Monday, January 21, 2008
STEPHEN E. HARPER, SUPERGENIUS...
Rarely has a man done so little to be given credit for so much.
Apparently, Stephen Harper is bullet-proof. At least, some CONserfative cheerleaders think so.
In Monday's Irrational Toast, Donny Martin dusted off Harper's economic degree, likely hanging in 24 Sussex's bathroom, and reported that the so-called leader was free and clear of any blame for Canada's potentially wobbly economic situation.
Meanwhile, neo-spawn Johnny Ivison, also of the Asparian fishwrapper, waggled his finger at Stephane Dion's program to inject money into helping companies adapt and change through 'green research', and compared it to George Bush's $150-billion soup kitchen for the economy. There are two major differences that Ivison doesn't bother to plug into the equation: Bush has ran roughshod over his country's fiscal future, digging deeper and deeper into debt while ensuring that the rich remain filthy and happy until the piper comes. Dion's party, meanwhile, put into place a financial plan a baker's dozen years ago that enables Canada to act when needed, without shaking the roots of its economic foundation.
Harper has done precious little to make the good times continue. He first raised personal taxes to pay for a 1% consumption tax cut that favoured the wealthy, then he flip-flopped on a major promise regarding taxation of income trusts. That move alone blew $35-billion from the accounts and savings of a broad cross section of Canadians. It ended up triggering numerous sell-offs of Canadian companies to foreign corporations, putting Canadian workers' lives in the hands of offices in Zurich, Tokyo and London. In a continual vote-buying spree, Harper shovelled out hundreds of millions of dollars, many to Quebec, in hopes of purchasing a Diefenbacker-style cottage where to live his majority dream. Harper's spending spree also included such necessities as the largest poll and focus group purchase in Canadian government history. On what appeared to be the brink of a fall election, he unleashed tax cuts (back to the level of Paul Martin's government) and a second 1% GST cut -- which again left nine out of 10 economists shaking their heads. While there was no election, there was also little bounce in the polls for the guy so desperate for some mclovin'.
Harper's financial dwarf ignored the pleas of Canadian mayors, chastizing them for expecting a piece of the taxation pie. The PM set about quickly in his mandate to bristle some key international trading partners and provincial premiers just because he could, and maybe score a political point.
He ignored the plight of the manufacturing sector until the devil was at the door, and waited until Christmas time to point out that rough seas may lie ahead. Apparently, he has a real crumby psychic on his payroll, too.
He's hung Canadians out high and dry, and suddenly, the Liberals -- you know, the party that turned the tide of a decade of federal deficit budgetry -- are somehow weak on the money matters.
First of all, when it comes to recessions, which some economists are saying torture-free America is swimming towards, the Canadian economy is at the mercy of larger players. Recessions occur, and our federal government is left to react.
So no, I'm not laying the blame at Harper's feet to this potentially economic Armaggedon. But he has done precious little to protect the Canadian economy, and has even made some serious blunders that have knocked out a few of its weight-bearing walls in just two years of office.
Meanwhile, Dion has made measured comments and proposals that suggest someone who understands the severity of the problem and isn't going to panic nor stand aside while the engine catches fire. Dion is talking responsibly. His economic proposal has the same price tag as Harper's recent bon mot, but is geared towards spurring companies to adapt and prepare for a new reality. After hearing about the CON's game, US trade protectionists got their hackles up , ready to spend some of that $500 million Harper signed over as a parting gift to the so-called softwood lumber agreement.
Gord Henderson recalls the tough times of 1980, when Chrysler stood on the precipice of disaster. Had it gone down, it would have taken Windsor's economy with it. The Trudeau government stood up to the plate and agreed to give $250 million in loan guarantees, ones that were never cashed, which prevented a disaster and at the same time ensured the U.S. automaker invested millions into research and development of a newfangled kind of people mover, the minivan, here in Canada.
Times have changed. There are no more 'New Deals', or leaders like Franklin Roosevelt, who during his term in office, lambasted the rich for neglecting their duty to pay taxes during tough times. Today we have people like Bush and Harper, protecting the rich from being part of the solution.
It's no wonder that comfortably ensconced columnists like Martin and Ivison prefer to pitch their cow patties as brown pearls of wisdom.