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Pushed to the Left and Loving It: If a Tsunami Was Coming Our Government Would Warn us Right?

Last month the Australian Broadcasting Corporation released the findings of the International Monetary Fund’s study of house prices in developed nations.

They were ranked by affordability based on income. The worst three countries were Belgium, Canada and Australia. Australia is specifically mentioned by the IMF’s deputy managing director Min Zhu – along with Belgium, Canada, Norway and Sweden – as one of the countries where house prices are out of whack with where history suggests they should be.

When countries are ranked on how they are moving in the right direction, Canada is 26th.

We all know what the housing (Read more…)

The Ranting Canadian: The Harper Cons have announced they are naming the new Finance…

The Harper Cons have announced they are naming the new Finance Canada building after the worst finance minister in Canadian (and Ontario) history, “Deficit Jim” Flaherty. To reflect Flaherty’s disastrous political record and mean-spirited personality, it will:

Be small and useless Go billions of dollars over budget and have a huge mortgage Be funded by money embezzled from veterans’ services, Employment Insurance, healthcare, scientific research, job training programs, environmental conservation, etc. Be built by underpaid temporary foreign workers instead of Canadians Be constructed and operated under unsafe conditions Have a false front Feature a gazebo, a fake lake and (Read more…)

Montreal Simon: Stephen Harper and the Canonization of Jimbo Flaherty

Well I knew what he was going to do from the moment he announced that Jim Flaherty would have a state funeral, for no good reason.And then let it be known that he had PERSONALLY written the eulogy he would deliver.And sure enough he did turn that solemn occasion into yet another giant photo-op for the glorification of HIMSELF. Read more »

Politics and its Discontents: Goodbye, Jim

The other day I wrote a post on Jim Flaherty and his ‘legacy,’ inspired by two columns published in The Star. On this day of his state funeral, it seems appropriate to offer the views of a few Star readers on Flaherty’s record, and the posthumous accolades and state funeral offered him:

Re: Tale of two tragedies reveals Flaherty’s flaws, April 14Re: Former finance minister made sacrifices for public, April 12

Decorum suggest that we be gracious in remembering long-serving parliamentarians such as Jim Flaherty. True, he was a talented politician who impacted many people in his professional life. (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Advice to progressives: Don’t airbrush Jim Flaherty’s record out of sympathy for his family

The late Jim Flaherty tries on the traditional new shoes just before delivering his 2012 federal budget. Below, some of Mr. Flaherty’s friends and colleagues: former Ontario premier Mike Harris, in whose government he also served; Prime Minister Stephen Harper; Toronto Mayor Rob Ford.

Decent people naturally feel sympathy with the loved ones of any person taken unexpectedly from life, as just-retired federal Conservative Finance Minister Jim Flaherty was last week.

We are naturally more inclined to experience such feelings of vicarious loss when the person who has died is charming and engaging – as Mr. Flaherty was said by (Read more…)

A Different Point of View....: Flaherty’s Legacy – The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

The unexpected, shocking death of Jim Flaherty, the Conservative Party’s only Finance Minister until his retirement less than a month ago, has resulted in hundreds of warm tributes for his commitment to public life and praise from those in business and conservative circles who approved of his financial and economic policies.

Flaherty the man, who was only 64, was devoted to his family and one of the most popular Members of Parliament. Friends indicated that Flaherty was headed for a high-paying job on Bay Street, so he could make the hundreds-of-thousands of dollars he had sacrificed by taking a lower paying government job.

PM Stephen Harper with Flaherty: Nixing stimulus, killing revenue. Photo courtesy of The Tyee

While Jim Flaherty’s life achievements and humanity should be praised, it also needs to be said that his policies severely discriminated against the vast majority of Canadians.

Flaherty had control of purse strings . . . → Read More: A Different Point of View….: Flaherty’s Legacy – The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Politics and its Discontents: I Come Not To Praise Flaherty

I have thus far avoided writing about Jim Flaherty’s passing for a very simple reason; it is difficult, if not impossible to keep separate his family’s personal loss with the man’s record as a politician. Yet two pieces I read in yesterday’s Star convinced me otherwise, and they allow me to offer my own views without disrespect for the dead.

The first, a fine piece of writing by Jim Coyle, is entitled Jim Flaherty gave up so much to serve us. His thesis is this:

…our politics would … improve mightily if the Canadian public saw politicians as human beings much (Read more…)

The Ranting Canadian: Canadians will forever be indebted because of Jim…

Canadians will forever be indebted because of Jim Flaherty.

