Harper plays chess... while Rome burns - Macleans.ca
 

Harper plays chess… while Rome burns


 

Well, I looked. There’s not a line about changes to political party funding in the risible excuse for a platform Stephen Harper released in the last few days of what I had been calling, perhaps prematurely, “the campaign of 2008,” with no ‘s’ on campaign. But then, the 2006 platform didn’t have a word about senators in cabinet either. The immediate post-election period is Harper’s favourite time for little surprises, so he can show everybody what a super-genius 3D Vulcan chess master he is.

But you know, it’s a funny thing. I’ve heard from a lot of people since the election, I did Q&A sessions at two speaker gigs where people from politics and business asked a lot of questions about how Harper would handle the current economic storm. And not a one of them said, “Is he going to do something clever to wrong-foot the opposition? I sure hope he’ll be clever. Our sales are collapsing and we can’t get any financing, so please tell me, Paul, that we’re going to get some o’ that old Vulcan chess from the tactical genius.” No, that’s not what people have been asking for.

The stock market is a bit of a mess these days. Every week another massive pillar of American capitalism collapses. The OECD and Kevin Page say we’re headed for a deficit and probably a recession, and I profoundly don’t care if Jim Flaherty disagrees, because he’s not in the credibility business, is he? There’s a religious gang war in the streets of the world’s largest democracy and the latest quarterly report from Afghanistan suggests, as cheerfully as possible, that that benighted country is slipping a little deeper into the drain despite the most heroic efforts of our best men and women.

So you’d really have to be Stephen Harper to survey all of this wreckage and tell yourself that this is another excellent buying opportunity.

It’s bad enough, as Heather Scoffield points out, that much of the world is taking a different policy track from Canada. Harper would be free and might be well advised to take a different path. But even Angela Merkel, the poster child of the anti-stimulus set, passed a budget this week. Barack Obama, meanwhile, had three news conferences in three days to put serious, serious people in charge of economic policy.

And Harper has not led any kind of anti-Keynesian resistance. In Peru on the weekend he called deficits essential. So on the economy as on the war in Afghanistan, he is now in the full-time business of spinning like a weathervane. But then, wars and jobs aren’t what Harper’s in politics for, right? No, he just likes to play chess.

So, drawing his inspiration from Jo Moore, the Downing Street spin doctor who thought 9/11 would be a “very good day” to get some embarrassing news releases out, Harper decided an economic crisis would be an excellent cover to use for a little political kneecapping. What could be more clever? That’ll show them he’s a serious guy.

So the real outrage of yesterday’s economic “update” is not that it seeks to impose on most parliamentarians a change to funding rules that most of them would never ordinarily accept; it’s that it accomplishes nothing else. It’s that in the most dangerous economic times Canada has faced in 20 years if not far longer, this prime minister can’t wipe the smirk off his face and grow up a little.

What comes next is beyond my ability to guess. The forces facing Harper do not look more encouraging, for me as a taxpayer, than the forces arrayed around Harper. But so what? Too much of our politics in recent years has been given over to warring camps who don’t care what their guy does as long as he’s their guy and he wins. A lot of the rest of us care less about the colour of the winning team so much as they desperately hope that whoever it is, he might take the job seriously.

At least since September, we have not been so lucky. Stephen Harper is my prime minister and for all I care he can go on being my prime minister as long as he cares and can win the little fantasy confrontations that so excite him. But he is acting like an idiot and I am ashamed of his behaviour.


 
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Harper plays chess… while Rome burns

  1. “The forces facing Harper do not look more encouraging, for me as a taxpayer, than the forces arrayed around Harper. But so what? Too much of our politics in recent years has been given over to warring camps who don’t care what their guy does as long as he’s their guy and he wins. A lot of the rest of us care less about the colour of the winning team so much as they desperately hope that whoever it is, he might take the job seriously.”

    An excellent paragraph, and right on the money.

  2. Paul Wells seems….angry?

    You wouldn’t like Wells when he’s angry…

    It’s The Incredible Wells, smashing everything in his path.

    First up, the Prime Minister’s office (not the PMO, just Harper’s desk).

