The Truth about Canada: Some Important, Some Astonishing, and Some Truly Appalling Things All Canadians Should Know About Our Country Hardcover – Apr 29 2008
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About the Author
Mel Hurtig is the legendary Edmonton bookseller, publisher, and creator of The Canadian Encyclopedia who became a political activist, then an author in 1991 with his huge bestseller The Betrayal of Canada. He is also the author of Pay the Rent or Feed the Kids, The Vanishing Country, and Rushing to Armageddon. He is a member of the Order of Canada, and has received many honorary degrees and honours. He lives in Vancouver.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
This book is about how Canada has changed, and changed very much for the worse, under the governments of Brian Mulroney, Jean Chrétien, Paul Martin, and Stephen Harper. It is also about how, as a result of the profound changes that have occurred, we are no longer the country we think we are, and no longer the people we think we are.
In chapter after chapter, you will discover just how very different we’ve become from our long-time self-image and from what has been our international image. You’ll see how far we’ve departed from the principles and the ideas that helped Canada become one of the most admired countries in the world and the country the overwhelming majority of Canadians have so cherished for so long.
An important feature of The Truth About Canada is the fascinating international comparisons it contains that show how we stack up against other countries around the world, but principally against the other OECD developed countries. It’s no exaggeration to say that you will find a great many of these comparisons disappointing, shocking, and even appalling.
Another main theme in the pages that follow is the dismal failure of our powerful corporate leaders to use their gigantic, record-breaking profits and reduced taxes to adequately invest in our country and to conduct reasonable levels of research and development that would help make Canada more innovative, more productive, and more competitive so we can raise our overall standard of living. You will find many of the facts that follow relating to big business in Canada both disturbing and dismaying.
A further theme is the unparalleled sellout of our country in a manner no other developed country would ever dream of allowing. While this has been taking place at an accelerating rate, the purposeful dissemination in the print media of false information about rapidly growing foreign ownership and control of Canada goes a long way towards explaining why our myopic politicians have failed to take action on this and other related problems that are very quickly robbing us of our ability to plan and manage our own future.
The chapter on the Free Trade Agreement is subtitled “The Most Colossal Con Job in Canadian History.” When you read it, I hope you will ask yourself why you have never read any of this information in our newspapers or magazines, or have never seen anything remotely similar on television. God knows, you’ve been inundated with an abundance of right-wing, continentalist propaganda to the contrary. The chapter on the media in Canada should help explain why this important information has never before been available to you.
When you read the economic chapters in this book, on foreign ownership, trade, investment, productivity, competitiveness, and taxation, I hope you will be aware of the fact that exactly the same people who have left us in these weakened positions have for some time been very secretly planning more of the same in private, high-level meetings designed to integrate Canada further into the United States.
Big business, in the form of the Business Council on National Issues and its well-financed successor, the Canadian Council of Chief Executives (the very same people who helped put Canada, as you will see, into two terrible so-called “trade” agreements), are now covertly planning “deep integration” with the United States, a process that will rob us of our ability to maintain our independence, protect our sovereignty, and preserve the important values so many of us cherish.
I hope you will be angry after reading The Truth About Canada, very angry. Angry at greedy, hypocritical, intentionally misleading corporate executives, and angry at the remarkably inept politicians who have allowed a small and wealthy plutocracy to sell out our country and our destiny for their own selfish motives.
The Truth About Canada is the result of many long days, months, and years of research. It certainly will be regarded as my most controversial book, and will bring immediate cries of protest from the usual Neanderthals at the Fraser Institute, the C.D. Howe Institute, the CCCE, the increasingly continentalist Conference Board of Canada, and, of course, the house organ of all of them, the National Post.
One editor asked me if I was not apprehensive about the strong criticism such a tough book will inevitably bring. The answer is simple. You cannot ever expect to accomplish anything important without bringing criticism from the entrenched forces this book describes, criticizes, and blames for what has gone wrong in our country.
I have been very fortunate in having some of the best minds in the country available to me for consultation as I wrote The Truth About Canada. You will find their names on the acknowledgements page. Many of the most important pages of original research in this book are the result of their help, for which I am very grateful.
