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I pledge allegiance to the GATT and WTO: Discover Canada educates newcomers on free trade

The Discover Canada new immigrant guide from CIC making ripples in the news today for its German-style dog whistle politics — pretending to get tough on female genital mutilation while sending a subsonic message to Canada’s anti-immigrant conservatives — also tries to educate hopeful new citizens about the virtues of free trade. Even if you believe that the World Trade Organization and free trade with the United States are almost entirely responsible for Canada’s prosperity, it’s hard to see how the level of detail in the following passage would help anyone understand news coverage of trade issues, as Rudyard Griffiths of the Dominion Institute (a co-writer of Discover Canada) suggested the document would do on CBC News today.

Postwar Canada enjoyed record prosperity and material progress. The world’s restrictive trading policies in the Depression era were opened up by such treaties as the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), now the World Trade Organization (WTO). In 1951, for the first time, a majority of Canadians were able to afford adequate food, shelter, and clothing. Between 1945 and 1970, as Canada drew closer to the United States and other trading partners, the country enjoyed one of the strongest economies among industrialized nations. Today, Canadians enjoy one of the world’s highest standards of living – maintained by the hard work of Canadians and by trade with other nations, in particular the United States.

Where’s the Welfare State in all of this?

According to Discover Canada, “As social values changed in the postwar economic boom, Canada became a more flexible and open society.” Canada’s boom just happened, without explanation, and before we knew it Canadian society (and its economy) became more flexible and “open”!

Another question: where’s the anti-globalization movement? Oh yeah, at the margins with the terrorists.