PHOTOS: Prime Minister Stephen Harper meets a group of foreign event logistics consultants while travelling abroad (Government of Canada photo). Below: Pierre Trudeau does suppressed fury the right way; Mr. Harper does it with considerably less appeal. Clearly, the continuing uproar about Stephen Harper’s “event logistics team members” tells us something fundamental about the increasingly . . . → Read More: Alberta Politics: ‘Event logisticians’? Give us a break! They’re bouncers! What’s that tell you about the Tories?
“There is always a storm. There is always rain. Some experience it. Some live through it. And others are made from it.” Author Shannon L. Alder Recently NDP candidate and former Saskatchewan finance minister, Andrew Thomson, stated on Power and Politics, that cuts were inevitable, in order to balance the budget. In Saskatchewan, he . . . → Read More: Pushed to the Left and Loving It: Our Addiction to Balanced Budgets May Need an Intervention
“There is always a storm. There is always rain. Some experience it. Some live through it. And others are made from it.” Author Shannon L. Alder
Recently NDP candidate and former Saskatchewan finance minister, Andrew Thomson, stated on Power and Politics, that cuts were inevitable, in order to balance the budget.
In Saskatchewan, he cut funding to education, though it still didn’t balance the books. He had to take money from the province’s contingency fund, including almost a half million dollars for advertising, that he had balanced the books, when in fact, he had not.
Hiding deficits for politicians is not uncommon. Jim Flaherty did it in Ontario and Joe Oliver is doing it now.
But in defence of Thomson, Flaherty and Oliver; we have become the enablers of their addiction to the high of being good economic managers. They had to hide their red eyes and red ink, so they didn’t have to come before us in shame, or ruin their chance for re-election.
The question we need to be asking ourselves, is why balanced budgets are so important. Does it really matter if the federal government runs a deficit?
Political consultant and commentator, Will McMartin, discussed this recently in the Tyee. He begins with the announcement that the Conservatives would present a balanced budget. However, he implies, so what?
A closer look at the country’s finances, however, raises a simple question: why all the fuss? The budget is a thin slice of the Canadian economic pie, and interest costs on our debt are shrinking to near-giveaway size. Ottawa is just one of three government levels, and taken as a whole our government spending is very much under control.
The federal budget represents just 15% of our overall economy.
The Blame Game
There has been a lot of debate recently, over what political party is responsible for our perceived debt/deficit “mess”. Since only Conservatives and Liberals have ever formed government, it narrows the debate down to those two.
The biggest targets are Brian Mulroney and Pierre Trudeau. However, John Diefenbaker, also ran consecutive deficits, but that is not how their legacies should be judged.
Diefenbaker was a visionary, who fought for a united Canada. He gave us the Canadian Bill of Rights and stood up to the Americans, who wanted us to join their missile defence program. He may have made mistakes, but his deficits were created in part, by a new universal hospitalization program, and an enhanced Old Age Security.
Lester Pearson also left a deficit, but what defines him, are the many contributions he made. He expanded Diefenbaker’s hospitalization plan, to give us universal health care and introduced student loans and the Canada Pension Plan. He also created the Order of Canada, and moved toward abolishing capital punishment.
There’s no denying what Pierre Trudeau did to move our country forward, as he also expanded social programs, and created a more just society, with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Even Brian Mulroney, whose tenure was mired in corruption, left his mark on making Canada a better country. He created eight new national parks, finalized the U.S.-Canada acid rain treaty, and brought in the Environmental Protection Act.
He is also credited with giving us NAFTA, not necessarily a good thing, but it did help Canada in the short term.
All of these men were big idea guys, who had the courage to make things happen.
Diefenbaker’s idea: a united Canada with a focus on human rights.
Pearson’s: nation building and making Canada a diplomatic player on the international stage.
Trudeau’s: nation building with a focus on rights and freedoms, and an inclusive society.
Mulroney’s:, a desire to bring Canada into the 21st century, with a focus on business and international trade.
Who cares if they left deficits when those deficits represented only 15% of our GDP? Look at what we got in return?
I know that a lot of people are critical of NAFTA. I’m one of them. Not only did it hurt our manufacturing sector, but it has forced subsequent governments to adopt programs of deregulation, to meet the terms. Unfortunately, more deregulation may be required, since we are now the country most sued, for not meeting our nefarious commitments.
Election 2015: a Psychedelic Trip to Bizzaro-land
When Thomas Mulcair was the environment minister in Quebec, and wanted to privatize water, shipping it in bulk, he said that “the environmental laws protecting water are considered barriers to trade.” (The Press, Charles Cote and Mario Clouthier, June 16, 2004 ). Mulcair helped to draft NAFTA.
Everything has become a “barrier to trade”, that will exacerbate with even more international trade deals.
But what about the barriers to helping Canadian society? We were told that these deals would lead to economic prosperity. Where is it? I guess we should have read the fine print, that said only economic prosperity for the top 1%.
During the 2008 economic crisis, the Canadian government bailed out our banks with over 100 billion of our money. They bailed out companies, and sprinkled largesse over Conservative ridings. They built libraries and indoor soccer fields for private religious schools and set up an advertising campaign called the Canada Economic Action Plan that would have rivalled Joseph Goebbels propaganda ministry. (Yes I said it).
We found money for that, by adding to our deficit and debt. Adding it to the 15% stake in our country’s GDP. So why can’t we do the same for the Canadian people?
