Eulogy for a government?

Rob Oliphant is a slight, unimposing man, one of the rookie Liberals who fill the back row of the opposition side. His is a united church minister with a degree in commerce. He was an advisor to David Peterson’s government in Ontario and Michael Ignatieff’s campaign for the Liberal leadership in 2006. He currently represents the riding vacated by John Godfrey, another slight, unimposing man. 

In the moments before Jim Flaherty delivered the government’s economic and fiscal statement, the House was going through the motions of debating the speech from the throne. Oliphant was the last member of parliament to speak in full before the Speaker called on the finance minister. The government benches had been filling as he spoke and were full by the time he finished, but save for a few Liberals in Oliphant’s immediate vicinity, almost no one seemed to notice his remarks. Everything that has transpired since has, of course, reduced him to the stuff of footnote.

But if we are in the final days of Stephen Harper’s government, here was a crushing, if inadvertent, eulogy.

It was not, in the straightforward sense, a complete harangue. “It might surprise the honourable members opposite and perhaps some of the honourable members on this side of the House that I found a number of laudable elements in the speech as it was read. In fact, it was much less brutal than one might have expected following the heated rhetoric of the last campaign,” he said. “Specifically, I was impressed that the government seemed to indicate that, despite all evidence to the contrary, it might actually believe that government can and should be a force for good in people’s lives, and that it is appropriate for government to intervene, act and ensure that our future, particularly our economic future, is protected.”

Though it was a bit of a harangue. “What surprises me about this recognition is that it is simply not even close to what the honourable members on the other side of the House were telling voters during the election, week after week in the recent campaign,” he said. “In fact, during the campaign, the Conservatives ran against incurring deficits and un-budgeted spending while continually denying that Canada was heading toward a recession.”

He continued. “There are two possibilities as to why the government has so radically shifted its position with respect to the economy, and neither of them, frankly, is pretty. First, it is possible that it completely misread the international economic indicators visible to most of us. Second, it is possible that it failed to see that the domestic economic policies followed in their first mandate, policies of irresponsible tax cuts and bloated government spending, have left the government completely incapable of responding quickly or well to the situation. I am talking about incompetence of the highest order.”

He recited some of Mr. Harper’s claims about Canada’s escape from both recession and deficit. “If this was done truthfully but naively, it smacks of utter and complete incompetence,” he figured. “If it is not incompetence, ineptitude or mismanagement, I fear it may be a far more serious problem for the government. If it is not incompetence, it is deception or misrepresentation. The campaign run by the Conservatives was disingenuous at best and dishonest at worst.”

And then he got specific. “Voter apathy, civic cynicism and outright disgust with politicians is based on political leaders refusing to say what they mean and, even worse, failing continually to do what they say. Voters are increasingly savvy and are simply tired of politicians telling them what they think they want to hear and then turning 180 degrees and doing something completely different,” he said. “At the core of the Speech from the Throne lies bear the ethical reality that shapes the government. It is a government that will say anything, do anything, promise anything to get elected and simply cannot and will not be trusted by Canadians. The throne speech reveals at its core that the government is morally bankrupt. It has lost its moral compass.”

The denouement was a series of questions. About poverty and affordable housing, arts and education, immigration and diplomacy, soldiers and veterans. Questions, he said, his constituents wanted answered.

“Where is the imagination that is going to help the poor and those who will be displaced by today’s economic reality as it descends upon us,” he asked, “just as the government has emptied the cupboard?”

Moments after, he and everyone else learned just how imaginative this government was willing to get.




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Eulogy for a government?

  1. I donated 1000 dollars to the Conservative Party of Canada this year, and 400 to my local campaign.

    What has transpired in the last 72 hours has absolutely disgusted and disillusioned me. At the first Conservative Party Convention (in what seems like a lifetime ago), we were told, and told eachother that we would do it better than the other guys. Accountable government, no tricks, no slimy games, just good governance and a United Right.

