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Tory base rallying around Harper: poll

But the PM’s naked appeal to Conservatives appears to be stoking opposition toward the party


 

You don’t need a majority of votes to win a majority in Parliament.

Stephen Harper has a lot riding on this truism as he enters the final leg of the federal election campaign: the Conservative dream of an uninterrupted mandate hangs on the belief that a 39-percent base of rock-solid support can translate into a Commons majority, if augmented by wins in a dozen or so swing ridings.

But the latest results of a survey done for Maclean’s and 680 News underline the problems with this theory, as harder-edged policies aimed to please the Tory base appear to be stoking opposition toward the Prime Minister and his party across the country. So too are damaging stories about G8 and G20 spending, leaving the Conservatives mired in minority territory once again, with just 12 days of campaigning to go.

“There has been good ammunition to mobilize the other side,” says Greg Lyle, managing director Innovative Research Group, which runs the Canada 20/20 panel. But with the Tories stuck in a rut and the Liberals gaining little ground, he adds, “this election is starting to feel a little bit like the movie Groundhog Day—we wake up every morning to the same scenario.”

Like other recent polls, the Canada 20/20 panel has the Conservatives at 39 per cent support nationwide, while the Liberals stand at 28, the NDP at 17 and the Greens at six. Among Quebec respondents, the survey has the Bloc Québécois running first, with 37 per cent, while the Tories and Liberals sit deadlocked at 21 per cent.

Last week’s revelations on G8 spending suggest a particular trouble spot for the Tories. Fully 51 per cent of respondents said the leaked draft report from Auditor-General Sheila Fraser’s office made them less likely to cast a ballot for the Conservatives, while 43 per cent said it wouldn’t affect their vote, reflecting the portion of voters who have made up their mind to vote Tory.

Nearly six out of 10, meanwhile, said they disapproved of how the government had managed the purchase of F-35 fighter jets (29 per cent approved), and nearly 42 per cent said what they’d heard about Harper and the Conservatives overall in the last few days made them less likely to vote for him. If the Prime Minister won any new fans in last week’s televised debate, it would seem that his government’s record and his party’s policies drove just as many away.

Much has been made in recent days of growing support for the NDP in Quebec, and its potentially negative impact on the Liberal fortunes. But there was scant evidence of this bump in the Canada 20/20 results: just 16 per cent of Quebec respondents said they’d vote New Democrat if the election were held today, while growing concern about the prospect a Parti Québécois victory in the next Quebec provincial election may be playing in favour of the Liberals. When asked which party is best suited to deal with a PQ government in Quebec, 30 per cent in the rest of Canada named the Grits, while only eight per cent suggested the NDP.

The Liberals would do well to raise this issue as the campaign winds down, says Lyle, by way of protecting seats that might be threatened by New Democrats. “All of a sudden, we’re talking unity and the NDP is nowhere on unity,” says Lyle. “There is still a (Liberal) brand under all this, and it’s a strong brand.”

The survey results were drawn from a weighted sample of randomly selected respondents who are part of Innovative’s nation-wide online panel. Responses were gathered from April 13 (after the televised debate), until April 17. The margin of error is plus or minus 2.25 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. To join Innovative Research Group’s Canada 20/20 panel, visit www.canada2020.com.


 

Tory base rallying around Harper: poll

  1. There is a simple reason Harper is crafting a coalition consisting of the minimum set of interests needed to form a majority. Lets look at the history, shall we:

    1917: Borden's Wartime coalition won 57% of the vote and 2/3rds of all seats. However, the return to peace and the postwar recession broke apart the coalition. In 1921 the Tories were decimated – they lost 104 seats and were relegated to third place in parliament.

    1930: It took the Great Depression to do it, but the Tories returned to office in 1930 with a sizable majority of 44 seats. However, they bungled the response to the Depression, and lost 95 seats (about 70% of the total). The Tories did not gain power again for 22 years.

    1958: Diefenbaker romped back into office with 54% of the vote, and a majority of 160 seats (possibly the largest in percentage terms). However, in office, Dief wasn't able to accomplish much. First he lost his Quebec support after Duplessis kicked the bucket, reducing him to a minority in 1962. In 1963 he lost power altogether – between the two elections, losing 113 seats. The Tories did not gain power again for 21 years.

    1984: Mulroney won a massive majority of 171 seats in 1984 and over 50% of the vote, bringing westerners, Quebec, and traditional Tories in Ontario and the Atlantic provinces together. However, as with Diefenbaker, Mulroney wasn't able to change very much with such a massive coalition behind him. By 1988, he was not faring well in the polls, and only the clever wedge politics around free trade enabled a second majority. Mulroney's attempt at significant changes through the Charlottetown Accord, however, broke apart his coalition, and reduced his party to 2 seats. The Tories stayed out of power for 13 years.

