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Conscription, colonization, a gold-backed buck: Some Conrad Black remedies for Canada

by Greg Klein | June 3, 2019

Here’s a guy who wants to make this country a “world-important nationality”—in other words, to put Canada on the map. Yes, a country that makes “unassuming” a euphemism for “sub-mediocre” just might have hope after all. But Canadians would have to follow Conrad Black’s plan, Conrad Black says.

Conscription, colonization, a gold-backed buck Some Conrad Black remedies for Canada

Not at all modest in his proposals, the former Canadian who renounced his citizenship outlines them in his most recent book, The Canadian Manifesto. Despite zero likelihood of finding acceptance, the ideas do offer a peculiar interest.

Forced military service is one of them, as is a Canadian colonial empire in the Caribbean. Of interest to goldbugs, however, is Black’s “sensible, radical and imaginative” alternative to the northern peso: “Canada should tie the value of its currency to a combination of the prices of gold, oil, and a consumer shopping basket in equal thirds.”

Sounds interesting, as far as it goes. But that’s as far as it goes. Black provides no additional info.

As for Canada’s resource industries, Black lambastes the “faddish environmental trends” holding them back.

“All that we have that the world needs are natural resources. More than forty per cent of the stock values on the Toronto Stock Exchange are extractive industries that operate in Canada. The banking cartel lives largely off the resources companies, which feed all heavy, and most light industry, and the legal and accounting and consulting professions live off the banks and their principal clients.”

Speaking of the TSX, Black says it suffers from over-regulation. He suggests one province, preferably Alberta, simplify its securities system. Provinces that follow its example “would almost immediately become serious international financial centres, and not just, as Canadian stock exchanges have always been, non-essential eddies of local resource promotion and small-capital start-ups and the odd site of a great international and inter-listed company. Canada could easily surpass Singapore, Hong Kong, and any other centre—except New York and London and perhaps Tokyo and Shanghai—as a world leader in modern securities issuance and trading.”

A capricious and pestilential tumour on the entire Canadian securities industry.—Conrad Black ponders the
Ontario Securities Commission

As for that “sociopathic securities regulator” looming over Toronto, “an added benefit would be the humbling of the Ontario Securities Commission, which periodically tries to shoulder aside the other provinces and become a national regulator, and has become a capricious and pestilential tumour on the entire Canadian securities industry, such, in its stunted condition, as it is.”

Looking at other aspects of the Canadian malaise, Black challenges the Charter of Rights, under which “practically every judge in Canada is now cock-a-hoop imposing his or her own idiosyncratic versions of legislation.

“[….] Pierre Trudeau himself told me, nearly twenty years after the patriation of the Constitution and promulgation of the Charter, that he never intended any such disorderly rout as had already begun to tumble out of the many courts and jurisdictions in his last years.”

Compulsory service, military and civil, augments Black’s plan to tackle unemployment and impress the world. “We need at least 100,000 more people in the armed forces,” he insists.

How on earth would Ottawa sell such an idea? By making it sexy, Black suggests: “The military could also be kitted out in far more attractive uniforms, by Canadian designers, and that would help instil greater pride in military service, which the distinguished military traditions of Canada certainly justify. One need only look at YouTube videos of Italian carabinieri, or crisply professional and stylishly clad contemporary Chinese female soldiers to see how easily the martial career, even if used chiefly for assisting in humanitarian disasters, could be made more attractive.”

A measure that would quickly expand the population would be the absorption of parts of the West Indies.—Conrad Black advocates Canadian colonialism

Of course Black’s “world-important nationality” would need many more people. One tactic of population expansion could be territorial expansion with “the absorption of parts of the West Indies.” As examples he mentions Bahamas, Barbados, Antigua and Bermuda, along with Haiti, “already a significant contributor to such increases as there are in the French-speaking population of Quebec.”

Black examines other topics including health care, culture and education, the latter problem sometimes evident in this document’s editorial standards. The book can be unintentionally entertaining for its curmudgeonly comments as well as its impractical boldness. But, even if it proposes to substitute one wretched dystopia with another, The Canadian Manifesto does offer a serious perspective on a country that’s lost its way, if it ever had one. This could be just the thing to read on a Canada Day trip to the States.

Read Mark Steyn’s comments on Conrad Black’s prosecution.

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