The end of Canadian conservatism

How Harper sold out to save himself


 

The Right in full retreat

Say what you like about the Tories: they don’t do things by halves. When they spend, they spend. When they go into debt, they do it $100 billion at a time. And when they decide to finish off what remains of conservatism in Canada—as a movement, as a philosophy—they go out with a bang.

We can safely say that the strategy of “incrementalism,” at least, is a thing of the past. With this week’s historic budget, the Conservatives’ already headlong retreat from principle has become a rout—a great final leap into the void. Understand: there will be no going back from this, for the party or for the country. Whatever the budget’s soothing talk of “temporary” this and “extraordinary” that, and for all its well-mannered charts showing spending obediently returning to its pen, deficits meekly subsiding, multi-billion-dollar “investments” repaid in full, we are in fact headed somewhere we have never been before. We are on course toward a massive and permanent increase in the size and scope of government: record spending, sky-high borrowing, and—ultimately, inevitably—higher taxes. And all this before the first of the baby boomers have had a chance to retire.

Whether it will prove the country’s undoing, and not just conservatives’, will depend upon events. In its simplest terms, the budget is a “stimulus package” that spills money every which way: $12 billion over two years for infrastructure; almost $8 billion meant to kick-start housing and construction; billions more in forestry, auto and manufacturing aid. The much feared broad-based income tax cuts amounted to lifting the income threshold for the middle and lower brackets. If everything the budget foretells comes to pass, we might not come out of it too badly. A $34-billion deficit next year, after all, is barely two per cent of GDP, and even four years and $85 billion worth of deficits, if the budget’s projections hold, would barely budge our debt-to-GDP ratio. But if they do not—if the economy fails to recover on cue; if inflation spikes when it does, and interest rates soon after; if all those billions in new spending, once in place, do not prove so easy to trim back; if the assets the government acquires with all of its borrowed money do not turn out to be worth what they cost—then we will head into the approaching demographic storm loaded down to the gunwales. It’s a monumental, even reckless gamble.

And whatever its likely consequences for the debt, its effect has already been to ratchet up expectations, to tilt the political landscape toward greater and greater interventionism, to change the very language in which we discuss these things. Again, this is unlikely to be easily reversed. Among the consequences of the end of conservatism will be to make it difficult, if not impossible, to muster a constituency even for restraining the growth of government, let alone rolling it back. When the “right” is defined as $34-billion deficits, record spending, and bailouts for everything in sight—when every other party is to the left of that—people lose the ability to think in any other way. They forget there was ever a contrary view.

Conservatives, then, should think hard about whether they can afford to support this government any longer. Its sole contribution at this point is to limit debate, to rule out of bounds any serious discussion of alternatives, since “even” a Conservative government now believes in an all-pervasive, ever-expanding state. The Conservative experiment—the whole enterprise of “uniting the right” in which conservatives have invested much of the past decade—has reached a dead end. They have not succeeded in replacing the Liberals. They have only succeeded in becoming them. Perhaps, some conservatives will conclude, it would be better if this government were defeated—if the party were to lose power, that it might find itself.

Start with matters that require no prediction, with the fiscal facts on the ground. The coming fiscal year, according to the budget’s own numbers, will see the largest annual increase in spending (with one arguable exception) since at least the Second World War. The $22 billion the Harper government will pile on top of program spending this year, adjusted for inflation and population growth, amounts to an increase of more than 10.1 per cent. That’s a larger rise, in real dollars per citizen, than anything the Trudeau governments ever mustered, even in the heady days of the early 1970s, when they were putting in place the institutions of the modern welfare state. (Its only possible rival is 2005, when spending increased by a similar amount—though its abrupt decline the following year suggests this was as much an accounting achievement as anything else.) For the record, it’s more even than in the infamous first budget of Bob Rae’s Ontario government.

No government in our history has spent this much, this fast. Before this budget, no government had spent more than about $6,000 per citizen, in 2008 dollars—no, not even in the depths of the 1982 recession. This budget blasts through that ceiling, all the way to $6,500, and stays there: four years from now, after the recession is presumably a memory, the government will still be spending nearly $6,400 per capita. At the start of this decade, it was spending just $4,800. Somehow the federal government is now finding ways to spend a third more inflation-adjusted dollars on each of its citizens.

Two points are worth noting about this latest explosion in what was already a supernova of spending. One is the sheer aimlessness of it. Supposedly the government’s dilemma was how to balance short-term “stimulus” with the need to improve the economy’s productive capacity in the long run—a contradiction to begin with, since the kind of spending that can be shovelled out the door in time to claim credit for the recovery is unlikely to be subject to especially searching scrutiny, such as would ensure these funds were put to their highest and best use. But the laundry list of spending in this budget shows scant evidence of any thinking at all.

Absolutely everything, it appears, now counts as “stimulus” (as earlier “public works,” a phrase that had acquired a certain odour in this country, was rechristened “infrastructure”). On and on it goes, for dozens and dozens of pages: an extra five weeks of EI benefits for everybody (try taking that away in a couple of years), a 100 per cent tax writeoff on business purchases of computers (apparently, Canadian business has yet to hear of these miraculous devices, or at least must be led by the hand to buy them), $12 million a year “to promote international cruise ship tourism along the St. Lawrence and Saguenay Rivers.”

In pursuit of its declared aim of ensuring “all regions prosper,” the budget adds new regional development agencies for those few remaining parts of the country not already blanketed in federal cash, including—yes, it’s come to this—southern Ontario. Another section commits the government to provide “short-term” support for “key” sectors. These temporary hardship cases turn out to include such perennial wards of the state as farming, forestry, mining, and . . . shipbuilding. “In recent years,” the budget notes laconically, “the industry has experienced declining demand,” the remedy for which is apparently to increase supply (“Budget 2009 provides a catalyst to increase activity in the sector”). Then it’s off to automotive bailouts, support for the cultural industries, permanent increases in equalization (inequality among the provinces may go down, but equalization always goes up), tax credits for home renovations (you thought it was hard to get a contractor on the phone now?), “an improved rail system,” slaughterhouses, hockey rinks, broadband, the Manege Militaire drill hall in Quebec City . . . The government will be everywhere, and everything.

And why not? When there is no longer any budget constraint, when deficits are not evidence of incontinence, but “stimulus,” why should any project, any sector, any region be denied? More to the point, when there is no political constraint—when no party is pulling to the right, while four pull left—spending can only go in one direction. And for the foreseeable future, that’s where the action is going to be: sucking money from the gushing spigot of the state. Starting a business? Only a chump would spend his time worrying about pleasing the consumer. It’s the politicians you want to keep happy, mate.

The other point to make about all this is that the budgeted numbers are only the start. The $34-billion official deficit is barely a third of the more than $100 billion in new debt issues the government will bring to market, this year and next. Billions more will be borrowed and lent out off-budget, through a flotilla of Crown corporations—the Export Development Corporation, the Business Development Bank, and so on—while the existing program to airlift mortgages off the balance sheets of the nation’s banks will be bumped up from $75 billion to $125 billion. The need for this is not in dispute—this is at its roots a problem in the credit markets, remember, and should be addressed there—and it is true that much if not most of these funds will be recovered, or never drawn upon. But at a time when the government is already taking on tens of billions in new debt to stabilize the financial sector, it hardly seems wise to be piling $34-billion deficits on top.

Is it all bad? Of course not. The cuts in tariffs on imported machinery are a real boost to the competitiveness of Canadian industry, the very opposite of a subsidy. The bumped-up Working Income Tax Benefit will help lower the “welfare wall” that prevents the long-term unemployed from taking work (for fear of being cut off welfare). Freezing EI premiums, likewise, at a time of rising unemployment, seems only sensible, rather than allow them to rise and price more people out of work. Raising income-tax thresholds can’t hurt, and might help—if it weren’t paid for with borrowed funds. It can hardly serve as a pretext for the Liberals to defeat the budget, however: tax cuts account for just one dollar in 10 of the alleged “stimulus”—one in five, if you count the foregone increase in EI premiums.

More broadly, how in good conscience could the Liberals, or the NDP for that matter, vote against a budget they might have written? Every line of it seems to have been composed in a kind of haze of Keynesian nostalgia. We are back to the bad old days of the 1960s and ’70s, when savings were a dirty word and consumption was thought to “drive” the economy, when economies were “pumps” to be “primed” by wise and far-seeing policy-makers pulling levers on the wall. And in another 20 years or so, when we are drowning in debt and the new-old wisdom has been discredited again, perhaps a new political philosophy will arise, and a new party to give voice to it. We might call it conservatism.


 
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The end of Canadian conservatism

  1. I love to read these fire and brimstone pieces of Andrews. Not because i particuarly care about Conservativisim, but rather in the fine traition of Steinbeck i love to attend a good old fashioned harangue that’s hurled from the pulpit, even if this one is secular. Steinbeck loved it , as do i, because anyone who has sinned that much and that egregiously has earned the right to feel good about themselves. Unfortunately for AC and Conservatisim many cons may feel the same way, and simply shrug their shoulders and say: the Liberals do this, why can’t we?

    • I’m with you on that one, kc. Few are able to do the this-is-an-outrage thing as well as Coyne.

      • The reality is that the Liberal Party were going to take the government down and do up a budget in consultation with the NDP, the Bloc and wacky Elizabeth May.

        As dubious as some of the measures are in this budget, it would only have been worse with that bunch of left-wing loony-tunes. The NDP, the Bloc and Elizabeth May are all out of the mainstream on economic issues. NO ONE should be consutling them on economic issues.

        If the Liberals are such good economic managers why didn’t they vote down this budget as being irresponsible? Or even sought out amendments. No, as Michael Ignatieff said, Harper listened to us. People are calling it a Liberal budget and in many ways it is – the Conservatives had to have the support of at least one of the three other parties and they got the support of the Liberals.

        • Didn’t you just post that exact same comment on the other thread? What is this? The talking points du jour?

          • I posted something similar on another thread and like here you commented without contradicting my presmises which tells me I made a good point that has you stumped.

        • How is claiming that the parties outside “the mainstream” that created this mess, shouldn’t be consulted, a justification for this horrible budget? If Harper is so great, why did he write the damn thing?!

          • Harper’s in a minority with 143 seats, 12 short of a majority. The Liberals signalled in very overt ways – the Coalition agreement, for example – that they would vote the government down unless the government provided stimulus spending. I have more confidence in the Conservatives rather than the NDP, the Greens and the Bloc writing the budger along with the Libs. The budget was a necessary evil. Also, some stimulus spending is in order given the economic situation. Harper struck the right balance and Iggy backed him.

        • o yes..we did have our “right wing-pro-business type-good with money” Harper and his teams and unfortunately still have ’em, and that is why we will be in deficit “FOREVER”..because WE DID look up to them “on economic issues”.

        • Jarrid
          do you mean to say that the NDP isn’t wacky? or the Bloc? or the fact that we treat separatistes as “normal” members of gov’t? that’s not wacky?
          wow.

      • Iggy has stepped firmly into Dion’s shoes and they fit him well.

        I have to laugh that the knives are already being unsheathed for Ignatieff’s back.

        Oliver and Taber laughing at him today was priceless.

        Next up Buffalo Bob Rae. Let the games begin.

  2. Two points, and note that I am a Reform/CA/CPC member since forever…

    1) You didn’t mention the global financial and economic melt down, even in passing. Ideology and dogma aside, there are few economists (save perhaps those with their own political axes to grind) who are not advising precisely this sort of spending. Indeed, there are few people even still alive who have witnessed anything like this mess.

    2) Why is Harper obligated to fall on his sword for the sake of ideological purity, everything else be damned, and thereby automatically toss the keys to what amounts to the Coalition From Hell? A Coalition that almost certainly would have invoked a much larger deficit than this one, reasonably assuming Layton and his crew of socialists would be kept on side at any cost, certainly for the short term.

    IMHO, it became Harper’s first and foremost responsibility as PM to restore political stability. I don’t care what anyone says, it wasn’t Harper who brought about the show down over power. It was the handy work of a bunch of people in an opposition consumed with self-interest, spitting hatred, and a lust for power they couldn’t achieve any other way…least of all at the polls in October, which drove them to seize an opportunity at any cost, the well being of the nation mattered not.

    • Obviously what you’re arguing for comes with a cost, and the question for everyone is whether the cost is worth it. Coyne’s outlined what he thinks the cost is and he clearly thinks it isn’t worth it, and I think he’s provided the reasons for it. I don’t agree with him too much (although I will give him some of his points, certainly), but I don’t think you can really frame your complain in questions. Coyne’s provided his reasons. They’re right there. You can disagree, but if you don’t *understand* what he’s saying, you’re just not reading the words.

    • “I don’t care what anyone says, it wasn’t Harper who brought about the show down over power.”