    We, the grassroots of the CPoC have told ourselves that the compromises in policy were simply a temporary condition necessary to achieve power.

    We the grassroots of the CPoC told ourselves that the misgivings of this government in its campaign spending, were simply trumped up allegations, created by vengeful officials at elections Canada and members of the left wing media.

    We the grassroots of the CPoC turned a blind eye when government grew under Harper, not shrank as promised.

    We of the grassroots watched with awe as the facade finally came crashing down this thursday, and the people we placed in power, were exposed as lying, conniving, inept opportunists, just as bad as the people we removed from power 3 years ago.

    I will never donate or volunteer on a campaign so long as Stephen Harper is the leader of the Conservative Party. We have given him four elections, and he has been incapable of inspiring Canadians, passing any of the policies we developed within the party, or taken one step to dismantle the corrupt and bloated institutions of our socialist system.

    I will be mailing my card back to Conservative Party headquarters tomorrow.

  2. “Irresponsible tax cuts.” So the government, if it raised taxes, could save the economy. God help us if this is what the Opposition believes. Britain just cut their own VAT by 2.5%. All at once. Probably the wrong thing to do. Almost certainly useless as a “stimulus”. But so is every other government action under the sun. Keynesian stimulus is a figment of economists’ imaginations.

  3. Well, if running a surplus means that the government is overtaxing the people, running a deficit must mean the exact opposite, hm, Raging?

    Jerry: Don’t mail your card back. Even though I tend to oppose most of the conservative positions, the party needs principled people like you to take control of it when it gets out of whack like this. Keep your party membership and exercise your right to speak up and make it the principled party you wanted it to be.

    And if you succeed.. who knows, the party may even get my vote one day.

  4. At some point this week the coalition will offer an alternative to the defeat of the government, and that will be the removal of Stephen Harper and Jim Flaherty from the cabinet.

  5. Stephen Taylor is reporting that “a rumour was announced” at the Press Gallery dinner last night that Harper would prorogue Parliament until next year. Was anyone from Macleans there and, if so, what’s the story?

  6. You wish, Aaron. Your track record for making predictions is very bad, see your claim that Dion’s multiple re-dos of a simple question and subsequent mockery thereof would lead to Dion’s election. You actually said that, in the middle of a campaign that nobody seriously believed Dion would win. How many bad predictions does one get before it becomes apparent that one is consistently and quantifiably wrong about politics? And how many times do you get to “predict” Harper’s imminent demise before it becomes fair to speculate it is more wish than speculation?

    No less an authority than the CBC ombudsman has admitted there is a dearth of right wing political commentary in this country; at a time where money is tight and people are getting laid off left and right I have to wonder why Rogers is paying a hyperpartisan to be consistently wrong about politics. Wrong, and biased as hell against Conservatives. What, are we short of left wing extremists in the media? Can’t we at least get one who gets the odd prediction right? What utility does the average reader have for Yet Another Harper Hater in the media? Really, don’t we have enough of those? Does Aaron Wherry even have the academic background in economics necessary to adequately critique anything relating to economics? Let’s see the transcripts.

    Eulogy. Days after he just won an increased minority government and the opposition is broke, leaderless and in tatters. You’re not a serious individual.

  7. Um, Penner?…..

    Notice that question mark at the end of Wherry’s title?

  8. Who are these people who keep claiming “there’s a dearth of right-wing commentary in this country.” Did they know that Mainstream Media in Canada is big business, big-business is by definition right-wing to centre-right? Give your head a shake, when you get the occasional alternative view breaking through it’s considered an example of some sort of left-wing conspiracy. Funny that socialists all of the sudden control the boards of Can West Global, BCE, Torstar and the like. Then again, when the CBC ombudsman is a partisan Conservative hack it’s not surprising that he and his kool-aid drinkers would believe such a thing.