    Then he yells:
    Wells CLUTTER PAPER!
    Wells LOITER!
    Wells SMASH…..mouth!

  3. Yup.

  4. URGENT-Fiscal-Update-Vote,@
    INDEX:Finance, Politics@
    Conservatives back down on controversial party funding changes@
    OTTAWA – The Conservative government says an incendiary plan to strip political parties of their public financing won’t be included in a confidence vote on the fall fiscal update.

  5. This is all about the politics of distraction. What better way to distract attention from the fact that Harper’s Conservative government has a do nothing economic policy while Canada risks a deflationary spiral than to pick a fight with the opposition on an issue which makes the latter look self-interested.

    But voters knew what they were voting for when they voted the Conservatives in for a second minority government.

    “Do you really want more of this ?” Apparently the answer still is “yes, we do”.

  6. So if Harper does back down, he will be facing a renewed opposition now. He stoked them up so that even if they don’t topple him next week, they won’t have a difficult time toppling him when they actually want to. Also, he has single handedly planted the notion of “Michael Ignatieff” as PM in all news-watching Canadians.

    This is such a major strategic blunder you got to wonder who’s at the til there. Ryan Sparrow again?

  7. This is a great post. What I don’t get is why Harper doesn’t seem to enjoy the process of governing. He’s worked hard enough to get there, God knows, and to stay there, and by way of his think-tank / lobbyist background you’d suppose he’d relish actually implementing policy. Instead he’s like the CEO who just can’t quit playing Xbox all morning. This economic crisis is a golden opportunity to show leadership, go down in history, etc. C’mon, Harper, show what you can do!

  8. Can we drop the chess analogy now? It seems pretty clear that Harper has moved on to Monopoly

  9. Yes….Harper was too clever by half in seeking to play with the party subsidies….but does Wells really believe that it is a good idea for Harper too rush out a stimulus package before the US has showed their cards, simply because other nations are doing it? Our industries and their workers are wholly dependent on how we line up with our competitors to the south and this is precisely why Harper and his advisors are waiting to see what the US tables. Sometimes I think Wells and the Ottawa guild don’t get out of the capital enough. Paul, you may be a fine journalist, but you’re no economist.

  10. Mulletaur, you are absolutely correct, except for the 62 per cent of Canadians who voted for other parties.

  11. Give me a break, Don Drummond said it was smart for Harper to wait. And last time I checked Obama is not doing nothing till the end ofn Jan. The only immature person is you Wells, but it is nice to know that you think you are smarter then don drummond.

  12. It’s getting harder and harder to avoid the conclusion that Stephen Harper is a small, petty man at his core.

    My children – all under the age of ten – already have a better understanding that life ain’t perfect and we have to learn to cope with that.

    I never bought the Harper-is-Bush argument, but they both seem to share an utter inability to shoulder the responsibilities of statesmanship in any meaningful sense. And both seem to treat flexiblity as the newfound, eighth deadly sin.

    I had recently been developing something of a grudging respect for Harper. You had to admire his grit and intelligence, I figured. I was wrong. What he’s up to now can’t even be dignified as metaphoric chess. It amounts to throwing a tantrum and sweeping the pieces off the table.

  13. Mr. Wells! There appears to be a great deal of fire in your belly today!

    Disagree or agree with your points – when you just want to turn on the afterburners and burn down the barn, you do so with a wit, and even an odd gracefulness to your snark.

    A great read – which, of course, is the point, isn’t it?

  14. This “Vulcan Chess Master” might have succeeded in uniting the left.

  15. I agree that Harper et al aren’t presenting their side of the argument very well, Paul, but I don’t agree with much else.

    First of all it makes sense to wait until February to see what Obama and his ‘serious, serious people’ propose to do. No sense getting ahead of the Americans when our economy is so tied in with theirs.

    Secondly, who cares what’s happening economically in the world, I want my pols to focus on what our situation is. We haven’t had to nationalize our banks or Bay St, no widespread housing foreclosures, homes are keeping their values, our current account is in surplus, we have not been running budget deficits for a decade, Stats Can most recent numbers on retail sales say they were up 1.1% in Sept due to increased car sales.

