Those of us who don't regularly wear melons on our heads or particularly care about Canadian football are waiting impatiently for the results of today's federal byelections so that we can spin them in ways that reinforce our personal political preferences.
For example, if you're a conservative of any stripe, and Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Conservatives lose all four byelections, you will explain tonight that this proves Canadians really want more conservative policies, and, anyway, byelections always go against strong, stable, majority governments.
Privately, of course, you'll be looking for a better way to attack Justin Trudeau than making light of his smoking habits -- too bad he doesn't have a French passeport like Thomas Mulcair!
All this said, it seems to me that no matter what your political persuasion is -- assuming it's with one of the Big Three Canadian political parties, anyway -- there's a strong possibility you’ll find this evening's results disheartening.
Then again, maybe not. So, while we wait, let's turn our minds to something completely different: Western Canada's second most serious economic problem, and what to do about it.
Western Canada's first most pressing economic problem, of course, as any citizen of Rider Nation West, which until yesterday was known as Alberta, understands better than those of you who live in less fortunate parts of the country, is finding a way for our grimy but ethical Athabasca bitumen past all those uncooperative Americans, Quebeckers and, worst of all, British Columbians so that it will fetch a higher price and make us all incomparably wealthy, or at least wealthy enough to reduce our Emergency Room lineups by a few hours …
Where was I? Oh yeah, like, Problem No. 2.
The second biggest economic problem in Western Canada is what happens when the Excited States of America, one by one, start to relax their attitudes and their laws about British Columbia's No. 1 export, and I'm not talking about boards made out of Douglas fir or spruce.
This has already started, in fact, in Washington State and Colorado. As a result, just the other day, the Globe and Mail published this foreboding headline: "Demand, price for B.C. bud dropping in wake of U.S. legislation."
Well, I thought, crap! It’s that wretched Law of Supply & Demand again. There goes the B.C. real estate market. And if you don't think I’m right, consider what's been keeping pretty much all economic activity afloat in the our westernmost province through these last couple of decades of neoliberal mismanagement.
"The price of B.C. bud has dropped since two U.S. states voted in favour of marijuana legalization, according to pot advocates, who say British Columbia will continue to feel the pinch once Washington State retailers are formally up and running," reported the Globe's Sunny Dhillon last week, and I love the way the Globe didn't feel the need to explain to its B.C. readers that "Bud" isn't just a diminutive for a big guy you don’t particularly like.
In addition to liberal attitudes and laws, easier access to medical marijuana south of the Medicine Line has pushed prices down, the Globe reported.
In other words, like I said, it's that pesky supply and demand thing. The price of the stuff has already crashed from $2,000 per pound -- why do they price it in pounds, I wonder? -- to about half that, and the plunge isn’t over yet. Trust me, B.C. house prices won't be far behind.
Worse, from the Globe's account we can see that no government is stepping up to the plate to help: "B.C. used to be a world leader in cannabis technology but has fallen by the wayside because the government hasn't embraced the industry," explained the reporter, apparently without smirking.
So don't look for any help from our various stripes of conservative government out here in the west, including the one in B.C. that calls itself Liberal, because that would mean they have to admit just how big a business cannabis has become in British Columbia -- bigger than the forest industry, according to some estimates, and at least $6 billion in revenues each year.
That means it's generating more revenue than all but maybe one of the industries B.C. spends taxpayers' dollars to promote -- and they’re not collecting a dime of tax from it!
Well, it won't be worth much even in sales tax at the hydroponics store if something isn't done soon, and if the government won't help, what can you do?
Well, I was sitting in a seminar yesterday morning about the environment, when I had this thought: "Why not rebrand B.C. bud as 'Ethical Marijuana'?"
I mean, seriously, people, it worked for bitumen -- or, as we know it out here in Alberta -- "Ethical Oil." Sort of, anyway.
Think about it. B.C.'s Ethical Cannabis doesn't come from a disorderly and Tea Party dominated place like Colorado or Washington, and it sure as heck isn't Conflict Marijuana from a crazy venue like Mexico or Columbia!
Unlike Conflict Pot from some of the most politically and environmentally reckless regimes in the world -- I'm cribbing just a bit here -- "Ethical Cannabis" is the "fair trade" choice in recreational drugs!
Yo! And Canada upholds human rights and has high environmental standards, right? It ensures economic justice and promotes peace … sort of. And, in parts of British Columbia, the nearest armed Mountie can be more than an hour away from wherever you are at any given time!
Plus, with no market south of the U.S. border, B.C. "Ethical Bud" is 100 per cent Canadian!
Look, I'm not saying it's perfect. But when you've got a product you thought was a sure thing, and all of a sudden nobody wants it, a little re-framing can't hurt. Right?
And if this doesn't work, I'm calling Rob Ford's office. Surely he buys Ethical Crack?
NOTE: No illegal products were consumed in the production of this post, which also appears on David Climnenhaga's blog, Alberta Diary.
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