Opinion by Helge Nome
Imagine the following scenario: You are the Government of Canada. The unthinkable has happened: A massive earthquake off the west coast of British Columbia. The destructive power of a tsunami has been unleashed up and down along the west coast of North America causing unimaginable devastation to coastal communities, including Vancouver, where an estimated one million people have perished.
The city, situated on the alluvial lowland of the mighty Fraser River, has literally been wiped off the map. As have other coastal cities and communities in Washington State, Oregon and California.
Your point in time is about one month after the calamity happened and the provincial Government of British Columbia has ceased to function. The Government of Alberta declared a state of emergency shortly after the earthquake and is currently trying to oversee the massive influx of refugees from British Columbia and place them in community halls, schools, arenas and any facilities that can be commandeered.
The Americans have not been able to provide any help, being swamped by their own problems.
Leading up to the catastrophe, the nation has been mired in the worst financial depression on record for a period of several years. In a desperate effort to balance budgets, provincial and federal politicians have slashed spending to the point where activity in the economy has slowed down to a trickle. No money or credit anywhere.
Then this calamity happened and the time has come to pay the bills for the emergency response and reconstruction to follow.
As a smart government and before rushing to meet up with the nearest banker, you ask yourself the following question: “What’s the best way of making money available to pay for all this? Being the National Government and all, do I really have to go, hat in hand to someone, somewhere, and ask that person to transfer a bunch of numbers from his computer to my computer, and then have to pay him back with interest afterwards?”
“Oh, I know! I’ll just go to the Bank of Canada and ask for the dough in return for some IOUs. And because the Bank of Canada belongs to me, I don’t really have to pay it back! (except shuffle a few figures around in our respective computers to make it look good)”
Voila! It’s done and there is plenty of money to go around to pay for the relief effort and reconstruction.
As if by magic, the depression that has been hanging over the land lifts: Everybody is busy going about their business again.
Now, please ask yourself this question:
Was it really necessary for a catastrophe to happen for Canada to lift herself out of the depression?