Borderlines and Communities

Illustration by Spencer Wynn / Toronto Star

I’m no political junkie  – I married one and he cares about such things more than enough for both of us.  So when events like the tabling of the federal budget happen, I generally read the paper, listen to CBC and wait for any edicts from my other half, trusting that if there’s an extremely significant measure, I’ll hear about it in due time.

But as I filtered the news after the budget details were shared this week, there’s one measure that perplexes me.  It’s no secret that times are tough for lots of Canadians; economic distress has been felt from coast to coast to coast.  When the bottom fell out of the American economy a couple of years ago, wasn’t the directive from the American president to head out to the stores and “Buy American?”  So what, pray tell, is the logic in the Canadian government increasing the cross-border shopping limits?  Of what benefit is it to Canada to actually encourage Canadians to shop in the United States?

Whatever happened to ‘buy local’ or ‘know where your food comes from’?  There’s some pretty conflicted messages being heard in the marketplace.  I’m all for saving a penny (which, with this new budget will now be only a penny on paper, not in my pocket!), but I also know that if I don’t spend my pennies in the community where I live, it’s not really benefiting any of my neighbours.  In fact, it’s not really benefitting me too much either, because soon my community stores will not have enough business to stay open.  And where do I shop then?  Grand Forks?

I read just a couple of weeks ago about a great initiative modeled on the Flash Mob and in response to the popularity of Groupon.  It’s called a ‘Cash Mob’: participants pick a local store and then head there in droves to pay full price for products, supporting a local business in need.  There’s something in that concept that resonates with me, almost like a modern day version of Jesus’ tipping the money-changers tables over in the temple.  Perhaps we need to proverbially ‘tip the tables’ in the favour of our communities and say thanks, but no thanks to this grand gesture of our federal leaders.  Anyone up for a cash mob?

Dabbling in much, specializing in little, Sharon wears multiple hats. Copy-editor. Short order cook. Homework coach. Triathlon cheerleader. Soccer supporter. Vacation planner. Second alto. And in her spare time, she works for the Salvation Army’s Ethics Centre.

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