    What is historical lesson here? Conservative governments have taken power in Canada mostly by accident, and not because they have any sort of natural base. When they have taken power, they get so many regional interests inside the tent, that they prove unable to govern, and certainly unable to implement a conservative agenda. If you look at the size of government, for instance, the two champions of small government are both Liberals – Mackenzie-King and Chretien. Moreover, Conservative supermajorities have a nasty habit of imploding, leaving the Conservatives in the wilderness for decades.

    Harper is aware of this historical pattern (look at Tom Flanagan's game theory in Canadian Politics for a blueprint). His goal is to craft a manageable majority – incrementally if need be. What of policy? Harper also realizes that structure wins over ideology in the long-run. His aim is a slow drift towards a more conservative Canada, reinforced as the public, the civil service, and the media become drawn in. Conservative policies will come to possess a normative force, even if they don't always measure up. Think about the healthcare debate presently – it is un-Canadian to suggest taking a dime out of the healthcare system. This is the product of 90 years of Liberal myth-making. People often make asinine comparisons of contemporary leaders to historical ones. I suspect that Harper governs with the example of William Lyon Mackenzie-King well in hand.

  2. Nice post. Thanks for a thoughtful analysis.

  3. Nice post. Thanks for a thoughtful analysis.

  4. Good post hth. Re: your observation about health care, it reminds me of the fact that in the early 1990s, many people were convinced that we could never solve our debt and deficit problem, because it was thought that deficit-cutting would never be a popular issue, politically. Then Chretien-Martin came along, and because of the tenor of the times, there was a true sea change in the way Canadians looked at deficits.

    A similar thing could happen with health care as happened with debt and deficits: a realization could dawn on us, because of our demographic and budgetary issues, that we can't just keep pouring more money into our health care system. But as with debts and deficits, the timing has to be ripe. When Mulroney was trying to tackle the debt/deficit problem, most Canadians were not receptive to the message. Yet 5-10 years later under Chretien and Martin, they were. I also suspect that a lot of Canadians would, rightly or wrongly, trust a Liberal government to fundamentally reform health care more than a Conservative one, just as they trusted Paul Martin to deal with deficit-cutting.

  5. Good post hth. Re: your observation about health care, it reminds me of the fact that in the early 1990s, many people were convinced that we could never solve our debt and deficit problem, because it was thought that deficit-cutting would never be a popular issue, politically. Then Chretien-Martin came along, and because of the tenor of the times, there was a true sea change in the way Canadians looked at deficits.

    A similar thing could happen with health care as happened with debt and deficits: a realization could dawn on us, because of our demographic and budgetary issues, that we can't just keep pouring more money into our health care system. But as with debts and deficits, the timing has to be ripe. When Mulroney was trying to tackle the debt/deficit problem, most Canadians were not receptive to the message. Yet 5-10 years later under Chretien and Martin, they were. I also suspect that a lot of Canadians would, rightly or wrongly, trust a Liberal government to fundamentally reform health care more than a Conservative one, just as they trusted Paul Martin to deal with deficit-cutting.

  6. I'm surprised that you could fit 25-30% of voting Canadians all under one rock.

  7. I'm surprised that you could fit 25-30% of voting Canadians all under one rock.

    • I'm surprised he picked 39% as the floor for Conservative support. Certainly, Canada's response to Mulroney's crooked regime should put the floor much lower than 39%. Do 39% of Canadians really want to outlaw abortion, hate gay people and Muslims, and think that deficit budgets are ok, so long as Conservatives are creating the deficit? I hope not.

    • The level of debate in this magazine never seems to increase.
      Mulroney was a "progressive" who's party was decimated by the conservative Reformers in 93, junior.
      There is no plan to even discuss abortion.
      Many gays vote conservative.
      More opposition members voted for all the money bills than did conservatives.
      Your ignorant rant is typical of your intolerance of anyone with a different opinion.
      You are naive & ignorant of the facts. Good luck with that voting thing.

      • Mulroney == envelopes stuffed with cash. He was a product of his times, and I do not doubt that a Liberal in his position would've taken bribes just as quickly. The Reform (and Bloc) movement never would have gained ground if Mulroney wasn't reviled by both insiders and outsiders, and if the Liberal party wasn't considered a different side of the same coin.

        Hating the gays: Rob Anders, Tom Lukiwski.

        Abortion: Rod Bruinooge private member's bill (voted for by a majority of Conservative members). Another stealth attack is likely, and given a majority they wouldn't even need to be stealthy. Witness the defunding of Planned Parenthood, and the inexplicable medically unsound decision to not include abortions in the range of procedures funded under the African maternal health plan.

        I'm sorry if my rant hurt your feelings. If you do not agree with base Conservative principles, maybe you should reconsider which party you support.