We need a National Housing Strategy, a National Food Program, and we need to expand our healthcare to include dental and prescription drugs. We need a subsidized tuition program, help for our seniors and our veterans, and an environmental plan that works.
Those things are not drains on our economy, but a viable way to grow our economy, that will create good, full time jobs, while reducing poverty and homelessness. We will see the value for the dollars we spend.
That suggests that it’s Mr. Trudeau whose position is in sync with the majority’s mood. The Liberal Leader has refused to rule out running a deficit, arguing he’ll have to see the extent of the “mess” the Conservatives have left in the public finances.
It is the NDP, traditionally to the left of the Liberals, who have launched the most blistering attacks on Mr. Trudeau for opening the door to running a deficit. Under Mr. Mulcair, the New Democrats have sought to allay concerns about their economic policies by insisting they will balance the books, despite the slowdown in the economy.
What an odd turn of events.
I’m glad that Trudeau is bringing the Liberal Party back to its roots, that put Canadians first. Now the NDP have to find their way back to the days of Tommy Douglas.
Many people have called me a socialist, but like Will McMartin, the author of the first piece I linked, I’m a conservative. Although actually a liberal/conservative. Common sense solutions to social problems. Grow the economy and the budget will balance itself.
Or maybe I’m just a Diefenbaker, with a dollop of Pearson and a splash of Pierre Trudeau.
Not such a bad thing to be.
. . . → Read More: Pushed to the Left and Loving It: Our Addiction to Balanced Budgets May Need an Intervention
I am a Canadian, free to speak without fear, free to worship in my own way, free to stand for what I think right, free to oppose what I believe wrong, or free to choose those who shall govern my country. This heritage of freedom I pledge to uphold for myself and all mankind. . . . → Read More: Pushed to the Left and Loving It: The Most Powerful Symbol You Will See This Election
PHOTOS: From the sublime to the ridiculous? Liberal Lester Pearson, the top postwar economic performer among Canadian prime ministers. Below: Stephen Harper, the bottom. Below him: Pierre Trudeau (second best) and Brian Mulroney (second worst). Below them: Unifor economists Jim Stanford and Jordan Brennan. One of the most effective ways to keep a population quiet . . . → Read More: Alberta Politics: Shhhhhh! Don’t tell anyone: As PM, Stephen Harper’s economic performance is a bust!
Why does the public go bananas when Danielle Smith, the leader of the Official Opposition, criticizes the PC government? They say she’s too negative, too shrill, too something. Can’t she be more positive they ask? More supportive?
Clearly they haven’t a clue about the role of the Opposition.
A thankless job
Winston Churchill grumped . . . → Read More: Susan on the Soapbox: Who Has The Worst Job in Alberta Politics?
New Brunswick Premier-designate Brian Gallant, grabbed from his campaign website. Below: Cranky old National Post opinion thingy Kelly McParland, age undetermined; Justin Trudeau, 42, getting off an airplane with some old guy, 62; Opposition Leader Thomas Mulcair, 59.
As the present now will later be past
The order is rapidly fadin’
And the . . . → Read More: Alberta Diary: Brian Gallant has a thin resume? Stephen Harper hasn’t held a real job since he quit the mailroom in ’79 or whenever!
“Isn’t that Brian Mulroney talking to some guy … Hey! Isn’t that one-a those Trudeaus?! Mulroney’s just another Trudeau lover! Like the Ottawa media elite!” Yadda-yadda… Below: The real Crazy Uncle Steve, Mr. Mulroney again, Heather Mallick. You can tell she’s a member of the urban Ottawa media elite because she’s wearing pearls!
. . . → Read More: Alberta Diary: Dispatches from your crazy Uncle Steve: It’s all the fault of the media elite!
Jim Coutts, son of the Great Plains and, as long-time principal secretary to Liberal prime minister Pierre Trudeau, once said to be the second most powerful person in Canada. (University of Lethbridge photo.) Below: The Lancaster bomber arrives in Nanton, inconveniently huge, but still too small to house a roadside café; my uncle, . . . → Read More: Alberta Diary: Why I voted for Jim Coutts in 1984 and probably would again, a lesson in retail politics
Yours Truly visiting the Texas House of Representatives in the State Capitol building in Austin, Texas – and thinking about what to say to Ryan Hastman on EdmontionPolitics.com. Below: The author with LBJ, sort of, and looking particularly fierce for the benefit of our Texan hosts.
Last week, just as my daughter Lily . . . → Read More: Alberta Diary: Campaign Diary Volume 5: Praise, political priorities and poetry
Could it be resurrected? Well, the idea is being talked about. But it’ll never “fly”. LOL! I kill me! So why not? Well, as I never got around to doing a doctorate in aerospace engineering, I cannot speak to the technical side of a 50-year-old concept repackaged for the 21st century. Who knows? Maybe it . . . → Read More: Trashy’s World: The Avro Arrow?
Gerda Munsinger: More proof if it were needed it that the Harper government secretly loves the Soviets. Below: Perfesser Dave; Pierre “Woody” Sévigny; the Avro Arrow, which we could have used against the Taliban if the same Conservatives now running Canada hadn’t scrapped it!
As readers of Alberta Diary by now know . . . → Read More: David Climenhaga’s Alberta Diary: Never mind the CCF! Perfesser Dave shows how the shadow of Stalin looms over the Harper Conservatives!