      This is good example of the attitude has come to define (most of) the Conservative supporters: an inability to critically evaluate, and to blindly accept party dogma (or talking points, your choice) without question.

      We still read posts by these posters raging on about how the coalition is “undemocratic”, “an illegal coup” and “illegitimate”. But, seeing how our PM addressed the country and used these same adjectives to describe the coalition, I cannot fault them for simply parroting Stephen Harper’s own words.

      After all, if you can’t trust the Prime Minister to tell Canadians the truth, who can you trust (campaign lies..err, promises, aside)?

      Unfortunately Andrew’s observation of the political shift will go largely unnoticed by Conservative supporters because, in their limited, black & white view of the world, there is only “us” and “them”.

      • I think the only economists with clout who are against deficits at all costs are the ones who write the debt covenants for the IMF cash bailouts for governments. They’re promising to spank the Ukraine for running a 2% deficit.

      • all partisans think the same way. Librano or Con.

        Political parties are the enemy.

      • Politicians should go to jail for lying. They should have a legal obligation to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth on all policy, party, or government matters.

        • the problem with that would be a consistent stream of outrage that would come out of consistent truth. Some stones are better left unturned

    • Steven Harper reacts to the coalition:

      “That coalition MADE me do it! You saw it! They made me! Those b-b-bullies!”

    • Yah…..Steven wasn’t saving his @ss at the expense of his principles… he was really SAVING CANADA FROM THE EVIL MAD DR. COALITION!!!

      Thank goodness there are still selfless superheroes ready to serve mankind in these extraordinary, troubled times….

    • agree 100% with springer…this result may look bad but let someone like Layton, who is described to a T..have his way would be insane..

    • I agree with ya Springer about the IMHO section anyway….BUT I disagree with point 1 above – I am sure Frederic Bastiat, Ludwig von Mises, and other renowned economists would have had different thoughts as well.

  3. “It has been said that politics is the second oldest profession. I have learned that it bears a striking resemblance to the first.” Ronald Reagan

    Spot on, Andrew. Great column. I bailed on Cons last election but I was still hoping they would get a spine and start to advance conservatism but they stay trued to form and abandoned any remaining claim they have to being con. When you look at the details of the budget, and where much of the money is going, it is even worse than I expected.

  4. As a Conservative I am afraid though Andrew has some points but upon inspectionand (once the sticker shock has worn off) they simply don’t hold up. What we are experiencing is new and quite unlike anything else we have encountered econmically speaking. Within 4 weeks a few months ago the bottom completely dropped out of market around the world in a way that defied any prediction (don’t get me started of predictive analysis of late) and I think everyone of all political ideaologies have to re-think and re-tool. Yes sure as a Conservative I could fall back to tighten the reins, reduce spending, balance the budget at all costs damn the torpedoes and straight ahead. But the human cost would be so terrible and more than likely impossible to do in a democracy. So as a Conservative what I am leftwith is at the least as physicians say do no harm. So as we internationally agreed a few months ago we now bump up our national debt from 35% of GDP to 38% – all thing cnsidered this is manageable and indeed when compared with the old US of A who are now looking at 49 -> 59 depending on whose numbers you look at, what bank account would you rather have. This is something else to consider you think things are bad now you need to wake up and deal with reality because they are going to get worse lot’s worse. So to cap it all in a nutshell the poltical question is which party do you want running the ship of state one that will be tight ass with the canadian debt and do the least harm is the way I look at it and that means CPC – can you possibly imagine what the debt would look like if any other leader were sitting in the PM”s chair right now (I shudder to think about) there would be gov’t programs springng up everywhere ending up with 10 cents on the dollar going to the people that need it the most. I also disagree with the assessment on how the spending has been distibute you have to give Jimmie credit where credit is due the canadian voter zeroed in on Harper and said do something now so Jimmie travelled far and wide and did indeed listen and acted by doing as asked! Everything you see in this budget is taken straight out of exactly what they were asked to do. Ultimately we as voters are responsible and when you get right down to it that’s what really sucks about our democracy!

    • Terrible human cost and not possible in a democracy have actually long been hallmarks of reform/alliance/conservative platforms, only recently abandoned…

    • Principles are principles. When Reform arrived on the scene as the paragon of virtue, the conquerer of evil, the sworn enemy of perfidy, expectations are high.

      Reform went to Ottawa to oppose the cozy accommodation between the big boys and replace it with populism; to return conservatism to the political spectrum; and to represent the West.

      They grew into the Alliance to broaden their base, taking as little water with their wine as possible. But as the CPC, they pretended to power. To contest for government, in this country, with our electoral system, it is impossible to do so and hold fast to your core ideological beliefs. To bridge the necessary chasms of voting interests, you need to be politically flexible and ideology gets in the way.

      So to say unprecedented times call for unprecedented actions is to admit this. It isn’t to say that what we are doing is consistent with our beliefs, we just never had to take these particular beliefs out of our pockets before. Conservatives have beliefs about these sorts of times. For the most part, we witnessed them in the economic update.

      • Umm . . . Show me a nominal right-wing party that’s created a balanced budget in recent decades & I’ll concede a few points. The CPC inherited a balanced budget. The Sask Party has managed to maintain the high surplus they inherited from the provincial NDP for a couple of years.

        Unless I’m mistaken, though, at either the provincial or federal level, all governments in this country that have gone from a deficit situation to a surplus have been either NDP or Liberal. I’m not sure about Quebec.

        • My point wasn’t about either side being better than the other in managing the economy, but about how difficult it is for an ideological party to hold to their principles in the face of electoral drivers.

          There was no way the CPC could hold to its principles and withstand the parliamentary and public expectation for deficit spending and survive.

          Until Reform arrived on the scene, a conservative ideology per se was not to be had at least at the federal level. They restored that option. But as they grew more ambitious, the more they had to get out of their regional perspective and into a national one.

          In my mind, there are distinct differences between the labels parties hang on themselves and their actual behaviour. If their principle objective is to govern, ideological policies are only going to make it if they can be hidden in a trojan horse – like long term permanent tax breaks disguised as stimulous. In the long run, they get the objective of reduced government involvement because of reduced revenues.

          So I don’t think you need to disagree with me to believe that ‘left wing’ parties have been better at so-called ‘conservative’ budgeting. The Liberals have always been a business friendly party.

    • Who are you kidding? there is no more “Conservative ” party – they might as well amalgamate right now with the Liberals and wipe out desparate Jack Layton’s NDP and the Separatis Bloc once and for all ! As for me, Western Separatist Party here I come ( even if I do live in Ontario !)

    • Actually, the debt-to-GDP ratio in the U.S. is approaching 70% and will likely go to 100% beforetheir nextpresidential election. Their GDP is about $15 trillion, their debt is over $10 trillion, they are about to increase it by almost another trillion with their stimulus package, and are forecasting trillion dollar a year deficits for the next several years. Compared to either of the american aprties, even the NDP looks fiscally conservative.

    • I don’t quite remember who said this, it may have even been Karl Marx: “The downfall of democracy is when the electorate figure out that they can vote themselves a raise.”

      I’ve liked Harper’s fiscal restraint up until this last budget, but when faced with the idiot power-hungry left wingers of all the other parties he had a tough choice to make. Unfortunately, this budget was all he could put forward to save us from even worse decision making and rapacious spending.

      I don’t believe in socialized capitalism and neither did the corporations that are now begging from us with their hats in hand.

      When all is fixed, those corporations will be back on their merry way…leaving all of us with the bill.

  5. “If spending money like water was the answer to our country’s problems, we would have no problems now. Because if ever a nation has spent, spent, spent, and spent again — ours has. And today that dream is over. All that money has got us nowhere, but it still has to come from somewhere. And those who urge us to relax the squeeze, to spend yet more money indiscriminately in the belief that it will help the unemployed and the small business man, they’re not being kind or compassionate or caring; they’re not the friends of the unemployed or the small business; they are asking us to do again the very thing that caused the problems in the first place.”

    — Margaret Thatcher, 1980

    Sigh.

    • Thatcher – wrong then, wrong now!

      • Was it?

        The UK sure seemed to be a lot better off a few years into Maggie’s term than before she started. That doesnt deny that the adjustment was painful, but really what was the answer.

        And while we are on the topic of the UK. We have had years of Tax and Spend under Labour, and times have been good, but now….well now they are out of bullets and rumours of major devaluation and debt default float around. They have no effective tax room left.

        Even if they escape default before the recovery there is major trimming to be done in that country.

        The US, for all its fiscal faults at least has tax room.

        Thatcher didnt impoverish the UK and certainly set the table for Labour. Just what did she do that was so egregious that ruined the UK?

        • I lived through at least one of her terms. As usual it isn’t so simple to get at the truth. Britain certainly needed change, but it was the brutal way she delivered it that was so unforgivable.

    • Maggie didn’t like to spend indiscriminately alright. She once cancelled milk and oj for school kids. It’s just sooo hard to prioritize!

  6. Don’t feel too bad, Mr. Coyne. At least there’s all the weird bank underwriting stuff going on so its not like they’ve lost sight of shore entirely. After 25 years of being lectured about how a rising tide raises all boats NOW they mention we’re all in the same one. Go figure. When it comes to government spending…

    Inflation good

    Interest bad

    The US could take off like a shot. Here’s hoping they at least keep their fingers on the trigger because if it does there’s no point feeding the beast.

  7. Assuming that the government could not be seen to do nothing at all for political reasons, good conservative policy options exist (outside of any stabilization measures needed to keep the financial system from collapsing) : quantitative easing and ‘helicopter money’. In other words, rather than putting all sorts of money into politically motivated and market distorting spending programs, they could well have just cut everybody a cheque for $500.

    At some point, Conservatives have to ask themselves whether the quest for power trumps their wish to see their worldview carried out as a policy program of government. Ideology has never been as attractive to Canadians as good stewardship. In the present Conservative government, we have neither.

    • But Mulletaur, simply giving everyone $500 cheques will just cause a binge of spending on booze, cigarettes, and imported Chinese knicknacks. (Maybe some newly sensible souls will use it to pay down credit card debt.) That won’t do much for Canada. If you want spending that mostly stimulates Canada’s economy, rather than mostly China’s, there are far better options for using the money than helicoptering cheques. For example, government programmes to better insulate homes, which will both create employment in the short term, and cause energy savings in the long term.

      That’s the problem with ideology (such as, in this case, the market-god-obsessive ideology that insists Goverment Spending Is Always Bad, Private Spending Is Always Good): ideology is both obsessive and lazy. It makes people neglect to determine actual cause-and-effect relationships (some model of cause and effect relationships is simply assumed, instead, as “beliefs”), with dire consequences. Empirical pragmatism is far more sensible.

      • It depends on who you give the money to. Individuals at the lower end of the income scale have a much higher propensity to spend things like refunds from tax cuts from the academic economic studies I have been able to find. I have always found the argument that the money will not be spent on the “right things” difficult to reconcile with how the economy actually works – for example, whether the extra spending power comes from ‘helicopter money’ or from additional employment income would not have much short term impact on consumer spending preferences or even individual liquidity preferences. So it doesn’t matter whether we spend public money creating jobs by building roads or by cutting people cheques from that point of view. It’s just that cutting cheques directly to people is more efficient – all the money gets to them immediately. We probably do need to spend more money on infrastructure just to maintain properly what already exists but we should have been doing that anyway.

        A conservative would argue that the economy is a spontaneous order which forms naturally and evolves over time – increased government spending is not only destructive of this natural and spontaneous order, but eventually is just a form of deferred taxation. In other words, by spending money like drunken sailors on the off chance we might experience a catastrophic deflation, we punish future generations for our bad management today and we interfere with the process of the economy naturally moving back to a thriving and flourishing organism by applying medicine which is worse than the disease. I am not an ideologue of any stripe, but I think this view holds at least a few grains of truth.

        Ideology is useful when it is used as an intellectual framework for understanding and interpreting the world, but to start treating it as a comprehensive and all encompassing explanation for the way the world works leads to an intellectual dead end. Worse, to pretend that a single ideational framework is the only possible basis upon which to formulate policy is pure folly and can only lead to very bad and painful mistakes. Perhaps it is worth remembering that the “markets as religion” worldview of Alan Greenspan led us here to begin with – views which he recanted before a Congressional inquisition in his own ‘auto de fe’. Pragmatism, I’m all for that.

        • Myself, I’d put $400 on my student loans, and save the rest for beer money.

          How about telling people to keep their receipts for $500 worth of things that benefit Canada & making them a tax credit? I drink Canadian beer — that makes jobs in Canada. Administering this program would make thousands of jobs.

