globeandmail.com, September 12, 2008 at 10:12 AM EDT:

“We are a party of free enterprise, free markets and free trade,” Mr. Harper told a Halifax audience. 

globeandmail.com, September 12, 2008 at 10:47 AM EDT:

Gas companies gouging consumers, says Harper

HALIFAX — Conservative Leader Stephen Harper accused oil companies of price-gouging on soaring gas prices and said he’s planning to lay out a promise to address this later in the campaign.

“It certainly appears that way to me,” Mr. Harper said of rising gas prices.

He didn’t reveal what he’s got in store, but one possibility is that the Tory leader is considering pledges for a tougher crackdown on gasoline retailing behaviour…

God forbid the Tories should take a different line from, say, the NDP.



  1. Thirty-five minutes of bliss. Treasure that time always, Andrew.

  2. Harper has a plan. he is is going to eliminate the GST on gas when it reached 85 cents a litre?

    Oh wait, that was a different election.

  3. This is exactly why I am against Manning’s finishing school for pols we read about the other day. They don’t need even more training in pandering than they already exhibit.

    I really have no idea how our pols can say the things they do with a straight face. I would be blushing slightly, at the very least.

  4. …Stephen Harper announces a bold new law, one that would ban leftward shifts of the Supply Curve…

  5. I give up. Where’s the petition to have the word “conservative” revoked from the *cough* Conservative Party? Who do we talk to? Elections Canada? Webster’s Dictionary? Can we start a class-action suit maybe?

  6. Well at least he said “appears” instead of “are”. Sigh.

  7. Okay, Mr. Coyne,

    Now the big question: Having endorsed Harpers’ (Reform) Conservative Party in the 2006 election, will the editorial boards of pro-market and conservative news organizations like the G&M, NatPost and Macleans now reverse themselves?

    After all, Harper has violated “deeply held conservative principles” involving Senate appointments, patronage, taxpayer funded polling, dropping cash into provinces during their elections, timetables for the Afghan mission, interfering in the markets, income trusts, the independence of officers of Parliaments, free votes for chairs of Parliamentary committees, electoral reform (thanks PVL, we in Ontario don’t need to be counted, really), accountability in lobbying, politicizing the judicial selection process, using immigration policy as voter-bait, funding for the navy, funding for the coast guard, finding for the air force, and … geez … that’s a lot for two and a half years.

    So, will you and your colleagues put your endorsements where your outrage is?

  8. Andrew, ya gotta read the article. The headline is out of context.

  9. Please remind me again. Was Harper not previously adamant that the price of gas was determined by forces beyond the control of his government. So is this another flip-flop from Canada’s preferred leader or this another attempt at that elusive majority?

  10. Andrew,

    I find the point you lay out so clearly is representative of the pandering a mainstream party either in power or within striking distance has to contend with in our first-past-the-post system. I can’t conceive of a day when the Liberals or the Conservatives have the chance to be in power and stand for a set of principals – without backing down our having their electorate tear you in half.

    Harper’s brain (free-markets) and his brand (cozy sweater vest family man) are incompatible, but they’re shoved together because he’ll gain a majority by nodding to both sides. You pick up on the point, I expect it, but the vast majority don’t realize it – symptomatic of the kindred internet disease of polarization. If it’s not your interest to see the differences, you don’t.

    I’m a staunch conservative fiscally, but I’m socially liberal and the only issue I regard when voting is the environment. The only political system that can root out this pandering is some form of proportional representation. Wouldn’t a coalition of fiscal conservatives, social moderates/liberals and Greens look really, really cool? Might even get some work done, too.

    Until I see a pol from the grits or tories standing up for a principal, I shall always vote Green.

  11. Can one be PRO free market and free enterprise, yet AGAINST oligopic behaviour?

    I fail to see how the two are inconsistent.

  12. If you support the free market and free enterprise, you support the ability of individual players within that market to become monopoly powers — under the assumption that the only way they do so is if they’re good enough to beat the competition.

    An oligopoly is simply the same thing with different letterheads.

    Supposedly, if you truly support the free market and free enterprise, you believe that any oligopoly not last as players who aren’t part of the oligopoly arise. And in fact, an oligopoly is even more fragile than a monopoly, since it can’t take as much advantage of the economies of scale a single entity would achieve.

    Or in other words, there’s nothing wrong with gouging because it encourages the creation of non-gougers, is I believe how the logic goes. How much damage is done in the interim isn’t a factor, as I understand it.

  13. What makes this so rich is Harper’s own strong ties to the oil business in Alberta, which itself entirely depends on the high price of oil for viability. The profits on the oil-sands is not particularly high, whereas the traditional stuff coming out of the Middle-East and Russia is like printing money.

    Harper could have made an intelligent response here and deliberately chose not to. Pretty poor.

  14. Most pretty-conservative economist types I know think it’s a-ok for governments to crack down on oligopolies.

  15. John – there really is no “crack down on oligopolies” available here and it is pointless to discuss it. It would be a start for the government to stop subsidizing these companies, but the price is not under our control and it is silly to keep talking as thought it is.

  16. John D

    Agreed. Plenty of conservatives think monopolies and oligopolies are bad. I am big fan of A Smith and he warned against monopolies/oligopolies because they are as destructive to our economy as much as socialist ideas are. I think our leaders have made a mistake with banks and oil companies by letting them get too big and not encouraging competition.

  17. Lipstick, I wouldn’t be surprised if Harper announces a similar policy in the near future wrt removing the GST on gas over a set price point/litre.

    Ike will seal its inclusion in the platform if there had been any previous uncertainty.

    Has anyone seen a liberal tv ad yet? What are they waiting for?

    Where do the Green Shift Income Tax cuts fall within the history of Income tax cuts in Canadian history? I’d imagine they’ll be among the most significant in recent memory.

    Carbon taxes are far from risky, those notoriously rational Germans have been benefitting from a first mover advantage on this issue for years as have Scandinavian countries with economies similar to our own.

    Also check this out:
    Finance Critic for the Conservative Party in the UK George Osborne from a speech in Nov 2006: “Pay as you burn, Not as you Earn”


    Dion’s talking pts are remarkably similar to those of this up and coming Conservative leader.

    When the world’s top economists and environmentalists agree on something, does this not make good policy.

    Had Harper seized on this in some form he’d win 200 seats.

  18. JWN – I fully agree.

    One of the reasons I’m pro green shift is because it give me the opportunity to pay less tax if I change my behaviour!

    Today, they only I way I can pay less tax is to earn less money!

  19. Eagerly holding my breathe for that Calgary Herald headline “Harper to interfere with Oil profits”… sounds like the CONs’ own NEP, but then again, because its in the file of ‘set election dates’, ‘income trusts’ and ‘making parliament work’ i will only pretend to hold my breathe.

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