    Oh well, such a persecution complex is hardly surprising, just look at the government. They bully and try to introduce the most, odious, non-pragmatic policies they can possibly design, and are surprised people stand up to them. I suppose if the Liberals don’t loose their nerve, I’d be surprised too. Traditionally pragmatism is considered a Canadian value that and valour at a time of crisis. Yet the Conservative Party of Canada, under Stephen Harper’s leadership has shown neither of these things. Yet they’ve managed to push three dis-similar opposition leaders together at a time of crisis and then are surprising that these people with vast differences, who traditionally couldn’t stand each other come together to “stand up for Canada?” Including a separatist?!? The irony is delicious.

  9. Catherine: there were a lot of rumours at the gallery dinner last night, including the one about tasty proroguis. Some of them were even about politics. Basically, nobody knows anything for sure. Harper’s inner circle seems eager for this fight. Beyond that, opinions were all over the map.

  10. Where is this “dearth of right-wing commentary” ? I want to go there.

  11. see your claim that Dion’s multiple re-dos of a simple question and subsequent mockery thereof would lead to Dion’s election.

    Actually Penner that was Andrew Potter, with support from Kady O’Malley, the other Libloggers here.

  12. Dear Jerry Jackson,
    Please do not wait until tomorrow and mail your membership card back today if you have one. Do not forget to ask for a refund of your political donations as well.
    BTW you seem to have donated quite a bit over the limit this year and I just wonder how did that happened???

    If you want to engage in psychological warfare you have to learn how to write some genuine propaganda pieces and not some phony like the three dollars bills generic stuff.

  13. Thanks, Paul.

  14. Let’s ask supernonpartisan blogger and lib-left media suckup Olaf of PrarieWrangler what he thinks:

    “It looks like pretty much the entire pundit class (spare trusty renegade Andrew Coyne) is somehow of the opinion that Harper is in the wrong regarding this whole mess. I mean, obviously there’s Wherry (you’d have to stick bamboo shoots under Wherry’s fingernails before he’d veil his contempt for Harper), but…”

    That’s a 21 year old kid who hopes to get into law school talking, btw. More evidence that Canadians have had enough of hyperpartisan hacks here and elsewhere. I repeat: there is zero utility for Yet Another Harper Hater in the media; in a business where a lot of you are about to be declared redundant, you should consider being a lot less redundant.

  15. I see it’s time to haul out the Dialectizer to translate what Penner had to say.

    You wish, Aawon, uh-hah-hah-hah. Youw twack wecowd fow making pwedictions is vewy bad, see youw cwaim that Dion’s muwtipwe we-dos of a simpwe qwestion and subseqwent mockewy theweof wouwd wead to Dion’s ewection, uh-hah-hah-hah. You actuawwy said that, in the middwe of a campaign that nobody sewiouswy bewieved Dion wouwd win, uh-hah-hah-hah. How many bad pwedictions does one get befowe it becomes appawent that one is consistentwy and qwantifiabwy wwong about powitics? And how many times do you get to “pwedict” Hawpew’s imminent demise befowe it becomes faiw to specuwate it is mowe wish than specuwation? No wess an authowity than the CBC ombudsman has admitted thewe is a deawf of wight wing powiticaw commentawy in this countwy; at a time whewe money is tight and peopwe awe getting waid off weft and wight I have to wondew why Wogews is paying a hypewpawtisan to be consistentwy wwong about powitics. Oh, dat scwewy wabbit! Wwong, and biased as heww against Consewvatives. Oh, dat scwewy wabbit! What, awe we showt of weft wing extwemists in the media? Can’t we at weast get one who gets the odd pwediction wight? What utiwity does the avewage weadew have fow Yet Anothew Hawpew Hatew in the media? Weawwy, don’t we have enough of those? Does Aawon Whewwy even have the academic backgwound in economics necessawy to adeqwatewy cwitiqwe anything wewating to economics? Wet’s see the twanscwipts. Oh, dat scwewy wabbit! Euwogy. Days aftew he just won an incweased minowity govewnment and the opposition is bwoke, weadewwess and in tattews. Oh, dat scwewy wabbit! You’we not a sewious individuaw.

