Macdonald-Laurier Institute (MLI) Fellow Jason Clemens was at the University of Windsor yesterday to talk about The Canadian Century: Moving Out of America's Shadow. Canadian Century will be the first book published by MLI, and is co-authored by Jason, Brian Lee Crowley and Niels Veldhuis. The book is published by Key Porter, one of Canada's largest publishing houses, and will be available in stores in late May 2010.
The Windsor Star's Chris Thompson was there, too, and wrote this news story about the event:
If Sir Wilfrid could see us now.
Canada's seventh prime minister, Sir Wilfrid Laurier, who served from 1896 until 1911, was known for proclaiming the 20th century as Canada's.
You may also know him as the man on the $5 bill.
But according to a new book co-authored by University of Windsor business alumnus Jason Clemens, Laurier's prediction was just 100 years ahead of its time.
"Canada sits on the edge of an opportunity, and that opportunity is the Canadian century, which was Wilfrid Laurier's famous, one of his famous sayings," Clemens said Thursday at a lecture at the Odette School of Business.
"My authors and I think he was right, he was just 100 years (early). If we do the things that we've already done as a nation, as a province, I believe the 21st century will be Canada's century."
Clemens said Canada's strong economic fundamentals, among the leaders of the G8 in most categories, and its ability to keep debts in check have it poised to bolster its stature compared to the debt-burdened U.S.
Clemens has co-authored The Canadian Century: Moving out of America's Shadow, along with Brian Lee Crowley and Niels Veldhuis. The book hits the shelves in May.
Clemens said Laurier was a classical liberal who believed in small government and low taxes, and Canada followed his core beliefs for about 50 years.
"He was not only interested in policy, he was interested in an aspiration for this country," said Clemens.
"He was interested in lifting this country up into a leadership position, not only in North America but in the world. Laurier had great plans and great hopes for our country at the turn of the century. For a very long time, even right into the 1950s, we were essentially following Laurier's principles, in terms of government, in terms of policy, in terms of the role of government in our country. Then we go off course in the mid-1960s."
Canada's government was consuming 15 per cent of the economy in 1965, but by 1992 that had grown to 24 per cent.
"As we deviated and started spending more, what we didn't do is raise taxes," said Clemens.
"We went from a fairly stable period to a huge mountain of red ink."
Clemens said the return to Laurier's values -- and the shrinking of the red ink mountain -- began with Brian Mulroney and continued under Jean Chretien.
"Canada is a fundamentally more conservative country now when it comes to debts and deficits," said Clemens.
"I think part of that is the struggle that we as a country, and as a province, went through to balance our books. We felt the pain of restructuring and restraint by the government and understanding what running up debts and what that means to citizens and what that means to the country."
Clemens said Canada's position contrasts sharply with that of the U.S., which will be limited in what it can do for a decade or more because of crippling debts.