Thank you, Huawei, but Canada Doesn't Need Your 5G.
Recall Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs. Most people who have graduated high school in the last 20 years are familiar with it. Huawei is one of few organizations to have achieved this next step in fibre optic technology, but should consider sharing this milestone with the eastern hemisphere. Instead of worrying about improving the state of an industry which is already functional, Canada needs to be worrying about how it can be phasing in clean technology and green jobs.
Tech in society was designed for the collective, not for the individual. International markets should not be a priority with the looming reality that international institutions no longer seem to represent the interests of the citizen. There are communities of people both of indigenous and non-indigenous descent who struggle to acquire basic human needs, let alone speedy mobile/internet service if any at all. The recent surge in nationalism (and populism), is a reaction to the failure of international markets satisfying the needs of the domestic person.
The language used when it comes to the green jobs sector has always been negative. “We need to phase out fossil fuels.” I doubt the creator of the DVD player was advocating the need to phase out the VHS, but rather, the need to evolve into next phase in digital media. Similarly so, from the horse-and-buggy to motor vehicle evolution; society did not get tired of the former, it wanted to share the benefits of the latter.
When civilization is presented with a discovery or a challenge, the corresponding aha-moment sends shockwaves of enhancements to the quality of life for people around the world, especially in this epoch of the Global Village. This human trait is delineated beautifully by Ruth S. DeFries as ‘Pivots’, in her novel The Big Rachet. While the urgency toward the movement to sustainable economics is on an entirely different level than the need for DVD players, the speed at which these movements have taken off has been astonishingly paradoxical.
Comparably, the Canadian government bought an imaginary pipeline for 4.5 billion dollars, in a snap-decision to help secure the potential for foreign companies with ownership to the oilsands in Alberta to export more than twice the amount of oil in to markets in Asia, particularly China. Suncor, Canada Oilsands, and Husky, are all non-Canadian companies. To be exact, 71% of oil-sands production is owned by foreign entities according to a study published by the Forest Ethics Advocacy in 2012. How then, is this industry in 'the best interest of Canadians'? Canada is making a fraction of what it could be making if it owned more of its own oil production.
So why the obsession with it?
Imagine if that $4.5 billion was spent creating the infrastructure for renewable energy. More importantly, why couldn't that money be spent on producing basic life necessities for indigenous and non-indigenous communities alike? Socialism is not as poisonous as the conservative movement paints it to be. With targeted investments, Canada could establish a foundation for the less-fortunate to become stable, contributing members of society, potentially benefiting the nation more than the supplementary revenue generated from the oilsands.
Taking care of one’s own has become challenging in the ever-strengthening grip globalization holds on a country. China has demonstrated repeated hostility when it comes to it’s bid on building the 5G network in Canada. In reaction to additional economic and political warfare exerted by such an autocracy, perhaps Canada could acquire investors who would use Canadian goods to raise the quality of life for its shareholders in the Western Hemisphere. It’s up to Canada to stand up and set the standard on environmental and human rights so other countries may follow.
Pat Freel is a food service specialist and horticulturalist. He is also a past Green Party of Ontario Candidate, for Ottawa West Nepean.