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Reading between the lines of Jim Flaherty’s speech

FESCHUK: Jim mad! Jim smash global bank tax!


 

Minister of Finance Jim Flaherty makes a speech at the Canadian Club of Ottawa at the Chateau Laurier in Ottawa on Tuesday Sept. 21, 2010. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

The speaker: Jim Flaherty, Finance Minister

The venue: Canadian Club of Ottawa

The date: Sept. 21, 2010

•••

It’s a pleasure to address this well informed and distinguished group of opinion leaders.

The Prime Minister sends his regards. [Extends middle finger.]

•••

The fall session of Parliament has just started.

It’s a good time for some serious, frank talk.

We have some important choices to make.

Choices like: should I adapt my speaking style to the audience I’m appearing before, and include more than nine words in some of my sentences? Or should I speak to this “well-informed and distinguished group of opinion leaders” in the same clipped manner most people reserve for domesticated animals?

•••

We’ve gone through an extraordinary time the past two years.

A synchronized recession, the deepest since the Depression.

You could tell the recession was synchronized because it used Vaseline to keep its hair in place.

That’s why our government’s main focus has been – and will continue to be  – the economy.

That, and the vengeance.

We’re punching above our weight – far above our weight.

We’re punching so far above our weight that we’re kind of like The Hulk of the world’s financial community. JIM MAD! JIM SMASH GLOBAL BANK TAX!!

And now the heavyweights are coming to us for lessons. In my travels, at international meetings, I hear it again and again. Leaders of the world, looking at Canada and our economy with envy.

And, lately, with what can only be described as intense sexual longing. I’m pretty sure I caught Geithner feeling up our monetary policy.

•••

You’re familiar with the reasons Canada stands out – now, more than ever.

Low, increasingly low taxes.

The lowest debt burden of the major advanced economies – by far.

Rock-solid banks.

Rona Ambrose’s hair. Oh, sweet Jesus, that hair.

These are huge accomplishments.

Shiny, shiny hair…

Accomplishments that Opposition politicians choose to ignore.

Opposition politicians who talk down our economy for political gain at every opportunity.

Unlike when we were in opposition, when we were all about providing the government with moral support and backrubs.

To them I say: rise above petty politics.

I implore you: do that thing that I am about to not do.

Do your job as critics. Criticize this government as you need to. But don’t tear down our country for short-term political gain to do it.

That’s my boss’s thing.

•••

We all have the right to celebrate our performance during the deepest economic crisis since the Great Depression and the world-leading strengths of our economy.

Suck it, Greece.

Tax rates, deficit projections, debt-to-GDP, jobs numbers – they’re impressive, but abstract.

Much like my elfin heritage.

We cannot and must not be complacent.

Yes, Canada has outperformed during the global recession. But still too many Canadians are looking for work.

Maxime Bernier, for one.

Canadians are anxious… The recession isn’t their fault. They look to us for leadership, so we can get through it together.

And looking to us is fine, so long as they don’t actually make eye contact with Mr. Harper. AVERT YOUR GAZE, SASKATCHEWAN!

•••

We must implement our stimulus plan fully, and keep helping those who need it.

I’d explain more fully, but I’m pressed for time. I have to be back for Question Period – and all those Economic Action Plan signs on Sussex Drive aren’t going to count themselves.

But there are risks ahead, serious risks.

The global economy remains fragile…

And beyond the economic risks, there is, I regret to say, a political risk. That is the risk of an unnecessary election, an election that would jeopardize our economic recovery, just as we enter the home stretch.

Is anyone actually threatening an election? No. Has anyone threatened one for the past year? No. But Mr. Harper told me to say this and he gets mad when I don’t listen. DEEP DOWN, THIS MAKES ME FEEL LIKE LESS OF A MAN!

•••

Canadians don’t want an election.

Our government isn’t seeking one.

But the opposition coalition – the Michael Ignatieff-NDP-Bloc Québécois coalition – has been consistent in one thing, if only one thing.

Sartorial elegance?

From the beginning of the global economic crisis, they have put their own self-interest above Canadians.

Oh.

More than once, when they’ve thought they had a shot at seizing power, they’ve threatened to force an unnecessary election – knowing it would put Canada’s recovery in jeopardy.

And in response we have selflessly prorogued Parliament for you, Canada. For you.

