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Ross Murray's Border Report
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Ross Murray
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is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, Quebec. You can reach him at ross_murray@sympatico.ca
Posted 08.09.09
Stanstead, Quebec

ROSS MURRAY

How I saved the economy

You've probably heard by now that Canada's recession is over. At least, the governor of the Bank of Canada has said so, as has International Trade Minister Stockwell Day. Finance Minister Jim Flaherty begs to differ but Jim's just that kind of guy. (Oh, that Jim...!)

But I know we've recovered. Why? Because I did it.

The first stage in the recovery process had to do with attitude. I convinced everyone to stop using the phrase "economic crisis." Instead, I encouraged more positive words. You know: turn that fiscal frown upside down. Referring to the situation as an "economic quiet time" or saying that the economy was "dealing with some issues" made the problem seem so much easier to manage.

The stock market had a bad-hair day. Hey, who doesn't from time to time, right?

In a similar vein, I encouraged people who had lost their job to refer to themselves not as "unemployed" but "enjoying an unexpected vacation" or "finding time to re-examine their priorities."

In my e-mail to Canadian workers who were taking an unanticipated break from wage-earning, I wrote, "Look, it's summer, the kids are out of school, the weather's great. Okay, the kids are out of school. Anyway, take advantage of this interruption in the daily grind.

Start a vegetable garden; you'll need it to put food on the table. Help the kids set up a lemonade stand so the little buggers can start pulling their weight for a change. Get a tan. Oh, wait, sorry; go for a nice walk in the rain."

The next step in the recovery was improving consumer confidence. I can't take full credit here. I have my children to thank as well. Every time we went anywhere near a store, they were confident that I would buy them something. There was never any hesitation on their part or worries that it might not be a good time to buy. They saw it, they wanted it.

And then there was our vacation -- no better time for consumer spending and keeping the credit card companies rubbing their hands together with greed -- er, I mean gratitude.

On vacation, people who might otherwise hoard their savings dispose of it with nary a second thought on amusement parks, romantic but highly impractical ferry rides, over-priced restaurants, souvenirs for distant relatives back home, and the opportunity to rent cottages by seashores that smell like rancid chow mein. Why? Because it's vacation, that's why.

For my part, during my vacation I single-handedly kept Canada's brewing industry afloat. Granted, this was not so much a strategy as a survival tactic.

Ultimately, I was so inspired by my family's gung ho, can-do, must-buy attitude that I created a cross-media, cross-platform, cross-eyed ad campaign that (I humbly like to think) played an astronomically important role in the economic recovery. Surely you remember the ad's tag line: "Buy It Anyway, Canada!"

From there, it was only natural for me to stage a musical production that simultaneously raised spirits and educated people on how they could goose the economy. In fact, Goose the Economy was the original title. Eventually, I settled on Yippee for the GDP! which toured shopping malls and financial districts across Canada and inspired the hit song (No. 13 on the Napanee Top 40) "Neither Show Nortel."

    My love for stocks I am confessin'

    Even during this durned recession

    I'd rather catch a dose of polio

    Than sell off my belov'd portfolio

I implemented infrastructure programs (you should see my new sidewalks) and bailouts and investment strategies and a good stern talking to from my mom. There was also my stimulus package, but that's a bit too personal to talk about.

Finally, I called up Bank of Canada governor Mark Carney and said, "Mark, would you mind just telling Canadians the recession's over?"

And it was so.

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