    Harper et al are terrible at presenting their message but people also seem to think our pols have way more power and influence than they actually do. I agree what’s happening in India right now is very scary indeed but I have no clue what Harper/Cannon or anyone else in Canada can do about it.

    And Canadians are scared of the future, that’s normal human behaviour, but they don’t seem to have a sense of what’s actually occurring in Canada. And for that I blame the Con government for not presenting their arguments very well and the msm for being chicken littles and not actually looking at our economy.

  16. PW,

    But then, the 2006 platform didn’t have a word about senators in cabinet either.

    Ugh. What is with the elitist media’s obsession with the idea that politicians must make their plans in advance, communicate those plans to the public and follow through with them? What ever happened to the virtue of passion as the driving force of man? As Swiss philospher Henri-Frederic Amiel once said, “Analysis kills spontaneity. The grain once ground into flour springs and germinates no more. ” I have no idea what that means, but I think it’s a pretty clear cut endorsement of Harper.

  17. OK, Harper has removed the Party subsidy changes from Monday’s vote……..now what? Every talking head from the Liberals and dippers has maintained all along that they are not supporting this because they disagree with the lack of a stimulus package. Nothing, not a word about voting against it becasue of the subsidy change. What do they do know? How do they get back in from that ledge? They pretty much have to jump, don’t they?

    Wells, Rome may be burning, Ottawa is not. Canadian banks are reporting reduced, but still large profits. Canadian employment is at all time highs. Bank lending is up, housing prices have declined moderately. Exactly three companies are in dire straits because circumstances have conspired to let their spectacularly bad management come home to roost. I keep hearing the Auto industry is in trouble, yet why are not Toyota and Honda in Ottawa with their hand out? Three companies are in the trouble they have earned.

    Paul, what would you have the government do? Bail out a few banks? How do you bail out a profitable bank? What fire should they try to put out Wells? I for one don’t enjoy the spectacle of Politicians running around shouting so they appear to be doing something. We have to wait and see what shakes out in the states before any course of action becomes clear for Canada. Doing something which may turn out to be the wrong thing just to appease the chattering classes just isn’t Harper’s style.

  18. This post is why they pay you in Robert Borden’s, Mr. Wells.

  19. Peter, I agree with you that there’s really not much the Government can or should be doing, but being the leader of the country is as much about image as it is about substance. You can’t just point the cavalry in the right direction, you have to dress up like a peacock and wave your sabre at the head of the charge, all the more so if you aren’t charging. For better or for worse, we do get inundated with news from the States and since that news is quasi-apocalyptic a lot of Canadians need the PM to spell out what we’re doing, what we’re not doing, what we would do, etc. Grinning doesn’t cut it.

  20. And so…..contrary to Mr Wells assertion that the our government was actually elected only to march lockstep with what the fifth estate presecribes, all the while screaming “FIRE, RUN FOR YOUR LIVES”…..most folks here seem to think government’s job is to take a more measured approach, based on economic data. Imagine!

    I think its time to dust off that moniker once reserved for David Suzuki, and try it on Paul…chicken little panic monger.

  21. “And so…..contrary to Mr Wells assertion that the our government was actually elected only to march lockstep with what the fifth estate presecribes, all the while screaming “FIRE, RUN FOR YOUR LIVES”…..most folks here seem to think government’s job is to take a more measured approach, based on economic data. Imagine!”

    Two thoughts. First, explain to me how the ideological and draconian removal of the right to strike is “measured”, and upon what “economic data” its based. Second, it’s the *fourth* estate, unless you mean to reference the television show.

  22. I just want to add that I love the line about the 3D Vulcan chess master. Hilarious.

  23. “Peter, I agree with you that there’s really not much the Government can or should be doing, but being the leader of the country is as much about image as it is about substance.”

    nonsense. Getting EI braced for the onslaught should have been top of the list. $51B in markers and Harper’s pretending it doesn’t exist.

  24. Ah, well, that’s a good point.

  25. EI should be resotred to an actual EI program, rather than the farce it is today. And drop the employee contribution portion for 2-3 years.