    That’s better.

  16. The leftist media is acting with all the objectivity of beneficiary hanging over the sick bed of an uncle, who’s death, they’re utterly convinced to believe, will bring them a new life of prosperity.

    What’s most remarkable is not the lack of objectivty per se, but the thickness of the blinders it has created.

    No rational thinking person believes this hodgepodge of divergent and wholely unprepared opposition is what this county needs to guide us into these tough economic times, nor will the electorate approve of this

  17. Is Penner the same Dave Penner working in the PMO?

  18. Karol, you can donate up to $1100 to the national and an additional $1100 to the local campaign and I believe you can also donate that limit to a leadership campaign.

  19. Since we can’t confirm anything on Harper’s side, how about the would-be coalition’s? Do they have demands? Does anyone know what they are?

    They can’t possibly back down on a withdrawal of the subsidy cut. Harper would most certainly use that withdrawal against them and claim that greed was their sole motivation. They now have to demand a stimulus package. They have no choice.

  20. All donations to political parties are “subsidized” by tax payers… either as a tax credit or by the grant given per vote.

  21. Why is disagreement and/or critisism of Harper/Conservatives equivalent to and proof of partisanship?
    This love affair with reciprocity grows tiresome. Criticism of one does not in and of itself affirm support for it’s opposite!

  22. Kody writes: “No rational thinking person believes this hodgepodge of divergent and wholely unprepared opposition is what this county needs to guide us into these tough economic times, nor will the electorate approve of this”

    Harper’s cabinet has 38 people, but at least a third of those could disappear and not be missed. Often it seems like it is a one-man show, and no more than a dozen of them seem to be allowed to speak to us. One could find at least as capable a cabinet just from the Liberal MPs. The big improvement would be having a PM focussed on working for Canadians rather than playing partisan games, but I don’t see any problem with trading in Harper’s cabinet either.

  23. “Where is the imagination that is going to help the poor and those who will be displaced by today’s economic reality as it descends upon us,” he asked, “just as the government has emptied the cupboard?””

    Isnt this just a little overwrought and dramatic?

    What I find disappointing is the lack of questioning. Fair enough to question the government on their assertions. But to put purple rhetoric like this up, Churchill it definitely isnt, without pricking the bubble is out of place.

    For all the talk of stimulus arent we missing the more fundamental debate. What problem is the stiumulus supposed to solve…then you can say whether this is a worthy endeavour and or whether that particular stimulus will work. The Auto debate is at least taking on some worthwhile dimensions, transition vs subsidy vs bankruptcy, effects, desirability and startegic costs and value of each.

    Emptying the cupboard…..come on…emptying the cupboard is keeping taxes the same and then spending it away…..reducing your tax take is a very different story.

    As for goals…is this just about an anti poverty program? That is a perpetual question not a recession one. And the references to other countries ignores the fact that Canada is in a different situation.

    While things are uncertain it is by no means dire, hard to make that point with melodrama scriptwriters like Mr Oliphant and their apparent PR agents.

    The Liberal and NDP program was tax more and spend more in the election, as was the NDP program and that was during “good times” so the answer again is tax more and spend more in bad times, or spend more and tax later (which is the result). The conservatives have been marginally different, but they too have increased spending, so its not like we can say the government is parsamonious.

    There is no discussion of what these things are supposed to solve, when and how. Consistent across almost all commentators as the play by play takes place. Documenting the emotive bleats of MP’s hardly leads to a deeper understanding, it is an interesting snapshot but misses the point.