          It’s one of the few indisputable facts in economics that the less money you earn, the more each dollar you do earn contributes to the economy in the short term. Try living on minimum wage. I guarantee you will spend every dollar you earn before your next paycheque. Earn more money, and you spend it at a slower rate. The basic definition of the size of the economy is the number of dollars in it times the rate at which those dollars are spent. Each additional dollar you earn provides a lower marginal benefit to the economy.

          The trade-off to this is that some money has to be saved & re-invested, taxed to pay for health care, police, & whatever your political creed thinks governments should do, but it’s one of the most indisputable facts in economics. Which is probably why it’s also one of the most ignored.

          I’d like to back up a few hundred years and bring up some Adam Smith, who proposed that government’s ability to borrow money to pay its army should be minimal & limited to defensive purposes. (He believed that government should pay for education, too, & if there was such a thing as health care in his day, he probably would have thought the government pay for it, too. He gets misquoted a lot.)

          Okay, supposing anyone, including the conservatives who claim to love Adam Smith, had actually paid attention to this. The US might actually not be in debt. The right-wingies like to claim it was the New Deal & the welfare state that caused the debt, but conveniently forget about military spending, which has, I believe, mostly been paid for with borrowed money since WWII. (Bad China — stop enabling them!! No more T-Bills for you.) Mr. Smith has not gone to Washington.

          The whole point of this is that if it wasn’t for the military-industrial complex, the US would have the money to pay for all this stimulus without needing all this debt. But hey, let’s blame all those impoverished single mothers. It makes us feel soooooooooo good.

          The short version of this right-winginess is: borrowing money to pay for bridges, roads, schools, hospital, & famine prevention is bad. Borrowing money for mass homicide is good.

          And while I’m on one of my rants:

          “A conservative would argue that the economy is a spontaneous order which forms naturally and evolves over time”

          That is the definition of classical liberalism. It’s a lot like libertarianism, except you get to bath & can’t wear camo. I realize we need a rule forbidding political parties from taking the name of an ideology they don’t plan to follow, but check out any poli sci textbook. Classical conservatives think the government should prevent this.

          • I agree with most of what you’re saying, Shenping, except it may turn out to be the case that huge debts will arise no matter what, in the US economy, given that nearly the entire money supply was created through issuance of credit by banks. I.e. at least 95% of dollars in circulation in the USA, excepting only a small amount of Treasury-printed fiat money, was created as debt: debt is money, and money is debt, and every dollar in the US economy is owed by someone to someone. And then some, since at any given moment, the aggregate money supply in existence is considerably smaller than the current money supply plus future interest payments expected on that debt-created money supply (principal < principal + interest). If this is true for the economy as a whole (and it is!), then is it possible for the government, which is around 40% of the economy, to avoid being a debtor itself? Short of expanding the money supply via fiat money instead of T-bills, maybe the answer is no. I’m not sure. Still learning about all this.

        • Mulletaur, I appreciate your point of view. You may find the following interesting: I recently read a long, boring, repetitive, and very worthwhile book called “How rich countries got rich… and why poor countries stay poor,” by Erik Reinert (a Nordic entrepreneurial businessman-turned-academic-economist). Briefly, he uses centuries of data (mostly the economic history of the USA and Europe) to show that the perspective “the economy is a spontaneous order which forms naturally and evolves over time – increased government spending is not only destructive of this natural and spontaneous order, but eventually is just a form of deferred taxation” is actually false. Governments engaged in massive infrastructure investment and development, direct money supply management, and carefully modulated protectionism (in order to nurture and protect national industries until they’re big and strong enough to compete on the world stage) was the recipe for success not for one or two industrialized countries, but for every single one of them, in each case maintained for centuries as these subsequently wealthy nations got that way. He shows that it’s possible for some nations to specialize in being poor — by making poor LDCs subject to globalized free trade, it’s like putting six-year-olds in a hockey rink with an NHL all-star team. There’s just no way they can compete, so they’re reduced to taking hits and working for peanuts selling raw materials (cheaply) to industrialized countries. The Pollyannish assumption that economies spontaneously organize themselves into the best of all possible economic worlds is, on examination, complete nonsense. It’s ideology, not reality, and it’s not at all conservative in any of the old senses of the term. This Chicago School neoliberal economic ideology didn’t even take hold until after WW2 in the USA, but since then, it has spread around the world, to the point where many people aren’t even aware that a continental European economic theory used to exist which was far more sensible. Oh, and Reinert also explains that both Marx and Adam Smith (and Pareto et al.) were profoundly wrong on a really major assumption — the labour theory of value (one hour of a peasant’s time is assumed to be equivalent to one hour of a Canadian surgeon’s time: all labour hours are assumed to converge in value). Some of the key fundamental assumptions of neoclassical economics are just plain wrong. These assumptions form the basis of a flawed normative ideology which, among other pernicious effects, hamstrings governments from taking practical, effective steps to improve economic outcomes.

          • I’m in agreement with most everything you wrote, CiE. For example, Canada was made into a country and a functioning East-West economy by a railroad built by the federal government with borrowed money – not exactly something which sprang up out of the ground like a prairie rose. The St Lawrence Seaway falls into the same category.

            I challenge anybody to show me a market which functions in perfect competition with perfect information – perhaps some markets for agricultural goods function like this, but as for the rest of the economy, this model has no relevance whatsoever. Most markets are dominated by oligopolies.

            I am of course not saying that the neo-liberal model is correct, just that, if you were to take that view, it could explain certain things and not explain others. It could define an approach to economic policy, one that might even work, or have at least as much chance of working as any other, at least for some length of time. However, if you make your worldview into religion, you are likely to come unstuck, very badly and very quickly. I do not reject all of Hayek’s ideas, nor do I reject all of Marx’s ideas. They all have some relevance and truth in their time and place. The trick is to figure out which one is relevant when and in what circumstances. That is the essence of pragmatism.

            On the point of infrastructure, I am not sure what massive project the federal government could do that would have the potential to boost our prosperity in the medium to long term. I think the future for us is going to be in faster transport links which facilitate both business and (perhaps more importantly) tourism. I quite like the idea of a high speed link between Toronto and Montreal, at least in the first phase. A second phase would link Toronto and New York City. As it is successful, we can keep on building extensions and links, just like they did in France and now in most of Western Europe. I don’t know about the economic viability of this – I would be in favour of rigging the game a bit in favour of high speed rail on the basis of the carbon emissions of aircraft (sorry, Air Canada).

          • Mulletaur: I agree, the expansion of rapid transport between major centres is a good idea for gov buildout– and of efficient public transit within cities, too. I’m in Germany at the moment, and their public transit system, short, medium and long-haul, rail and buses, is incomparably better than ours. I’d say a national high-voltage direct current grid would also fit our purposes, as it would enable a huge expansion of clean power (wind and run-of-river hydro, especially, also nuclear if we’re up for it) which we can use to replace fossil fuels, power industries, and even, if there’s an excess, export to the USA.

    • The point right now is that markets *need* to be distorted, because if left alone they are clearly going to leave us with massive unemployment and poverty. When consumer spending power drops seriously, markets can leave you with not just a non-optimum equilibrium but a downward spiral where reduced demand leads to reduced production which leads to layoffs which leads to reduced spending. The whole point of government stimulus is to distort this market outcome. Outcomes aren’t good by virtue of being market outcomes. Market outcomes are hypothesized to be good because they are economically optimum, in some way useful for actual people; whatever the truth of that normally, it’s clearly wrong right now

      • Exactly, Purple Library Guy. Moreover, the distinction between “government” and “marketplace” is more than a little artificial at the best of times. The economy cares far less about which account a sum of money is spent out of, than it cares about whether the money is spent at all — and what its economic multipliers are. Beyond that, the fundamental assumption of neocon obsessives is that choices made by governments about what to spend money on are always “inefficient” whereas choices made by private actors in the marketplace are always (by definition) the “correct” and most efficient choices. But empirically, this is obviously not true – infrastructure doesn’t get built in a purely private market, and the lower the overall share of an economy spent through governments, the bigger the inequities in distribution and the more severe the problems in terms of corruption and wealth-constraining lack of shared infrastructure. (Canada has a larger per capita income and a much higher degree of public safety and well-being than Mexico or Pakistan because of, not in spite of, our higher levels of taxation as a share of GDP.) Moroever, if all decisions about what to do are made by private actors, then there is no social contract, and the public interest is not served. In essence, though they don’t think of it in those terms, neocon ideologues support plutocracy, not democracy. They basically believe that the public interest magically emerges and is satisfied through the Invisible Hand. Centuries of real-world experience shows that this just is not so. In the real world, the most prosperous countries with the largest number of millionaires, the best public safety, lowest crime levels, best overall standard of living, etc. are countries in which governments spend about half of GDP, and the other half is spent by private actors. It’s best to pay attention to history, experience, and data, and to set ideology and received beliefs aside.

  8. I generally enoy AC’s opinion pieces but I will be most interested in how AC will be able to reconcile his love for proportional representation (which inevitably leads to coalition governments) and his distaste for how Harper sold out to save his minority government. If this is indeed a Liberal budget as AC asserts, then it’s reasonable to assume Canadians could expect selling out from the left, right and mushy middle under PR. If anything, this weeks end to Conservatism in Canada should be a clarion call for Canadians to elect strong MAJORITY governments.

    • I can do that for you. This is not a PR system. FPTP forces any party close to a majority to sell itself to the widest range of voters in order to dominate the political spectrum. AC would argue, as would I, that a PR system would allow parties to maintain *some* semblance of principle while cooperating with other parties on issues of common ground in order to form majority governments. The right PR system for Canada could foster greater cooperation and give-and-take at the expense of winner-take-all politics which currently chokes out any principles.

      • Grumpy voter is right. Name one PR government that doesn’t get mired in compromise. Andrew is getting a taste of PR-style right now but chooses to ignore it.

        • It’s not PR! It’s a bad mix of FPTP and an over-represented party minority!

        • What on Earth is wrong with compromise? Isn’t the government supposed to implement the will of the majority in a democratic society, subject only to the constitutionally mandated protection of liberties and the inalienable rights of individuals and minorities?

  9. I generally enjoy AC’s opinion pieces but I will be most interested in how AC will be able to reconcile his love for proportional representation (which inevitably leads to coalition governments) and his distaste for how Harper sold out to save his minority government. If this is indeed a Liberal budget as AC asserts, then it’s reasonable to assume Canadians could expect selling out from the left, right and mushy middle under PR. If anything, this weeks end to Conservatism in Canada should be a clarion call for Canadians to elect strong MAJORITY governments.

    • People who oppose PR because it can lead to certain types (minority, coalition) of governments are starting from a frighteningly undemocratic standpoint. A PR system can easily elect a majority government, if that’s what voters want. If Canadians want strong majority governments and believe there is a party suited to form a majority government, then that party will form a majority.

      The argument is the equivalent of someone on the left saying that Alberta should not get more seats in the House, because that will lead to more Conservative governments, which are bad for Canada. There are pros and cons to PR, but the minority government argument is a bad one. Furthermore, it is absurd, as first-past-the-post seems to be doing a damn good job of ‘inevitably leading to coalition governments’ right now.

      • >>People who oppose PR because it can lead to certain types (minority, coalition) of governments are starting from a frighteningly undemocratic standpoint. A PR system can easily elect a majority government, if that’s what voters want. If Canadians want strong majority governments and believe there is a party suited to form a majority government, then that party will form a majority.<<

        Then why bother going to PR at all? We can elect majority governments with First Past the Post. Moreover, this country is so regionally fragmented, we would be guaranteed nothing but coalition bickering under a PR model. Thanks but no thanks! This $85 billion dollar orgasm of unnecessary spending is the result of coalition politics and consulting with your political opponents. Screw that! We need leadership not "happy to be me let’s make a deal to stay in power" blackmail. This is a bad budget. The minority situation we find ourselves in is the cause. Wouldn’t happen were there a strong majority government.

      • Agreed! With FPTP and minority govt we have the worst of both worlds; an incentive to call an election at the drop of a hat [ or deal with the devil apparently] and unfair and inequitable representation.

        • Boy have you two been brainwashed by the West Wing. There are countless examples of fully fonctionning coalition governments around the world. More importantly, they are a true representation of the people they represent. This notion that a majority govt does it better is total propaganda and a clear example of the American influence on our politics.

          • Yeah sure Like Iceland!

          • >>Boy have you two been brainwashed by the West Wing. There are countless examples of fully fonctionning coalition governments around the world. More importantly, they are a true representation of the people they represent.<<

            And there are even MORE (more than "countless"? Yes I say!! I’m using Liberal math!) examples of pathetically DYSFUNCTIONAL coalition governments. Jaheebus! You have to ASSUME that everyone is going to get along in a fragmented country like Canada and baby, that just ain’t gonna happen anytime soon.

