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  • Writer's pictureKeith Fraser

Introducing the Canadian Century: The Premise and the Promise

In the 20th Century, the United States rose to become the dominant military, economic, political and cultural force on Earth. Its military strength remained unmatched. Its free enterprise system produced incredible innovation along with massive wealth and provided the model for countless countries the world over. Its democratic ideals spawned an almost religious following. The United States was known the world over as the place to go to achieve what was simply known as the “American Dream.” As a result, the 20th Century has been widely and appropriately referred to as the American Century.

In less than a generation, however, America’s global influence has diminished significantly. The world has seen the emergence of a new global economy, a new global spirit, and new global powers. Gone are the days when the nations of the world, including even the U.S. itself, accepted the dominance of the United States. Instead, the world of this century is anticipating and expecting new leading powers to emerge.

The Contenders

As a potential 21st Century superpower, the United States certainly cannot be ignored. It will continue to have a large, educated and wealthy population. It will maintain its status as possessing the largest armed forces in the world. Yet, what may have worked last century for the U.S. will not necessarily work now. This new century has exposed severe weaknesses in the U.S. model. For example, the United States has learned that military might alone is of limited effectiveness against those that would do the U.S. and its allies harm. And in this global age, the U.S. has also learned that it cannot deploy its military in a unilateral fashion without serious regard to its standing within the global community.

Also, just ten years ago, most of the world believed that America’s well developed system of unabashed capitalism and free markets was, while arguably not perfect, probably better than any alternative system. The new century has witnessed what blind adherence to such an unregulated, free market system can bring. The worldwide economic, banking and credit crisis was wholly created by and within the United States. While the world is still in the throes of this crisis, one lesson has been learned thus far, namely, there are better alternatives to the American system of free markets. It turns out that America’s vaunted version of the capitalist ideal, an ideal held out to the world as the very essence of America itself, is not a 21st century ideal.

The new century has seen the emergence of a new, global economy that is not centered on the United States. Nations that were once heavily dependent on the U.S. for economic growth have emerged as self-sustaining economic powerhouses. These potential superpowers include the young upstarts, China and India. These countries’ strengths lie primarily with the fact that, together, they account for more than one-third of the world’s population. Thanks to technological innovation, healthcare advances, and incredible economic growth in each of these countries, a large portion of these countries’ huge populations are now educated, middle class consumers. China and India are the poster children for the global economy. This is reason enough to consider both of them as potential leading world superpowers.

Russia is another contender. It has swiftly risen from the ashes of the Soviet Union and is the largest country on earth. It is rich in desirable natural resources and brimming with youthful, even reckless, ambition. Never a nation to submit to any other, Russia appears determined to re-build on its legacy and fashion itself anew as a leading world superpower.

Bringing a 21st Century twist to geo-politics, the new order that is the European Union has proven to be a formidable challenger to U.S. economic clout. Significantly, its 28-nation common currency, the Euro, threatens to replace the U.S. Dollar as the world’s reserve currency. While not without its growing pains, the European Union has thus far been enough of a success to provide the model for other such multi-lateral, economic unions under consideration throughout the world. Importantly, from a leading superpower standpoint, its social, governmental and economic policies are infused with a global perspective and provide the leading counterpoint to those global policies originating from the United States.

The result of all of this has been a substantial shift in global perspective. In ten short years, the notion that the United States is the “world’s sole remaining superpower,” has all but disappeared. Instead, these new pretenders to the throne have emerged. Each of these potential superpowers is keenly aware of this change in global perspective and each has its own, colorable claim to the title as the 21st Century’s leading superpower. Quite simply, world superpower status is up for grabs.

The Axis of Inevitability

Incredibly, as this unprecedented, geo-political revolution is underway, a perfect storm of global crises has also begun to churn. These interconnected threats include climate change, rapidly diminishing energy resources, an increasingly unsustainable world population, disappearing arable land, and vanishing fresh water supplies. Together, these crises form an Axis of Inevitability and present a formidable and looming threat, if not to mankind’s sustainability, to the national security of every nation.

