Winders: Hanging out the welcome sign for the world's best minds

By Jason Winders
November 08, 2012

Allow me a moment to address my fellow Americans.

Greetings from Canada. Congratulations on electing your next president. I know from my last few presidential elections, before happily moving North of the Border, the task of electing a leader has become increasingly challenging in the United States. (Yes, I’m looking at you, Florida.)

Jason WindersWINDERS

This was a long slog to Election Day given presidential campaigning now overlaps presidential governing by 24 months. You faced a difficult decision between a challenger who didn’t know who he was vs. an incumbent who wasn’t who you thought he was. That’s a heck of a choice.

But you made it. And I am sure everything is going to work out just fine.

OK, maybe not.

I didn’t want to make you feel bad this soon after the election. But as it turns out, there was a reason you were treated to a high-on-rhetoric, low-on-specifics campaign. You see, no matter who got in, the next four years aren’t going to be pretty.

Seriously, have you looked at pictures of that vibrant lad who won in 2008? So, who is this guy? Set aside the fact ‘hope’ and ‘change’ turned into drone attacks and Wall Street sympathizing; what’s with the grey hair and sagging face in just four years? Did Obama’s dad win Tuesday?

And that’s just what the last four years did to him. After the next four, he’ll look like the underside of Clint Eastwood’s insole.

Literally days after this election, the U.S. government needs to make some huge decisions. Not its strong suit, by the way.

Without action, nearly every tax cut since 2001 will expire in December. USA Today reported the result would raise the average American household’s tax burden by $3,500. On top of that, the first $110 billion of a planned $1.2 trillion in spending cuts over 10 years to reduce the deficit also would begin just days into January.

The U.S. Congress put the latter piece in place to force them into action. But Congress no longer does ‘action,’ even when it sets reminders for itself. It’s sort of like hitting the snooze button on your alarm – for a few decades of extra sleep.

No, the United States is facing not only a tough four years, but perhaps a generation of cuts. (Enjoy, Generation X, you’re working until you’re 110.)

So I am here to say to you today, “Come on up.”

OK, maybe not everyone. Keep the Honey Boo Boos among you. But Canada has work to do, and needs talented people to do it. The country doesn’t suffer from a lack of smarts, simply a lack of capacity.

Pardon the presumption of this guest in a great land, but allow me to invite a few more folks in.

The country needs to recruit – both students and researchers – outside the borders to sustain global leadership in the area of higher education. Western knows this, and has been aimed in that direction for some time.

Western is investing, and trying new things. The welcome sign is out for the world’s best minds.

For the last year-plus, there is a growing fear in The States working in areas that depend on stable, long-term government support – higher education among them – that top talent will be wooed elsewhere in the years to come. We watched it play out in the U.K. over the last few years. Now, it has arrived stateside.

If a country shows a bit of political sanity, a dash of long-term commitment and stability – or ‘acts Canadian’ – they could nab some of the best minds in The States.

And it’s already happening.

Last week, McClatchy Newspapers reported Canadian recruits saying more American teenagers are thinking heading abroad for their college years as a way of attending a top-rated school at a lower cost. More than 10,000 Americans are earning graduate and undergraduate degrees in Canada. Even with extra fees for international students, universities outside The States, in many cases, cost less than tuition at private universities or out-of-state charges at public universities.

And don’t think these kids didn’t notice higher education was barely mentioned on the presidential campaign trail.

I have argued for some time The States is ripe for intellectual plunder. If Western – and Canada, for that matter – are interested in international recruitment close to home (and the lower cost for transitional services they bring), now is the time to double the efforts.

My fellow Americans have cast their ballots, but if Canada is still interested, it wouldn’t be hard to convince many of them to vote with their feet and come North.



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