Whether it’s our pathetically low number of doctors, our high comparative levels of both adult and child poverty, our truly awful record of educational funding, our shameful levels of foreign aid and peacekeeping, our abysmal voter turnout comparisons, our totally inadequate research and patent performances, our high infant and under-five mortality rates, the broad deterioration in our social programs, our increasing gaps in distribution of income and wealth in Canada, our treatment of our aboriginal peoples, the rapid decline of our manufacturing sectors, our serious post-secondary education problems, our continuing and very dangerous decentralization, our coming confrontation with the United States over water, our mind-bogglingly stupid NAFTA agreements regarding oil, natural gas, and water — in any or all of these topics, and in many more, you will frequently encounter vitally important and newly documented information that will make you cringe. Whether it’s our pathetically low number of doctors, our high comparative levels of both adult and child poverty, our truly awful record of educational funding, our shameful levels of foreign aid and peacekeeping, our abysmal voter turnout comparisons, our totally inadequate research and patent performances, our high infant and under-five mortality rates, the broad deterioration in our social programs, our increasing gaps in distribution of income and wealth in Canada, our treatment of our aboriginal peoples, the rapid decline of our manufacturing sectors, our serious post-secondary education problems, our continuing and very dangerous decentralization, our coming confrontation with the United States over water, our mind-bogglingly stupid NAFTA agreements regarding oil, natural gas, and water — in any or all of these topics, and in many more, you will frequently encounter vitally important and newly documented information that will make you cringe.
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Top Customer Reviews
Another reviewer (Chris Horlacher), who appears to have put the book down before getting half way through the first chapter, has misrepresented Mel's argument on healthcare. Mel is arguing that Canada has high expenditure on private healthcare, and that this is pulling down the efficiency of our healthcare system. This point is further supported by the unarguable fact that countries with greater public health-care spending and very little private health-care spending, end up spending far less overall due to the fact that well rounded funding reduces inefficiencies.
Hurtig's arguments boil down to (in no particular order):
1. Canada is quickly becoming the 51st American state, economically and culturally
2. Canada's once comprehensive social services are decaying daily
3. Canada is no longer a peacekeeping country
4. Canada is no longer a primary aid donor to developing countries
It's hard to argue against any of Hurtig's arguments, especially with the insane amount of OECD statistics he cites. And if you thought Hurtig's polemic is focused just on Harper and Co., you'll be surprised (or not) to know he reserves his most critical judgments against the Liberals.
The major issue I have with an otherwise fine text is that Hurtig provides little if any of the necessary background, context or significance of what he is saying and why he is saying it. Hurtig takes for granted that his reader actually agrees with everything that he will argue, before you read the book. Books are supposed to be written the other way around, to convince us WHY we should care. Of which, unfortunately, Hurtig fails to do other than to say "this is what Canada was built on and look how it is changing".
For example, in the first chapter he lambastes the Canadian health care system for not being able to keep up with other health care systems in the OECD nations (Mel cites OECD statistics extensively throughout the book). He's very good at describing where Canada falls short and even correctly shows that it is not due to any lack of funding because Canada spends far more per capita than other OECD nations who rank higher than us on health care. Unfortunately, in the next part of the chapter he simply states that under no circumstances should Canada adopt what he incorrectly calls 'two-tier' health care. His emotional appeal to class warfare belies the fact the Mel really has no idea why Canada's health care system is the way it is and his only solution seems to be that he wants to throw more money in to it. But he already proved that the problem is not due to a lack of funding. Mel's superficial analysis quickly becomes apparent when we realize that the top ranked OECD nations he so praises are employing the exact kinds of systems that Mel calls 'two-tier' and says that we must avoid at all costs. Mel repeats the same errors throughout the book.
Overall this book is quite good at telling us what's wrong with Canada and where the country is falling behind.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
“Ultimately this book is about social justice, the quality of life, and about democracy” reads a preface. Read morePublished 17 months ago by David Huntley
Hurtig makes some very emotive hypotheses about a range of Canadian social issues and then provides statistics, international and Canadian, to prove his point over the inadequacies... Read morePublished on July 29 2010 by E. David Walker