•••

Just five short years ago, Canada was led by a weak, dithering, and directionless government.

They were so weak they could barely produce a $13-billion surplus for me to piss away.

Today, our government is strong.

Our federation is united.

And Canadians have received real benefits that deliver real support for the real world: cutting the GST; introducing the $1200-per-year child care benefit; delivering the Tax-Free Savings Account.

Reneging on promised plans to create child-care spaces. Abandoning promised efforts to reduce health care wait times. Twice killing our own anti-crime measures in the name of crass political survival. It all balances out.

•••

But most important, we met the challenge of the global economic crisis head-on, with our world-leading Economic Action Plan…

Once the crisis hit we didn’t panic.

How could we panic when we neither saw the crisis coming nor realized it had arrived?

Instead we went to work.

One stimulus sign, two stimulus signs, three stimu­– dammit, Strahl, you made me lose count!

We listened to Canadians in one of the largest pre-budget consultations in history.

We fast-tracked our budget – the earliest in Canadian history.

I am going to speak a little more quickly here so you don’t have time to realize that the reason we had to fast-track our budget is that, only a few months earlier, I had personally released the single-most inaccurate and widely mocked economic update in the history of both Canada and math.

We delivered further tax cuts.

We enhanced EI benefits for those hit hardest by the global recession.

And we made job-creating investments in roads, bridges, buildings, and other infrastructure that will leave a legacy for future generations.

This sewer system is <sniff> for you, Billy. All for you. Sorry about health care.

•••

Ladies and gentlemen, an unnecessary election would put all of this at risk.

How? I’m not going to tell you. But not because there isn’t a reason. THERE’S POSSIBLY A VERY GOOD REASON, I’M WILLING TO WAGER.

Throughout the recession, the Ignatieff-NDP-Bloc Québécois coalition has demanded we raise taxes.

Boy, that “Ignatieff-NDP-Bloc Québécois coalition” thing sure is a mouthful. I hope you don’t mind if it short-hand it by calling them something more concise and terrifying like the “Legion of Doom” or “Human Ebola.”

Under an Ignatieff-NDP-Bloc Québécois government, nothing would be safe.

No part of our economy would be spared.

No taxpayer would avoid the hit.

The sweet relief of death could not come too soon for the despairing people of Canada!

Experts estimate the Michael Ignatieff-NDP-Bloc Québécois tax hikes would kill almost 400,000 jobs.

Exactly which “experts” are making this curiously precise estimate about these vague, theoretical tax hikes? I’m not going to tell you. But not because they don’t exist. THEY QUITE POSSIBLY DO EXIST MAYBE!!

•••

[Canadians] deserve better than a Liberal leader who would risk their jobs, their livelihood.

I know he’s been abroad for a long time.

But here in Canada, you don’t tell people what to worry about.

You listen to Canadians and they tell you.

And then you tell Mr. Harper, and Mr. Harper says, “They’re worried about the potentially intrusive nature of the long-form census, right?” and you say, “No, they’re worried about their jobs and their livelihoods,” and then Mr. Harper says, “Census. Gotcha. I’m on it.”

•••

That’s a night-and-day difference from our Conservative government under Stephen Harper.

The record shows we take a principled, practical, and prudent approach to leadership.

I am hoping my claim will come across as less patently absurd if I fancy it up with alliteration.

The coalition led by Mr. Ignatieff has its own agenda – power, power, power.

Whereas our leader eschews power in all its forms, preferring to meditate while leaving all decisions of consequence to the Sorting Hat.

•••

Canadians are tired of political instability. They are tired of elections every two years.

And they know we need a stable government, to ensure our economic recovery and long-term growth.

I know I just said an election would be an unacceptable risk. But now I’m suggesting that not having an election that produces a Conservative majority government is also an unacceptable risk. Don’t waste your time trying to make sense of it.

The outcome [of the next election] will be a majority government, one way or another.

A stable, national majority under Stephen Harper’s leadership.

Or the reckless coalition of Michael Ignatieff, the NDP, and the Bloc Québécois.

Mr. Harper made me say those exact words. He even made me write them on my arm so I wouldn’t forget. That’s why I smell like Sharpie.

•••

In the global recession, the ship of state has had a difficult voyage.

But we can see the harbour lights.