Regardless of what one thinks of the recently deceased man on a personal level, if one uses objective, non-emotional criteria, it is clear that he was probably the worst finance minister in Canadian history. Unfortunately for us, his replacement, Joe Oliver, will likely be much worse.

Almost immediately after Flaherty’s death became public, the fawning political praise and sickening historical revisionism flooded in like oil from an Enbridge pipeline spill. Over-the-top accolades for the small callous man have been stomach-churning, and is an insult to his many victims. It is (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Ezra Klein comments on the U.S.’ doom loop of oligarchy – as accumulated wealth is spent to buy policy intended to benefit nobody other than those who have already accumulated wealth: On Thursday, the House passed Paul Ryan’s 2015 budget. In order to get near balance, the budget contains $5.1 trillion in spending cuts — roughly two-thirds of which come from programs for poor Americans. Those cuts need to be so deep because Ryan has pledged not to raise even a dollar in taxes.

As a very simple rule, rich (Read more…)

Montreal Simon: Jim Flaherty: The Man and the Legacy

I think it's fair to say that he was a better person at the end of his political career than he was at the beginning.He did reinvent himself from a pit bull to something vaguely resembling a pragmatist. He did become more human.And I'm sorry he died before he could spend more time with his family, or on the golf course, as he well deserved. But it also must be said that he was a prominent member of the worst government in Canadian history, and this is part of his legacy. Read more »

Trashy's World: Haven’t posted two entries on the same day for a while.

… For quite a while. But I had to say something to a wider audience than FB. I am SICKENED by some of the comments I’m seeing on the news stories about Jim Flaherty’s sudden death. Shit, peeps, really? This is just the depth that som conservatives sunk to when Layton died. I’m as partisan […]

Politics, Re-Spun: The Death of Jim Flaherty

“We are, of course, not in the world alone and our lives here are finite.”

“Our individual and family responsibilities are primary. Yet the desire to accumulate private goods in the end does not lead to satisfaction simply because, as we all learn, enough is never enough.”

- Jim Flaherty, October 2011, Western

It has been an honour to serve Canada. Thank you for the opportunity. pic.twitter.com/vIbBNgT0wY

— Jim Flaherty (@JimFlaherty) March 18, 2014

It is always sad when people die, including former federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty.

He will easily be remembered as an (Read more…)

Political Eh-conomy: Political Eh-conomy Radio: Questioning legacies: Flaherty and the PQ

This week’s podcast takes on government economic policy.

First, Armine Yalnizyan looks back at the tenure of Jim Flaherty as federal Finance Minister; the interview is based on an article she recently published in the Globe and Mail. Armine is a senoir economist at the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. She is also a founding member of the Globe and Mail’s Economy Lab feature and the Progressive Economics Forum. You can find her on Twitter @ArmineYalnizyan.

I then talk to Eve-Lyne Couturier about the legacy of the last PQ government in Quebec and the economic debates going into the upcoming provincial election. Eve-Lyne is a (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: A More Realistic Appraisal of Jim Flaherty

If, like me, you were rather appalled by the hypocritical yet predictable enconiums offered to Jm Flaherty by his political foes, you will likely enjoy this letter from Ottawa Star reader Morgan Duchesney, who renders a far more realistic appraisal of the departing Finance Minister:

Re: Chance for a fresh start, Editorial March 19

As Jim Flaherty retires to “private life,” I wish him a speedy recovery from his lingering illness. Missing from the goodbye accolades is any mention of Flaherty’s greatest failure. Whether sick or healthy: Flaherty lacked the will to take any serious steps to collect the billions (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Stewart Prest writes about the Cons’ war against experts: (I)n modern democratic states one of the most important sources for non-partisan information and expertise is the government itself. Government bureaucracies are the only institutions in the world today with the access, the resources, and the motivation to systematically monitor and study the entirety of a country’s population and the extent of its human and natural environment.

Examples are legion, from statisticians to health officials to diplomats to environmental scientists. They exist throughout the much maligned but nonetheless vital bureaucracy of the country. Crucially, (Read more…)

Montreal Simon: The Harper Cult and the War on the Media

It looked like a mob meeting, with big black cars and burly bodyguards to keep reporters away.Or as Tom Mulcair called it, the gathering of some secretive cult. But it was only Oily Joe Oliver's hush hush swearing in ceremony. Read more »

Bryan Crockett: The aftermath of a week of resignations

Yesterday, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty resigned. I speculated on which political players that the Mr. Harper might appoint to replace him, and I was flat-out wrong. Stephen Harper’s choice for Finance was former Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver. No offence to Joe Oliver, but this was ultimately a boring choice on Mr. Harper’s part.

