10:21:42 pm on
Sunday 15 Dec 2019

Buy Canadian Cucumbers
David Simmonds

There really is nothing funny about a tariff war. One side starts it, one country matches the other, in lock step. Thus, it goes until an economic slump results, jobs are lost and another military war starts, in hopes of boosting some economies.

• Amusing tariff targets.

All the same, you must find something mildly amusing in the targets selected by our government for a retaliatory ten per cent tariff on American goods imported into Canada. I wonder if we apologised for standing up for ourselves. You must agree, though, tariffs show a certain level of chutzpah.

For instance, Canada has slapped a tariff on American whiskey, produced in the state of Kentucky, stomping grounds of Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell. The tariff on toilet paper will affect Pennsylvania Republican Lou Barletta, whose constituency includes a Procter & Gamble plant that produces Charmin. This is one instance where it is okay to squeeze the Charmin. Pennsylvania is hit a second time with tariffs on chocolate and licorice, both produced by the Hershey Company, in Hershey, PA.

That’s not enough for clever Canadian tariff-targeters. What of a tariff on US ketchup made in Ohio, the heartland of Trumpology, and produced by the Pennsylvania-based Heinz? The list of goods similarly affected is wide ranging, it includes US sourced cucumbers, aftershave, postcards, strawberry jam, sleeping bags, mineral water, dishwashers and more.

Of course, this tariff regime doesn’t prohibit these goods from entering the country, but indicates such products will be more expensive, unless the US producer cuts back its profit margin. Canadian consumers must do their bit by acting in accordance with prototypical consumers, in the Economics 101 model, and switching their purchases to cheaper sources. Why not buy a made in Canada ketchup, not a product made in Ohio or choose made in China postcards instead of US-made cards for your holiday mail-homes?

• It can’t be that difficult.

Who would actually get upset if they received a picture of the Great Wall of China as a fleeting souvenir of a visit to the Rockies? It may seem like a small gesture, but if 37.1 million people also made the same determination, who knows, Donald Trump may just crumble under the pressure. Angry U.S. cucumber growers, who have seen the Canadian market evaporate, may prevail upon Trump to eliminate the big twenty-five per cent tariff on steel, which started the whole spat.

If you are unsure of your ability to act as the fictional Economics 101 consumer, you may have to resolve to boycott the tariff completely. There is nothing so bracing as refusing to purchase after-shave to invoke that old Dunkirk spirit of doing good by serving your country. How hard can it be to live without cucumbers for a few years?

Another alternative is to boycott US goods entirely, if you can figure out which goods are from the USA. It would be short sighted to pledge to buy your coffee at Tim Hortons, rather than McDonalds, because deciding which of the two is more Canadian could keep you up late. That boycott would anticipate an extension of the punitive hand of Canada to all manner of US goods, cotton wool, hip waders and marmalade, for example.

• Buy Canadian cucumbers.

I don’t see tariffs extended to extra-long neckties, however. A man, who few wish to emulate, dominates that market. Moreover, minimum-wage assembly-line workers, in Mexico, manufacture the ties and Canada prefers not to encourage exploitation. In the meantime, buy Canadian cucumbers, the wholesome aphrodisiac.

 

Some readers seem intent on nullifying the authority of David Simmonds. The critics are so intense; Simmonds is cast as more scoundrel than scamp. He is, in fact, a Canadian writer of much wit and wisdom. Simmonds writes strong prose, not infrequently laced with savage humour. He dissects, in a cheeky way, what some think sacrosanct. His wit refuses to allow the absurdities of life to move along, nicely, without comment. What Simmonds writes frightens some readers. He doesn't court the ineffectual. Those he scares off are the same ones that will not understand his writing. Satire is not for sissies. The wit of David Simmonds skewers societal vanities, the self-important and their follies as well as the madness of tyrants. He never targets the outcasts or the marginalised; when he goes for a jugular, its blood is blue. David Simmonds, by nurture, is a lawyer. By nature, he is a perceptive writer, with a gimlet eye, a superb folk singer, lyricist and composer. He believes quirkiness is universal; this is his focus and the base of his creativity. "If my humour hurts," says Simmonds,"it's after the stiletto comes out." He's an urban satirist on par with Pete Hamill and Mike Barnacle; the late Jimmy Breslin and Mike Rokyo and, increasingly, Dorothy Parker. He writes from and often about the village of Wellington, Ontario. Simmonds also writes for the Wellington "Times," in Wellington, Ontario.

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