I’m being lyrical here. Roll with it.

And that’s just when a would-be captain and his ragtag crew are trying to storm the bridge.

Pirates! Don’t you understand? They were pirates the whole time!

If they seize the wheel, ladies and gentlemen, they’ll have us on the rocks.

Bear with me… almost done…

And that’s not how this voyage should end.

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the conclusion of your metaphor. Please drive safely.

The coalition… would squander our Canadian advantage, and limit our long-term prospects.

They would set us on the same downward spiral other countries are now trying desperately to escape.

Also, they’d give us scurvy and ravish our women folk.

•••

It’s about ensuring Canadians can provide for their families…

Canadians get this, and that’s why they get what our government is doing.

That’s why they can trust us.

That’s why they know Stephen Harper’s leadership is the kind of stable, responsible leadership our country needs.

If I say the Prime Minister’s name three times during the speech, I get a lollipop when I get back to the Commons!

Our history shows we’re willing to work hard, to work together, and to make tough but balanced choices when necessary, for the sake of our achieving our shared goals.

A country as great as Canada couldn’t have been built any other way.

And our Conservative government under Stephen Harper wouldn’t do it any other way.

Four times! Now I get a hair tousling!

•••

Thank you, ladies and gentlemen.

Thank you for attending a speech by a Finance Minister that included no numbers, information, forecasts or serious analysis of global economic conditions, but instead sounded like the political equivalent of an unhinged high school student’s poetry journal.


 
Filed under:

Reading between the lines of Jim Flaherty’s speech

  1. Somebody told me it was $75 to get in to that luncheon. All I can say is that the maple pumpkin soup had better have been DAMN good, 'cause the entertainment blew.

    • Somebody told you wrong – $45 for members and $67 for non-members (it's on the website). No soup.

      • No soup for you?

        Say it isn't so!

        Sigh.

        • Soup would have been nice but no…

  2. One of your better efforts, Feschuk. Love it.

  3. This should be required reading for all members of the Parliamentary Press Gallery. Brilliant.

  4. Glad I wasn't there. I would have had to throw buns. Keep it up, Scott.

  5. But here in Canada, you don't tell people what to worry about.

    Wait, what? But you keep telling me to worry about elections. And the MINDPWTFBBQ Coalition. And census forms (only if they are long). And don't forget elections.

    • And unreported crime. Don't forget unreported crime!

    • But here in Canada, you don't tell people what to worry about.

      Unless it's warrantless search and seizure of guns.

  6. Scott I love you man.

  7. best belly laugh in a long time, great work!

  8. Priceless, I laughed all the way through.

    As to Flaherty, the one line summed up his entire raison d'etre…'That, and the vengeance.' LOL

    • same old tired comments about the PM and the Party. Guess this journalist has to do some real WORK to come up with something informative.

  9. Satire is devastating! Keep it up Scott!
    Flaherty, as Canada's ' Mad Hatter' !!
    When Canada's illustrious 'Mad Hatter', Minister of Finance, stoops to a regaling the Bay Street crowd with a simplistic 'Tim Horton's crowd' political speech, you know that PM Harper is getting Corporate Canada ready for his decision to pull the plug on his very own government.
    As soon as Harper's newly appointed Governor General has set up digs set at Rideau Hall, PM Harper will be paying him a quick courtesy call demanding that Johnson drop the writ for a snap election.
    The economy is about to tank, a second time, and the fiscal conservatives will prevent Harper from blowing the budget with another ginormous stimulus boondoggle. The internal reports on the Harper first Stimulus Spending boondoggle will soon be out and these will be devastating! Time to get ahead of the political curve ball!
    Extensive strategic polling, it seems, has convinced Harper that enough conservative-minded voters, in a number of small town and rural Canada and suburban constituencies, want a majority Conservative government.
    Many of these voters believe they will continue to benefit from the Harper pork-barreling bonanza!!
    These voters will be rewarded with the cancellation of the long-gun registry even if it means undermining Harper's tough on crime agenda.
    We can all hear the clarion call loud and clear!
    Only a majority Conservative government will enable Harper to carry out the various agendas of his political coalition, a coalition comprising all the elements of Canada's New Right — Christian nationalists and Christian Zionists, libertarians, western populists, fiscal conservatives, and traditional French-Canadian conservative nationalists.
    The Harper Conservative Party and government are now hostage to these special interest groups and PM Harper has decided to play them for every seat he can get. The end — power, power, power at any cost — justifies the means!
    PM Harper is convinced that he can control all these various special interest groups by buying them off one at a time.
    Harper runs an enormous risk of having government being high-jacked by these special interest groups.

