Boy, then you guys had really better not blow the election — oh, wait. Never mind.


OTTAWA – Opposition parties fear the Harper government intends to use the global economic crisis as an excuse to carry out ideologically-driven spending cuts.

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Boy, then you guys had really better not blow the election — oh, wait. Never mind.

  1. Tom Flanagan supports cuts to Aboriginal programs? Oh dear, let me check what colour the sky is today.

  2. The problem with ideologically driven cuts is that they don’t really get you what you are supposed to want–which is to be out of deficit. So you end with cuts to aborigonal or arts programs and also a huge deficit. See: Mulroney, Harris.

  3. One benefit from the Conservatives’ point of view may be to demonstrate to the affected groups (artists, etc.) where they really stand in the scheme of things. In other words, for all their talk of your importance, the Liberals and NDP have no intention of bringing down the government just to defend you.

  4. Gary: I hope our government would have better reasons for spending cuts than the desire to slap a particular interest group around.

  5. Hey, if you want to end corporate welfare, the arts industry in tough times might be a good place to start.

    However, everyone is talking about corporate welfare being the salvation of the economy, rather than a principal problem. So I don’t think any particular interested group is going to be forced to take their hands out of the government’s pocket.

  6. A typical article from Bryden. Free of content except for her desire to publish liberal neurosis’. I thought Bryden’s article months ago trying to associate Keith Martin and white supremacists was despicable but that’s how many Libs/libs roll these days.

    “It would be absolutely consistent with the Conservatives, particularly now when they can use the foil of an economic downturn, to cut programs and institutions they don’t like”

    Apparently Brison said that. What’s he saying exactly. Do the Libs cut programs they like? Or are the Cons suppose to cut programs they like or think are working well? And couldn’t Brison have said the same thing about 12 years ago when Martin was taking a hatchet to the budget in order to balance it. Do the Libs now think deficits are better than balancing the budget? And why are Con cuts ‘ideological’ while Lib cuts are ‘pragmatic’ or ‘sensible’?

    Anyways, this is all pointless speculation because I have heard nothing from Flaherty or Harper that makes me think they have got the guts to do anything but cut a few minor programs, take us into large deficit, and claim they had no choice.

  7. jwl: the Cons’ cuts are ideological because they manufactured this deficit through tax cutting and drastic increases in spending in Conservative-favoured areas. Although I have to say that I’m surprised they cancelled the icebreakers.

  8. I find it frustrating that Flanagan is constantly given high-profile space and identified only as a “former chief of staff”. Flanagan and Harper are co-founders of the Reform Party, soulmates and confidantes, and continue to coordinate on communications and strategy.

    Flanagan recently described his coordination with Harper, who wanted to execute a hard-right shift but had to work within a minority government:

    “”Part of the execution of the plan was that there would be conservatives attacking him, like John Williamson (of the Canadian Taxpayers’ Federation) and Gerry Nicholls (Harper’s successor as head of the far-right National Citizens’ Coalition). That’s extremely useful, to have that kind of pressure there, berating the prime minister for not doing enough.”


    Flanagan isn’t merely a “former chief of staff”, he’s a cat’s paw for the PMO.

  9. For all their talk of the Cons driving us into deficit, have any Libs actually said which Tory spending increases they think were mistakes? After all, Monday morning quarterbacking should be the easiest job in the world.

    I know Goodale et al constantly bring up the 2% GST cut, but since they’ve also said Libs will not restore it to 7%, that’s a pretty hollow argument.

  10. No, it’s not.

    Raising the GST at this point would be hard on consumer confidence. We should never have lowered it.

  11. I just saw that Flaherty said we might enter a ‘technical recession’ yesterday. What is that exactly? Is that like being kinda pregnant. We are either in a recession or we are not, there really isn’t much grey area about this. Why aren’t the Libs pilling on that comment instead of focusing on issues that aren’t likely to occur.

  12. Andrew,

    I don’t disagree that it was a bad idea (economically-speaking) to cut the GST. I would have preferred other tax cuts, and would even support an increase above 7% if it was balanced out by income tax cuts.