  26. Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Wells for your sane and concise assessment of the state of Canadian politics.

    Now if we could only get someone to put up “It’s about people, stupid!!” on their war room wall…

  27. Paul,
    One of your best pieces ever.
    All this stuff about politcal parties and their “entitlements” is phony baloney.
    Our manufacturing sector is in free fall and this is the best Harper, Flaherty and Co could come up with?
    Yesterday’s “fiscal update” underscores just how unfit these visagoths are for public office. They blew their chance. Time to stand aside and let the opposition parties have a crack at delivering the goods.

  28. Paul – excellent piece!

    According to the CBC website, there is much high level coalition talk going on (with Chretien and Broadent, no less).

    A second article reports that the conservatives are now going to remove the part of the motion dealing with party funding.

    If Mr. Harper was a good chess player, he would know that once you let go of the piece, the move cannot be reversed.

    He may just have crossed a line this time.

  29. With or without the political party subsidies, this government deserves to fall. Nanoseconds after assuring all of us the pettiness was over, they turn around and again start acting like the fat kid in the playground who pushes people around. Well you know what eventually happens to that guy? The bullied band together and take him down.

    Bring on the liberal-democratic coalition. Bring on a statesman as (explicitly) temporary leader of said coalition: Paul Martin, Ed Broadbent, or Joe Clark.

    And when Harper tries to get everyone outraged over the idea, he’ll quickly learn what 37% actually means. If he thinks this would play out King-Byng, he needs to read the history books a little more thoroughly.

  30. Are the Liberals really going to let Harper pull his “all-in” bet, and let him get off with an “oops”?

    Defeat the government, and have an election. Appoint Chretien interim leader. Chretien visits Paul Martin and asks him to be his finance minister designate.

    Make the election a referendum of Harper-Flaherty vs. Chretien-Martin.

    Money should be no object in an election such as this, as Obama-like appeals to the grassroots should provide enough money for everybody.

    C’mom…let’s have a Merry Christmas….Harper-Flaherty vs Chretien-Martin…cage match for the future of the country.

  31. “If Mr. Harper was a good chess player, he would know that once you let go of the piece, the move cannot be reversed.”

    LOL, that’s good. You can only get away with so much Zugzwang, eh?

  32. I’m trying awfully hard to resist the temptation ……. but, oh, what the hell …

    When Manning and Harper and their think tank buddies were cranking about UI being a swamp that allowed Maritime seasonal workers and working women everywhere to survive between jobs, everybody climbed on board to bad-mouth some desperate people.

    When a reality that’s not their fault is about to hit manufacturing sector workers in Central Canada It’s time to change the system.

    And , of course, it is time to change it.

    Forgive me my Maritime sneer and off topic snark. Back to our irregularly scheduled ……

  33. Quite right about the fourth estate Sean. Thank you.

    But I would not get distracted by the removal of the right to strike and removal of party subsidies…..I suspect these were purposeful additions to distract the opposition’s focus. These were throwaways….and they will be thrown away in response to the baying hounds. The reality remains. No serious economist would suggest that Canada play its few billions before we see what Obama does in the new year, at which point we can see how best to add value to our own stimulus package. Surely you don’t believe Mr Harper doesn’t get this. Is Harper a petty fellow? Absolutely! But I would not focus on the tinsel….the tree’s the thing

    One final thought about economic stimuli. The jury is very much out with respect to their value and their capacity to ease the pain. Time and the return of public confidence is the only salve that’s going to cure this sore. There is very little, if anyhting, that government can do to buffer us.

  34. Wow, Wells begins to sound like a pissed off Liblogger. Is this a partisan blog now? Can we ask how YOU voted Mr. Wells? Is it reasonable NOW to ask if maybe you have a certain bias? I mean, we aren’t supposed to assume you are a non-partisan commentator after a post full of vitriol and Liberal talking points, are we? After all we all label Coyne as a conservative commentator, can we now, with your permission Mr. Wells, label you as a liberal commentator?

  35. Does anyone who lives/works in “Ottawa” have any idea how profoundly debased they all appear to the rest of Canada right now? I include politicians, press, everyone. You’re all out of your minds.

