Conrad Black’s recent article in the National Post, titled “Canada is on the Verge of Losing its Status as a Prosperous, Successful Country” (June 15, 2024), provides a sobering analysis of Canada’s economic trajectory. In his speech to the Investments Industry Association of Canada, Black highlights a concerning forecast by the OECD, predicting that Canada will be the poorest performing advanced economy over the next 35 years if current policies persist. He points to stagnating income growth, an unfavorable balance of investment flows, and an oversized public sector as critical factors undermining Canada’s prosperity. Additionally, Black critiques the federal government’s mismanagement of the oil and gas industry and its misplaced climate policies, which he argues have compromised Canada’s economic potential.

In the context of the Alberta Prosperity Project (APP), these issues resonate deeply, underscoring the rationale behind Alberta’s pursuit of greater autonomy and a redefined relationship with the federal government. The APP aims to empower Albertans to reclaim control over their economic and political future, addressing the very concerns that Black outlines in his critique of the current federal trajectory.

An Alberta Prosperity Project perspective

Conrad Black’s article highlights several critical economic challenges facing Canada, which are particularly relevant to Alberta due to its unique position within the country. Here are the key points from the article summarized from an Alberta perspective:

  1. Economic Decline:
    • Canada is predicted by the OECD to be the poorest performing advanced economy over the next 35 years if current policies continue.
    • Under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Canada’s per capita income growth has been significantly lower than that of the United States.
  2. Investment Deficit:
    • Outflows of capital from Canada have outpaced incoming investments by nearly $300 billion, negatively affecting economic growth and job creation.
  3. Public Sector Growth:
    • Public sector jobs have grown much faster than private sector jobs, with public employees being paid significantly more on average. This trend contributes to economic inefficiency and an imbalance in labor market dynamics.
  4. Regulatory Overreach:
    • Excessive regulation, particularly by bodies like the Ontario Securities Commission (OSC), is stifling economic growth. The article criticizes the OSC for overstepping its mandate by focusing on environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors rather than its core purpose of fostering fair and efficient capital markets.
  5. Resource Management and Energy Policy:
    • Canada’s focus on climate concerns and the subsequent war on the oil and gas industry, especially in Alberta, has compromised the country’s ability to capitalize on its natural resources.
    • Importing oil to eastern Canada, instead of using Alberta’s resources, is seen as a strategic failure that increases energy costs and undercuts national energy security.
  6. Environmental Policy Critique:
    • Black argues that the left-wing environmental agenda, which has gained prominence post-Cold War, is detrimental to Canada’s economic interests. He views the climate crisis narrative as an unsubstantiated attack on capitalism.
  7. Call for Policy Change:
    • The article calls for a reduction in unnecessary regulations to promote economic growth and attract investments. Black suggests that if the OSC and similar bodies do not reform, provinces like Alberta could offer more favorable regulatory environments to attract businesses and investments.
  8. Potential for Provincial Autonomy:
    • Alberta, with its vast natural resources and economic potential, could lead by example in implementing more sensible regulatory practices. This could encourage economic growth and challenge the dominance of overly restrictive federal and provincial bodies like the OSC.

In conclusion, Conrad Black’s article underscores the need for significant policy shifts to ensure Canada’s economic prosperity, highlighting issues particularly pertinent to Alberta, such as the mismanagement of natural resources, regulatory overreach, and the need for economic autonomy. Alberta is uniquely positioned to spearhead these changes, potentially benefiting from a more favorable regulatory environment and a renewed focus on its resource strengths.

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