Labour Views – Think Global, Buy Local

Jack Bourassa
Regional Executive Vice President, PSAC North


A trade war is inevitable. It’s happening. An isolated fortress built across the border. And many Canadians are responding by buying Canadian. Whether we feel it or not, we are all affected by Trump’s aggressive and unfair trade war. He believes that trade wars are good and easy to win. He loves to win, but trade wars are not good for the economy or workers on either side of the boarder.

Trump’s trade war is just as bad for the American economy as our own. Canada is not the only one on Trump’s hit list. Tariffs are imposed on products from China, the European Union, Mexico and others. Sooner or later, Trump’s protectionist camp will themselves face a bleak future as their trade war backfires on them. We live in a global economy and the world will unite… against the right!

I will not be using this space to criticize Trump’s trade policies. However, let’s think global and ask ourselves: what’s in it for us and more specifically, Canadians in the North? I want us to reflect and take actions that have long term local, national and global impact. It doesn’t matter if an individual is in a small community or metropolitan city, everyone is in the same boat. But the good news is: the boat will never sink if we all act collectively. 

Many Canadians, including myself, have already responded to Trump’s trade war.  Like many of you, my simple grocery shopping is now a mission to #BuyCanadian. Moving from one aisle to another, from fruits to delis to paper towels, trying to check every item to make sure that it’s made or produced in Canada before placing it in my shopping cart. From coast to coast to coast, the movement’s message is to fight back and stay strong. 

The collective retaliatory #BuyCanadian initiative is an eyeopener. Individuals mobilized and spread the word. Many are using social media to spread awareness. Lists of “Made in Canada” items have gone viral. Many have cancelled their vacation plans in United States and have decided to spend their money at home— that’s not a bad idea. We live in a beautiful country with provinces and territories that should be on everyone’s bucket list.

A trade war that economists view as bad for the global economy is an excellent opportunity to reiterate our values of caring for one another— caring for national and local workers, manufacturers, farmers and most importantly, our communities and families. Sometimes, the worst of any situation has a silver lining if you’re willing to look for it. 

Let’s think of why it would be good to buy Canadian products. The cause is beyond retaliating against Trump. 

By collectively buying Canadian products, we are all investing in a better national and local economy. We are maintaining and creating good jobs. Those are good jobs for us now and for future generations. Consider the tax base that will be strengthened— more funds for programs and better services that will pay us back like a good karma. 

Buying products made at home also reduces our environmental footprint. Most of the imported foods that end up on our plates travel on average 1500 miles. Cutting the greenhouse gas emissions requires a collective effort. Reducing our dependency on imported products that travel thousands of miles to reach us is one of the many actions we can take that has a huge impact. 

The idea of buying local stems from a “Buy Canadian” movement spurred by unfair tariffs levied against us. We all want to keep good jobs here in Canada, build a strong economy and address environmental issues. Buying local, whenever possible, is our best option to address these issues. The Canadian Food and Inspection Agency recognizes local food as “food produced in the province in which it is sold” or “food sold across provincial borders within 50 km of the originating province or territory. In addition to being environmentally friendly, when you buy local food you know how it’s produced and it’s generally fresher.

We can turn an initiative born as a response to aggressive and unfair trade policies to an ongoing campaign based on caring for one another. We are starting to think globally and acting locally (by buying Canadian and local products). Our collective actions have long term positive impacts at local, national and global levels that will result in a better economy for Canada and cleaner environment for all.  


This column originally appeared in Yellowknifer on July 18, 2018.