  24. Hazzard,

    criticism per se is not proof of partisanship,

    but add up:

    the near unanimity of posts, the breath and scope, the fact that Conservatives are essentially treated like outside “trolls” around here, whereas the obvious libloggers supplement (rather than oppose) the thesis of most posts,

    Add in the fact that every honest media insider (and many in the US have openly admitted already) will tell you they lean to the left/liberal, that the humanities in general and j-school in particular from which they spawn are bastions of myopic leftist thinking,

    and every single study on the subject in which voting intention/preference data is collected (the last one I saw was something rediculous like 45-1 ratio who voted/leaned/donated in support of the liberal vs. conservative),

    and you get nearly an entire industry that consistently under/mis reports, slants headlines, torques stories, openly editorializes mid “news” accounts, according to their world view, (many under the guise of “making a difference” – code words for agenda journalism favoring the “correct” side of the agenda).

    The result: the media is less trusted that used car salesman, such that the once vaunted NYT’s (among the worst offenders for agenda journalism) is at junk bond status.

    Cheers.

  25. We have given him four elections, and he has been incapable of inspiring Canadians, passing any of the policies we developed within the party, or taken one step to dismantle the corrupt and bloated institutions of our socialist system.

    The one thing I really did expect from Harper and his Conservatives was they’d be brutally transparent. That they’d explain to me exactly what they were going to do to me, who much it would hurt, how much it would cost me and how long it would be before I was able to sit down again.

    The first thing they did, however, was shut down all avenues of communication between the government and everyone else….muzzled MP’s, disenfranchised the Press Gallery, quickly abandoned their promise to communicate through local media, re-organised government web sites to *disappear* information, issued directives to the civil service about centralised communicaton through political staff, and stopped answering questions in parliament and committees, until all government communication became entirely unidirectional and simply a spectacle of it lecturing and propagandising to the rest of the country.

    Canadians don’t deserve this.

  26. I mean, look at Paul Wells regarding Obama,

    he, like the rest of the media, generally avoided like the plague any hard news stories (of which there were many), while acting like giddy school girls around the “cute new guy in school”.

    During the election I linked to a few articles by hard nosed old school journalists who wrote in pure embarrassment at the spectacle, and utter lament and the downfall of their industry they were witnessing (objectivity and credibility being the only real asset any organization that purports to report – “just the straight facts” has).

  27. the near unanimity of posts, the breath and scope, the fact that Conservatives are essentially treated like outside “trolls” around here,

    Stop lying.

  28. Trust Ti-Guy to come in and make my point, in real time.

  29. Stay on-topic, Kodly. Or, if you have evidence of bias or unacceptable partisanship, present it. Stop junking up these comments sections with your unsubstantiated assertions. Kady O’Malley finds them cute, but you know, after our looooong online relationship with you and your poly-cotton blend personae, that I sure don’t.

  30. You’re the best moderator Maclean’s ever had tiguy!!!! Wooooohooo! Liberal par-tay at Maclean’s!!!!! Party like its 1993, babee!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  31. If the media and some other commentators (chiefly, bloggers) are unhappy with the way Conservatives control communications, they have no one to blame but themselves. If many of you could find a set of adjectives somewhat short of “vicious”, “heartless”, “criminal”, etc and pull back a bit from discussing Conservative governments as if a fascist police state were imminent, a more open (unguarded) communication policy might result. (It might not, but at least then it would be easier to fix the blame and demand more adult and accountable behaviour.)

    In particular, if the media see themselves as an important public institution with the role of watching the politicians, certain members could stand to pass more concrete information and less descriptive and narrative ideologically filtered fluff. I am interested to read columns which ferret out inconsistent shifts in policy and legislation that governments try to sneak through. Gossip columns and pamphleteering masquerading as political analysis and opinion, not so much.

  32. For all the talk of stimulus arent we missing the more fundamental debate. What problem is the stiumulus supposed to solve…

    Rising unemployment.
    Declining consumer and business confidence.
    Falling asset values.
    A contracting credit market.

    How’s that for a start?

  33. I’m actually all for declining consumer confidence. Once people realise that being exhorted to spend, spend, spend is what the establishment is counting on, we might see some fundamental changes.

  34. I am so bored with conservatives posting on and on and on, here and everywhere else on the Internet that allow open comments, about alleged media bias. Your point is made. And made and made and made. Please stop being so boring. Discuss issues.

