Stephen Mold: The economic lessons we can learn from Canada
Our beleaguered Prime Minister has spent much time of late trotting around the globe, offering his unique brand of optimism to all those countries he believes to be in a worse economic state than his own. Unabashed by stinging criticism from, among others, the French President and a German Finance Minister, Gordon Brown still believes that he alone has the answers to the world’s problems.
He continues to insist that the economic environment in the UK is a global problem that nobody could have foreseen. So has every country had to rescue its financial sector and refinance its banks? Surely that would be the case if such a claim were accurate?
Actually, no. There is a major economic power out there which has yet to face a single bank failure - Canada.
With its geographical proximity and close economic ties, you could easily assume that Canada would suffer more from the US economic meltdown than most. So I'm forced to ask, how is it that Canada has managed to stave off the crisis we face here in Britain? Now I know that Gordon isn't prone to taking constructive advice from members of the Conservative Party, or from anybody else for that matter, but perhaps this is the question that he himself should now be asking.
Clearly he wouldn't be the first if he did. Perhaps this was the reason for the newly-elected American President, Barack Obama, making the first Presidential visit of his administration to Canada and not the UK. He clearly wanted to see what lessons he could learn from his northerly neighbours.
The contrast in Canada's record with that of the UK is quite startling. To begin with, the European bank capitalisation ratio is a hefty 60 to 1, whilst that of Canadian banks is a much healthier 18 to 1: common sense regulation is a wonderful thing.
The Canadian economics lesson doesn't stop here. During the global period of prosperity, Canada had twelve years of budget surpluses. As the rest of the world acted like students who had just received their first real pay cheque, Canada foresaw the problems which lay ahead and prepared.
The Canadian Government has restructured the national pension system, placing it on a firm fiscal footing, unlike Gordon's raid on our own to the tune of over £100 billion.
Canada has a points-based immigration system, allowing sufficient numbers into the country to meet its needs for growth, but not so many as to overload local services.
Canada has proven that it is possible to invest in healthcare and education whilst at the same time being fiscally prudent. What a shame it is that for Britain, in years to come this will be known as the "lost decade".
During that decade, Gordon Brown has ransacked our pensions, mortgaged our children's futures, failed to regulate banks and wasted trillions - all after being gifted a golden opportunity during a period of prosperity, to ensure economic security and stability for our country for generations to come.
Perhaps somebody should have pointed out this Canadian efficiency to Gordon Brown's Government before the decision was made not to award the Intercity Train contract to Bombardier, in Derby, a company with strong Canadian connections. The Canadians, it would appear, know how to run things.
You've got to admire Canada, especially for showing how so very different things can be. And as world leaders continue to discuss their various plans for saving the global economy, we should all look to one man. Perhaps not as well known as President Obama and perhaps not as globally savvy as President Sarkozy, the Canadian Prime Minister, Stephen Harper is the only G20 leader with reason to be confident.