  10. Liberal sour grapes and deep desperation … soooo obvious.

    • What part of no numbers, information, forecasts or serious analysis of global economic conditions do you disagree with? Not to mention this was at the Canadian Club, which is PO'd that a guest speaker used their officially non-partisan forum to make political attacks.

    • It didn't take the Liberals to make Flaherty look like a buffoon this time. He did it all by himself

    • Sour grapes.?……..tell me one thing " Long John Flaherty" said about the economy in his speech?
      Lol! Har Har Maties! We be sailng into election territory on the noonday tide! Har Har!
      First mate Baird pour me a jigger O' scotch an kool-aid laddie! ")

  11. Feschuk, you owe me new underpants.

    Also, new pants.

    Also, an office chair.

    • But surely it was all worth it, was it not!

      We need more satire of this calibre and the sooner the better!

      Our comedians have let us down – except for Ric Mercer of course!

      • I admit it, the loss of continence was worth it.

      • Rick has let me down….too friendly by far with the politicians.
        Now 22 minutes last night took every chance it could to skewer Harper and his buddies….that's more like it !

  12. Well deni,

    If it was this http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andrew_Cohen_(journa… Andrew Cohen then it is no surprise since he is a big Trudeau fan.

    However if it this http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andrew_Cohen_(coloni… , Andrew Cohen then sad to say he is dead.

    Now if it is was the most interesting Andrew Cohen http://www.andrewcohen.org/ he would no doubt tell you to enlighten up.

    Finally it was Andrew Coyne, perhaps you are helping Bill make his point. http://www2.macleans.ca/2010/09/21/bill-gates-in-

  13. You have Sun News and you have it NOW.

  14. LFAO! LOL! For Real! Feschuk, you rule! (well, technically, not since 2006, but you know what I mean). But aren't you bummed Flaherty stole the copyrighted Feschuk-Reid slogan: "Weak, Dithering, & Directionless!" Or can he get away with it because he omitted the excalamation mark? (By the way, you're "Weak", Reid's "Directionless" and Herle is "Dithering", right?).

    No, that was totally awesome. I had tears in my eyes, mostly laughter.

    I'm just going to come out and say it: this piece is better than that revered episode of Three's Company, the one where there's a misunderstanding.

    • PS. And I'm "Ungrammatical", apparently: exclamation, not excalamation, though that sounds even more exciting, Madden NFL worthy, I might be so bold.

  15. I've been away for a while and it's nice to come back to a really good laugh. Thanks!

  16. Reminds me of when Flaherty concealed 5.5 billion dollars in debt in the mess the Lack of Common Sense Reactionaries turned over to the McGuinty government, the man has never been responsible.

  17. His speech also reminds us that the Canadian economy did so well because of Liberal banking laws that Harper would have deregulated if he had had a majority government before the 'synchronized recession" (read American deregulated banking disaster), leaving us in the dumpster with everyone else, so thank you Libs for not being Cons.

    • I agree entirely. I've always figured that the Cons would have implemented deregulation in financial services/banking if they'd won a majority. They like to take credit for a banking sector that was stable and secure during the implosion only because they'd lacked the majority they needed to "fix" it. In this case, I think they were saved by their own political impotence.

      The Cons' disastrous campaign to "cut red tape" when Flaherty was in Ontario's government is, I think, a fair clue as to where he'd really like to go with a majority in Ottawa.

  18. Thank you. Because, when I first saw the speech myself yesterday, the first word that came to mind was "disgrace."

  19. So Please. When Flaherty says,
    Those bunch of Banana's say they want to be in charge, its like saying the world will end.

    Do you remember how the Liberals made a minor recession into a major one.
    Do you see how Harper made a Major recession into a minor one.

    The Proof is the Proof. 400, 000 jobs where lost, and 435,000 jobs where gained back, and the stimulus is still not finished yet.
    The 2% GST Cut is still in play as is lower taxes.

    Flaherty was correct. Iggy and Jack are wrong.

