A reliable closer for Canadians who refuse to think about the merits of taking down the border by integrating our federal ballots goes like this: It doesn’t matter what we think, American conservatives would never agree to share political power with millions of big-government socialists in Canada.
Well, along comes the Heritage Foundation—a conservative, big-business think tank that has successfully influenced Reagan, Gingrich, and Bush Republicans for thirty years.
Last week, the foundation released its Index of Economic Freedom for 2011. It ranked Canada ahead of the United States—sixth in the world, compared to ninth place for the US.
For instance, Canada beat out the US in the categories of business freedom, trade freedom, and fiscal freedom, and Canada and the US tied on investment freedom. The index noted that governments consume 0.8% more of Canada’s GNP than they do the US’s GNP, but reported that the highest federal personal income tax rate in Canada is 29%, compared to 35% in the US.
The Heritage Foundation, from their strict economic perspective, placed Canada first in North America, despite nearly 50 years of universal healthcare and despite a Canadian electorate that hasn’t elected a Conservative majority government in 23 years.
Canadian democracy is in no one’s pocket. Future choices on the role and size of government in our separate federations—or in one federation of some 350 million people—are not predetermined in an index or in prevailing practice. Furthermore, you might suspect that conservative intellectuals at the Heritage Foundation might have been easier on America if a Republican was in the White House.
Nevertheless, economic conservatives in the United States aren’t arguing that Canadians, in their actions as voters and sacrifices as taxpayers, are very different ideologically or out of reach.