These are not good days for the Canadian cost of living. The country is becoming so unaffordable that it is scaring away Ukrainian refugees and forcing many to trade food for heat – or dispense with basic safety measures like winter tires.
In Dear Diary, the National Post satirically re-imagines a week in the life of a newsmaker. This week, Tristin Hopper takes a journey inside the thoughts of the Canadian cost of living.
So, it’s me: Everybody’s favourite punching bag. The reason a Subway sandwich costs $20, a bachelor pad eats half your paycheque and why Tim Hortons’ donuts will eventually be no larger than the toonie they cost.
I can take the heat, but what I can’t abide is the accusation that my current state is some kind of betrayal, a distortion of some great national promise.
With all due respect, I think you’re mistaking me for the United States. It’s the Americans that made reckless promises of endless prosperity, unfettered freedom and a Dodge Charger or whatever. I only ever pledged basic shelter, the occasional free doctor visit and one of those weird cookies with the red gel centre every Sunday.
And now even the immigrants are finding it unaffordable. Oh, for the days when a Chinese labourer could be shipped in, put to work 12 hours a day, and still be grateful that he hadn’t lost any limbs. The Irish migrants who were simply content not to starve to death. The Hungarian forever beholden to the maple leaf so long as we didn’t run him over with a tank.
The retreat of poverty around the world has been an utter disaster for this country. How are we to run an economy dependent on immigration when all our newcomers are suddenly a bunch of Fancy Freddies who come here expecting luxuries like “two bathrooms,” “central heating” and “weekends.”
The problem with any democracy is that it can only deal effectively in the short term; people don’t think generationally. And thus do you have the chief canard levelled against me: “The Canadian of today will be poorer than their parents!”
That may technically be true, although I would point out that whatever their elevated wealth, your parents still weren’t able to binge-watch Seinfeld. But look at the issue through the prism of centuries and you’re still way ahead. Have you lost more than two of your children to typhus? Do you have a goiter or a recurring scurvy problem? Have you or any members of your social circle been hunted as prey by a large carnivore? If the answer to any of those is “no,” then maybe you should stop complaining that you now live in an illegally parked VW Westfalia.
As Canadian birth rates plummet, I hear it often that I am the chief culprit. That if I could somehow bring down the price of Kraft Dinner, thousands of Canadian couples would suddenly decide to dispense with birth control.
But here again, this is an issue of managing expectations. I never suggested that Canadian children should expect separate bedrooms, multiple sets of clothes or access to fresh fruit. And if these are the minimum parameters by which you will consider procreation, might I suggest that this is a “you” problem?
Tell me, what do you picture when I say “Canadian national icon”? Is it some well-fed family of five living comfortably in a three bedroom with 1.5 baths? A 13-year-old with a cell phone who plays minor hockey?
No! It’s a miner blackened by coal dust. A soldier crawling through the mud of Vimy. No stamp has ever been printed or coin struck to commemorate a full pantry or a living room affordably heated to 21 degrees. I am making this country great again, one baloney sandwich and $3,000 basement apartment at a time. You’ll thank me later.
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