I always get nervous when I scan the business reports and read a headline that boasts, ”Toronto’s economy No.1 in Canada.”
The reason for my anxiety is simple. In strolling the streets of downtown Victoria, talking to merchants and Monday readers alike, it’s clear that while we all wish/pray/hope the economy is on the upswing, the reality doesn’t bear it out.
Those lucky enough to have a few extra dollars in their pockets are hesitant to part with it just in case things start sliding backwards again, while the rest of us are still juggling the increased debtload that an economic drought tends to dump on the working poor (formerly known as Canada’s middle-class).
But when Toronto starts bragging (in this case, it was a CIBC Canadian Metropolitan Economic Activity Index report that picked the Big Smoke’s multi-channel economic engine as the secret behind its top ranking), everybody needs to duck because the Bank of Canada bigwigs have a tendency to forget that the country continues beyond the hazy horizon of the Ontario border.
Shower them with enough praise that their economic plan is working to turn things around in their home province, and our mighty money managers will conclude that the rest of Canada must be doing OK, too. And if they believe their plan is working, they’ll do what comes naturally and screw it up by increasing interest rates.
Unfortunately, the screams of frustration and pain from average Canadians will be drowned out in back slaps and high-fives from domestic banks and foreign investors who believe that the only thing better than profit is more profit.
As the bad boy of Canadian money matters, Dragons’ Den’s Kevin O’Leary, likes to say: “Money has no soul.”
But with that said, I must admit to being impressed with Bank of Canada governor Mark Carney. While under constant pressure to increase interest rates, he’s been cool-headed enough to acknowledge the strong “headwinds” that are keeping our economy at a virtual standstill.
At this precarious moment in time, an impasse is positive news. So many other countries are looking up to us and wishing thay had been able to withstand the hurricane forces that have pushed them down the slope into near bankruptcy.
So if Toronto wants to brag, it should do so quietly — very quietly. M