Joe Oliver has the kind of resume that Bay Street will like. But Mr. Oliver isn’t the kind of Minister that could give the Conservatives an electoral push in 2015. But what this does for Stephen Harper is it allows him to keep the leadership (Read more…)

Calgary Grit: Hanging up the shoes

It’s not a huge surprise, but it’s still big news. After 8 years, the only Finance Minister Stephen Harper has ever known and loved is calling it quits:

Jim Flaherty steps down as finance minister

OTTAWA – Jim Flaherty is leaving the federal cabinet after more than eight years as finance minister to prepare for a return to the private sector, saying the move is unrelated to his recent health problems.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper is expected to name his replacement Wednesday.

Flaherty, who delivered his final budget last month, said he made the decision with his family earlier (Read more…)

Bryan Crockett: Who will replace Deficit, err, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty?

Conservative Finance Minister Jim Flaherty has announced that he’s resigning from Cabinet, and leaving politics to work in the private sector.

Considering Flaherty has been in politics for nearly two decades, it would be fairly reasonable that he’d want to leave. However, it is peculiar, considering how strongly he lobbied to be kept on as Finance Minister during the last Cabinet shuffle, when the rumours that he was on his way out were making their way around. He has also previous stated, in no uncertain terms, that he intended on staying on until “the budget was balanced in 2015”. (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Rick Smith hopes that the Cons’ backtracking on income splitting means that they won’t go quite as far out of their way to exacerbate income inequality in the future: (T)he unfortunate reality is that we are still becoming ever more unequal, a trend due in large measure to political choices. Many countries have found ways to mitigate the growth of income inequality, while in Canada the policy response has tended to reinforce rather than offset the trend.

We know that since the mid-1990s, the social role of government has been dramatically cut back (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

Assorted content for your Sunday reading.

- Robert Reich comments on the concerted effort by the U.S.’ rich to exacerbate inequality – and points out how it’s warped their worldview. And Dean Baker criticizes the spread of inequality by design: And then there is the financial sector where Mankiw tells us that the extraordinary pay is compensation for the volatility of paychecks. That’s interesting, except the vast majority of comparably talented and hardworking people would be happy to get the pay the finance folks get in the bad years. Much of the big money on Wall Street stems (Read more…)

Calgary Grit: Caucus Splitting

By design, Tuesday’s budget was a non-event. The public’s eyes are on Sochi, and the pundits’ eyes are on next year’s budget. So, it should not be surprising that it was the post-budget fallout that grabbed the most headlines, when Finance Minister Jim Flaherty mused that the Tories central 2011 campaign promise of income splitting might not actually be in next year’s budget.

We can debate the merits of income splitting (and this ensures we will), but what I find most shocking about this is that we appear to have the first public rift between Stephen Harper and the only (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: On testing principles

It’s obviously tempting for opposition parties to turn the recent spate of stories about difference of opinion within the Cons into a simple matter of “they’re not united”. But it’s well worth emphasizing the substance of the issues – and particularly questioning whether the MPs who are challenging their partymates on specific issues are willing to apply the same principles elsewhere.

Most obviously, Jim Flaherty is absolutely right to recognize that income splitting represents a costly and gratuitous giveaway to a few wealthy Canadians which is aimed purely at winning votes rather than serving valid public policy goals. But the (Read more…)

BigCityLib Strikes Back: Who Benefits From Income Splitting?

Rich folk. From this guy.  No wonder Finance Minister Jim Flaherty is having doubts. I can’t see this as being good politics, and it wouldn’t surprise me if his negative comments are some kind of trial balloon to gather feedback before the Tories decide for or against.  Alternatively, if you’ve heard Flaherty lately, he sounds terrible, so maybe he’s set to retire and doesn’t care that he’s breaking with party orthodoxy.

Politics and its Discontents: The Harper Legacy: Empty Mantras And Empty Ideology

I hope readers don’t think I have grown lazy or burnt-out when I reprint letters from The Toronto Star. It is just that their observations and ideas are frequently so nicely expressed that I think they merit some exposure in the blogosphere.

Today’s offers a sharp rebuke to the tired Tory ideology of low corporate taxes as the path to prosperity, a mantra that has been repeatedly shown to be as devoid of value as the head of their leader and our Prime Minister is devoid of ideas and vision.

Re: Canada hit by unexpected rise in jobless rate, Jan. (Read more…)