It turns out that because Canada, Ukraine, and Russia produce a number of the same products, Vladimir Putin’s efforts to destroy the liberal democratic order that has kept us safe for close to 80 years could actually benefit quite a few Canadian producers.
Farmers (wheat), miners, and people in the fertilizer business (potash and phosphates) are among those set to profit the most, along with members of the forestry and energy sectors.
The losers could include restaurants, food producers, grocery stores and, of course, individual Canadians who should expect to see increases to the cost of living continue to accelerate.
The article got me thinking about the difference between supporting a cause, and sacrificing for it.
In Canadians’ recent experience with international conflict, we’ve been good at the former, but rarely called upon to do the latter.
Consider Afghanistan: For the first time in our history, Liberal and Conservative governments in Ottawa cut personal and corporate taxes while members of the Canadian Armed Forces were losing their lives in combat overseas.
Put crassly, while the CAF (and their families) went to war, the rest of Canada went shopping.
Sure, most of us supported the troops and their families, but it sure didn’t cost us much.
If the Ukrainians can continue to hold off Putin and his thugs, and the international sanctions regime against Russia remains in place indefinitely, Canadians will likely be asked to do more than just support Ukraine; most of us will have to make sacrifices.
Environmentalists will have to hold their noses while Western Europe burns coal to compensate for a lack of access to Russian oil and natural gas.
Fiscal conservatives might have to come to grips with tax increases to pay for enhancements to our armed forces, our cyber defences, and our domestic security operations to defend the national interest in a significantly more dangerous world.
New parents might have to deal with a delay in the achievement of $10-a-day childcare as Ottawa reprioritizes spending on national and international security.
Businesses with plans in place to welcome new immigrant workers might have to wait so that Ottawa can offer those immigration opportunities to Ukrainian refugees.
New Canadians could face delays in their ability to sponsor family members to move here for the same reason.
(Responsible) provincial leaders whose fiscal balance sheets are benefiting from the death and destruction of liberal democracy in Eastern Europe might have to recalculate their budgets to enable the successful integration an influx of unanticipated refugees.
All of us will almost certainly have to deal with higher prices at the pump, a bigger number on our grocery bills, and new costs to improve our individual and collective cyber hygiene to defend against the Russian threat.
No one should expect this to be easy.
The national willingness to make sacrifices for the greater good at the beginning of the current pandemic was inspirational, but the last few months in particular have seen too many Canadians privilege their own “freedoms” over the idea of collective safety and security.
In that context, it seems to me that if there ever was a time for our political leaders to level with us about what might lay ahead, now would be it.
The onus is on the federal government to make the first move. But Canadians will only believe a prime minister with negative approval ratings if members of the opposition back him up.
For a sense of the societal transformation that could be necessary here in Canada, take a look at what's happening in Germany.
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