Last week Americans were up in arms when it was revealed that their all American Ralph Lauren produced Olympic uniforms were made in – you guessed it – China. I guess we dodged a bullet back in 2000 when Canadian company Roots made them, complete with a beret that Fox News is currently ridiculing as too ”French”.
The same problem exists here in Canada. Most recently high lighted by NDP Opposition Leader Thomas Mulcaire decrying that Alberta’s resource success has come at the cost of Ontario’s manufacturing sector – what the cuss?!? By that logic, it could be argued that Alberta’s resource growth was artificially suppressed for decades by Ontario’s manufacturing success. Really – do we have to resort to kicking sand at each other – we don’t have enough competition on a global scale??
The fact of the matter is that manufacturing has been steadily eroded both here in Canada and in the U.S. for going on three decades now. Our standard of living was earned on the backs of labour and unions, created by business and industry leaders who had the forsight, courage and fortitude to do the right thing. The irony is some companies and industrialists have now chosen to move their production and thousands of manufacturing jobs off shore, many to China, Taiwan, Malaysia, Indonesia, etc. where it is cheaper to operate – also born on the backs of their labourers, created by government and business leaders who refuse to do the right thing. Industry standards barely exist in many of these locations – we’ve all heard the appalling stories of child labour, forced labour, barely tolerable and dangerous conditions and low or no wages and benefits. Whether it’s Kathy Lee Gifford’s clothing line sweatshops or Apple’s high-tech low-balling, as consumers we are shocked and disgusted when it’s pointed out to us after the fact. How about doing something about it before the companies actually move production elsewhere?
Buy local. Support Edmontonians, Albertans and Canadians who produce goods and services right here in our communities, our province, our country. Holiday here in the province. Patronize Albertans who run their own B&B’S, lodges, restaurants, excursion outfits, clothiers, retailers, you name it.
The downer is that generally speaking many products and services will likely be more expensive. Because they are more expensive to produce when you actually pay employees a living wage and offer security with safe work environments and industry standards that reflect our collective values. If we all were to start buying local costs would soon start reflecting that growth and prices would begin to fall. I for one would love to see that revolution, knowing that my kids and grandkids would then enjoy the same quality of life that we’ve come to know. – Shirley McQueen
Here are some ways to find local producers, manufacturers and businesses: