U.S. and Canada Need Two-Way Super Partnership

In the spring I wrote that my favorite reality television series was the U.S. Presidential Primary Season, but who knew that Donald Trump would play the starring role?

His candidacy has exceeded audience expectations. This is simply because the Comb Over is a master of the sound byte and, more importantly, is a one-man demolition squad when it comes to political correctness or debunking stances concerning sensitive matters of state.

Trump is refreshing in contrast to the beige, nuanced and platitudinous candidates who have dominated election cycles in the United States for decades, and still do in Canada and Europe.

Trump is the black and white candidate who is bluntly for or against things, and who raises taboo topics and prescriptions. It's not just entertaining but it's also informative, from a policy viewpoint, and will goad the others into more concrete policy platforms. Like Scott Walker's crazy, but frightening, idea of building a wall to divide Canada from the United States.

This was a riff off Trump's single concrete suggestion that Washington build a wall to keep illegals out from Mexico and make Mexico pay its cost.

While the Canadian notion has no resonance in the United States, and is downright silly, the fact is that nativism is alive and well south of the border, and Canada could one day be sideswiped in other ways that are very damaging unless we manage the relationship well. So whoever's in Ottawa must be more American savvy than ever before and yet the opposition parties don't bring up the U.S. relationship at all.

Canada's newest political entries pander to the status quo, and merely offer the electorate a roster of competing shopping lists: Mulcaire with his extravagant universal day care and Trudeau with his infrastructure spending spree.

This is housekeeping not nation-building. Canada faces existential challenges that should be addressed. In the spirit of politically-incorrect Donald, here a few major ones, not necessarily in order of importance:

1. What does Canada do for a living after most of the auto jobs have gone to Kentucky and Mexico or Silicon Valley in 15 years or so?

2. What does Canada do for a living after fossil fuels are replaced by solar and other renewables after 2030?

3. Should Canada become economically joined with the United States, given its technological dominance and wealth, so it's not left behind?

4. How does Canada mitigate the ongoing Canadian brain drain and close its lengthening productivity and innovation gaps?

(In the 20th century, the entire 1900 population of Canada immigrated to the United States and now roughly the population of Quebec City immigrates permanently every decade. Currently, roughly three million more have become U.S. citizens, are living there on visas, are illegally there or are snowbirds. Roughly, 400,000 work daily in Manhattan, 250,000 in Hollywood and 300,000 in Silicon Valley.)

5. Why can't Canada capitalize on its superior healthcare system and allow the creation of a massive industry of healthcare tourism serving Americans and the world?

6. Why can't Canada create an Australian-style system of fast-track verification involving First Nations claims to stop the country's resource and pipeline quagmire, and to finance First Nations development?

7. Why can't Canada scrap its costly farm supply management systems (poultry and dairy) and create world-class, competitive agribusinesses like New Zealand has done instead of coddling and subsidizing these farms?

8. Why doesn't Canada simply admit the Arctic is not properly monitored, protected or developed; and create a US-Canada navy in the face of Russia's aggressiveness?

9. Why can't Canada scrap the Senate or replace it (if it must) with a legitimate, elected body?

10. Why can't Canada merge the four Atlantic provinces into one super province? These are just a few questions hanging over the country that are ignored because they are politically incorrect. Instead, the country drifts, thanks to politicians whose "vision" is restricted to taxing and spending initiatives.

This post was originally published on Sept. 12 in National Post.