• Why I fear Trump...and why you should too

    Note... the opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the SCA.

    February 1, 2018


    Why I fear Trump...and why you should too

    The Presidency of Donald Trump should be a source of fear for all of us in Saskatchewan but maybe not for the reasons you might think.

    The Trump administration is profoundly unconventional and his election and governing style are symptoms of deep divisions in American society. And, while the spectacle of his Presidency is bizarre, I am much more worried about Trump’s potential to succeed in one of his areas of greatest focus: awakening the slumbering giant that is the American economy. My fear is that his success will be our failure – and it will be our own fault.

    In his recent State of the Union address, President Trump outlined a multi-step plan to unleash American entrepreneurship. The plan included continued tax and regulatory reductions, quickening the regulatory approval process, massive infrastructure investment, the creation of vocational colleges, and investments in skills development training for the American workforce. It is an impressive and ambitious vision. Precisely what the American economy needs. All I could think about was how nice it would be if our governments in Canada had a similar focused agenda.

    True, there is significant space between Trump’s speech and the implementation of his vision. And given the gridlock that dominates the American political landscape, there is no certainty about whether his vision will be implemented. However, the possibility that it might should worry those of us in the business community in Canada, especially in Saskatchewan and Alberta.

    While the federal government in the United States seems eager to remove roadblocks to economic development, the opposite seems true in Canada. The Trudeau government seems paralyzed when it comes to pursuing economic development strategies, particularly with respect to the resource sector. Of course, in Canada, it’s not just the federal government that is causing problems – it’s also rogue provincial governments. The most recent example being the government of British Columbia’s decision to restrict the transportation of bitumen – which effectively threatens the viability of the Trans Mountain pipeline and other such projects. Ridiculous, unacceptable, short-sighted, unpatriotic, and perhaps even traitorous are all accurate descriptors of this bizarre decision.

    One environmental group in BC, applauding the decision of the BC government, was quoted as saying: “They could build their pipeline, but...they won’t be able to turn the tap on.” Well, thanks for that.
    Can you imagine this kind of nonsense being acceptable in Trump’s America?

    While the US government is embarking on an aggressive and comprehensive federal program to unleash their economy, empower entrepreneurs, and get Americans working, it seems like Canada’s various levels of government are not just stuck in neutral but actively trying to find ways to drive our economy off the cliff.

    Enough is enough.

    If Trump and the Republicans can follow through on their plan, their economy will take off, and here in Canada we won’t be in a position to take advantage of that. More frighteningly, we won’t be in a position to be competitive.

    Canada’s economic and geo-political position has always been particularly vulnerable to US economic and political fluctuations. We have thrived in part by being nimble enough to adapt to changing situations south of the border, while effectively specializing in economic niches – particularly resource extraction and development.

    If our governments are paralyzed by fear – held in place by the tyranny of small-minded special interest groups – we lose our nimbleness. If we erect so many barriers to the extraction and transportation of resources that it becomes too cost prohibitive to invest in Canada, we lose our specialization. In short, we take away the things that enable our success, and set ourselves up for failure.

    I never thought I’d catch myself thinking – wow, the US might be lucky to have President Trump after all – and I’m not saying I’m feeling that way yet. However, if he can follow through on his plan, it will be good for America. More worryingly, if we can’t get our act together here in Canada, it will be bad for us. We owe it to each other not to let that happen.

    Mark Cooper, MBA, PMP

    President and CEO
    Saskatchewan Construction Association