  35. What is unacceptably high unemployment? Are you able to identify any industries/enterprises for which market forces should not be allowed to run their course?

    Should declining confidence be addressed by freeing up more of the spenders’ money, or spending it on their behalf?

    What asset values concern you? Housing? Speculative equities? Which should be artificially protected?

    The contracting credit market has already been addressed in one respect. The government offered to liquidate a substantial amount of the banks’ capital locked up in mortgages, and banks appear to have taken as much advantage of that as they felt they needed. What other credit supporting measures would you propose?

    Is it fair to assume that everything we cease to spend, spend, spend upon be allowed to die a natural market death?

  36. The Tory war room wannabe using the alias “Another Liberal Troll” is boring and tedious.

  37. Why is having a liberal/left personal political view proof of partison writing/opinions? Are you trying to suggest that the 45 liberal/left journalists are by definition incapable of doing their jobs (save the opinion writers who are supposed to be take sides)? Are you also trying to suggest the 1 conservative/right journalist is somehow able to keep personal beliefs aside? Voting intention does not negate validity of one’s work. You are using that same faulty reciprocity logic in this argument; you don’t support Harper’s maneuvering ergo you must support the opposition’s maneuvering. Nevermind the continual implications that even having a contrary view is proof of inferiority and thus defence of my position is not required since you are not worthy of the effort.

  38. >Please stop being so boring. Discuss issues.

    Good point. I am so bored with progressives posting on and on and on, here and everywhere else etc, that government should “spend”. The general idea is understood. Discuss specifics.

  39. First of all – I’m 24, not 21, although my studied lack of maturity may explain the mistake.

    Second of all, as I see it, Wherry is authoring a blog here, and as such has free reign to hold Harper or anyone else in contempt. It’s not necessarily bias, so much as an opinion expressed consistently. And following the shenanigans this week, it would seem that he was well ahead of the curve.

  40. “if the media see themselves as an important public institution with the role of watching the politicians, certain members could stand to pass more concrete information and less descriptive and narrative ideologically filtered fluff. I am interested to read columns which ferret out inconsistent shifts in policy and legislation that governments try to sneak through”

    Do you even read Wells’ articles? On Martin? On Harper? That’s pretty much all he does!

  41. >Why is having a liberal/left personal political view proof of partison writing/opinions?

    It isn’t, and that applies regardless of a person’s personal views. The analysis/opinion, once set down, speaks for itself. Whether or not the human subject of an article “sneered” or was “compassionate” or dressed well or hunched over like a troll is not the kind of commentary which necessitates privileged communications access in the public interest. It is one thing to follow a partisan line of inquiry – say, to pursue only Stephen Harper and pay no attention to Stephane Dion – because in the end the writer serves the public interest (the more so, because in the example the person is the PM). It is another to prattle on about nothing of substance for several paragraphs to serve as a wrapper around two or three quoted statements or paraphrases.

  42. “How’s that for a start?”

    Good start, and how exactly are you and the new coalition going to address those?

    If my memory serves, all the parties ran on “no deficits”.

    It looks pretty certain there will be a deficit.

    If your buddies take power it’s your deficit.

    If Harper stays in office it is his.

    I suspect your deficit will be a lot bigger, and I’m not going to like the taxes.

    Since there can be only one government at a time we will have no way to compare.

    There might be a coalition but eventually there will be an election and Liberals, Dippers, and the Bloc are going to be running against each other again.

    Given a choice between all the parties, most Canadians are going to vote Liberal or Conservative, and not for your NDP.

    I can handle a Liberal gov’t, I usually know what they are are going to do, and I frequently agree with them (with Adscam being a very notable exception).

    But this whole coalition thing is not palatable to me because I don’t trust the NDP or the Bloc.

    i might even send the Liberals money again just to get those other two out of government.

  43. >Do you even read Wells’ articles? On Martin? On Harper? That’s pretty much all he does!