          • The idea that PR will lead to dysfunctional minorities/coalitions is based on two assumptions:

            1. All or most minorities/coalitions are dysfunctional and unstable and lead to poor compromises

            2. Voters are stupid and don’t know what’s good for them, so they will vote for parties that will lead to the governments in #1

            If #2 is true (and it needs to be for the argument to work) why even have a democracy at all?

            Personally I don’t have a huge problem with FPTP, but the fear mongering around PR is ridiculous.

        • My pt was that majority govt has served us well in the past when we had 3 main parties. I wouldn’t have such a problem with minorities if they were elected under PR, the same for majorities actually since many are bothered by the notion of false majorities. Right now we have folks saying that 60% or more didn’t vote for SH. This is confusing the two systems. Hence minorities, particularly under FPTP.
          Folks who argue that PR or coalitions are inherently bad need to get out a bit more. I lived briefly in Germany and saw no evidence of dysfunction there. M

          • $%&*#
            -Hence minorities , paricularly FPTP ones are dysfunctional.
            -Mindyou it was excruciatingly booring, but then i’m not a German.

          • KC, I live in Germany right now, and yes, politics here is extremely boring, bold decisions are rare (though not more rare than in Canada), and they continue to export a greater annual value of goods and services than any other nation on Earth, despite a ridiculously generous welfare state system (too generous, in my view). Coalition governance here is very stable, and always having to engage in grinding compromise is a way of life for the poor damn politicians. But it seems to work.

          • CdnE
            I lived in Berlin for a yr or so and thoroughly loved it. And yes the German way of doing things impressed me too. Oddly though they have a very good PR system it hasn’t lifted the voter turn-out, or made people any happier. Perhaps that has more to do with cultural outlook, whoknows!

          • It’s true, KC, the Germans aren’t the most cheerful folks in the world, are they. I’m not sure why. I think in part it’s fallout from having lost the wars and, as a result of the last war, a quiet lack of unconflicted pride in the tribe, an underlying collective awareness of the nation’s honour having been irretrievably lost by succumbing to a mad genocidal dictatorship. There’s an underlying current of grumpy pessimism. Or maybe it’s just a part of the Kulturgeist, and always has been, as a result of the grey weather. Or maybe it’s a product of centuries of living a Calvinist mentality… Or maybe it has something to do with the class structure, the sense of being a lesser person if one doesn’t have a Prof. Dr. title. I don’t know. The lack of cheer, and lack of risk-embracing optimism is something I wonder about quite a bit, not least because my own ancestors and relatives are Krauts, and because I have decisions to make about how soon to return to Canada. BTW, what were you doing in Berlin, and when were you here?

  10. conservatives are complaining about how ‘political’ this budget is. Funny that they don’t complain when the big-C’s do stupid pseudo-populist political stuff like pretend they will save the soul of the country by putting more 14 year-olds in jail, attacking gay marriage, cutting the GST, and opposing carbon taxation (the latter two being on the opposite side of Springer’s economists).

  11. AC, some technical questions for you (I do hope you answer them!).

    1. Is the economy a zero-sum game, in which every dollar of government spending implies a concomitant reduction in private spending?

    2. Is government spending a “bad” per se? If a given service could either be provided and paid for by the private sector or the public sector, is it always better to have the private sector do it? If so, why, and what’s the empirical evidence for this claim?

    3. If deficit spending is bad, is the only solution to reduce spending or increase taxes? Why do governments raise spending money by means of creating public debt at all, when governments have the practical and legal ability to create money as fiat money (by spending it into existence) rather than borrowing it from banks, which also create it out of nothing?

    4. If your answer to (3) is that spending money into existence would create inflation, well, are you sure? If the money is spent on productive activities, thus expanding the amount of goods and services in the real economy proportionately to the fiat money created, where is the inflation?

    5. Moreover, why would anyone assume that inflating the money supply via keeping interest rates extremely low, thus encouraging more debt (and a bigger spiral of principal-plus-interest that must be repaid, even though the money supply can never do so, since it consists, at any given moment, only of principal) would somehow generate less inflationary pressure than simply having government spend money into existence (preferably on wealth-enabling infrastructure projects) without any debt incurred?

    I would be very interested in your replies to these questions, and I suspect many of your other fans would also be interested. Please comment.

    • The reason that all OECD countries are all on board with ‘stimulus’ spending is precisely because it has the potential to be inflationary. What they fear the most is a massive deflation like that which happened during the 1930’s, as in, the economic soufflé collapses, not to rise again any time soon. We need to get past this danger first before worrying about inflation. That is why a Conservative government is spending in ways that would give 1970’s Liberal finance ministers second thoughts. Inflation will be dealt with in due course – spending will be cut and interest rates will go up.

  12. Well Coyne, sometimes you have to punt on second down. Look past your nose just a few feet and see if you can imagine the kind of country you would be living in if the coalition of clowns or just Dion and the Liberals were left to their own devices. If you look a little further out you’ll see your friends the Democrats doing exactly the same thing as what Harper was forced to do. A little further out Britain and Germany are doing the same. Coyne, if you have a better idea you’d better file your papers for the leadership of the party of your choice. I’m sure that the rest of the countries in the world would be salivating to hear and adopt your “fix” also. God you’re hard to take.

    • I can imagine the country I would be living in if the coalition had punted Steve and his sheep; a much better one.

  13. Cdn in Europe, allow me to take a stab at this. I am no economist, but I can remember some details of my high school economics course.

    1. Notwithstanding the dangerous proposals in your future questions, a dollar spent by government comes out of the productive economy somewhere(taxes), sometime (interest payments on or payback of debt). A government dollar can get passed around the economy just like a private dollar can. Enough evidence shows that the private dollar gets a whole lot more “prosperity” done.

    2. Depends on your perspective. If you want quality, variety, accessibility (subject to ability to pay), efficiency, let the private sector handle it. If you want uniformity, regional distribution that is not market-based, public sector unions weighing down the beast, inefficiencies propped up annually, inflated expenses (if we don’t spend our entire budget before year-end we’ll get cut next year — order new carpets quick!), decisions supervised by politics rather than the market, by all means hand it over to government. Let’s take plumbers and nationalize them. Some will say great — all can now have safe running water and toilets that don’t back up even if they can’t afford it. Most will complain about the nine-month waiting list to rough in the pipes on an addition, and the two-year waiting list for an elective replacement of the kitchen faucet.

    3. Have you heard of Zimbabwe?

    4. I really hope you’re kidding. Bursting open the money supply regardless of what the money gets spent on will, well, burst the money supply. Trustworthy money is the conduit that keeps us away from barter. Untrustworthy money blows that to pieces. Of what value is the three hundred thousand I am saving for retirement if the government is going to print millions and billions more based on nothing? Of what value is the twenty-five grand the car dealer wants from me for the new car? Of what value is any amount of currency if the government will run behind the curtain and suddenly “flood the zone” with more? Why bother working for a salary — more cash will just show up soon. You did learn about no free lunches, I trust?

    5. I wouldn’t assume that assumption. Plunging demand pushes prices down. Worthless money pushes prices up. The concept of “simply having government spend money into existence” out of thin air will have any thinking individual cease to deal with that government. Think a bit about this. Let’s just stop paying taxes at all, then. Whatever our collectivity requires, the government shall purchase, using newly printed bills to pay for it. Police officers, politicians, doctors, nurses (and now, plumbers!) and all suppliers to government shall be paid from this new pool of cash. Why, that sounds too good to be true — let’s nationalize EVERYTHING and pay our suppliers this newly minted paper. Go ahead, think very carefully about what happens to that society, immediately. Now back away from this exaggeration, and understand that a moving in that direction is dumb. Already today’s economy is getting flooded with tomorrow’s dollars. Your suggestion that they should just become instant fantasy dollars instead is truly terrifying.

    • I won’t argue with 2-5. They’re valid arguments, even if not conclusive.

      But with 1, what proof?

      4 is one of Milton Friedman’s better points. Galbraithians acknowledge it, but class it as a tradeoff that needs to be considered. A little bit can be tolerated, but not too much.

      Unfortunately, Greenspan occassionally acted like he made the assumption in 5

      • The dollar coming out of the economy is the result of productive activity (profits, income, sales, whatever). It is logical to assume that it is therefore more likely to spur on more productive activity, considering where it came from. Once it has been transferred to government, it is a crapshoot whether it is spent well.
        One thing is for sure, every parent knows that the moment their child earns their first paycheque they spend their money more wisely, compared to the time when their money was handed over. The same principal applies.

    • Madeyoulook, you are misunderstanding, out of ideological pique, every single aspect of the questions I’ve set out. I will answer only part of your mistaken charges – this is going to be too long anyway…

      First, I didn’t propose printing money willy-nilly, nor did I propose throwing it out of a helipcopter to crowds waiting below to spend as they please. I suggested printing money for (and ONLY for) wealth-enabling infrastructure projects, and obviously, the quantity matters: expanding the money supply by 2% per annum this way (if the money is spent sensibly) would be fine, but expanding it by 10% or 15% or whatever Zimbabwe does (double it every month, maybe?) is a recipe for collapse. *The details matter.*

      Second, if you still insist this is a disastrous idea (despite historical precedents showing that it can work very well if managed soberly), explain how it differs from borrowing money from banks instead, which is how the money supply normally expands. Banks create money out of thin air, each time they issue a loan. (You knew that, right?) And since the money created is then usually deposited in an account at some other bank, through the magic of fractional reserve banking, every dollar issued as a loan to a client by a bank ends up generating around ten dollars of new money supply – out of thin air, based on nothing more than the clients’ promissory notes. Or were you not aware of this?

      Now the trouble is, banks issue just the principal to their clients, but expect principal PLUS interest to be “paid back” on their instantly created loans. Which means the aggregate amount of money owed to banks is permanently and unavoidably larger (much larger, actually) than the amount of money in the money supply at any given moment. It would be literally impossible for everyone to repay their debts at any given moment, if all the loans were called in at the same time; the money to do so simply does not exist. The way this circle is squared in practice is that banks continually issue new loans, a dog chasing its tail, to generate the permanently increasing aggregate money supply needed for clients (most of them, anyway) to keep up their loan payments. So the money supply must continually inflate; if it ever stops inflating, a chain reaction of insolvency occurs as more and more clients are unable to meet the terms of their principal-plus-interest bank debts, and a rapid deflationary spiral results. Like in the Great Depression. This is how it works. Finance ministers and central bankers know this, which is why they’re so nervous right now, and why they are desperately trying to inflate the money supply further by getting banks to quickly issue even more loans (i.e. create more debt-based money). This creates permanent inflationary pressure, which is why a dollar today is worth the equivalent of about four cents in 1913 money.

      So inflation and a permanent incapacity to ever pay down aggregate debt is mathematically programmed into the economy, through the magic of using loan-issuing by banks as the primary means of creating money in the economy. The question becomes: Is there some better way of putting money into the economy, without creating this unsustainable, inflationary debt spiral? The answer is yes: governments can spend fiat money directly into the economy. This is what was done by Andrew Jackson, Abraham Lincoln (to pay for his war and also to pay for industrialization of the US North), and before them, it was used by pretty much all states – before money-creation was privatized in central banking systems.

      All money is “fantasy money”. The key to monetary stability is to make sure the supply of money does not grow faster than the supply of goods and services in the economy. Unfortunately, growing the money supply via loan-making by commercial banks is in fact a massive Ponzi scheme which unavoidably creates a necessary consequence of infinite compound annual growth of the money supply – if it ever stops growing, the system quite quickly collapses. If, instead, government fiat money were spent into the economy, for useful projects and services, at a rate calculated to be closely in tune with realistically, empirically measured growth in aggregate national productivity, then this debt-bubble craziness could be stopped – and no inflation need result.

      This is in fact a much more “conservative” recipe than berserker bank-driven infinite-unrepayable-debt-spiral money-supply inflation, in which every minor recession threatens to set off disastrous deflationary spirals caused by cascading loan defaults.

      • CinE, you are misunderstanding, for why I don’t know, the basic no-free-lunch principle.

        You don’t want governments to throw about fake cash. You want them to buy stuff with the fake cash instead. Feel free to, maybe in fewer than 10,000 words, explain this sober running of a crown corporation counterfeit operation. (NB this is also a reply to your first repetitive paragraph in the next comment)

        Banks’ inflation of the money supply only works when they lend out to debtors who will create enough new wealth with that capital and their sweat to pay back with interest; otherwise the house of cards falls apart. Those loans are backed up by “promissory notes” that mean something. That is, until banks decide (or are forced) to lend to miserable credit risks who are unable or never planned to pay back that value to the lender. Which sounds a lot like a government that wants to buy stuff with freshly printed money. It is incredibly misguided to state that all money is fantasy money. The only meaning behind your government plan is “don’t worry, we’ll print more.” There’s your fantasy money.

