Core Reasons Why Canada Will Almost Always Struggle Economically

Canada has a number of specific problems (i.e., it doesn’t build enough housing) which are very important, but underneath the surface of any issue, are three general core challenges that permeate through everything else and lead to Canada experiencing a number of economic/market-based challenges.

A few things happened in the last month that reminded me how few people fundamentally understand why Canada consistently struggles in the ways that it does.

  • The ultra-low-cost carrier Lynx airline shut down. Many blamed it on poor decision-making, or overly expensive airport fees imposed by the government.
  • Suddenly, every Canadian wireless carrier started providing roughly equivalent $35 20+ gig data plans, a far departure from their previous prices, yet no provider offered any cheap plans with less data — as is the case nearly everywhere else in the world. Most people blamed greed or regulatory capture,
  • A large group of Canadians came together to boycott the Canadian grocery chain, Loblaws, blaming it on corporate greed. 

What largely explains the above, and nearly every other issue facing Canada, is the following:

  1. Canada is a huge country, with a tiny population, where everything is incredibly spread out, and Canadians rarely interact with or visit other parts of the country more than a few hours away. Canada has significant internal trade barriers, which are very harmful. The reason these policies continue to exist is that, given the distance involved and the minimal interactions between Canadian regions, Canadians view each region as being almost akin to its own country, rather than a unified entity. To be clear, the harm is caused by the vast distances and small population, but the internal trade barriers provides insight into the mindset that accompanies this.
  2. Canadians want to have lots of separation from the United States and implement lots of barriers to decrease harmonization between the US and Canadian markets. 
  3. A large number of the most talented Canadians move to/work in/build their projects in the United States, rather than Canada. Given how geographically and culturally similar it is, and how well rewarded elite Americans are and the level of opportunity they receive by virtue of being in the United States, nearly all of these Canadian superstars essentially begin to operate in an American capacity rather than a Canadian one.

This all obvious, yet somehow is excluded from most conversations about the state of affairs in Canada. Sorry.