In this new century, all nations will be forced to react to this new Axis threat with profound changes and a commitment that will likely alter the very core of each nation’s economic, political, and social fabric. Further, consistent with what the world has already witnessed this century, a global perspective and a global response will be of paramount importance as the world faces down these global crises. All nations will be forced to sign on to a global effort to combat these crises. No country can remain neutral and no country can be unwilling to make the profound changes required.

Any nation viewing the current global, geo-political shift with an eye to achieving and maintaining superpower status in the 21st century must not only possess the assets relevant for a 21st Century, multi-polar world, such a nation must also be able to sufficiently withstand the coming global crises. It must have the ability to take a leadership role in combating these crises and it must have the ability to hit the ground running once the battle against it has been won. What awaits such a nation will be nothing less than leading superpower status for the 21st Century.

Enter Canada

In light of the remarkable shift in global sentiment away from the United States and towards a multi-polar view of the world, Canada has emerged from the shadow of its neighbor to the south onto the world stage. Most notably, Canada has gained attention for its rapid economic growth. Since the turn of this century, Canada’s economy has grown at a staggering pace. It has eclipsed, on a per capita basis, the economic growth of every other industrialized nation in the last ten years, including the darlings of the new global order, India, China, Russia and Brazil.

More importantly, Canada’s economic growth is being sustained. While most nations are now mired in a global economic meltdown, Canada remains noticeably above the fray. Unlike other potential superpowers, Canada will not be burdened for decades with the cost of recovering from the world economic crisis. Moreover, as the century progresses, unlike other superpower contenders, Canada will not be forced to divert generations of resources to combat looming domestic problems.

In stark contrast, for example, even after the United States finishes paying for its fix of the banking and credit crisis (which is likely to take decades), it will still face the imminent and substantial costs of repairing its bankrupt social security system, failing health care system and crumbling infrastructure. Other industrialized nations will be similarly saddled. Canada is facing no such burdens.

Moreover, by virtue of its geography, its sheer size and available space, and its vast reserves of natural resources, Canada is the only developed nation that will escape the brunt of the adverse effects of the coming global crises. Unlike other wealthy nations, Canada will not experience shortages of energy resources, lack of fresh water, unavailable arable land, unsustainable populations, or forced migrations. Canada will not be ravaged by global warming. In fact, climate change is likely to have a net positive effect for Canada. Not so for any other country, including those in contention for leading superpower status.

The Golden Rule Still Applies

With respect to energy, the world of the 21st Century will be looking increasingly to Canada to supply it with critical energy resources. Notwithstanding any effort to develop alternative energies, there is a simple, undeniable truth: As long as there is oil available, the world will want it. And Canada has it. By some estimates, it potentially has more than any other country. Canada’s supply of oil is expected to outlast any other nation’s supply by decades, perhaps even centuries.

And it is not just oil. Canada is a vast bastion of other precious resources, which, as the century progresses, will become just as scarce and just as valuable. These include natural gas, coal, precious minerals, drinking water, arable land and even habitable space. Canada possesses unmatched reserves of all of these critical resources. As these resources become increasingly valuable this century, only Canada will be in possession of all of them. Accordingly, in this new century, Canada will find itself in a unique and powerful position. The world will want what Canada has and the world will not be able to get it anywhere else.

The Political Will for a New Century

This new century, this global century, demands a new type of global superpower. It must be a nation and a people that understand and is committed to a global ideal. It must be a nation with the economic and political strength to devote itself to global effort and alliance. It must be one that has an established and respected reputation for leadership with the nations of the world.

Again, only Canada possesses all of these qualities. The other candidates, in particular, the U.S., Russia, and China, all fall short in this regard. Each of them lacks what Canada has in spades: a genuine, unselfish commitment to global and humanitarian issues. As a result, Canada has a reputation the world over as a qualified and passionate leader devoted to these issues. That investment will begin to pay dividends for Canada as this century progresses, as Canada’s strengths become more apparent and as the world calls for new global leadership.

No other industrialized nation will be more prepared and more able to confront the coming challenges of the 21st century than Canada. No other industrialized nation possesses the political will necessary to lead the world by example in confronting such challenges than Canada. Quite simply, Canada possesses all the gifts. As a result, Canada is, and can, should, and will be the natural choice to lead this new world in this new age. The 21st Century belongs to Canada.


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