    But the point is the Liberals did not oppose it, and have gone on record that they will not reverse it. Therefore, their protestations carry little weight now.

  13. If a technical recession if anything like being a technical virgin, then Deficit Jim has some explaining to do.

  14. Harper was pretty clear at the APEC meeting over the weekend that he understands deflation and that he is NOT going to be R.B. Bennett.

    Obama will be running humongous deficits. Harper will run large deficits. These guys both know that amidst a real deflationary threat that governments have to spend to create aggregate demand.

  15. His operative hamstrung by political reality, Flannagan maintains the appearance of reworking the engine of power by threatening to scratch the paint.

  16. I think a “technical recession” is where GDP declines for six months or longer. As opposed to just whenever it feels like a recession to everyone, but they haven’t published the statistics to back it up. Something like that.

    Harper is definitely no Bennett. Bennett was actually successful as a businessman before he failed at leading the country. Also, we’ll get an environmental tax credit for switching to a “Harper Buggy”.

  17. If the Conservatives do drive through ideologically-driven spending cuts, can we have some sort of civic holiday? Happy the-Conservative-party-acting-conservative day? It would at least be a change from Stephen Harper leading a team of Liberals with the serial numbers filed off.

  18. “I find it frustrating that Flanagan is constantly given high-profile space and identified only as a “former chief of staff”

    No kidding eh? Our news media really thinks we’re stupid.

    Anyway, I can think of a “useless program” to cut; the political sciences program at the University of Calgary. As some point, being wrong about everything has to have consequences.

    Flanagan can always go back to the U. of Chicago….I hear the neocons are planning their last stand there.

  19. So the party in power is going to roll out expert endorsed big ticket salvation complete with inconsequential tweaks that make it look original to much fanfare and nickel/dime grudge crap in the background knowing protest will be greeted as self-interested sour grapes and get pinned to the Evil Liberals whether they actually say anything or not. Government will continue to grow like its pregnant (yes, I said “continue”) and Small Government Steve will be trumpted as the Great Compromiser.

    I hate knowing how a story ends half way through. Paid good money for the show, too.

  20. And why are Con cuts ‘ideological’ while Lib cuts are ‘pragmatic’ or ’sensible’?

    Ask Tom Flanagan.

  21. Hey, who’s running this country – Harper or Flanagan? Or, is Flangan running Harper?

  22. Don’t worry Sandi, Harper will bail on Flanagan soon enough, just like he bailed on Jim Hawkes and Preston Manning.

  23. and McVety. Don’t forget McVety, athough in his case Steve will merely be returning the favour. Not that Chuck’s been very loud about since he does after all have his own market share to worry about.

  24. “I find it frustrating that Flanagan is constantly given high-profile space and identified only as a “former chief of staff”

    i’m presuming the second part is the frustrating bit? he’s given high profile space because he’s a very good columnist and a guy who’s had substantial influence on the current government. The left should be happy he gets high profile space since Flanagan seems to delight in giving the game away with his Dr. Evil columns. `You fools! We will be victorious forever! Muhaha!’ He’s also pretty open that he’s buds with Harper. I don’t really see the subterfuge here. If anything Flanagan flies close to the sun and risks damaging his guy by being too honest about the government’s intentions. Check the Tory party web site and campaign ads for the simple, safe pablum messages that I bet the Tory communications office would prefer.

  25. keith c: good points, all. Flanagan really does open up the dirty little playbook on a regular basis. The Canadian press seems to have a total blind spot for this guy.

    My reaction comes partly from watching the US media, which does a *terrible* job of identifying its guests and their backgrounds. At least they have an excuse – an incomprehensible swamp of thinktanks, lobbyists, astroturfers, private business, consultants, strategists. The Canadian landscape is much simpler.

  26. The definition of “ideologically driven cuts” is those one doesn’t agree with. Anyone who thinks every dollar of government spending is crucial to the economy is smoking something funny or receiving a few of those dollars and protecting their income.

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