  36. For me the most telling point in all this stupidity is lets compare ourselves to the Americans.

    I don’t see Obama putting the boots to McCain when he’s down, trying to ram through a no funding proposal ( although Obama could given he didn’t accept any public funding ) .

    Given our economic circumstances as a guy who voted for Harper, these craven political games shows his bully side, and it’s not pretty. I agree with Wells.

  37. Why did the US get Obama and we get stuck with Bush? These guys are clowns and I just hope they’ve outdone themselves to the point of undoing themselves. I thought they’d never leave. PM Dion doesn’t sound so stupid from this vantage point. Green Shift taxes to sustainable development as stimulus package and infrastructure we can not only live with but that keeps on giving. It’s not a deficit, it’s an investment.

  38. Yeah he sure is “biased”. Every time somebody criticises your person, do you have to shout “bias” “bias”. God, it is depressing.

  39. There are really only two explanations (neither flattering) for this extremely bone-headed approach on the part of Harper.

    Either he is not the brilliant tactician he is made out to be (a distinct possibility) or he has engineered his own defeat to either try again for a majority or get out from under this financial mess and hang it around the neck of a weakened Liberal Party.

    Harper’s two possible political epitaphs: a tone-deaf blunderer who severely mis-read the political landscape or a Machiavellian cad who put the pursuit of his own political power before fulfilling his duty as PM at a time economic crisis.

  40. Thanks for this, Paul. Here’s an excerpt from the email I send to the Prime Minister this morning:

    <>

    Anyone for proportional representation?

    J.

  41. Another great post Paul.

    The chess analogy, however, has never been more inappropriate. Harper is not the ‘master tactician’ that so many in the media have labelled him. He is, however, a credible player at the game of chicken – driving full-tilt at his opponent to see which of them will swerve to avoid a head-on smash up.

    That argument about Harper waiting for Obama to take office in order to ‘co-ordinate’ with the US fiscal stimulus plan is lame and dishonest – the rest of the world isn’t waiting.

  42. I hear Magna has space available for Jim Flaherty to present his new revised economic update on Monday.

  43. “Every talking head from the Liberals and dippers has maintained all along that they are not supporting this because they disagree with the lack of a stimulus package”

    Spot-on.

    I respectfully disagree with Mr. Wells. I think the government is already doing what is needed. We do not need bail-outs. However, in Canada, where taxes have been reduced for the last two budgets, somehow we seem to be faring better than the US. Government spending is the last thing we need. Keynesian policies do not work – at all. Not even a bit. They are policies to steal from the next generation through debt.

  44. I think it’s fair to say that in some sense, the highlight of my five years as a blogger came today, when a guy who calls himself “The Rat” persuaded himself that I care whether he calls me a Liberal blogger.

    Oh dear, dear, beloved Rat: If I strike you as Liberal, have at me. If something here seems Slovenian to you, please call Inkless a Slovenian blog. If I appear calcium-deficient, do add me to your tiny little mental list of calcium-deficient bloggers. I will try to pick up the pieces of my shattered life and move on.

  45. PM Harper, a competent tactician, has demonstrated that he is a rather poor strategist. He is determined to destroy both the Liberal Party and the Bloc Party because they stand in the way of his road to a majority. But this provocative tactical move has undermined his longer term objective.
    The CP gang, especially the Reform and the Harrisite wings, is steamed that les Québécois et Québécoises denied their party a majority after PM Harper handed Jean Charest all the federal tax dollars and more that he asked for. These CP political neanderthals want retribution, that is, they want to punish the Québécois voters by undermining the Bloc and the Liberal parties.
    Flanagan muses how it is time for the CP to ignore Quebec and win a majority by getting the support of the fourth sister, the conservative-minded ethnocultural communities, many of them conservative Catholics, all across Canada.
    Norman Spector muses that Harper is about to grant Ontario 21 seats instead of 10 seats in his revised redistribution bill. Instead of rationalizing this as true democractic reform, Spector argues that the real reason for pursuing full rep by pop is to punish les Québécois et Québécoises and undermine the Bloc.
    PM Harper is loosing control of his long term agenda – creating a viable centre right Conservative party – when he allows his CP advisors to recommend such stupid nonsense. He should never have allowed his Harrisite Finance Minister Flaherty to make such an ideological financial update loaded with deliberate provocative elements.
    Canadian soldiers are putting their lives on the line to achieve some semblance of democracy in Afghanistan. PM Harper is doing his best to undermine democracy and Canada’s party system! He is making a mockery of our soldiers valiant efforts and demeaning those Canadian soldiers who have lost their lives and who have been wounded in the Afghan war.