  8. .
    Harper's hold on the public imagination is qualitatively different from that of former conservative leaders. He exploits extreme economy of words and actions. email communiques are terse, to the point, and formulaic and are mobilizing the hierarchy in a sort of termite-nest chemical sensing with a small repertoire of message-types.

    The public is regaled with a high frequency of limited tunes: cuts, tax, breaks, etc. His appearance is non-threatening, like that of Putin, or Bashar al Assad. There has been no Prime Minister anything like him in any party, though B.C.'s 'Slash' Gordon was similar. The current 'Conservative' Party has almost nothing to do with past. It a political instantiation of efficiency-expertise, Deming's quality-control theory, and clock-work heartlessness.

    In the debates, he gunned his opponents when they spoke to him, and spoke to the tube (often the wrong one, hilariously) when he answered them.

    He absolutely does not miss a trick. He eats around the corners of democracy, and backs off when gets caught, and starts again on another corner. The cookie is disappearing, but nobody notices.

    Elect this man, and in 4 years he will have Wisconsin-ized the unions (all of them), and leave Canadians assembling tablets for Baidu's cloud enterprises. For a dollar a day.

    And if corporate execs think they are going to get a toe-hold in Beijing's market economy through Harper's enlightened free-market trade-deals. Yes. At a big pay-cut, and under Hu's control of intellectual property rights, which they have skillfully retained under their terms in the WTO. But that's fine; at least they will have a job holding the whip over the rest of for their overlords in the East.
    .

  9. .
    Harper's hold on the public imagination is qualitatively different from that of former conservative leaders. He exploits extreme economy of words and actions. email communiques are terse, to the point, and formulaic and are mobilizing the hierarchy in a sort of termite-nest chemical sensing with a small repertoire of message-types.

    The public is regaled with a high frequency of limited tunes: cuts, tax, breaks, etc. His appearance is non-threatening, like that of Putin, or Bashar al Assad. There has been no Prime Minister anything like him in any party, though B.C.'s 'Slash' Gordon was similar. The current 'Conservative' Party has almost nothing to do with past. It a political instantiation of efficiency-expertise, Deming's quality-control theory, and clock-work heartlessness.

    In the debates, he gunned his opponents when they spoke to him, and spoke to the tube (often the wrong one, hilariously) when he answered them.

    He absolutely does not miss a trick. He eats around the corners of democracy, and backs off when gets caught, and starts again on another corner. The cookie is disappearing, but nobody notices.

    Elect this man, and in 4 years he will have Wisconsin-ized the unions (all of them), and leave Canadians assembling tablets for Baidu's cloud enterprises. For a dollar a day.

    And if corporate execs think they are going to get a toe-hold in Beijing's market economy through Harper's enlightened free-market trade-deals. Yes. At a big pay-cut, and under Hu's control of intellectual property rights, which they have skillfully retained under their terms in the WTO. But that's fine; at least they will have a job holding the whip over the rest of for their overlords in the East.
    .

    • ",,,over the rest of us for… "

    • He's a wolf in Bill Davis clothing – he grew up under the mellow Ontario Premiership of Mr. Davis, and he's using the same approach to sleepwalk us to a majority.

    • Thats good…I want him to, as you put it "Wisconsin-ize the unions (all of them)"… We as regular hard working Canadians who have never had the benefits that the snivelling leftwing "jobs for life" public service sector elitists take for granted, we cant wait for the change. Bring it on, Harper! Even some of the Toronto bus drivers are making almost 6 figures for God sakes!

    • Someone is off their meds again, danny.

  10. ",,,over the rest of us for… "

  11. Another possible game-changer would be if the populace took seriously Mr.Harper's message-track about the economy being the most important issue. If people study the record, they'll vote for the Liberals.

    Using figures from the Department of Canada website for the last 25 years, one can quickly calculate that Conservative governments have run deficits totalling $330B dollars over their half of this period. During their half, Liberal governments accumulated a net surplus of $6B.

    The PCs might want to think twice about encouraging us to focus on the economy, since history shows them to be extremely inept at managing it.

  12. Another possible game-changer would be if the populace took seriously Mr.Harper's message-track about the economy being the most important issue. If people study the record, they'll vote for the Liberals.

    Using figures from the Department of Canada website for the last 25 years, one can quickly calculate that Conservative governments have run deficits totalling $330B dollars over their half of this period. During their half, Liberal governments accumulated a net surplus of $6B.

    The PCs might want to think twice about encouraging us to focus on the economy, since history shows them to be extremely inept at managing it.

    • You could use those same figures to turn around the present Liberal attack-line on healthcare. The only government in recent memory to slash transfer payments to the provinces was a Liberal one. Do you hate Mike Harris? Do you think Ralph Klein is Satan incarnate? Why on earth would you re-elect a party that helped prod those two to cut even more.

