DIY to change the world

October 9, 2018   ·   0 Comments

By Doug Skeates

In many respects society has become geared to convenience, whether in terms of language or action. 

Texting has become the norm replacing conversation.  A recent ad was headed by such an abbreviation for ‘Do it yourself’.   

NIMBY replaces the need for saying ‘Not in my backyard’ when one opposes some proposed development project.  An accident victim, taken to the OR, was determined to be DOA.  It’s almost a new language without taking the effort to explain what one is saying.

Convenience is the order of the day in many aspects of our lives.  It is  easier to order supper from a store than to prepare it in the kitchen.  Eating out is a major answer for busy lives.  One of our most significant approaches to life has been to act as though we were just an extension of our neighbour to the south. 

The nation developed on the basis of home-grown resources and without really noticing that we have moved closer and closer to the ‘great’ U.S. in terms of markets for our manufactured goods and in acquiring investment funds for an ‘imported’ economy.  If there is anything good to be said about the current American administration we are being made aware of the pitfall of putting all our eggs in one basket.  Trump is making our reliance on others abundantly clear.

Canada despite its huge size is a small nation.  Governments to their credit have striven to diversify the country’s markets but never before have we experienced such need for self-reliance and healthy trading relations with other parts of the world.  It is obvious that domestic markets are limited and, because of our northern climate, many products to which we appear to be addicted depend on supplies from abroad.

The first obvious solution is greater self-reliance.  Canada is blessed with land and the capability of producing many food products which can be stored to meet our needs during winter months.  There is no shortage of agricultural space for growing such foods as potatoes a basic element in Canadian diets. 

I remember the days when Dad maintained a cold room for storing a winter’s supply for the family.  Products such as apples, squash  and nuts can be similarly kept during the cold months of the year.  Many products are preserved for later consumption as is done by many families, especially in rural settings.

Summer months are a different matter.  Many farmers sell their produce in farmer’s markets in most communities.  Pick your own fruit is one alternative to importing food which is currently beiing trucked from miles away.  Co-ops are one solution for providing home-grown produce without depending on retail industries.

The other huge direction is diversified foreign trade.  Canada is a natural international bread basket for the world.  It is interesting to note that over 80 % of  exported products such as wheat and beef are produced in the prairie provinces. 

The biggest factor however is in the energy field.  Scandinavian  countries provide an excellent example of the use of bio-energy.  Oslo, Stockholm, and Helsinki, close to the sixtieth parallel far north of most Canadian communities, are valuable markets for waste fuelwood from here in the form of chips and pellets inadequately marketed at home. 

Considerable effort was made in Canada decades ago to promote cogeneration of heat and electricity as used particularly in rural settings across those countries.  With the closure of many Canadian pulp companies greater emphasis is now being placed on the use of forest resources for local electricity supply as well as for export to satisfy the goal of European countries to eliminate the use of fossil fuels for energy

Much as I am opposed to the building of oil pipelines to facilitate greater use of fossil fuels in the short run, and in the light of American trade policies, maybe it is necessary to encourage export of such resources to countries of the Pacific rim to help balance Canada’s financial woes.

Trade barriers imposed by the American administration have provided a wake-up call for Canada.  It is essential that greater emphasis be placed on our position in the world as well as self-reliance at home. 

Be to the world what you want the world to be.

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