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Dollar Daze

by Stephen Lautens

August 21, 1998

In the last month or so our dollar has drooped lower than a pensioner without viagra.

In fact, the only Canadian currency that's kept its value is Canadian Tire money.

Lucky for me, I've got a drawer full. I just never have it with me when I go to the store.

I'd hate to think it's my substantial stash of Canadian Tire money that's causing the international money markets to go nuts.

Personally, I think the monetary crisis is the result of the lack of respect the Canadian dollar gets abroad. What do you expect when the basic unit of our currency is known around the world as the "loonie"?

At least the Americans had the sense to nickname their money after ex-presidents.

You don't suppose the loonie really refers to one of our ex-Prime Ministers?

In the meantime, the government is trying to stay positive and put a good spin on it. In fact, they've been saying there are some real benefits to a 65-cent Canadian dollar.

First of all, they say it will encourage Canadians to spend their vacation dollars here at home.

That's fine in the summer. This can be a great country in the six weeks between blackfly season and the first 30-inch snowfall.

But what about winter?

For example, can I interest you in a February vacation package to Regina?

How about the exotic sights of people in downtown Winnipeg huddled together at Portage and Main to keep from freezing to death?

Or you can go to the Canadian deep south - Windsor, Ontario. There you can gamble away your 65-cent loonies bathed in the warm glow of their gently humming fluorescent lights.

If you really hit it big at the tables, you could even win enough cash for a quick dash across the American border to Detroit. And if you don't fill up on gas you might have enough to buy the Grand Slam breakfast at Denny's.

On the other hand, they tell us a cheap Canadian dollar makes us a great tourist destination for Americans.

Great. We could become the next Mexico.

Soon we'll have roadside stands selling straw beavers and necklaces made from toonies.

I picture ragamuffin Canadian kids chasing the rich Americanos down the street in the hope of being thrown a greenback or two: "Hey Meester, you like to buy hot pictures of Art Hanger?"

Or even: "My seester, she in French immersion, if you know what I mean."

And we're told a low dollar is good for exports. The problem is, what do we export anymore?

We're out of cod and salmon. The oil, gas and minerals business is in a slump. And you can't cut down a tree without being sued or having someone camp out in it singing "We will not be moved".

Our number one national product seems to be badmouthing our own country, and no one seems to want us to export that.

It's starting to look like all we can do is ride out the dollar crisis. And take some satisfaction in knowing every dollar we pay bills with is only really worth 65 cents.

On second thought, maybe all it takes is a positive, catchy slogan to turn things around.

How about: "What this country needs is a good 70-cent dollar"?


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