“It’s me, hi. I know places in Canada would love to have you. So, don’t make it another cruel summer. We hope to see you soon.” – Tweet from @JustinTrudeau to @taylorswift13, July 5, 9:13 P.M.
That’s what Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted at Taylor Swift after she announced a new set of dates for her Eras concert tour. Having crashed Ticketmaster and then eclipsed revenue records across a series of American dates, she was now moving on to the rest of the world. Paris, London, Cardiff (seriously?), and even three nights in Gelsenkirchen, Germany, which Wikipedia helpfully informs me is the 11th most-populous city in North Rhine-Westphalia.
But, at that time, still no Canada.
So the PM, using words borrowed from Swift lyrics, urged her to pay attention to the wallflower Canucks.
Talk about aiming low.
In reaching out to the world’s biggest entertainment juggernaut, the PM should have been shooting for so much more. It’s an opportunity to reinvigorate the Canadian economy. And reinvent our industrial strategy. And boost Mr. Trudeau’s popularity. And transform his personal life.
Taylor Swift can do all that. Ask Travis Kelce. Ask the National Football League.
But the day before Mr. Trudeau tweeted, his government confirmed it was sticking with the same old, same old. It would be giving a $10-billion friendship bracelet to Stellantis STLA-N, to thank it for building an electric-vehicle battery factory in Windsor. (This after Stellantis tried to return the previous bracelet.) Earlier, Mr. Trudeau’s people gave a little $13.2-billion amicability bangle to Volkswagen, after it promised to bring its EV battery gig to St. Thomas, Ont.
(Canada to auto industry: We Are Never Ever Not Getting Back Together.)
Canada has a long history of this. Industrial friendship-bracelet manufacturing is our most dynamic growth industry.
The 2023 federal budget enumerated the swag: $15-billion for the Canada Growth Fund, $8-billion for the Net Zero Accelerator, $4.2-billion for the Low Carbon Economy Fund, $3.8-billion for Canada’s Critical Minerals Strategy, $1.5-billion for the Clean Fuels Fund, $4.7-billion for the National Trade Corridors Fund, $33.5-billion for the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program and $2.6-billion for the Canada Innovation Corporation.
There’s also $35-billion for the Canada Infrastructure Bank. It’s sort of like Bigfoot. Some people claim to have seen it, but nobody really believes them.
Or remember the billions spent on failing to turn Bombardier BBD-B-T into a national aerospace and rail champion? Though next time you fly, you may find yourself on an Airbus A220, which was once the Bombardier C Series. Airbus estimates that it could sell as many as 4,000 of the planes, making it one of the most successful airliners of all time.
(Translation for Swifties: Airbus Scooter Brauned our songs. Totally.)
Enough! We should be focusing our efforts on a few sectors with unequalled long-term prospects. Like Taylor Swift Inc.
A few months ago, the expectation was that her current concert tour would be history’s first to gross US$1-billion. Ha! The most recent estimate is that the gate could be US$2.2-billion in North America alone.
She attended two Kansas City Chiefs NFL football games and bang, NBC reports that, among girls aged 12-17, viewership of Sunday Night Football rose by 53 per cent. Sales of Mr. Kelce’s jersey shot up 400 per cent.
Swiftenomics is so powerful that she was even given a shout-out in the U.S. Federal Reserve’s Beige Book. (Full song title: Summary of Commentary on Current Economic Conditions by Federal Reserve District.) The July edition noted that, despite sluggishness in tourism in Philadelphia, “May was the strongest month for hotel revenue in Philadelphia since the onset of the pandemic, in large part due to an influx of guests for the Taylor Swift concerts.”
So, Taylor Swift singlehandedly ended COVID-19 in Philadelphia. Sort of.
Ms. Swift even does politics. She’s a get-out-the-vote machine. Last month, on American National Voter Registration Day, she urged fans to get on the voting list. The 35,252 new registrations that day were a 23-per-cent jump over last year.
Though there is one unfortunate side effect to all this popularity: inflation.
According to data from SeatGeek, the average resale price for a ticket for the Eras tour is US$1,607. Compared with her 2018 tour, prices are up 741 per cent.
That wrinkle aside, it’s a story of success upon success. Ottawa, pay attention. It’s time to think outside the box. Stop making small concert plans.
Mr. Trudeau could start by emulating his dad, who dated Barbra Streisand. She even came to Question Period. (Not on the first date.)
So there’s precedent. We can bring Swiftenomics to Canada.