All of the hype around knowledge-based economies and our abundant resources misses the point about globalization. Financial services jobs can just as easily be done in London, Tokyo or Frankfurt as in Toronto. Americans don’t need to buy our oil if they can find ways to shift to natural gas, which they possess in abundance, or reduce energy consumption altogether. That change could come faster than any of us would care to know.
This leaves Canada with two unappealing choices: Fear globalization, protect jobs temporarily, dig in our heels on traditional resources ”“ and isolate Canada as a very small fish in a very big pond. Or embrace globalization and all its terrifying consequences, and allow Canada to be a global leader in new services and industries.
The first choice is unattractive for obvious reasons. But the second choice is unattractive because we don’t know precisely what these new services and industries will be. That’s the challenge of globalization: Go out and create opportunities that didn’t exist before. Build industries that don’t yet have Standard Industrial Classification codes. Train Canadians for new jobs that don’t even have names. Complement our traditional resources with alternative energy systems that the world will beat down our door to buy.