One + One = Three: How Canadians Can Make the Difference
Barbara Lenes McLennan is a graduate economics student in Edmonton.
What can be said about this book? On one level, it reads like a pep talk
on possibilities for the economic and social future of Canada. Ferchat
(currently chairman of Atomic Energy of Canada, Ltd., and formerly
involved with mines, automotive and truck manufacturing, and plastics)
has put together a collection of his thoughts on being a successful
corporate leader “in challenging times.” On another level, it
reveals the arguments and language of how a certain stratum of Canadian
business has worked and is working to co-opt public debate about the
social goals of this country. On yet another level, it provides
interesting insight into the psychological makeup of a man who feels
driven to mold others according to his image.
Using cartoons and paragraphs-long discussions of such weighty subjects
as “Culture,” “History,” “Capitalism and Freedom,”
“Europe,” and “Whole Earth Systems,” Ferchat breezes his way
through The Problem With Canada. The book is roughly structured in three
parts: what is wrong, what makes a good leader, and progress through
aggressiveness. His audience appears to be other corporate managers like
himself (he currently travels North America “sharing his vision”),
which lends an interesting perspective on the lack of any mention of the
recession in Canada. It also helps one to understand why he sees no
conflict in speaking equally approvingly of individual initiative and
strong hierarchical leadership.
Ferchat’s argument is that if people just mustered their utmost
energy and creativity to win the race that is life and stopped doubting
themselves, Canada would be a great country. His goal is permanent
economic growth and an assumed corresponding permanent increase in the
standard of living. His pariahs are the usual ones (unions, government
bureaucracy, and social programs), along with more recent additions
(environmentalists and educators). The mistakes of the past are just
that: mistakes, and of the past. Technology and sheer gumption will
eventually overcome any limits to growth. Ferchat will not be “[held]
hostage to the past by [those] threatening hardship or deprivation, loss
of our social values.” “One and one is three [sic],” he repeatedly
states—i.e., my kind of approach will provide bounty for all. Trust
Ferchat suggests numerous opportunities for Canadian companies to take
advantage of new markets in the Pacific Rim and in eastern Europe.
Unfortunately, he reveals himself to be putting his hopes for the future
on what amounts, at its most reduced level, to an increase in world
consumption along the lines of a Western model. It is both an outlook of
the previous generation, and morally bankrupt in the light of
environmental and social critiques of its legacy. (After all, he is
speaking of national purpose here.) Despite his claim to be
future-looking, he is attempting to conserve that which is known in the
face of great changes in the paradigm of ownership and responsibility.
Let us hope that those with some real insight also have an opportunity
to get published.