    • Again, m.y.l., you seem to have missed a couple of key qualifiers:

      I wrote “expanding the amount of goods and services in the real economy proportionately to the fiat money created” … “spend money into existence (preferably on wealth-enabling infrastructure projects”, and you instead set up a straw man that had me throwing infinite amounts of freshly printed money out of helicopters.

      Other points: Your claim that there is plenty of evidence that a dollar spent privately is generally much more wealth-creating than a dollar spent by the government turns out to be wrong. At least, Paul Krugman, who unlike you and I recently won a Nobel prize in economics, says you’re wrong. But what do I know?

      And as for my point #2 and your reply: I agree that in general, all other things being equal, ordinary consumer goods and services are better produced in a competitive marketplace, because competition generates better and better products for less and less money, as a general rule. But I asked if this is *always* the case, and I don’t imagine it *always* is. Particularly problematic are situations where there’s a natural monopoly, and also, situations where the clients have no ability to pay (children of poor families/schooling, for example). Competition is still a good thing, and there is actually no reason why competition cannot be built into the structure of publicly funded services. For example, schools could be publicly funded, but compete with each other for students. More generally, it’s possible to have a single public payer, yet abundant and diverse private service providers competing for clients (as in Canada’s medical system). Public money can very often be spent effectively via competitive-bid contracts, and indeed, some projects are so large that only the public purse can take on the challenge (e.g. building a national grid). There’s plenty of room for competitive private enterprise within that. The cartoon image Chicago-school ideologues put forward of the choice being either a completely private marketplace or a Soviet centrally planned economy is a false choice. What works best is a pragmatic mix – in Germany, they call it “soziale Marktwirtschaft”. And Germany, as of last year, was still the biggest exporter (by value) in the world: bigger than Japan, China, or the United States. They can’t have it completely wrong, eh?

      • Other points: maybe Krugman, a bunch of other economists, you and I could hold a seminar on the wealth-creating possibilities of the low-cost publicly-funded national gun registry. At Mirabel Airport. Maybe there’s a government somewhere that is a paragon of virtuous efficiency in collecting tax revenues from willing citizens who never cheat (or expend undue effort and great sums to avoid the fair-share bill), and has such loooow overhead that administering a program costs mere single-digit percentage points of the overall budget, and each program manages to perfectly satisfy needs and wants so well that value just leaps out, making us wonder why government couldn’t run more and more things in society. Or maybe it’s time to wake up.

        As for our conversation in point 2. I never said everything always had to be run by the private sector either; I merely described how I see each sector managing scarcity. The private sector factors scarcity in to pricing of a good or service, the public sector spreads scarcity around. I am happy for you that you have had little to do with Canada’s health care system, and I hope you never get familiar enough with it to realize that it is incredibly short of your description of an abundance and diversity of private players duking it out for publicly paid for market share. May you or family members never learn the truth the hard way.

        • There is no perfection, and again, the details matter. Some infrastructure decisions are better than others. Mirabel was a mistake, the gun registry was mishandled: okay. But was the building of the transcontinental railway a mistake? What about BC Hydro or Hydro-Quebec and their massive stimulus of those province’s economies? On the other hand, Ontario Hydro blew itself to financial oblivion by investing in unreliable, frequently downtimed nuclear reactors. None of this suggests that public spending is always efficient or inefficient, any more than the massive subprime mortgage securitization fraud perpetrated on the world by the US banking system is proof that private commerce is always corrupt or inefficient. There are good decisions and bad decisions, and they do not fall neatly into categories of public vs. private spending. Moreover, the evidence overwhelmingly indicates that the wealthiest countries with the highest median incomes, best public safety, lowest levels of corruption, and even the largest pool of very wealthy people, are invariably countries in which public spending and private spending are in rough balance, maybe 40/60 to 50/50. Countries with low levels of public spending are corrupt hellholes with poor infrastructure and vast disparaties of wealth. This suggests that public spending is not a zero-sum tradeoff with private spending, at least, not over time.

  14. The ‘Liberals/Coalition would have presented an even worse budget’ argument is getting you guys nowhere. Let’s compare the past few decades worth of Liberal vs Conservative budgets. Then again, nothing inspires people quite as much as “we’re less evil compared to the other guys.” Worked really well for Paul Martin.

    • “Well at least we’re not Liberals”, is as good as it gets for these guys! I’m starting to genuinely feel for Conservatives!

    • During the JC years the liberals devalued the dollar giving every cdn a paycut; literally stole 50 plus billion from the EI fund; cut hundreds of billions in transfers from the provinces and allowed almost a decade of tax bracket creep.

      The tories – under minority conditions – have seen the dollar appeciate considerably; walled of the EI fund (and are now for the short term subsidizing it) from general revenues; restored and enhanced provincial transfers; indexed tax rates; and cut the GST, personal and corporate tax rates as well as increased the small business take theshold from 200000 to 500000.

      and this budget, i think most would agree, is far less conservative than it would have been if the tories had a majority – it would have been more like the financial statement last fall

      Theres your comparison.

      So the ‘Liberals/Coalition would have presented an even worse budget’ argument holds water.

      • Notwithstanding the rights and wrongs of yr Tory accomplishments context is in order. None of it would have been possible without Chretien balancing the books, something the previous Tory govt failed to do.

        • kc see my note below – JC did not do it because he wanted to – he was told to. And he devalued the dollar to made it easier to achieve.

      • Coulda, woulda, shoulda.

    • John D, it’s unfair of you to introduce empirical data into your argument. Don’t you realize that “Conservatives” are *by definition* more fiscally responsible than crypto-commie Liberals? The fact that empirical data show unequivocally that centrist governments have run balanced budgets and surpluses (Paul Martin, Bill Clinton) much more consistently than right-wing governments (Reagan, Bush, Harper), and that this has been true in North America for many decades, with the only exceptions being a rare profligate Liberal (Trudeau), well, that means nothing. These are mere data. Data will get you nowhere here. Ideology trumps reality – always and everywhere. How could you be so unfeeling and clueless as to call bullshit on these fine right-wing true believers on the basis of something so ridiculously flimsy as mere actual facts? What are you, some kind of bizarre reality-based freak? I’m appalled at your manners.

      • Take a look at the times they were in. RR inherited the the mess that Jimmy created, willie inherited the cresting of the greatest economic boom in world history caused by the Reagan tax-cut and other measures. Bush Jr. got 911 and Democratic Ninja mortgages while Stephen had to fix the fiscal imbalance as noted above.

        Had John Cretien not been told by the bond markets to fix things or see the dollar below 50 cents US and interest rates on CDN treasuries double that of US ones, he would have merrily carried on in the way his Sith leader PET.

        • Fascinating how you manage to make black turn into white, and vice versa. But really, Gord, each of these gentlemen had eight-year terms (JC had more than that), and Jimmy Carter only had four. Surely that’s enough time to expect them to take responsibility for the performance of the economy (and the state of government finances) during their respective tenures (maybe least in Carter’s case, after more than a decade of Nixon-Ford wars and stagflation). RR’s deficits came from massive tax cuts plus massive spending increases, termed “voodoo economics” by his VP, not by “inheriting Carter’s mess”. Partisanship is a bit sad when it makes people completely disregard the historical record.

        • G T
          Sorry i enjoy creative fiction as much as the next guy. But RR created the greatest boom in world history? If you’re going to revise history you might want to remeber that you wer’nt the only one there. Reagan’s voodoo economics laid the foundations of our pesent era of live today, pay whenever generation. W was in a class of idiocy all his very own. If 911 had never happened he would have found another way to bankrupt the country. As for Chretien, what does it matter who told him – he did it, that’s all that matters now. And by the way, no less an authority than AC himself regarded the fiscal imbalance as pure political fantasy. Harpy backed it because the facts fit the theory, as they so often do. If you must have heroes in life we should at least exspect them to be less then perfect, particularly if they’re politicians.

          • KC: name another Period of GLOBAL growth that was as big and sustained as it has been since RR until last year.

  15. I am the bluest kool-aid drinking partisan Harpermaniac you’ve ever seen but this budget is an outrage. After years in political wilderness yelling at the TV about liberal waste, mismanagement and complete lack of principle — I am also unable to support or even try to defend this trudeaupian spending orgy.

    I’ll be burning my CPC membership and sitting on the sidelines from here on in.

    • GOOD LORD MAN!

      If you don’t support Stevie in his tireless efforts to defeat the EVIL, MAD DR COALITION – CANADIANS WILL NEVER BE SAFE FROM THESE UNDEMOCRATIC ZEALOTS OF WANTON GREED AND DESTRUCTION!!

      • I agree!! need to support him even though, we don’t quite agree with this budget…I relly don’t want to see those other bozos as my leader…and the PM will make it up, he is getting ready to strike…is not in his DNA to be this quite…

  16. You can blame Harper for the end of conservatism in Canada but who would I vote for…the Liberals…not likely.
    You can stand on your moral highground Andrew and urge Conservatives to abandon the party but the fact is Harper knew the writing was on the wall. The three fools occupying the opposition benches would have defeated the government and we would be watching Count Iggy spending us down the drain.
    At least staying in government Harper can control how the money is spent and put forward legislation that is in the best interest of the country.
    I think you are suffering from a brain freeze caused by the cold winter. Its nice to be able to stand on your podium and preach down. Run for politics and show us how a real Conservative would act. Of course that would be from the opposition benches.

    • Not sure that the Conservatives should abandon the party, but rather restore the Progressive Conservative Party as it was before the Reform and Alliance Parties got involved.

  17. Another way to look at it: the Conservatives were on track to deal with economic crisis more in keeping with their principles/thinking. The threat of a political defeat and the installation of a Liberal-NDP coalition changed the game. The cost of this spending is up to $85+ in 4 years. Imagine a Liberal-NDP coalition which would have arguably spent more, not less, with no or fewer tax cuts. The cost to the country could have been arguably $100+ billion over 4 years, maybe a $120+ billion. So…

    Cost of Conservative stimulus? $85 billion

    Cost of Liberal-NDP stimulus? $120 billion

    Cost of sparing the country from the second option? Priceless.

  18. It seems Andrew Coyne can’t be satisfied? He has himself to thank for that.

    It’s a shame that Andrew Coyne didn’t take a course in Decision Theory while in attendance at LSE.

    Had he done so, he would have learned that the only way to optimize a given set of circumstances is to ensure oneself of the maximum number of “degrees of freedom”.

    One “degree of freedom” to have optimized the current set of circumstances would have been to proceed with a Coalition government, something which our Parliamentary System has provided for under these circumstances, but an option (or degree of freedom) that people like Andrew Coyne vexed and vented over for the last 6 weeks, in an effort to discredit and thereby to deny Canadians from exercising.

    Looks like those efforts worked to the detriment of all Canadians. Come to think of it, maybe Andrew Coyne did take that course in Decision Theory at LSE?

  19. “The road to hell is paid with good intentions”.

  20. One option that has been not explored here is for the government to have actually done absolutely nothing. IMHO, this would have been the very best option, but obviously no-one would have stood for it.

    But imagine all the benefits (in addition to no $100 billion deficit) that could have flowed from this. In fact, maybe they could have pledged to do even less over the next few years; they could have reduced restrictions on trade and commercial activity, reduced fees and paperwork, reduced tariffs, abandoned marketing boards, reduced all kinds of things.

    Not only would this have kept the deficit to a minimum (or even reduced it), these steps would have helped (but stopping the prevention) of increased economic activity.

    Harper had one chance to put his fundamental beliefs about politics and economics to the test and failed to take it. He should have looked to Maggie Thatcher’s example.

  21. Conservatism is not dead. Rumours of its demise have been swirling since FDR was in power. Does Andrew honestly think that this would be a budget a majority CP would have put forth? He should be directing his angst at the other partys not the CP.

    It should be noted that incrementalism is also not dead – all of the items were incremental.

    There also were no new permanent spending programs put in place.

    And on the other hand ALL of the tax reductions were permanent. Thus, structurally the Feds will, going forward, have less money to spend unless the party or partys in power raise taxes – something that would be political suicide these days but ten years ago would not have been – score one for the conservative movement there.

    And at the G20 meetings last year the CP agreed along with all of the other nations to provide 2% of GDP in stimulus – the budget provides precisely 2%.

    PS- It was also Andrew who thought Stephane Dion was going to be an excellent Prime Minister so take any of his predictions with a blarney stone-size grain of salt.

    • And Stephen Harper did not sell-out to save himself – he and his party did what they did to save this country from a socialist separatist coalition seizing power at a time of great uncertainty and global crisis. Had he been as doctrinaire as Andrew would have preferred Gilles Duceppe would be at the helm tomorrow (literally). Is that what Andrew would prefer?

