Time to aggressively buy NOT FROM CHINA
By Keith Henderson
Big box stores like Home Depot, Walmart, and Canadian Tire are warehouses for poorly made Chinese products. I suggest Canadian Tire rebrand itself. "China Tire" might state the case. How many electrical products (to take only one example) have I bought from these outlets only to find the instructions semi-incomprehensible and once installed the products don't work? Take them back? Sure. And what about all my wasted time? I guess that just doesn't count.
So frustrated have I become with shoddy Chinese goods, I make a concerted effort to find out where any product is made before I buy it. Not an easy task. Take my latest purchase as an example. My pepper mill bust. The plastic bottom just broke and I don't know how or why. I figure that product was made in China, though I didn't keep track, so I checked out Lagostina at Canadian Tire. Good price, right? Lagostina: the iconic Italian brand.
That misleading information sits squarely on the Canadian Tire web site. I noted, however, there was really nothing about where the pepper mill was really made. I had to do separate research on that question to confirm what most Canadian shoppers now suspect. Lagostina: Made in China. Where do you think those massive shipping container trains rolling through our cities get their boxes?
I paid more money for a French made Peugeot pepper mill. They're proud of their just-by-the Swiss-border factory. I'm happy to buy from them because I can count on quality, as I would be happy to buy from a Japanese or South Korean auto maker. I would not be happy to buy a Chinese electric car.
I think the web site Canadians would love is the NOT FROM CHINA web site. Go there. Search for the product you need, up pop North American and other "market economy" choices and where to get them. I would use such a site as my first choice, ahead of amazon.ca or anybody else.
Of course, there's the bigger picture. Like borer beetles, China scrap invades our markets and kills off local manufacturing. All of a sudden, we don't have any choices. Are there any electrical products NOT MADE IN CHINA left on the shelves? You have to dig deep to find them. China, with its "big brother is watching you" spy culture, now wants to take over Canada's 5-G cell phone network via Hauwei. Trudeau is dithering about whether to let them, even though our other allies like the US and Australia have already said no.
Consider this. In a rich irony, Bell Canada (owner of left-of-center CTV news) has committed billions to Hauwei equipment. Hauwei's rise to the top of the telcom equipment pyramid started with their industrial espionage hacking of Bell subsidiary Nortel, fifteen years ago. The Chinese state enterprise stole all their intellectual property, Canadian intellectual property, let it be said, and drove Nortel into bankruptcy. Canada's answer? Reward them! Videotron, Bell's separatist owned and operated competitor in Quebec, runs mostly on Hauwei equipment. Bell will soon follow suit. The problem is 5-G will be connected to every little object in your house via the "internet of things." How'd you like the spy-crazy Chinese government to have potential access to every home in Canada – oh, yes, the way they do things in China right now.
"Silly paranoid person! We'll have ways to control Hauwei. They'll never be able to get away with that." So say the Sinophiles among us. But Chinese hackers have made their way into the US Defense Department suppliers and even into US government agencies. How does Canada have the wherewithal to counter them? And when US authorities try dealing with Hauwei malign actors (like arresting one lady in Canada, who owns two houses in Vancouver worth over $22 million), 3 Canadians are kidnapped in China as retaliation.
Suggestion. Anti-Trumpers who started a boycott American Products campaign during the NAFTA negotiations ought to do a big pivot. The target? The Asian communist economy. Time to buy aggressively NOT FROM CHINA.
Keith Henderson has published 5 novels, the latest Sasquatch and the Green Sash (2018), political essays from when he was Quebec correspondent for the Financial Post (Staying Canadian, 1997), as well as a prize-winning book of short stories (The Pagan Nuptials of Julia, 2006). He led a provincial political party in Quebec during the separatist referendum of 1995 and championed Anglo language rights and the “poison pill” strategy of partitioning Quebec if ever Quebec partitioned Canada. He taught Canadian Literature for many years at Vanier College in Montreal.