Thursday, June 24, 2004

#7: More help for Canadian consumers

Along the same lines as #8, Canadian taxpayers, consumers, and mutual fund-holders would be well-served by some more deregulation - how about the banks?

Canadian banks are subject to the same foreign ownership limitations as the airlines, and are prohibited from merging according to their own interests. No doubt there's fine reasoning behind this restriction of true competition, but as always, it is Canadian consumers who bear the cost. Again, it's hard to imagine what the downside is to having Citibank branches competing with the CIBC, from a consumer point of view. Anyone's standard of living gone down because they can buy a TV from Wal-Mart instead of The Bay?

If Harper really wanted to be ambitious, he would take on the supply management in other industries (say, dairy) that costs Canadian consumers money, and hits the poor the hardest. However, this is unlikely in a minority situation. The banks, however, should welcome it, as mergers will allow them to expand into other countries more ambitiously.

Plus, the only Liberal who can put together a coherent economic argument is John McCallum (who may not be re-elected anyway), and since he is the former chief economist for the Royal Bank, it should be no trouble digging up some former pronouncement of his favouring this very course of action.

If an (or the) overarching goal of government is to improve the standard of living of all its citizens, it is high time that competition and ownership regulations be inverted so as to benefit consumers, not other interests. Back to Wal-Mart: if they had been restricted from operating in Canada, it is the poorest of us who would suffer most, and that should be patently obvious to anyone who has ever walked through a Wal-Mart on a Saturday afternoon.

See the preamble to this list.
Go to #8.
Go to #6.


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