    • See, here's the problem: I'm a Tory. I served with Jim Flaherty.

      But I also come from that warped Conservative generation that actually bothers to read more than the talking points the Party BOTs send out. And from those sources – you know, liberal sources like the Financial Post, or the Bloomberg wire – it's been clear that Big Jim has been pushing for an EI premium increase for months now. You know, what Actual Conservatives used to call a "job killing payroll tax increase."

      When Jim climbs down from his commitment to kill 150,000 jobs with his tax hike, then I might listen to his childish whining about the Liberals *proposals* for a tax hike. But not until then.

  20. Conservative 435000 Job gain Good.
    Liberal Tax to ballance books during recession Bad.
    You lower taxes and help the economy during a recession,
    You raise taxes during the boom times to pay down Debt.

    It was the GST and free trade and the Oil patch and Ontario Exports that fueled our economy. WE canadians worked.

    It was the Liberals who where against Free trade.
    It was the Liberals who didn't want the tax shift from a manufacturing tax to a GST

  21. LOL! Brilliant :)

  22. Brilliant writing. A classic

  23. I don't get it. But lots of others do, so I'm going to come back to it again sometime. Maybe.

    I guess it just seems like random dumb adolescent remarks thrown in, more than actual satire. Certainly not "brilliant" or a "classic". Maybe I'm just grumpy.

  24. Somebody should get a full body masage for writing this. Brilliant.

  25. WoW… both my 'liberal desperation' and 'humourless personal attacks veiled as satire' detectors are off the scale…no wait! they just burned out from over-use!

    Good Job Macleans on another wonderful and insightful article that never puts words into Conservatives mouths, and uses balanced and knowledgeable writing to inform the public instead of turning them off for cheap political gains.
    OH, by the way, I just killed your "sarcasm detectors" so we're even…

    • I recommend the Sun editorials to you – if you're looking for wonderful and insightful. They're in a class all by themselves.

  26. If you check out how the Nazi Party started (and I am serious here…check it out), it was with a minority govt, who used simplistic language repeatedly uttering the same messages, used the media to drill their message(s) home, said they had god on their side, got rid of all of their opposition after ridiculing them repeatedly, would not tolerate any dissention in their ranks, insulted, took away citizens rights (G20 style), accused, pointed fingers, used divisive propoganda….sound familiar….like Flaherty above..great piece, good to laugh if it wasn't so serious…be careful these guys are very dangerous to democracy.

  27. Kudos from me, too. This will enter the political lexicon, if anyone besides John D. can say it right.

  28. Again , Mr. Feschuk a riot to read…how you manage to put those things together is beyond me, but keep it up please!

    Now on a more serious note, I hope there is a bus on it's way to pick these fringe lunatics up and return them to, to, to,…wherever they come from!

  29. Excellent !

  30. Words of wisdom on behalf of the Reform,Alliance, and sell out Progressive Conservative coalition.
    Ps I voted conservative in all of the elections in the past 53 years – never again.

  31. On the TV clips he does resemble a Troll that is sitting in my English Garden.

  32. Very well put. It is so sad that all of what you say is so true.

  33. This is our Finance Minister? God help us all!
    I wouldn't trust him with my piggy bank.

    Granny

  34. I like this article because it shows our Finance Minister's arrogance with an audience who knows better, and how the government continues to paint the other guy as the cause of all evil.

    Bay street types read more than the drivelthat comes from the PMO. Go look at articles in the Economist over the past two years focussing largely on the financial crisis and recovery. Over and over these reports point to the stellar performance of the LIBERAL government under Chretian and Martin, who reduced Conservative defecits and made our banking system strong. As long as Canadians remain uninformed, we will have people like Flaherty to put us at risk. Canadian has done well in spite of the Conservatives, who are the principal beneficiaries of LIBERAL fiscal prudence.

  35. FESCHUK – YOU ARE A GENIUS!

  36. "That's why they can trust us."

    He's kidding right ?

  37. Standing and applauding.

  38. Its very nice article.I really appreciate you.You done a great job.Thanks for sharing with us.Keep it up.Don't stop your bloging…
    corded phonesA

  39. That Liberal-NDP-Bloc Quebecois coalition thingie –

    How about calling it the "axis of evil"?

    Oh wait, that's already been taken :(

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