Pop quiz

Today, we test your knowledge of government subsidization of industry (AIMS, Frasier and CTF employees ineligible to take this test). Only one answer is correct. The question is: What is Canada’s most subsidized industry (by governments)?

A. Aerospace/transportation equipment (Bombardier, Bell Helicopter, etc.)
B. Automobile manufacturing (GM, Ford, Toyota, etc.)
C. The fishery
D. Agriculture

If you answered D, give yourself a pat on the back. Yesterday, the Federal government announced another billion in support for the industry – on top of the billions (plural) already given in the past two/three years. Now, don’t get me wrong, the other sectors have been subsidized in a significant way. Consider the billion for the auto sector this year and the hundreds of millions for aerospace/transportation equipment in Quebec. But agriculture takes first prize as, by far, the most subsidized industry in Canada.

We are given a rationalization for this, of course. Farmers can’t control the weather. They can’t control world grain prices. They can’t control international trade barriers. We owe in to them.

I guess that New Brunswick furniture manufacturers do control the U.S. currency, imput costs, trade barriers.

Obviously, you see the absurd nature of this arguement. No industry controls those external factors. Each are affected by things beyond their control. It’s just that farmers, for some reason, are a great political target for support.

I sometimes wonder why. If we imported our milk from low cost producing nations, it would be half the cost it is today (at the same quality). Yet, our public health people say that kids don’t get enough milk to drink because the price is too high. That high price is set and supported by the very government (another department) saying kids don’t drink milk enough.

I also wonder why three of the four top subsidized industries don’t have much presence in New Brunswick. I wonder why we feel the need to use federal dollars to subsidize an industry that is primarily based in Alberta – the richest province/state in North America. Wouldn’t those billions be better spent trying to support and stimulate economic development in the poor areas of Canada such as Atlantic Canada, the Gaspe and Northern Ontario?

No, I guess the billions in EI is our reward.