      • Right Gord, Gilles would have been Prime Minister, right. You really need to stop sniffing your own fumes.

        • Gilles was one of the three – read up on what was promised in return – including 1.3 bb to Quebec on the first day to address some fiscal wrong and veto power over any legislation proposed.

          • Gilles Duceppe would not have been at the helm of anything. Repeating a lie doesn’t make it more true. That won’t stop you from trying, though.

      • Does Steve read yr bedtime stories too?

      • That’s right my friend – Steven is here to protect right minded citizens like us

        DAMN THAT MAD, EVIL DR COALITION!

  22. Harper got manoevered into this crazy ass spending spree Liberal budget by the media created crisis.

    They wouldn’t let it go when he said Canada was in great shape,, it couldn’t be that we were out-performing all the EU and USA at the same time…. Canadian humility and all!

    I would really like a reporter ask the Professor his grading criteria as to how he will judge the Harper government. It seems that in a recession/depression the unemployment statistics should be the bottom line. Will the CPC government get a failing mark when it reaches 10%? Or when it reaches the average of 1994 to 2003 (Chretien’s years in power) 8.4%.

    The crisis inducing unemployment rate of December 2008 is 6.6% (see it was a trick question)

    We are going into deficit all because of panic in Southern Ontario and the belive that Canada can not be the best in the world.

    • Yep, Harper went from , never run a deficit to not maybe, but, i see a depression looming. With that kind of judgement who needs a media to create a crisis! That boy is doing fine all on his little onesome!

  23. Andrew,

    I do find it a bit laughable to realize that suddenly you have come realize this: conservatism within Canada gone?

    As if you did not see the signs on the wall during the past election. The Conservative government had merely tried to sort through art’s programs, to sort out which ones might work and which ones might not, and the entire Quebec population reacts as if it’s cultural life is undergoing some sort of genocide. Did the media find that the right time to set things into perspective? Of course not. Politics nowadays is all about the ‘Gotcha’ moments, and when Harper dares opening his mouth, one will search for the gotcha moment. Perhaps Harper is getting a bit tired of it all and decided to ignore the notion what it means in Canada to be either conservative of liberal. I mean, really, what is to liberal about appointing party leaders. But not too many are in the business of asking real questions.

    Ask Rae or Ignatieff (or all other Liberal members for that matter), ask the media, ask anyone, what they feel about appointed leadership, and see what the answer will be. I know what the answer will be: it won’t be an honest one; it will be one in which the circumstances are blamed, and supposedly those ‘circumstances’ are always out of direct control by the likes of Iggy. Perhaps Harper has seen the light; if you share your honest thoughts, you are out of your mind! Better to play along with what the people wish to hear instead of what they should hear about. In Canada, if you want to play politics, you better NOT say what’s on your mind, but say what it is the masses minds would like to hear. Welcome Iggy, and goodbye liberty!

    • “Goodbye liberty”? WTF are you talking about? Ignatieff has spent his entire career – and written several books – defending liberty and core human rights. Cartoon partisanship is just so pathetic. I am 96.57% certain that if Ignatieff happened to have been recruited to the leadership of the CPC rather than LPC, he could be saying EXACTLY the same things he’s saying now, but you would worship him like the Second Coming of Jeebus Kreist. Pavlovian partisanship. Never mind the facts, react to the Party labels and exhibit blind hostility to the guys on the other team! Hooray! Brilliant.

    • “The Conservative government had merely tried to sort through art’s programs, to sort out which ones might work and which ones might not,”

      What does it feel like to be that incredibly full of it?

      • Don’t know. You are the one telling the story.

  24. Instead of coming down on Harper, again and again, and the Conservative try-outs, again and again, why not find me a country which:

    allows for separatist to participate within federal elections

    subsidizes the separatists for participating within federal elections

    all other federal parties must compete against such provincial/separatist party

    as a result of this ‘fair’ competition, minority governments are most likely

    and, as a result, the participating separatist party, which causes the minority governments to be most likely, will then be called in to become part of the coaltion forming government

    Once you have found me such country, then tell me if the PM should speak for or against such arrangements, and if he does speak against such arrangements, if he should be silenced.

    Then wait and see what’s left of such country’s rights.

    • You and Kody don’t co-author yr articles, do you? Hav’n’t you forgotten something Francien? How about Quebec’s democratic right to vote for who the hell ever they so choose. Or will you and Kody only be happy when the tanks roll in?

    • Don’t try to excuse this budget and Harper’s weak leadership by attacking Canadians. No wonder so many want to separate.

      Country’s don’t have rights–people have rights (including people in Quebec that stand up to separatists in Alberta)

    • You are practising BIGOTRY. If you look at the record, do you read Hansard, you will see an outstanding record by the BLOC and its individual members with proposals of great significance for the well being and protection of ALL canadians on many matters of importance.
      This prejudice and ridiculous attititude towards the Bloc must stop.
      I do not live in Quebec, but I closely follow the activities of our House of Commons.

  25. Cnd in Europe

    But once again, you are not willing to address the issue of unelected leadership. Why is that?

    I’ve read some of Mr.Ignatieff’s books on human rights and the lesser evils, just recently as a matter of fact, but, as a practicing politician, Mr.Ignatieff veers off considerably from his author’s path; Intellectual writings now being turned into cartoons, indeed!

    • Francien, Dr. Ignatieff was elected by caucus and Riding presidents, who in turn were selected in nomination meetings by regular Liberals. This is what is called “representative democracy”. Direct election of the leader by the Volk might have been preferable, but it was not practical in the context of the parliamentary situation and the LPC’s duty to replace an incompetent leader with someone who had demonstrated, since his narrow loss of the leadership two years before, that he has the right stuff to honorably and capably serve as the leader of Her Majesty’s loyal opposition.

  26. Harper was merely “listening” to the opposition.

    Now that he has, he has given us all a taste of what they would do if they had the keys to power.

    Only a taste. Imagine if the socialist/seperatist coalition were in power.

    I think we can all agree that its now time for a CPC majority to reign in this insanity.

    Gord Tulk is absolutely correct. The finger should be pointed squarely at the opposition.

    Shame, shame on our leftist opposition and leftist institutions that have brought us here.

    • kody, when will this get old? Harper as PM just delivered a taste of the calamity that would be the coalitionistas? Providing unassailable proof that he really deserves a majority? Oy…

      All of a sudden I am liking Joe Clark more & more. Do you do what you believe is right for the country, risking parliamentary defeat, or do you do what you know is wrong for the country (and we all know you know it because you were articulating that very point months earlier) in a cynical (I’m sorry, the word of the year is “pragmatic”) attempt to save your political posterior?

      Doing what you know is wrong for the country. There’s a leadership quality that deserves even greater electoral success next time. Not.

      • madeyoulook, get with the program. Harper saw the writing on the wall.
        If he let his gov’t fall, shakie dion, egomaniacal Jack and the blocheads would surely submit a similar budget in cost.
        If it’s going to happen anyway, might as well be in charge.
        I for one trust the boring smart guy with my money over the three stooges.

    • Shame on the Conservatives. Shame on their attack ads. Shame on their lack of care for Canadians and their everyday working lives. Shame on them for not speaking up about human suffering. Shame on them for their lack of concern for the environment. Shame on them for endorsing corporate greed.
      The old Progressive Conservative Party died years ago. There will never again be a Conservative majority.
      I am now a grandmother. And enraged by this Con party. Why do you call concern for humanity and the environment “leftist opposition”?

  27. Mr. Coyne loves blasting the Conservatives for one reason and one reason only, so he can be a TV star on all the political talk shows, as he has become, like the other turncoat conservative writers, Don (I am soooo funny) Martin and Greg (big bad Harper didnt invite me to his Christmas party) Weston. The CBC and the rest of the liberal political talk shows all feature them on their shows (Primetime Politics, Mike Duffy, now On the Hill, Studio 2 etc). I wonder why they dont appear on the only conservative political talk show in Canada, Michael Corens’. Oh yeah, there’s no conservatie hatefest going on on this show. You and your buddies are pathetic Coyne.

    • Wee-Willie-Wanker, you’re post made no sense. You attribute Coyne’s motivations to some wild fantasies that originate in the recesses of your own head. The deep, dark, recesses the rest of us are none too curious about.

  28. The day of majority government may be a thing of the past unless a federalist party can make a breakthrough in Quebec. Perhaps this recent round of shot-gun cooperative federalism will be the way of the future.

    • When are we collectively going to figure out that the only route back to stable governance is electoral reform? Either we go to prop rep with a 5% cutoff (like in Germany), in which a two or three per cent swing in the polls gets you two or three per cent more seats in Parliament — i.e. there’s very little incentive to play sabotage-the-government every few months — or we simply have people rank the choices on their ballots, and count ballots via Condorcet or instant runoff voting method — this is known as “preferential balloting”, and it is exactly like our current system, except the winner of the Riding is mathematically certain to have the support of a majority of the people in his/her Riding (in simple terms, he/she is some combination of the first or second choice of a majority of voters). That’s all we need to return to stable governance, and it’s also the minimum we need to do so, since the BQ, Green Party and NDP are not going to suddenly vanish.

      • Cdn in Europe,

        “When are we collectively going to figure out that the only route back to stable governance is electoral reform? ”

        As a European in Canada, I would say: bring it on!

        I hereby propose that within Canada, as of March, 2009, all political parties participating within federal elections, must see to it that a slate of candidates is present within at least 50% plus one of the available constituencies

        Hear! Hear!

        Who will second the motion?

  29. Personally, I’m tired of all this talk of boogieman-economics. My personal economy has not changed since the last recession. That’s over 20 years of stagflation for me.

    If you weren’t suspicious of the RRSP’s, Mutual Funds and other vapor-economics that emerged at that time, you weren’t watching. The principle economic makers and shakers of the world – the rich – have manipulated the livelihoods of the average “Joe” and created a crisis from which only they will benefit.

    Canada should take a wait and see attitude toward this “crisis.” Until someone explains to me – in plain language that even a college educated man can understand – exactly what caused this mess, then we should not do a thing.

    Canada’s political system should continue to play only a minor role. Let’s not spend the next generation’s inheritance.

    pH

    • Paul, we’re not spending their inheritance. It’s worse than that. We are stealing the wealth they themselves will be required to create to feed our own bottomless pit.

      • I agree, which is why I think we should examine the option of creating stimulus via carefully directed spending of fiat money instead of incurring debt by spending our children’s tax dollars and then letting the debt compound at interest for twenty or thirty years.

    • As requested:

      The “economic crisis” is complicated, yet simple enough for the average person to understand. So here it is: There’s no money. Simple, eh? lol Well, there is a bit more to it than that.

      More accurately, there is less money. Our economy has been based on credit for 25 years. Manufacturing, real estate, commodities–sales in every sector have been driven by the availability of credit.

      Credit is supposed to be temporary, but the absence of responsibility in our society has allowed us to borrow money to pay off debt. Much of the collateral used was valued based on continual growth in real estate. Eventually, the market ran out of buyers, prices collapsed, those who were allowed to purchase with no down payment or were approved for a mortgage they could not afford lost their homes, then the market crashed and many banks found themselves with a bunch of worthless homes that they had used as collateral to borrow money… The bill is due and now we are all going to wash dishes for a very long time…

      What has been called a “credit crisis” and “economic crisis” is really a spending crisis. We purchased things we didn’t need with money we didn’t have. Now we are being told that the solution is to borrow a huge amount of money and invest it in dying technologies and sectors of the economy. The solution to the problem is not more of the problem, especially when most of the money will go to the people and corporations that drove our economy to ruin.

      The plan is that billion dollars will be borrowed, plus interest on this new debt, and interest on the huge debt we already have, to “stimulate” the economy. So, they are going to borrow from the next generation to pay for the mismanagement of this generation.

      Our economy does not require financing to continue the materialism and consumerism that have created an ecological disaster. If we are going to go into deficit, then every dime should be an investment in our future that aims to correct the misguided ways that got us into this mess.

      In difficult times for individuals and nations, we should remember where our happiness comes from, and separate wants from needs. “The economy” can mean many things, in times of economic depression, we should measure the success of the economy by our ability to provide a quality standard of living for those hurt by our collective denial.

      Save your money, spend wisely, reduce your expenses. We”ll get through this ; )

      • This is the history pretty well of western societies since time immemorial. Dig a hole, fill it in. Much the same as now. I’m not so worried about the next generation paying off our debt. They will have it no better and no worse that we have had it in the past.

        Haven’t we all payed off past debts? It’s ok to make statements from lofty perches I suppose, but me, I am worried about having transportation to collect my food stamps if there isn’t an economic turnaround soon. I am worried about today not some time in the future.

        • Hey, don’t make me suffer at all. Screw the kids instead.