      Of course the reality is that deficits of the size Canada is running are inconsequential. The problem with deficits is that there is a crowding out effect, which drives up private sector interest rates (in case you haven't noticed, private sector interest rates remain pretty damn low). Once Canada converges toward its structural deficit of about 12 billion, we will have a deficit of less than 1% of GDP. The impact on interest rates will be negligible.

      The real statistic that matters for our wellbeing is productivity growth. We can increase per capita GDP by working longer hours (which has inherent limits – there are only 24 hours in a day), or by increasing our output in a given amount of time. The technological and institutional forces behind our compounded productivity growth are the essential drivers of our prosperity.

      Whatever the social problem you want to tackle, increased productivity can get you there. However, unfortunately short-term issues like unemployment, or distributional questions tend to be emphasized in our political system to the exclusion of more substantively important long term factors of economic change.

      • If you raise productivity, you raise unemployment

        • And concentrates the distribution the purchasing power needed to consume non-exported products.

          • Which is meaningless.

          • How so?
            You need purchasing power in order to consume products. Unless you make money on a return from capital, than you need to be employed to earn money either by selling your labour or products of your labour. The only other alternative if you want to participate is going into debt or receiving free money from the state. In which case, increasing unemployment without state redistribution concentrates domestic purchasing power needed to consume products that are not exported.

          • Yes, that's classic economic captialist theory…however we're not in the industrial age anymore, and capitalism died some years ago too.

            "Labour' no longer exists in NA.. China is the world's factory

        • Only true in the short run. We can always find new uses for labour. I mean think about it – productivity per worker has increased about 14-fold since the 19th century, yet unemployment – even in the aftermath of a severe recession – is under 8%.

          • No…we can't always find new uses for labour…they aren't plug-in parts….which is why it's a jobless recovery.

          • If it is a jobless recovery, why is employment back above the pre-recession peak ( http://www.statcan.gc.ca/subjects-sujets/labour-t… )? Unemployment generally fixes itself, with a little help from the Bank of Canada.

            Unemployment is recovering more slowly (at least in the US), true, but that is largely because this crisis was different. We faced a recession and a financial crisis, which froze up private sector credit. Since low interest rates weren't enough to fix the job market, fiscal policy was used as well (ie. the stimulus). However the basic point remains that unemployment is a fixable problem, and one that is being fixed.

          • Our jobless rate is rising…we have structural unemployment. Thousands of jobs are available, but we don't have the trained people to fill them. And yet thousands of people are unemployed. There is no match-up.

            This was going on before the 'recession' [a euphemism] ever impinged on our consciousness.

            There is a massive economic crisis still going on…we are just ignoring it, preferring the rose-colored glasses instead.

          • No, we can't.

            'Labour' is a capitalist concept that belongs to the industrial era. Factory workers for the most part.

            Lose one job, get another one….the jobs were all much the same

            China is now the world's factory floor……and even that won't last long.

            If your job is one that robots can do….robots will

          • So give people jobs that robots can't do – things requiring judgment, creativity or social skills. There may come a time when robots will be able to do absolutely everything so well that there is no longer a place for humans to do any work. So I guess then we will be unemployed – but we won't care because we will be served by armies of robot butlers.

          • We have thousands of jobs right now that we can't fill….because we don't have the trained people to do them. Hence our high immigration numbers.

            Yes, any robotic work will be done by robots….which will free up people to do other things.

            Whether they choose to do them or not is up to them.

        • …unless, of course, the productiviy gains allow market expansion sufficient to require the retention of the same number (or more) employees to keep up with demand…

          • Market expansion to where? Are you trying to sell cars to Japan?

            Or anything to China?

            Or maybe trinkets to the US?

          • Just speaking for the company where I work (a publishing [media is probably the better term these days] company within a larger, international conglomerate), we have doubled in size over the years, in terms of staff. A lot of that comes from acquiring other firms. But in doing so, the synergies result in new efficiencies. We also are constantly developing new, more steamlined processes in order to keep and grow market penetration as delivery methods change and multiply. Inthe nearly two decades I've been there, there have been only a couple of smal layoffs; within a short time of each, renewed growth meant new hires.

            This won't be true of all businesses. But with the right company, planning and market, it happens. Don't be so quick to generalize.

          • One has to generalize on here as there isn't room to address each business individually.

            The media is an information business….part of the new knowledge economy.

            Which means it's not part of the old dead industrial age….so while your company may be doing well, manufacturing is not.

