot 'reporter' (using the term loosely) a new one; he was brilliant.


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