          A fitting epitaph to an unworthy generation.

          • Don’t worry they’re going to discover lots and lots of money on Mars. Of course when you factor in the cost of getting it here, inflation, depreciation etc, it may not go quite as fa as greed requires. Is there an interstellar bank out there?

          • Instead of replying with something stupid……..try telling us what you think should be done to alleviate the current economic global crises. Do you really think that Canada should not apply stimulative economic measures while the rest of the world does?
            And do you think if we don’t do something and all economies collapse that that won’t affect this country or the next generation’s… er… inheritance. No matter how hard you try you can’t run from this and hide behind lofty statements. You’re in the same economic bubble as the rest of us bud.

          • WML
            Try and differentiate between someone having a little harmless fun and the merely stupid. I may not have a lot to offer as far as solutions go, but i’ll bet my last $ that nothing a humourless git like you has to say amounts to a fart in a hurricane!

  30. I think Coyne may be a republican. Next he’ll tell us the right thing to do is invade Iran.

    I was this close to getting a subscription….. this close.

    • No, Israel will attack Iran and Barack will back their play (by providing logisitcal support). And so will Stephen Harper and Iggy.

  31. Today we see the next step down the awful road that this stimulus spending is taking us. The US Congress has decided that it does not want to spend all their taxpayer’s money on foreign goods, and are therefore requiring that only US manufactured goods be used in these projects.

    What could be more natural? How can buying steel from Canada stimulate the US economy? And I suppose the reverse is true. How could buying US products stimulate the Canadian economy? Shouldn’t we insist that only Canadian goods and services will be purchased by the public sector expenditures that are planned? How else will we increase local employment?

    This is the same dismal protectionism that did so much to intensify the Great Depression. Don’t we ever learn from history?

  32. Surely the article by Mr. Coyne doesn’t imply that the government should have stayed the course on right wing ideology? – Small government, lower taxes, increased size of the military with increased intervention, de-regulation of everything: markets, financial institutions etc. and the elimination of social programs?? How would these applications be any better in stimulating the economy?

    I will give this to Mr. Harper and his government – apparently they didn’t listen to Mr. Coyne et al, but rather listened to the people of Canada, and took the advise of consultative experts and applied the necessary measures to at least try and counter this global economic crises of apocalyptic proportions. Finally, right wing ideology gave way to Canada first, ideology second. And you seem to have a problem with that???? sheesh

    • Deficits should be investments… this budget is a waste of money for partisan gain by all sides.

      • As in Quantum physics?

        So I’m guessing that you are implying that the advice given by the brain thrusts of this Country went unheeded…..say why is their no negative feedback by these same advisors. Most provinces are in accordance with the measures, so what makes you more of an expert than the above. This is not meant to be a nasty remark towards you, I am just trying to sort out the facts from personal opinion and bias.

  33. I guess we need to vote for the former Progressive Conservatives in the Green Party if we want fiscal conservatism… Check out Elizabeth’s May’s comments on the Green Party site regarding the budget…

  34. An omission to the first paragraph above. Isn’t right wing ideology the reason why we are in this economic pickle in the first place?

    • yes, and its called greed.Corporate and individual GREED. Profits first.Humanity and environment last.

  35. Let me start with Coyne’s line, “shows scant evidence of any thinking at all.” This is at the heart of conservatives’ real problem. They have this set of dogma which they were given by economists who created simplified ‘market rules’ and other short-sighted nonsense. I have always thought that conservatives were lazy thinkers. No, they don’t like liberal ideas to resolve societal issues because they require change, complexity and risk. No, they don’t like government roles in the economy because then it takes away business’s role in delivering goods and services – which often does cost more than government-lead ventures. Most financial industry types are conservatives – and look where that industry is right now because so few (if any) understood the complexity they were creating was madness. Lazy thinking. What me worry?

    Conservatives have reaped what they sowed. Time to move on from that. Sorry Andrew Coyne, but conservativism is thankfully dead.

  36. Here we have the butterfly/tsunami effect as applied to Canadian politics: Thanks to that bone-headed little gambit to scrap party subsidies in last fall’s statement, a full-blown Commons crisis was created, in the midst of an economic calamity, that guaranteed a January budget loaded to the gunwales with reckless “stimulus” purely as a political expedient, with consequences that will rumble on for decades.

    I’ve not given up on the conservative message. I am however sick to death of a string of idiot Conservative messengers who continually manage to wreck the project every generation or so.

  37. Our financiakl sytem is cracking up here and around the world.

    I wonder what the social conservatives think of all of this?

    The conseservatives say that this is a global problem. True, but it is a global problem of neo-conservative thinking.

    The global neo-conservative experiment of free markets appears to have failed all of us. Now we search for a global financial combined counrtry solution to these problems.

    Isn’t this what the evangelical conservatives are afraid of, the one world order?

  38. Dion is not as stupid as everybody thought. Sure, he got suckered into a coalition where everybody wins except the Liberals, but the in the next election guess which party will be painted as the irresponsible deficit-spenders? Of course the Liberals will vote for the budget; Steven Harper painted himself into a corner and the Liberals need a couple years for people to realize how much they need “change”. The problem is that we are left with no options except to choose between reckless spenders.

  39. When did Canadians become such whiners and gripers? I am one of those few people still alive with a good memory. I was 2 years old in 1929. I lived through the Great Depression. Believe me, ‘you ain’t seen nothin’ yet’. Things are going to get worst before they get better. This is world wide!
    We must get ride of this negative criticism and finger pointing. We don’t need political rehtoric. As Rex Murphy said, “Politicians are vanity intoxicated by ambition”. Macleans, television journalism and socalled pundits ar perpetuating this vanity.

  40. Seems like giving to the rich did not work ( the past few years )

    Giving it to the rest must mean that they hope it ret;urns to the rich.

    Something’s wrong here. Who really is concerned about the middle class!

    • Mr. John P.,

      As Lou Dobbs once said on his CNN show,

      “The gap between the rich and the poor is widening. The middle class are dying and what are we doing about it: nothing! The future of America is in jeopardy.” (2005-2006)

      I have always agreed with Mr. Dobbs and his views on what is going with the middle class of America. He has broadcasted it for years and nobody really has done anything except spend more money and think for more of themselves.

  41. You folks are so biased it isn’t even funny! Not hard to tell you have no love for the Conservatives nor their party, and I don’t think it would matter WHO was the Prime Minister at this point: if he or she was a Conservative you’d be putting their efforts down.

    Do you honestly think the Fiberals or the NDP could do any better? I mean, get real here…..imagine waiting another 6 months before any steps could be taken to make an effort to keep us afloat, should an election happen….takes that long for a new government to get into place….then they’d have to figure out how to put together their OWN stimulus package and how to fund it….and I would bet my next pension cheque it would come out the same as the one they’re all nattering about. Jack Layton needs a swift kick in the pants. Iggy, at least, knows this is NO time for a change in government, : I mean, who in hell would WANT the mess our Prime Minister has to deal with right now? Funny how the opposition parties are blaming the Conservative Party for this recession; clearly we’re only suffering the fallout from the disastrous economy out of the U.S.A. , AS IS EVERY OTHER COUNTRY IN THE WORLD!
    Wake up people: this is a totally unprecedented “tsunami” of the monetary kind….it needs us ALL to pull together and help get back on track. Yapping about the Conservative does nothing but make you folks look biased and dumb.

    • Kaye Faulkner,

      I completely agree with you! We need, all of us that is, to stop complaining and start saving money. We also need to be extremely frugal with our money. Money is a mammoth many people in this day and age because we all want more and too much is never enough: that’s why we are in the situation in the first place.

    • Oh so yapping about the Liberals and condescending remarks like “fiberals” is not biased in any way …eh? Oh I guess what you are saying is “bias” works only one way…………those with me, denigrating others is ok, however, those denigrating me and my political party are biased……..whew confusing arguments……

  42. My father lived through the depression and he made is way through it with contracting himself out for home improvements and renovations. People stop buying houses and start renovating because of the instability in the market place. However, I think I would not take on any financial responsibility with a bank loan when things look so unstable in the markets of today.

    Steven Harper or another politician who is in a leadership role is going to have an extremely difficult time managing the any budgeted surplus when it comes to the important decisions of today.

    To quote from the Bible in the New Testament,

    Mathew 6:24, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.”

  43. Conservatisim has been dead for some time in Canada. The Reform Party killed it, Harper just gets it 6 foot under. What happened to the great old Tory PMs we could trust?

    Clark, Stanfield or even Dief the Chief. Of course, they were actually Progressive, which is what this party no longer is.

    If the right wants a place to stand in Canada, stand right of centre.

  44. “And whatever its likely consequences for the debt, its effect has already been to ratchet up expectations, to tilt the political landscape toward greater and greater interventionism, to change the very language in which we discuss these things. Again, this is unlikely to be easily reversed. Among the consequences of the end of conservatism will be to make it difficult, if not impossible, to muster a constituency even for restraining the growth of government, let alone rolling it back. When the “right” is defined as $34-billion deficits, record spending, and bailouts for everything in sight—when every other party is to the left of that—people lose the ability to think in any other way. They forget there was ever a contrary view.”

    Andrew, your shilling for the Liberals knows no bounds, this budget was done in response to the call for stimulus spending by the opposition, coupled with the fact that the G20 countries all called for the same thing and the fact that Canadians did not want an election so soon after the Liberals lost ground versus the Conservatives gaining seats in the last very recent election.

    The next election, whenever that happens, you can be sure of the Conservative campaign to include the repeal of the Chretien $1.95 per vote political party taxpayer funded subsidy, cuts to wasteful program spending and further broad based tax cuts.

    • Yeah, there’s nothing like saving $20 million when you’re spending $30 billion. That’ll really help.

      • You’re right JM, but eliminating that subsidy is something that the majority of taxpayers want and the opposition parties (dead coalition) are all against. That’s a big win for the right side.

        • Yep, the public wanted that subsidy killed so bad they were willing to kill it even though 4 out of every 5 people had no idea that it even existed. Keep this up and you too could win a life-time of cheer-leading from the senate bleachers.

          • Hit a nerve there did I?

            Liberals should start getting prepared to be even less relevant than they already are.

          • Sorry Bruce i should’ve posted an irony warning, just in case a conservative is…ahem…reading.

          • “4 out of every 5 people had no idea that it even existed”

            Now that they do and they want it gone.

            To bad, so sad, Iggy is very much the loser he replaced, it’s going to be tough for him to retain the leadership of the Liberal Party, just like Stephane.

          • From Ivison at NP;

            “One disgruntled Liberal MP called me to say that all opposition critics and senior committee members will soon be issued mandate letters to explain their roles and responsibilities. The move is unprecedented, the MP said. “Trudeau said MPs are nobodies 50 yards off Parliament Hill. This guy [Ignatieff ] wants to make us nobodies on Parliament Hill. It’s outrageous, and he’s heading toward a mutiny in six to eight months unless he’s high in the polls,” he said.”

  45. Hmmnnn… A little guy must be really upset.that pays for a conservative membership card, makes a small monthly donation and takes a lawn sign during a writ period.

    Their government is bigger.

    Their federal debt is higher.

    The still don’t own property.

    Recall never happened.

    The gun registration is still around.

    Still not an elected senate.

    Reversal on income trusts.

    And what is a true believer not to be happy about?

    • Next election, Conservative majority, Iggy replaced by Bob Rae, Tory agenda gets implemented, let the Auditor General investigate Liberal malfeasance such as the $162 million that went to Paul Martins CSL while he was Finance Minister and many, many more.

      • Try not to froth it makes it so much harder to hear wha you have to say!

  46. I think that all those loads of tender pork added to the budget have a purpose. Their purpose is to provide billions of dollars in slack in case the other pork, the $75B, its-a-backstop-not-a-bank-bailout, goes south. Ever wonder where all the dough is going to come from, if and when all those loans turn belly up?

  47. This may be the beginning of an end of Harper, who has no principals and will say anything, do anything to be in power. Plus he is a gifted liar who has us fooled. Few weeks ago he was claiming like those corrupt and greedy CEO’s to stay in power, when we now know he was sitting on a huge deficit. Let us not mistake the end of Harper of Conservative party with the end of Conservative principals and philosophy.

  48. I can’t get over it. Here are the Conservatives buying the old used Chinook Helicopters from the US for the mission in Afghanistan.

    Didn’t the Mulroney government sell our military Chinook Helicopters to the Holland back in 1991? Yes they did.

    Tory times are bad times.

  49. Can you come up with some more Leftist Mental Disorder blather?

  50. Re: Harper Budget

    The comment that everybody will get an extra five weeks of EI benefits is true . . . but only for the 55% of Canadians eligible to receive it. I have EI amounts taken from every paycheque . . . but currently I am not eligible to access it . . . so, who is everbody . . .

