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Dollars & Sense

by Stephen Lautens

June 25, 1999

You can tell it's been a slow news week. All the big stories have played themselves out.

The cabinet shuffle all those political writers "in the know" kept talking about isn't going to happen now for a couple of months. The APEC Inquiry has dropped from sight. No one's getting bombed anymore in Yugoslavia, and the appointment of a new Supreme Court Justice barely registers on the Snooze-O-Meter.

So I guess I can't blame the media for making a big deal out of a ridiculous rumour.

Apparently, someone in Ottawa overheard someone else talking to the next door neighbour of their second cousin's hairdresser. What they think they might have heard was that at their next meeting the cabinet is going to discuss the idea of an economic union with the United States.

Thank God, said all the journalists from sea to shining sea. Something we can get in a lather about, just as everyone was starting to take it easy.

The analysts, pundits, and pollsters were just about ready to pack up and head to the cottage for the next two months. The summer is their lean season, when ordinary Canadians are more interested in what's in the cooler and on the barbeque than what's on TV.

But say that "highly placed sources" are plotting to adopt the American dollar, and every real Canadian with maple syrup in his or her veins will put down the tongs and two-four and join the debate.

Besides, it's really the only time anyone will listen to an economics professor.

Forget for the moment the fact that the United States probably has zero interest in an economic union with Canada. We're like Grandma's attic. They know it's up there, but don't know what we keep in it. Like Al Capone said: "Canada? I don't even know what street it's on."

The only way the US would be interested in us would be if Bill Gates bought the Great White North and resold it as Canada.com. Of course, if he did that, the blackflies wouldn't be bugs anymore ­ they'd be features.

But far be it for me to not make the most out of an unsubstantiated rumour. All this talk got me thinking about the advantages of an economic union with the US, such as:

  • Faster hockey games, since we'd only have to play one anthem.
  • Save money on only one capital.
  • We finally get an elected Senate, no matter how useless even the elected ones turn out to be.
  • Opportunity to participate in race riots and associated looting.
  • Money saved by the Canadian Mint by not having to use coloured inks to print money.
  • Cheap guns for the kids.
  • After being sold to Disney, the Mounties will be ours again.
  • Quebec will finally get to see what being an oppressed minority is really like.
  • Quality health care, as long as you qualify for a second mortgage.
  • A higher crime rate means job creation since we'll need more law enforcement officers and prison guards.
  • We'll get back Mike Myers, William Shatner, Martin Short, Alex Trebeck and Shania Twain.

And of course, I wouldn't mind being paid in Yankee greenbacks, unless of course if the prices are in US dollars too.


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