In Canada, the British Columbia government in order to increase “food security” is handing out $200,000,000 to farmers in the province. Food insecurity, which means crazy high food prices, comes to us courtesy of the sequestration of the vast amounts of oil and gas in the province and the ever increasing carbon tax, which (like a VAT in Europe), as you probably know, is levied at every single step in food production. Add the hand-over-fist borrowing in which the government has indulged for the last 20 years, and you have created your own mini-disaster.
Ever since multinational environmental non-governmental organizations (ENGOs) took over public opinion in the province, our economy has been wrenched from resource extraction to tourism. Tourism is, supposedly, low-impact. The fact that it pays $15 an hour instead of $50 an hour and contributes very much less to the public purse than forestry, mining, farming, ranching, oil and gas, means we have had borrow to pay for health care and schooling. This madness spiked during Covid, and, as in every ‘post-industrial’ state, has contributed to making food very, very much more expensive, despite the fact that British Columbia where I live, is anything but a food desert. We could feed all of Canada and throw in Washington State.
Inflation comes from a real place, it has a source, it is not mysterious and arcane. Regionally, it comes from “green” government decisions. I pay almost 70 percent more for food now than I did five years ago. Of course one cannot knowwith any confidence how much the real increase is. The Canadian government was caught last week hiding food pricestatistics and well they might. The Liberal government leads with its “compassion,” blandishing the weak and foolish, hiding the fact that in this vast freezing country they are trying to make it even colder by starving and freezing the lower 50 percent of the population.
Even the Wasp hegemony that ran this country pre-Pierre Elliot Trudeau knew not to try that. But not this crew! It doesn’t touch them. They don’t see and wouldn’t care if they did, about the single mother working in a truck stop on the Trans-Canada Highway, who steals food for her kids because all her money is going towards keeping them warm.
One was struck by Sheila Malcomson, who so compassionately announced this massive giveaway. Every country and region has several Sheilas, who are blithely ignorant of the rules of economics, and who have been promoted because ‘equity.’ They are filled with a sense of power and righteousness. Sheila used to ‘govern’ our mini-region and was relentless in refusing land use in the region to landowners. For more than a decade, she layered regulation upon regulation upon regulation, so that even building a chicken coop is a vertiginously expensive exercise. Essentially, her job was the sequestration of land, despite the fact that British Columbia is only 6 percent developed.
The region in which I live used to grow all the fruit for the province, now, well good luck with that buddy. Last year under the U.N. 2050 Plan, local government tried to ban farming and even horticulture. That was defeated so hard that the planner who introduced it was fired and the plan scrubbed from the website. Inevitably it will come again in the hopes that citizens or subjects, as we in Canada properly are, have gone back to sleep. U.N. 2050, an advance on 2030, locks down every living organism, and all the other elements that make up life, assigns those elements to multinationals, advised by ENGOs, which can “best decide” how to use them.
If the only tool you have is a hammer, it’s tempting to treat everything as if it were a nail. It is only the most arcane and numerate think tanks who bang on and on about over-regulation and how destructive it is. Regulation is so complex that most people would rather do anything than think about it, much less deconstruct it.
But in this case, the impending banking failures, the terrifying shuddering of our financial structure comes down to this one deadly dull thing: over the past twenty years, under the gleaming surface of digital innovation and exciting global change, brick upon brick of “green” regulation—the templates sourced out of the U.N.—have been placed on every resource, every activity. Trust me, try to start a business here, and all of a sudden you are in a world of hurt that won’t stop until you quit. There is nothing more discouraging to a young person starting out. Safer, easier, to become a bureaucrat. Only multi-nationals have the legal heft to do anything, which is, of course, the point.
In any case, we are borrowing $200 million at 5 percent interest, in order to solve a “problem” that could be solved by letting growers grow and energy producers produce.
When I first moved back to B.C., a nominally conservative government had taken over after ten years of socialist mayhem, and I interviewed Kevin Falcon on his plans. Kevin had gone round every small city and town in the massive province (we are almost 1.5 times the size of Texas) and found this one thing. Over-regulation. Once in power he cut one-third of the regulations, and every new one had to be accompanied by cutting two old ones. Within months, months, the province boomed. It was astonishing. It was like the curtain pulled back across the proscenium arch and a blinding sun broke through. For an entire decade, there was hope and prosperity. Solve regulatory tangle and it will come again. For everyone, everywhere.
Elizabeth Nickson is a Senior Fellow at the Frontier Centre for Public Policy. Originally appeared here.