Prairies Economic Development Canada (also known as PrairiesCan) is a federal department whose role is to promote economic growth in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. In a nutshell, this department exists to assist the Prairies in diversifying their economy — but of course, in Canada, that usually comes with a healthy does of identity politics.
One of two priorities listed on the PrairiesCan website is “inclusiveness” with a goal to increase economic participation by Indigenous peoples, women and youth.
Now, inclusiveness in general as a value is positive; ensuring that everybody has equal opportunity and are not discriminated against based on sex, race, etc. is a basic right in Canada.
However, when it comes to the specific topic of the economy on the Prairies, it likely isn’t considered a priority by most Prairie folk right now, given that many of the main industries in this part of Canada — including oil and gas, ranching and agriculture — are facing many immense and growing barriers to success that affect people of diverse backgrounds.
Some of these barriers have international roots, such as the canola crisis that impacted many farmers in 2019 or the current halting of Canadian beef imports by China.
Other hurdles are homegrown and arise from unrealistic federal policies such as the carbon tax and the quashing of natural resource extraction projects (often influenced by larger organizations such as the United Nations Sustainable Development goals).
These only scratch the surface of the challenges the economy in this region face.
So, with everything going on, you’d think PrairiesCan has more than enough work cut out for them to ensure that their programs are, in fact, helping.
In fact, ironically, much of the work required is because of other federal policies!
Yet, they seem to want to make more work — and spend more taxpayer dollars on ‘Gender Based Analysis’ and other nice-sounding but often unrelated ideals — even if it won’t tangibly help the people in the demographics or communities being supposedly considered.
On Jan.12, 2022, a tender notice was posted on the federal government ‘Buy and Sell’ website, seeking a contractor who will “assess the degree to which these roles are contributing to community and regional economic growth, inclusiveness and diversification.”
The amount of this contract? A mere $36,000 for six months.
One of the main requirements listed under the tender is to analyze “community economic development, levels of engagement and degrees of inclusiveness” as a result of PrairiesCan involvement.
Again, I note — with the exception of a rare few — ask any farmer, oil worker, small business owner, rancher or miner what their biggest economic concerns are moving forward, and I doubt any of them will say “inclusivity.”
In fact, even those citizens who the government wants to increase participation from — such as women and Indigenous people – are often ignored if they don’t share a certain view on conservation or environmentalism, as we’ve seen with many First Nations who are speaking up against those protesting pipelines or other projects that would immensely help their communities, even if they don’t go along with the UN or Trudeau version of “going green”.
The reality is, the big economic concerns keeping most Prairie folk up at night are more centred around “our products aren’t getting to market”. Or “The carbon tax is stifling my business and I can’t afford the extra costs.”
Or, you know, that teeny-tiny concern over the mass loss of jobs in the oil and gas sector, leading to massive unemployment across the prairies, especially in Alberta.
But hey, what are those concerns compared to facing the issue of less women than men in the oil industry, or a fancy Ottawa bureaucrat not meeting a race quota they made?
And really, what is another $36,000 when Canada is so deeply in debt already? That is peanuts considering it will usher in a feminist, woke utopia, surely.
Somehow, I have my doubts that this contract or any other similar incentive will actually achieve economic growth OR a more cohesive society.
But, alas, who am I to question the ever-wise Liberal elite?
All I know is, priorities don’t seem to be their strong suit.