The Canadian Century

by MaxPower

Welcome to the Canadian Century. Firmly in 2002 and with the first anniversary of the satirical news-magazine R4nt, I am convinced we are entering the 21st ‘Canadian’ century. Much has changed over the last 100 years, and I am not going to make prophesies on what could happen over the next. Rather, I am to use some dodgy historical facts, with some economics and a fair amount of jingoism to present my r4nt that Canada will become the country to beat in the 21st century.

Many civilizations over the years have had ‘centuries’ of their own, starting with the Mesopotamians (24th Century B.C.), Babylonians (19th Century B.C.), Egyptians (27th Century B.C. & 14th Century B.C.), Greek (6th – 4th Centuries BC), Roman (4th Century B.C. to 3rd Century AD), Chinese (6th Century), Mayan (7th Century) French/English (15th to 19th Centuries), American (20th Century). Note: This is a sample, don’t come whining to me if I missed you favourite civilization. All centuries rounded, give or take a couple hundred years.

The lesson learned – all great civilizations will have their downfall. To expect the United States downfall is not necessarily to criticize their style of living, or cultural preferences as people are wont to do. A civilization may easily slip from the top rank and gradually slide down into oblivion. Case in point – the English Empire. They had a great catch phrase and everything: ‘The sun never sets on the English Empire’ great propaganda that. However, increasing nationalism on the part of countries such as Canada, Australia, and India led to the slow dismantling of the Empire, leaving at the close of the 20th Century, the British with a husk of their former glory, namely Bermuda and Gibraltar (which the Spanish want back)

Everything in the UK is remembering the way things were, all buildings are built in ‘classical’ styles, even houses are still made to look as if they were constructed in the 1800’s. Now they are a ‘middle power’ mainly because of their small and ageing nuclear missile force, and steadily declining Navy. Where will the UK be in 100 years? Behind Canada that’s for sure. The same can be said for most European countries with the possible exception of Germany. Why? Well countries like Italy and France actually have shrinking populations, with stagnant economies and a comfortable standard of living. There is no reason to be on the cutting edge, they have already been there.

In contrast to European stagnancy, Canada, while being an industrialized, developed country has a huge amount of land to utilize, with natural resources the likes of which can not be matched. In an era of natural resource shortages Canada will have the world by the proverbial balls. First in amount of forest cover, first in amount of fresh water, second in actual land size, first in diversity and amount of natural resources. The only thing that keeps Canada from being a first tier power now is the lack of people; 31 million at last count. This contrasts to the 50 million Italians, UK and France with 58 million each, German at 80 million, United States at 300 million and China at 1.2 billion. This leads to the inescapable conclusion – Canada must grow. Canada with its unique geography will not have to expand its borders through conquest to gain lebensraum, rather the land is already there. A consistent growth rate of 1.5% per year will allow for first tier status within 50 to 100 years. This is exceedingly conservative as the compound annual growth rate of population growth in Canada since 1851 to 2001 is 1.6% – from 2.4 million to 31 million.

In that time, Canada has grown from a British colony with no status in the world, to a member of the G7 consistently ranked the number one place to live on the planet. Canada is 3rd in GDP per capita, and gets a large percentage of its yearly economic growth from industries that barely existed 20 years ago, such as electronics, petrochemicals, communications and biotechnology. Now while Canada only needs to continue its steady growth to become more and more powerful over the next 50 – 100 years, many other competing countries need to arrest their decline.

United States – the last remaining superpower, they will not relinquish their title casually. However, as can already be seen by the growing demands that their economic needs be met (ie. oil and natural gas imports) that they grew too big too fast. While the US is still growing rapidly, expect it to continue at a declining rate as it gradually grows too big to be supplied safely and efficiently and encounters a diminishing marginal rate of return (Business Analogy: Microsoft). The gradual slowing of the US economy is needed by Canada to claim its position of superiority, as currently the two economies are too closely tied. I am not proclaiming Canada will overshadow the US in 100 years, but rather will be in a position of more or less equality.

United Kingdom – already a shadow of its former self, gains most of its international prestige from harkening back to the 19th century for tourism and money management purposes. They had their shot, made the best of it and now are resigned to go the way of the Egyptian and Roman empires. Annual growth rate of less than 0.5% ensures that they will not top 70 million people within the next 10 years. Ask any Englishman, about their greatest person, you’ll get the response – Shakespeare. My response: what have you done for me lately. Granted people like Hawkings are leaders in their field, but even the British educational system is slowing down. And don’t get me started with their transit system. Mark my words, 75 years it’ll be Britain who?

France – same case as Britain, however, they lost their colonies earlier. Nuclear weapons keep them in the second tier like the Brits, but they have even less time than does the UK. France’s claim to fame? Tourism – most visited tourist country in the world. Partially because its cheap to travel there from Europe, partially because they have the ultimate tourist cliché – the Eiffel Tower – which you pretty much have to see. France is already mired with their socialist leaning governments, unionized work force and snooty waiters. I give them 30 years.

Italy – I think 500 years of war, bloodshed, and incredible accomplishments through the Renaissance have left the Italians with a longing for food and not much else. Take World War II as the biggest hint, if you can’t get your soldiers riled up for a world war its time to pack your bags. Now don’t get me wrong, I love Italy, but in 20 years it’ll no longer be a power worth mentioning. They have a declining population growth rate, which will leave them in the dust fairly quickly.

Germany – Economic powerhouse of Europe, 80 million people, suffered a couple of set backs through the World Wars. Kind of a mixed case however, they never seem to be on top of their game. But German efficiency and quality are second to none, and I see them being the dominant force in Europe pulling the declining powers with them. Germany should hold their position for the next 100 years.

Japan – A complete basketcase now, and almost impossible to determine where they will be in 100 years. Grew as an imperialistic power in the early 20th century, lost it all, but was built up by the US to combat communism, established itself at the forefront of the electronic revolution and has seemingly lost that position to North American and European companies. That coupled with a negative growth rate, massively ageing population, and poor economic performance over the past 15 years, it’s a toss up. If 100 years is at the top of a business cycle, Japan is mid-tier however, if it’s at the bottom of the cycle it will be the same as it is now.

China – ‘No matter how great your victory, or how stunning your defeat, there is approximately 1 billion Chinese who couldn’t care less’ – This is partially reflective of their size, but also their inward looking focus. Ageing population, one child per family could skew the demographics so in 25 years you have tons of old people drawing state pensions etc, with a young person base of one half of what you need. Toss-up, could be a huge Asian dragon occupying the power vacuum left by Japan or harmless firework – which goes up high and explodes.

India – too big, growing too fast to gain any economic strength, it will be utilized for cheap skilled labour (ie. Computer programmers) over the next 100 years.

Brazil – could be the economic powerhouse of South America, which isn’t exactly saying much. They first have to harness inflation, spiralling debt, high taxes and corruption, declining currency exchange rates and decreasing investor confidence.

Australia – relegated to be Europe and North America’s sun vacation destination. Economic growth and investment will be focused on tourism, thus they will be at the mercy of the growth rates of the larger countries. Couple more generations of surfers and waiters coming up.

Russia – yeah, right. All they have is their nukes.

Its ripe for the picking, remember where you read it. Welcome to the Canadian Century.

  • The Canadian Century
  • by MaxPower
  • Published on March 1st, 2002

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