    I have a subscription; I read all the columnists; I peruse their blogs at least monthly and in most cases weekly. I am satisfied with the balance at Macleans. I expect whichever party is in government and in particular the PM to receive a disproportionate share of critical attention. I also expect that to apply to a party which may imminently be the government, and to its prospective PM.

    >Wherry is authoring a blog here,

    Yes, but his views aren’t the issue if he’s just a blogger, leaving aside the argument of how closely the magazine’s blogs should reach toward the standards of the print edition. One point is that whenever someone “bores” us by reminding us how tight-lipped the Conservatives have become, it is fair to “bore” back with a reminder that a sense of proportion in some quarters might help. The other point is that with the privilege of professional access comes the obligation of professional reporting. The former is dismissable if it really does tire you; the latter stems from the general criteria which separate “professional” from “not-professional”.

  44. Unemployment is at a 30 year low. Inflation is low and getting lower. The government is in surplus, the GST has been cut, PSAC just negotiated a pay increase for its large membership. Demand for Canada’s vast natural resources will not decline anytime soon. The pension system is solid, our banks are too Scottish – yeah, I said it – to have gotten caught up in the subprime mess. Christmas shopping is up over last year in Canada and the States.

    If this is what the greatest financial collapse since the 1930s looks like, you’ll forgive me for being skeptical that this is all hype by the lib-left media, sort of a financial 9-11, designed to manufacture consent for breaking open the federal wallet to spend, spend, spend our way out of a phantom recession.

  45. Jerry Jackson – we you aware that there’s a movement amongst the CPC supporters to get Jim Prentice as leader?

    I don’t know why it cam to mind – but with all this crisis, economic stuff and Flaherty the same thing over and over again, I remember Al Sharpton saying “they want people to tighten their belts when all they’ve done is left them in their underwear”, or something like that.

  46. I saw the Prentice thing this morning and without a name behind it I call it BS.

    A brand new Blogger that wants to appear to be a Blogging Tory, but isn’t actually on the Blogging Tory list.

  47. Unemployment is at a 30 year low. Simply wrong.
    Inflation is low and getting lower. Dangerously so. Signifying a slow-down in the economy and leading some to fear the possibility of deflation.
    The government is in surplus Only by Deficit Jim’s accounting, which books the value of assets yet to be sold in this down market — even though which assets are to be sold is not yet decided. And even if so, it is only barely in surplus, maybe, despite having had a surplus of 12 billion dollars only two years ago.
    the GST has been cutAt the wrong time, when stimulus was not needed.
    PSAC just negotiated a pay increase for its large membershipRelevant how?
    Demand for Canada’s vast natural resources will not decline any time soonSee Obama re: Environmental action and “dirty” energy.
    The pension system is solidAssuming you’re not under the age of 25
    our banks … [didn't] get caught in the subprime messWell, they did, but not as badly, this is true.
    Christmas Shopping is up over last year in Canada and the United StatesJust Black Friday shopping, actually. We have yet to see how Christmas as a whole turns out.

  48. >Unemployment is at a 30 year low. Simply wrong.

    If it isn’t strictly true, it must be pretty close. Statscan reported a “32 year low” back in March.

    Inflation rates have certainly been lower in the past decade, with no fears of “danger”.

    We’ll know whether the FY 2008-2009 constitutes a deficit soon enough. Will it be a lot of money? Not even by the worst projections. It’ll likely be less than any of the past decade’s surpluses that were freely spent by the governments of the day. Just think – if they’d paid down debt, we’d be less worried about a deficit, particularly one in the low single figures as measuring in billions of dollars.

    What are the grounds for believing that the GST cut hasn’t already made the current situation better than it otherwise would be?

    Demand for resources should be expected to decline because so much of our resource-based income is based on exports.

    Everyone who supports Canada’s pension system seems to believe it is sustainable. In any event, if you’re under the age of 25 there is a lot of time for many things to happen between now and the time you’ll draw from CPP.