      • I don't think many Canadians would agree that $50B deficits are inconsequential. The principal reason our economy is perceived as healthier than most is that we actually started making a dent in our accumulated debt, thanks to Paul Martin.
        An ongoing "structural" deficit of $12B is unsustainable, as it hands power over our future to the foreign investors who lend us the money year after year. The fact that it's only 1% of GDP doesn't matter. Over time, we need surpluses as well as deficits, to retain some modicum of control over our economic – and therefore social – destiny.

    • Your accounting is insane. The Mulroney Conservatives ran a net operating surplus. Every dime of "their" deficit is due to interest charges on prior spending. When you finance with debt, the cost of debt is part of the cost of the purchase. Look to the decade prior to Mulroney's government for the origin of most of Canada's federal debt.

  13. As much as I hate to admit it, good post. Unfortunately I am now in a position where I have absolutely no respect for any of the parties and will no doubt 'pass' on election day. I want less government, less spending and less intrusion on ordinary peoples lives. I know it is no doubt a pipe dream but until I see some signs of that I save my gas money come election day. For those that bleat the old line that if you don't vote you can't complain I say balderdash. Should I be forced to vote I would put my X beside the worst candidate in the belief that if they are all taking us downhill we might as well get it over with. I pay taxes–I squawk

  14. As much as I hate to admit it, good post. Unfortunately I am now in a position where I have absolutely no respect for any of the parties and will no doubt 'pass' on election day. I want less government, less spending and less intrusion on ordinary peoples lives. I know it is no doubt a pipe dream but until I see some signs of that I save my gas money come election day. For those that bleat the old line that if you don't vote you can't complain I say balderdash. Should I be forced to vote I would put my X beside the worst candidate in the belief that if they are all taking us downhill we might as well get it over with. I pay taxes–I squawk

    • Canada has moved in a more libertarian direction over the past 15 years. We legalized gay marriage and decriminalized marijuana. Government spending as a % of GDP has also gone down markedly – to levels similar to that of the US ( http://www.cato.org/images/pubs/commentary/090517… ). Taxes have been going down consistently since 2000 – corporate taxes were cut by a third, income taxes by a fair amount, and the GST by 2%.

      • Since when did we decriminalize marijuana? I wish. Go have a look at a statute book. It's still illegal.

        • The law is in dispute – neither Martin or Harper were willing to run with Chretien's decriminalization bill – but it is decriminalized de facto. Virtually nobody gets arrested for it, so it may as well be decriminalized.

          • Um, the gubmint under Steve Harper is appealing the recent Ontario court decision. Cannabis is most certainly not decriminalized and if Steve Harper and "Dr." Chuckles McVety have their way, Steve's new prisons will be filled with cannabis criminals. Less government indeed.

      • None of those people lost for the reasons you state….and none of them were attempting to put any 'conservative agenda' in place….that's a neo-con thing.

        We also haven't decriminalized marijuana.

        • I agree that the first three didn't have aims that we would consider conservative today, however, they still had policy goals that they were unable to implement – and that is a valuable lesson for Harper for which the same is true.

          Borden/Meighen, Bennett and Diefenbaker all supported a pro-British foreign policy, and the economic alignment of Canada to the British Empire and away from the US. There are plenty of examples of this in practice – Borden won on a platform of opposition to trade reciprocity with the US in 1911, and was dogged in his efforts to maximize Canada's contributions to WWI. Meighen continued this policy, exemplified with his "ready aye ready" speech during the Chanak crisis. Bennett hosted and signed the Ottawa agreement in 1932, which brought Canada into a Commonwealth trading bloc (with high tariffs with the US). Diefenbaker's foreign policy reflects similar aims – he promised to increase the commonwealth share of Canadian trade, and is well-known for his anti-American posturing (eg. his reaction to the Cuban missile crisis). In the broad scheme of things, however, they failed to prevent Canada from falling into the American sphere.

          Mulroney is a different story – much closer to that of Harper. He actually did come to office promising significant deficit reduction and smaller government. That he failed to do so is pretty obvious.

          As to the role of internal divisions in their defeat, the evidence clearly suggests that internal divisions were important, because in each case the broad coalition they had forged broke apart. Three were done in by new parties that broke off from their massive coalitions
          Borden/Meighen -> Progressive Party
          Bennett -> National Reconstruction Party
          Mulroney -> Bloc Quebecois and Reform Party

          The Diefenbaker story is similar, although it did not generate new parties. The collapse of the Duplessis machine cost Diefenbaker in Quebec, as the resurgent Socreds reinvented themselves as a Quebec party.

          • Conservatives…Tories…in Canada have always been a mixed bag. They didn't have the aristocracy of England to back them up. However they followed Edmund Burke for the most part.

            Dief was going to open up the north….and take us out into the world. What he ended up doing was clinging to the dying British Empire and worst of all….. cancelling the Arrow….something that affects us to this day. We no longer see ourselves as adventurous and innovative…we have returned to our 'survival mode'. We turtled.

