The Green Gap

In the Cold War, we feared a Missile Gap was a strategic weakness. Nowadays, we must awaken to the fact that the Green Gap is true strategic weakness: the nations whose economies will thrive in the coming years will not be those with the biggest factories, but those with the most sustainable, efficient, and ecological markets. What we require is a Strategic "Green Reserve" of ecological design to weather the coming changes that both climate and resource scarcity will force on the international economy.

Sunday, 5 February 2012

The Wise Prime Minister and Mr. M.

The wise Prime Minister had had enough of the one-size-fits-all solutions that the economic advisors of the previous national parties had left behind. She was new, and had to find a new solution. She was also hungry, and didn't feel like ordering from where she was at the PMO building on Sparks. Instead, she put on her grey hoodie, and snuck out past her RCMP detail (who were busy questioning a tourist about his particularly sharp soapstone carving - a subject about which the Mounties were rather sensitive), and jogged down Sparks to Elgin Street. For comfort food on a Friday night in Ottawa after 5PM, Elgin Street was the only real option. It was either Dunn's, the Elgin Street Diner, or International Shawarma.

Being wise, the Prime Minister decided on shawarma as she didn't have to worry about her breath smelling of garlic sauce once she was out of official meetings. One of the Cabinet ministers had mentioned that once, and she only grabbed shawarma on weekends after work from that day on.

Mr. M. was there, as he usually was on late Friday nights, and the wise Prime Minister chatted with him about business. It was clear the store was hopping, and though they served no alcohol, the tiny shop had a certain bar smell about it.

"It looks like business is brisk," said the wise Prime Minister.

"Of course!" said M., "the bars are getting ready for last call, and people are coming here before heading home... or across the bridge to Gatineau."

"But on Sparks, Bank, O'Connor... all of the shawarma places are closed now. Why are you still open?" asked the wise Prime Minister.

"Go into those places at noon, and it will be as packed as this," said M., "but they are all next to high-priced condos and government offices. My store is in the middle of a bunch of bars and just north of some lower-rent apartments. There's a reason why there's a convenience store across the way, too... they must survive on late night slurpee and condom runs." M. laughed to himself.

"So you're saying that only a few blocks north and west of here, there is a totally different type of business environment to here?" asked the wise Prime Minister.

"It's all about location," said M., "if I had the same hours in this store over on Bank, I'd go out of business. I'd need chairs, for the sit-down lunch crowd. No, my restaurant is all about the people who are going to grab a shawarma and eat it on the way home. If it wasn't for these bars and those apartments - and hey, maybe even that convenience store, my model wouldn't survive."

"You mean that other businesses - even businesses in the food and beverage industry - actually increase your sales?"

Mr. M. motioned to the line at his tiny counter that extended out the door, "See for yourself, Ms. Prime Minister."

The wise Prime Minister didn't expect to be so easy to recognise to early in her tenure, and blushed instantly. Mr. M. offered her a mint from a small jar.

"On the house." winked Mr. M., as he reached behind the bar to blast his theme song onto the street - a siren call to the drunk, the lost, and the otherwise sleepless denizens of the East downtown core.

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