    Thanks for allowing the grouching. Keep up the good work!

  51. Great criticism, Mr. Coyne. However, if you are to come across like an activist, perhaps you might make suggestions… even like Rush Limbaugh to Obama, which was posted on the Wall Street Journal.

    Mind you, I liked Margaret Thatcher, and am not fond of spending too liberally.

    Check the weblog piece:

    “Statecraft” — Margaret Thatcher (and Individualism)
    http://onwardjames.blogspot.com/2008/11/statecraft-margaret-thatcher-and.html

    Followed by Lee Iacocca

    Lee Iacocca: Ask Margaret Thatcher where all the leaders gone…
    http://onwardjames.blogspot.com/2009/01/lee-iacocca-ask-winston-churchill-where.html

  52. I think the Andrew’s journalism is a bit reactionary. What I haven’t seen in the news is putting this new budget/new debt into context. The reaction of real “Conservatives”, Andrew is not as horrified as you might think. Why? Because we know what the media (unfortunately) isn’t telling most Canadians. Harper’s gov’t. paid down 10.2 billion in debt in the 07/08 budget and has actually paid off 37 billion since the start of the first mandate –that’s in 2 1/2 years!! So your feigned “shock” at a budget that contains a 39 billion dollar deficit, isn’t quite as scary as you make it out to be. Shame on you for pandering! Under the Conservatives, the debt-reduction plan was far more than the Liberals did in their previous 12. So the next 5 years will be a little tighter—hmm–there is a “global” recession going on. This government has actually accomplished more than 64 major pieces of Legislation (in spite of having to wade through the stalling Liberal -dominated Senate), but the media, instead of informing Canadians, has opted for headlines that sell, where the”spin”, not the facts are supreme.

  53. The PC budget was a non-event. They handed out many small carrots, but none big enough to feed anyone sufficiently. What people need to keep in mind is that this is not a “stimulus” bill per se. Put into context of a 1.4T GDP, the proposed deficits, likely severely understated as I think we will hit at least 40B if not 45B this year, will merely make a dent in negative GDP numbers. I see a few comment about how “markets” can’t be trusted, etc. The money markets have been massively distorted by interest rate micro management of the Fed/BofC, and our extreme debt levels globally come from the disaster that is a debt based, fractional reserve, fiat money system. Add in debt maximization vehicles suchas CMHC and CDIC, and you end up with a historic debt bubble which will inevitably meet a deflationary catastrophe with a high inflation end phase (final hours). Either way, we need to reform the system big time. No one in power as of now is even talking about what needs to be done to make true long term reforms to prevent the next deep recession, or dare i say depression.

    If you want to make your voice heard, please contact your MP and tell them: 1) The problem is too much debt which comes directly from the policy of fractional reserve lending (set by central banks, run by large commercial banks) and the ongoing devaluation of our money due to the Fed/BofC, 2) End the policies of # 1 by eliminating the BofC / Fed by joining Endthefed or signing any online petition for this if you wish to keep a lower profile, debt enslavement programs such as the CDIC/CMHC need to be elininated once the crisis passes for true long term reform and to prevent the next depsression , 3) Boycott all products of all companies, where possible, that have recieved or asked for any bailout money from US/Can taxpayers, 4) Tell all your friends and family to do the same. 5) Save as much as possible and pay down your debt. Refuse to become trapped into the high consumption, debt fuelled lifestyle our governments and central banks (run mostly by bank people) try so hard to force us into.

    If you are affected by this (almost everyone is) or complain about it, do something about it. Speak up, and contact the people in power.

    God bless our country.

  54. The PC Budget shows me there is no choice for those who are truly conservative. All alternatives are “left”, further “left” and furthest “left” of center. A political choice should never be compromised to the point there is no one to vote for. Mr. Harper has done just that.

    Sadly, the Budget reflects the true politics of our fair and beautiful country, which has never become a mature creditor nation and obviously, never will. I’m not really sure this is the “will” of the people.

  55. Andrew, your policy ideas are basically right. (The budget spends too much. We need to allow a correction, anyway. Our 15-year demographic challenges need our funds more than our 1-year economic ones. etc.)

    But your title turns solid policy into a grating personal attack. Better to stick to your usual style.

  56. The problem is the Chicago School … even the Calgary School are derivations of Keynesian thought. Only Reform minded responsibility was holding the ‘c’ in Small ‘c’ conservative in place. I can tell you from participating in the populist roots it is anti-ideological and would run for the comfort of the nanny state in the face of what is coming or even less.

    Unfortunately, there has never been a home for capitalism, just excuses by people who know it works but don’t understand its underpinnings. As the pendulum swings back in ignorance I doubt we’ll get back to the days of Nixon ‘defending (hah!)’ the markets. Even with what is happening, markets themselves are not being attacked. What Washington snuck into their stimulus package wouldn’t have even been sneezed at 30 years ago … ‘Thank you Maggie’.

    Personally, I think the way things are going on this bit of a ride on the monetary roller coaster will be helpfull in the end.

  57. When conservatives asked several elections ago for us to ‘Stand Up for Canada’, just what kind of Canada were they asking us to stand up for?

  58. Come on, Andrew !

    Cheer up !!!!

    Unprecedented crises call for unusual solutions.

    This is the first time I have been impressed by Harper. The man clearly is not a dogmatist. He doesn’t believe like Andrew that there is only one solution for all problems. He knows that different race tracks call for different horses.

    If Andrew were in the place of Captain Chesley Sullenberger one knows what he would do when the birdstrike took out his plane engines. He would say:

    “Nope, we aren’t going to try landing on water. My principles call for landing on runways. So what if the plane smashes and we all die? At least my great principles will be upheld. The airline industry will benefit in the long run.”

    Wake up, man. Free-market principles are utterly discredited. The ultra-capitalist Berlin Wall has fallen. Time to try something different to save all our necks.

  59. Conservatism is not dead. It remains very much alive but has had to bow to the exigencies of power. Conservatives are not used to allowing politics to get in the way of principle, and that is why there is such consternation over Harper’s approach. The Liberals, on the other hand, have been doing it for years. In fact, you could make a case for Liberals having gone too far the other direction, so that they no longer have any principles to betray.
    Harper, I believe, is shifting the conservatives from a party of principle to a party of power, and that’s a good thing for Canada, because it means that Canada can now have a party that recognizes and responds to the needs of Canadians, while constantly pushing them towards the right. I am pro life. I believe in limited government. I will never get either with a Liberal government. I have a chance with a Conservative government. That is good enough for me.

  60. Unbelievable … I was sure Stevie would be written off but the latest polling numbers don’t go there! How is he doing it as more than half polled 67% say the budget was the right thing to do and he rest more or less evenly split on either not enough or too much. Iggy’s numbers get a small bump up but in Quebec (kiss of death at this stage of things for any aspiring wanabee PM) but the bump just don’t cut it. Now we have LPC MP’s who might not vote with the party on a budget confidence motion which has more unintended consequences that any dares to admit (see the history of what happens then in our past). Quite remarkable I say and then we have the soon to be love fest with Obama what with Stevie getting all the love … sometimes you have sit back and take a moment and marvel at how different reality can be from what one may perceive to occur. What I am looking forward is the first ‘ report card ‘. If I were Stevie I would do my best to report the worst case scenario and see if the Igster is all talk or what but it would have to be done with the utmost of delicacy. Although I give the Igster credit for the probation thing as it nips on the bud those who accuse him of avoiding them … however when he rolls over again Harper is actually going to have to hold him up and make him look good. Canadian politics are the best and that’s for sure.

  61. AC should be embarrassed he wrote this whiney drivel. No matter whether you’re a con, lib, ndp, or even green, all of his commentary looks like a child crying when he managd to figure out Santa Claus doesn’t really exist. Yes AC, politics happens in the real world of untold variables and multi-faceted political realities, not the vacuum of ideology, that only happens at the end of your mouth.
    The title of this article should be “The Failure of Conservatism” since conservatism couldn’t bother to come up with a fresh ideological perspective since the Reagan Revolution. Shrinking government, getting the interventionist state out of the business of business with deregulation, removing pesky oversight in financial markets… all of it created this mess, so we only have stagnant lifeless conservative ideology to blame for the death of conservatism. At this point it looks as though AC is as bankrupt as Harper.

  62. Are you serious? How can you say conservatism has ended based on the Harper Government’s spending and economic policies? In this country conservative ideology is everywhere. In fact, this country was built on conservative ideology and it continues to this very day. It would be fair to say that conservatism of the Conservative Party of Canada may not appeal to Canadians. I think you have gone too far to say that conservatism has come to an end in Canada.

    What we really need is a return to the conservatism of “the Chief” and in Ontario a rebirth of the Big Blue Machine Toryism. Harper is a good man, it’s just that he has some of those redneck bigots from the West who are messing things up. As for Ontario, Harrisites still have control and are still very influential in the Ontario PC Party. John Tory tried to distance himself from Harrisites and Eve lackeys but it didn’t work.

    Just think about the changes in immigration, trade, implementation of human rights legislations, bills, commission and all those good things we take for granted. They were all born from conservative leaders. If the Conservatives want to appeal to Canadians from coast to coast they need to bring back what it means to to be conservative, what it means to be a tory.

  63. Sounds like the feds have discovered a wonderful Fountain of Money, and all our troubles are over except for deciding how long the firehose of cash should be aimed at each region of the country, and in what order they should receive the free wealth.

    It would be a bit of a tough problem if wealth did not actually grow on trees and if people actually had to work to improve their lives, and had to save their money and invest wisely if they wanted to assure themselves of future comfort and security. But clearly, based on what passes for serious economic and political dialog in Canada, that is not the case, and nobody really need do anything again except borrow, consume, yell for handouts and subsidies, and repeat this process until wealthy.

  64. True conservatism never seeks power except to give it to others.

    • which is why there aren’t that many truly conservative governments – or candidates.

  65. Andrew Coyne is the self-sufficient, Natural man, standing alone, the child of Locke, Hobbes and Rousseau, that rarest of creatures who believes that other people, too, believe in principles and live by them. He is that rare a breed.

  66. Canada is based on oil, mining, and forestry.If there is no forestry. Who will buy homes,cars, or gas? Who will pay the deficit or social assistance.Perhaps mr. Harper or mr. Ignatieff?

  67. Canadian federal politics is like a perpetual motion machine. The Liberals build things, hang around too long and get replaced by the Conservatives. The Conservatives set about ripping down most of what the Liberals have busily constructed. The other truism? The Conservatives always drift leftward while in power. Although Dalton Camp would spin in his grave at this comment, I believe it is not an unconscious act rather, it is a survival strategy they have always employed. I am a little mystified at how the media is so amazed over the fact Stephen Harper can only walk on water in February-like the rest of us, as opposed to walking on water in June.

  68. There is nothing more mundane than listening or reading an anarchist’s viewpoint about democratic socialism. Furthermore, anyone who believes that conservatism is the middle way is truely a fascist. in the religious sense of the western world. Xian business men breakfasts and all of it . . upa u s

    Still, the comment of non-elected politicians is something to look at. Here we have an usurpor and gameplaying manipulator Steve Harper against a usurpor and game playing manipulator, Ignatieff. The mirror looks at itself.

  69. Andrew, Andrew, Andrew,
    Your piece on the end of Canadian conservatism is a bit thin in a whining kind of way. Can’t you come up with something better than “the Tories spending too much.” There aren’t any easy answers to this economic crisis… nobody knows what to do. But you are simply acting the critic with no strong suggestions… sitting on the fence. As Sibilieus once said “they don’t make statues of critics.” So how be you take a stronger position on this?
    Love
    Sarah Thomson
    Publisher
    Women’s Post Magazine

  70. The title of this piece is laughable. There will be Canadian conservatism as long as there are Canadian conservatives. And there are still a few of us around.

  71. I think a bullet train mtl-toronto would be great infrastructure expense for our country

  72. THE only way canadian economy can trully rise up is if the Conservatives and the senators change the Constitution to let Québec aquires its own cultural sovereignty. The term ” separation” or ”separatist” is absolutly not applicable with what Bloc and PQ are reclaiming for Québec. This word was used as a demagogycal way for the ”NO” clan to increase voters fear. The want recognition of the canadian REALITY. The canadian people has to understand that before building a good economy that will stay on its tracks, the foundation of the country has to be solid.

  73. For Canadians, it doesn’t matter who is in power, or what their policies are, we hobble along in the shadow of the U.S. trying to survive from day today wondering what they will plunder us for nest! Right after the Tar Sands are emptied, the Great lakes go down the Mississippi, the Prairies turned over for dune-buggy races, and Eastern Canada is turned into one big fish farm! Who knows, but for a small % we do their bidding no matter what.