    Canadian bank profits are down, but they aren’t posting losses yet. In view of the fact that people have been criticizing bank profits as “excessive”, does that mean this year will just be “fair” as opposed to “outrageous”?

  49. “discuss issues”,

    Yes, of course, silly me.

    “The Harper government is ‘sheer madness’ [actual words used from another left wing fever pitch post above]….discuss amongst yourselves”.

    The problem is the entire premise of these “discussions” are invariably from an anti-conservative, big government will hold our hand and save the day, perspective.

    It’s as if there is only perspective in existence and all else is not even debateable but……

    “sheer madness”.

  50. Meanwhile, sales this Thanksgiving ROSE 3% over last year.

    There’s a term making the rounds on those eeeeeevil conservative blogs,

    it’s called

    “disaster socialism”.

    The left pines away for the next cataclysmic disaster to justify the need for the nanny state to hold our hands.

  51. For all the talk of stimulus arent we missing the more fundamental debate. What problem is the stiumulus supposed to solve…then you can say whether this is a worthy endeavour and or whether that particular stimulus will work.

    HEAR HEAR for Stephen’s post 30Nov11:51

    On the issues that I identify with most closely,
    1. the security of my job
    2. the security of my home
    3. the security of my RRSP savings .. the latter two have been fairly successfully addressed by the government’s boost to our financial institutions.

    As far as the first one goes…… I am in a sector of the economy that is in decline….so I’m looking to change to another sector that is NOT in decline. Free enterprise is in control for this one, and the government should not artificially prop up a declining sector, to the detriment of other sectors that are moving ahead.

    If the ‘Coalition’ succeeds in reversing the will of the Canadian electorate and forms a govenment: What exactly is it, that will change?????

  52. Robert…which one….and in what order….and how are these outside the norm of what has happened previoulsy. A laundry list isnt terribly useful.

    How much do we need? Or what kind of programs?

    Hand waiving doesnt cut it. The problem, up until now has been the syetemic threat of a metlown in the payments and banking system. Now we are into issues regarding real economy. The nice thing about the real economy is we can look at facts rather than the rather subterranean tremors that were happening in the payemnts and settlements system.

    The US and Europe are in completely different categories of risk and problems. You dont have the same issues here. That doesnt say we dont have a problem coming, the Auto Industry transition is the biggest one….but we do not currently have a domestic demand issue problem. Currently.

    You have pension issues, which have been somewhat addressed. You may have some UI issues to address, more likely in the new year. Housing, how is it the governments job to uphold the value of my home? What interest rates are too high…nope…..downpayments too high….nope……

    Auto and manufacturing and forestry are issues and they are sector specific and probably require sector specific solutions.

    So I aks again, what are the problems, and your justification for government action, and what solution (this is the part you missed) are you proposing or could be proposed to solve that problem. Add some content rather than just be obstreperous.

  53. Ti-Guy writes: I’m actually all for declining consumer confidence. Once people realise that being exhorted to spend, spend, spend is what the establishment is counting on, we might see some fundamental changes.

    Smartest thing you’ve ever said. Mindless consumerism is pretty kewl for awhile, but then the bills come due. Financial geniuses figured they could spread the risk of all that debt around so thinly (by packaging it into obscure securitized instruments and selling it to each other, and to unsuspecting investors and pension funds) that they could continue to blow air into the balloon indefinitely. They couldn’t of course. Silly buggers.

    A reduction in consumption is exactly what happens during a recession. Which means a recession is exactly what we need right now. Unpleasant as that might be.

  54. Robert, how long did it take for you to impose your own speech impediment on Penner’s post? Just curious, was it worth it?

  55. The fact that “Penner” abruptly stopped posting after being outed suggests that PMO officials really are wasting their time ranting on internet message boards when they should probably be doing something about saving their government.

  56. Anonymous, “outed”? I doubt a paid party hack would be posting under his own name.

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