            Mulroney tried lots of things, but his legacy will be free trade. He was a pioneer. Yet he got criticized for his shoes, for singing with Reagan, and for the GST….which we've had since the 20's. He eliminated the operating deficit, and said the interest on the rest was eating us alive….hence free trade.

            But none of it was good enough for the west, and Reform was born.

            Different kettle of fish altogether….American, Republican, religious, tea party….nothing like the PC party which was finally reaching the center in Canadian politics….'socially progressive, fiscally conservative'

            Nobody's keen on the Libs anymore, but they aren't keen on the neo-cons either….hence the stand-off

  15. Canada has moved in a more libertarian direction over the past 15 years. We legalized gay marriage and decriminalized marijuana. Government spending as a % of GDP has also gone down markedly – to levels similar to that of the US ( http://www.cato.org/images/pubs/commentary/090517… ). Taxes have been going down consistently since 2000 – corporate taxes were cut by a third, income taxes by a fair amount, and the GST by 2%.

  16. He's a wolf in Bill Davis clothing – he grew up under the mellow Ontario Premiership of Mr. Davis, and he's using the same approach to sleepwalk us to a majority.

  17. You could use those same figures to turn around the present Liberal attack-line on healthcare. The only government in recent memory to slash transfer payments to the provinces was a Liberal one. Do you hate Mike Harris? Do you think Ralph Klein is Satan incarnate? Why on earth would you re-elect a party that helped prod those two to cut even more.

    Of course the reality is that deficits of the size Canada is running are inconsequential. The problem with deficits is that there is a crowding out effect, which drives up private sector interest rates (in case you haven't noticed, private sector interest rates remain pretty damn low). Once Canada converges toward its structural deficit of about 12 billion, we will have a deficit of less than 1% of GDP. The impact on interest rates will be negligible.

    The real statistic that matters for our wellbeing is productivity growth. We can increase per capita GDP by working longer hours (which has inherent limits – there are only 24 hours in a day), or by increasing our output in a given amount of time. The technological and institutional forces behind our compounded productivity growth are the essential drivers of our prosperity.

    Whatever the social problem you want to tackle, increased productivity can get you there. However, unfortunately short-term issues like unemployment, or distributional questions tend to be emphasized in our political system to the exclusion of more substantively important long term factors of economic change.

  18. Since when did we decriminalize marijuana? I wish. Go have a look at a statute book. It's still illegal.

  19. None of those people lost for the reasons you state….and none of them were attempting to put any 'conservative agenda' in place….that's a neo-con thing.

    We also haven't decriminalized marijuana.

  20. If you raise productivity, you raise unemployment

  21. And concentrates the distribution the purchasing power needed to consume non-exported products.

  22. I agree that the first three didn't have aims that we would consider conservative today, however, they still had policy goals that they were unable to implement – and that is a valuable lesson for Harper for which the same is true.

    Borden/Meighen, Bennett and Diefenbaker all supported a pro-British foreign policy, and the economic alignment of Canada to the British Empire and away from the US. There are plenty of examples of this in practice – Borden won on a platform of opposition to trade reciprocity with the US in 1911, and was dogged in his efforts to maximize Canada's contributions to WWI. Meighen continued this policy, exemplified with his "ready aye ready" speech during the Chanak crisis. Bennett hosted and signed the Ottawa agreement in 1932, which brought Canada into a Commonwealth trading bloc (with high tariffs with the US). Diefenbaker's foreign policy reflects similar aims – he promised to increase the commonwealth share of Canadian trade, and is well-known for his anti-American posturing (eg. his reaction to the Cuban missile crisis). In the broad scheme of things, however, they failed to prevent Canada from falling into the American sphere.

    Mulroney is a different story – much closer to that of Harper. He actually did come to office promising significant deficit reduction and smaller government. That he failed to do so is pretty obvious.

    As to the role of internal divisions in their defeat, the evidence clearly suggests that internal divisions were important, because in each case the broad coalition they had forged broke apart. Three were done in by new parties that broke off from their massive coalitions
    Borden/Meighen -> Progressive Party
    Bennett -> National Reconstruction Party
    Mulroney -> Bloc Quebecois and Reform Party

    The Diefenbaker story is similar, although it did not generate new parties. The collapse of the Duplessis machine cost Diefenbaker in Quebec, as the resurgent Socreds reinvented themselves as a Quebec party.

  23. The law is in dispute – neither Martin or Harper were willing to run with Chretien's decriminalization bill – but it is decriminalized de facto. Virtually nobody gets arrested for it, so it may as well be decriminalized.

  24. Only true in the short run. We can always find new uses for labour. I mean think about it – productivity per worker has increased about 14-fold since the 19th century, yet unemployment – even in the aftermath of a severe recession – is under 8%.

