Salena Zito

Canadian provinces are more economically independent than U.S. states, Lebo said, so they have greater power over their economies, health and education systems.

One of the things the United States can do to keep up with Canada is to unleash our natural resources, says John Felmy, chief economist for the American Petroleum Institute.

He said shale natural gas has immense potential for the U.S. energy industry.

“What they are doing in Canada with their energy recourses in incredible,” he said. “We have that same potential … thanks to technological advances in hydraulic fracturing.”

Instead, Canada is America’s largest supplier of oil and natural gas.

Perhaps we can learn from Canada’s example of developing its oil, natural gas, uranium and hydropower resources, generating jobs and improving its trade balance.

Along with a booming economy comes booming prices, of course: A pound of bacon here costs double its U.S. price, a pint of blueberries is triple the U.S. cost – and if you want a flimsy bag for groceries, “it’s five cents a bag,” says a cashier.

“Americans don't typically like to hear that, especially if they are stocking their cottages with supplies,” she said, sympathetically.

Prices at the gas pump are equally painful; the average last week was $1.25 a liter. With roughly four liters to the gallon, you’re staring at $5 a gallon.

A resort owner near Sandy Lake said he really felt the pinch when both countries were in the beginning of recession in 2007: “Cottages sat vacant for too long.”

This year is back to normal, he said. “All of my cottages are booked through August” – although with a lot fewer Americans.

Salena Zito

Salena Zito is a political analyst, reporter and columnist.