Open For Business
The Roots of Foreign Ownership in Canada
Resource Type: Book
Cx Number: CX4119
Abstract: According to a 1983 United Nations survey, the value of foreign direct investment is higher in Canada than in any other country in the world. With 0.5 per cent of the world's people, we receive 17 per cent of all global foreign direct investment. Open for Business examines the causes.
Laxer challenges standard explanations and accepted orthodoxies from conservative to Marxist, arguing that their assumptions about external control, the role of Canadian elites, and the effects of geography are not adequate to explain Canada's failure at more independent development.
Open for Business discredits enduring myths that have been used to explain Canada's continued economic dependence -- that Canadians were too conservative or unenterprising to develop industry by themselves; and that the population was too small and scattered for the creation of a market suitable for efficient development. The author devotes a lengthy chapter to Sweden, "an ideal model for comparison with Canada," to illustrate the decisions Canada should have made. Canada's failure to adopt a "European system" strikes at the heart of the new perspective presented in the book: Laxer lays the blame for Canada's dependence on the political weakness of organized farmers in Canada: "Although the industrial revolution eventually relegated agriculture to a minor place in the economic scheme of things, agrarian classes usually had a major impact on the direction of early industrialization before their influence ebbed away."