By Jack Biddell,
George Crowell invited me to Windsor to speak. It was a great opportunity. I met a wonderful group in that community and in Western Ontario where we have a lot of support largely due to the efforts of George. And I must add to that, the efforts of Vic Knight and his group.
How do we get our message across to the only people who can make it happen, the prospective voters of Canada? They’re the only people that the people who are benefitting from our present system are afraid of. I haven’t given up hope that we can succeed in this.
The tack I’m going to be taking personally in the next few months is that we must somehow reclaim our Canadian sovereignty. I deliberately use that term because “sovereignty” has been a word that we’ve all got sick and tired of hearing about and we all relate it to the terrible prospect that our whole country may tear apart.
Sovereignty is one of our greatest assets. It’s an asset that’s owned by every country in the world. Every country has certain inherent rights. They’re its sovereign rights. Canada has them, too, but Canada has been deliberately giving them away.
The Value of Soverign Rights Varies
Now, if we can speak about sovereignty for just a minute. While every country has sovereign rights, it isn’t of the same value to every country. The countries to which it is by far the most valuable are those countries – and there are not very many of them – that have a wonderful natural resource base and a very skilled group of citizens. Together with its inherent sovereignty, that can provide for the citizens of such a country the highest standard of living that you can imagine.
What country do we know that has enjoyed that perhaps more than any other over a lifetime of most of us? That’s the one we have the great privilege of living in. But we’re giving away as fast as we can our Canada’s sovereign rights. And the principal sovereign rights – there are just three or four of them – one is to create your own money or control the creation of it. One is to control the range of your domestic interest rates. Another is to set your own trade and tariff policy. And the other is to protect your natural resource base for the benefit of your young and future citizens. Those are our most valuable sovereign rights and you all know what’s happened since the end of the ’70s. We’ve been progressively finding a way to get rid of them.
We gave away the right to create our money to the private banks to a far greater degree than we’d ever done before. We can always take it back if we can get the people to sense what’s happening. We gave away the right to handle our own tariff and trade policy in the Free Trade Agreement and the NAFTA. We gave away the right to set our own exchange rate policy in those same agreements. And when we dismantled the National Energy Policy and FIRA [Federal Investment Review Agency], we gave away the right to protect our own resources for our future children.
We’ve done it consistently, all in the interest of short-term profit. Now, short-term profits for whom? We all say, “For the big corporations. For the banks.” But really I think you have to look a little bit further, a little bit behind that.
We are engaged in giving it away, everyone of us who is an investor and who succumbs to the blandishments of the shills for the mutual fund industry, everyone who has entrusted his retirement savings to his pension fund trustees because they are the ones that are cheering. They’re making a name for themselves every year. “Look at the return I’m getting on your money for you.”
So much of that damned return is not money. It’s fictitious! It’s the tremendous increase in the so-called market value of the stocks on the stock exchange. Dividends haven’t gone up by any appreciable degree. Jordan said this morning that the priceearnings ratio is going out of sight. That’s because the stock market’s so-called values have just gone up tremendously and we’re all sitting back revelling in that.
Of course we’re entitled and we must save for our retirement, do the best we can. But we’d better recognize that it’s not the CEOs or just the CEOs of the big corporations or the banks; it’s our agents, the guys wo are investing our pension-fund money and the guys in the mutual funds to whom we’re giving our savings. They are the ones that are driving our economy these days. They are the ones that are insisting that we continue to give away the inherent sovereign rights of our country and the future of our children and our grandchildren.
Somehow or other we have to appreciate that we’d better start putting pressure on the people that are causing these problems. They’re not the politicians; they’re just followers. They’re not the CEOs of the big companies, who, if they don’t do what their biggest investors – the mutual funds and the pension funds – want them to do, get their stock price up; get short-term profits; get rid of people in order to show a much better earning rate so you can get your stock price up… If they don’t do it, those CEOs are going to be out on their ear. They know that. So we’d better recognize that a large part of the problem is with us.
By Following the Lead of Other Countries, We Sacrificed Our Rights
It’s understandable, in large measure because one of the things we did, of course, to give away our sovereign rights was to jump on the bandwagon with UK and Germany and the US and push interest rates through the roof back in the 1980s. We who are all trying to save for our retirement thought that was wonderful. We were getting just a fantastic return! Government bonds were being issued at 18% in Canada. We thought that was wonderful. We are spoiled rotten!
We’ve come along a few years later and we can’t get that sort of return. Now we’re scrambling for it and putting our money in mutual funds. The same guys who are running those are insisting on the short-term profits and, to get those, we are enduring all the cutbacks which governments are now insisting on pursuing.
Those cutbacks are unnecessary. We have the ability in our sovereign rights to so conduct our monetary policy that those cutbacks are unnecessary. Where better could we spend our money than on educating our children and looking after the health of our population? But these are the immediate, easy things for the politicians to go after.
Of course it starts at the top, at the federal government. They cut back the provinces. What can the provinces do? They can’t see people starving in the streets, so they cut back the grants to municipalities, and so on. It’s all going the wrong way! We’re giving away our sovereign rights.
What can we do about it? We’re all familiar with the program the COMER group has worked out. There are three very important things that we have to do. We have to change monetary policy; provide our governments with an opportunity to do what we demand of them, get back to reducing their deficits. The only way they can www.comer.org May 2021 Economic Reform | 11 possibly do that – they can do it a little bit and in the short-term through firing people and selling off public property – but the only way it will ever work is to reduce the cost of our biggest single expenditure, the interest we’re paying on the debt. We’ve got to change monetary policy to do that. We know we did it before, back in 1939 and we’ve got to persuade the people that it can be done again.
Stop Borrowing from Non-residents
The other thing that we have to do is – and this is extremely important – we have to phase out our borrowing from nonresidents because, so long as we continue to need loans from non-residents, there is no way we can retain our sovereign right of controlling our own domestic interest rates. This is an absolutely essential move; it’s part of the monetary policy that we must change. Another thing that we must do is to try and minimize, eradicate to the extent that we possibly can, the wild speculation against our own sovereign currency. This was one of the major reasons that we developed the idea of the Financial Transaction Tax. That was not developed to try and help the Liberal Party of Canada or the Liberal Government of Canada live up to the promise in the last election.
It was [suggested] because it was an absolutely essential thing to do, because it has two effects. It will reduce the ability of those speculators that take a run at our currency at our expense any time they want to. The second very important thing it will do is to reduce the cost of living, the actual cost of living of all of our citizens. And if we can do the latter, then that will contribute very greatly to enable us to bring in a proposal that will enable us to share the jobs, provide what we really need to solve our problem, worthwhile jobs for our citizens who need them. It all fits together. I don’t think it’s too hard a sell.
Do we have a hope? I think we do. I think that, rather than trying to start a new political party right away or trying to persuade one of the “out” that they should adopt this because maybe it will get them on the “in,” we should still attempt to take a run at the government.
Jack Biddell was the retired Chairman of Clarkson Gordon, now Ernst & Young.
In the foreword to Jack’s book, A Self-Reliant Future for Canada, John Hotson cites Jack’s experience as a leading accountant and management consultant for many years, and supports Jack’s contention.
COVID-19 has presented us with an outstanding opportunity to “take a run at the government”!