  25. Which is meaningless.

  26. No…we can't always find new uses for labour…they aren't plug-in parts….which is why it's a jobless recovery.

  27. What I'm really curious about is what the Conservative Party of Canada thinks about Prostitution:
    http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/story/2010/09/28/pr

    An Ontario court has thrown out key provisions of Canada's anti-prostitution laws in response to a constitutional challenge by a Toronto dominatrix and two prostitutes in 2009.

    Ontario's Superior Court of Justice ruled Tuesday the Criminal Code provisions relating to prostitution contribute to the danger faced by sex-trade workers.

    In her ruling, Justice Susan Himel said it now falls to Parliament to "fashion corrective action."

    "It is my view that in the meantime these unconstitutional provisions should be of no force and effect, particularly given the seriousness of the charter violations," Himel wrote.

    This would be a great question for Mansbridge to ask Harper tomorrow.

  28. What I'm really curious about is what the Conservative Party of Canada thinks about Prostitution:
    http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/story/2010/09/28/pr

    An Ontario court has thrown out key provisions of Canada's anti-prostitution laws in response to a constitutional challenge by a Toronto dominatrix and two prostitutes in 2009.

    Ontario's Superior Court of Justice ruled Tuesday the Criminal Code provisions relating to prostitution contribute to the danger faced by sex-trade workers.

    In her ruling, Justice Susan Himel said it now falls to Parliament to "fashion corrective action."

    "It is my view that in the meantime these unconstitutional provisions should be of no force and effect, particularly given the seriousness of the charter violations," Himel wrote.

    This would be a great question for Mansbridge to ask Harper tomorrow.

    • Depends how bad they want Carson back, I suppose.

  29. No, we can't.

    'Labour' is a capitalist concept that belongs to the industrial era. Factory workers for the most part.

    Lose one job, get another one….the jobs were all much the same

    China is now the world's factory floor……and even that won't last long.

    If your job is one that robots can do….robots will

  30. Conservatives…Tories…in Canada have always been a mixed bag. They didn't have the aristocracy of England to back them up. However they followed Edmund Burke for the most part.

    Dief was going to open up the north….and take us out into the world. What he ended up doing was clinging to the dying British Empire and worst of all….. cancelling the Arrow….something that affects us to this day. We no longer see ourselves as adventurous and innovative…we have returned to our 'survival mode'. We turtled.

    Mulroney tried lots of things, but his legacy will be free trade. He was a pioneer. Yet he got criticized for his shoes, for singing with Reagan, and for the GST….which we've had since the 20's. He eliminated the operating deficit, and said the interest on the rest was eating us alive….hence free trade.

    But none of it was good enough for the west, and Reform was born.

    Different kettle of fish altogether….American, Republican, religious, tea party….nothing like the PC party which was finally reaching the center in Canadian politics….'socially progressive, fiscally conservative'

    Nobody's keen on the Libs anymore, but they aren't keen on the neo-cons either….hence the stand-off

  31. …unless, of course, the productiviy gains allow market expansion sufficient to require the retention of the same number (or more) employees to keep up with demand…

  32. Market expansion to where? Are you trying to sell cars to Japan?

    Or anything to China?

    Or maybe trinkets to the US?

  33. How so?
    You need purchasing power in order to consume products. Unless you make money on a return from capital, than you need to be employed to earn money either by selling your labour or products of your labour. The only other alternative if you want to participate is going into debt or receiving free money from the state. In which case, increasing unemployment without state redistribution concentrates domestic purchasing power needed to consume products that are not exported.

  34. If it is a jobless recovery, why is employment back above the pre-recession peak ( http://www.statcan.gc.ca/subjects-sujets/labour-t… )? Unemployment generally fixes itself, with a little help from the Bank of Canada.

    Unemployment is recovering more slowly (at least in the US), true, but that is largely because this crisis was different. We faced a recession and a financial crisis, which froze up private sector credit. Since low interest rates weren't enough to fix the job market, fiscal policy was used as well (ie. the stimulus). However the basic point remains that unemployment is a fixable problem, and one that is being fixed.

  35. So give people jobs that robots can't do – things requiring judgment, creativity or social skills. There may come a time when robots will be able to do absolutely everything so well that there is no longer a place for humans to do any work. So I guess then we will be unemployed – but we won't care because we will be served by armies of robot butlers.

  36. Yes, that's classic economic captialist theory…however we're not in the industrial age anymore, and capitalism died some years ago too.

    "Labour' no longer exists in NA.. China is the world's factory

  37. Our jobless rate is rising…we have structural unemployment. Thousands of jobs are available, but we don't have the trained people to fill them. And yet thousands of people are unemployed. There is no match-up.

    This was going on before the 'recession' [a euphemism] ever impinged on our consciousness.

    There is a massive economic crisis still going on…we are just ignoring it, preferring the rose-colored glasses instead.

  38. We have thousands of jobs right now that we can't fill….because we don't have the trained people to do them. Hence our high immigration numbers.

    Yes, any robotic work will be done by robots….which will free up people to do other things.

    Whether they choose to do them or not is up to them.

  39. Just speaking for the company where I work (a publishing [media is probably the better term these days] company within a larger, international conglomerate), we have doubled in size over the years, in terms of staff. A lot of that comes from acquiring other firms. But in doing so, the synergies result in new efficiencies. We also are constantly developing new, more steamlined processes in order to keep and grow market penetration as delivery methods change and multiply. Inthe nearly two decades I've been there, there have been only a couple of smal layoffs; within a short time of each, renewed growth meant new hires.

    This won't be true of all businesses. But with the right company, planning and market, it happens. Don't be so quick to generalize.

  40. Well done, hth.

  41. Well done, hth.

  42. Depends how bad they want Carson back, I suppose.

  43. I don't think many Canadians would agree that $50B deficits are inconsequential. The principal reason our economy is perceived as healthier than most is that we actually started making a dent in our accumulated debt, thanks to Paul Martin.
    An ongoing "structural" deficit of $12B is unsustainable, as it hands power over our future to the foreign investors who lend us the money year after year. The fact that it's only 1% of GDP doesn't matter. Over time, we need surpluses as well as deficits, to retain some modicum of control over our economic – and therefore social – destiny.

  44. Um, the gubmint under Steve Harper is appealing the recent Ontario court decision. Cannabis is most certainly not decriminalized and if Steve Harper and "Dr." Chuckles McVety have their way, Steve's new prisons will be filled with cannabis criminals. Less government indeed.

  45. One has to generalize on here as there isn't room to address each business individually.

    The media is an information business….part of the new knowledge economy.

    Which means it's not part of the old dead industrial age….so while your company may be doing well, manufacturing is not.

  46. How can you even take this magazine seriously anymore? I'm tired of the liberal bias. How embarrassing for the profession of journalism.

  47. …and I am tired of all you clowns whining about a liberal bias.

    All media organizations try to make a profit. Thus they appeal to the majority of Canadians…

    We as a nation are fiscally conservative and socially liberal. If you are honest and have a shred of integrity, you will admit that the only political Party that has exhibited that trait is the Liberal Part of Canada.

    The Conservative Party is too jealous and too concerned with trying to attain power. They have NEVER been able to balance a cheque book…let alone the nations finances.

  48. Seriously? regardless of stripes, have you ever seen someone so blatantly lie day in & day out straight to your face the way Stephen Harper does?.

    I helped vote this thing into power & am completely blown away ever time I see a clip of his fear mongering campaign each & every day of this campaign, its unbelievable, literally!.

    I've voted Conservative, PC, NDP & Liberal over my years so please don't assume I'm just an ABC person, I'm not. but this guy is by far the lowest of the low I've ever seen, straight out of the American playbook of say anything to scare people into following you, regardless of TRUTH & HONOR.

    I find it just sickening as a proud Canadian.

    • ditto!

  49. Liberal bias? I'm happy we are finally hearing different sides in the media! Harper doesn't talk to media except scripted speeches and planned limited questions! Same instructions to his Ministers too! Now we are seeing this same thing with Conservative MPs not showing up to local debates.

  50. In 2006, Harper came into power primarily on the wave of "trust, transparency and accountability". I simply do not understand why the "people" and media are not holding him to these promises, and are willing to accept the rhetoric, deceit and deception. In regards to the "reckless coalition" I simply ask Mr. Harper to be transparent about this interview. Please lets let the discussion begin.

    [youtube SkF4NC5nUjM http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SkF4NC5nUjM youtube]

    Alternatively, go to youtube and type in: Harper coalition TVO 1997

  51. Layton Mania !

    Jack won the debates for me, no other leader can touch Jack as an average Joe Canadian you can TRUST.

    I was considering voting Liberal(ABHarperRegime), but when Jack mentioned the Liberal leaders lack of attendance it really hit a nerve for me, as I've always thought to myself that I just cant picture Iggy sitting their in opposition if he looses the leadership?, I think he'll be long gone back to his American home.

    The hardest working MP in Parliament, bar none.

  52. Charlie Gillis writes that "Much has been made in recent days of growing support for the NDP in Quebec … But there was scant evidence of this bump in the Canada 20/20 results …" At the end of the article we read that responses were gathered from April 13-17. In other words, the survey results are now 4-8 days out of date. Maybe that's why there's "scant evidence" of an NDP surge!

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