  46. On CBC’s At Issue panel last night, Andrew Coyne babbled on about the opposition parties being outraged that the fiscal ‘update’ called for the elimination of the $1.95 voter subsidy; he said nothing about their opposition to the government’s intention to do nothing to stimulate the economy. None of the other panelists concurred with Coyne (in fact they looked somewhat embarrassed by his blatant partisanship).

    CTV National News last night showed video but no audio of the opposition leaders; the commentary by CTV was that their opposition to the ‘update’ was the elimination of the vote subsidy. Canwest Global coverage showed essentially the same video, but included the audio which left no doubt in viewers minds that the opposition to the ‘update’ was that the government would be doing nothing to stimulate the economy.

    There seems to be a disconnect between Coyne and CTV, and the facts.

  47. I have been noticing your Tito-ist tendencies Paul, you Slovenian apologist

  48. wow dude!! wells totally channels lowell green here. or that guy from Network. “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!”
    Super entertaining but we come to Wells for thoughtful commentary and not for theatrics and so this must be judged as one of his worst posts ever.
    India blowing up!! OMG. Christ, I sure demand leadership from Harper on that file.
    There is no crisis in Canada yet.
    It probably won’t be too bad.. We’ll be much better off than any other country in the G20
    It certainly won’t be as bad as early 90s canada
    Everyone needs to chillax
    Canadians demand “a plan” and they got one and I bet this plays very well in the 905 – all the leftists in arms because they won’t tighten their belts and accept a subsidy cut
    Guess what – castrating the socialist filth in this country is the best thing I can think of to preserve Canada’s long term economic future.
    I especially relish the prospect of those 905 voters confronting, if this coalition stuff is true, their new prime minister Bob Rae or an NDP supported Ignatieff and FREAKING .. you know how the future would go from there
    To quote the great Leonard Cohen, you loved us as losers but you’re worried that we just might win, Wells. Chretien would have done the same thing to Stockwell Day in a nanosecond, and I would have loved the crooked old bastard for it frankly
    Best, Keith

  49. You can debate the mertis of a stimulus package (I think it’s a bad idea). You can debate the subsidy to the parties (I think it should be removed). But I don’t think Paul is focusing on these points with this post.

    I think he is saying

    (1) Harper claims the economic problem needs fixing and needs a stimulus

    (2) Rather attempting to help fix the problem as described in point 1, he instead is attempting to enact a policy that is irrelevant to the economic position of the country but is equivalent to sticking a knife into the stomach of the opposition while simultaneously describing how he hopes to cooperate with them.

    So while I am not a fan of a stimulus or of the $1.95 subsidies, Paul has finally helped me understand why have never and will never vote for Stephen Harper.

    I don’t trust him and he keeps reminding me why I shouldn’t.

  50. Stephen Harper is my prime minister and for all I care he can go on being my prime minister as long as he cares and can win the little fantasy confrontations that so excite him.

    ????…..

    It was my understanding that these “little fantasy confrontations” excited mainly the media types. The blogs, newspapers, discussion panels on tv, would all incessantly discuss and comment on Harper’s little strategic “chess games.” The average Joe couldn’t care less, yet blogs (yours is without exception) would fill pages of commentary, analysis, etc on Harper’s “fantasy confrontations.”

    I don’t mean to sound confrontational. I’m just a little confused. I genuinely thought you loved this kind of stuff. And now you’re suggesting that you couldn’t care less?…

  51. PS – excellent post.

  52. PPS – I the sentiment of your post, Paul, would be the sentiment of Dion’s campaign as there are many examples and stories to support it. I was surprised when it wasn’t. I over-estimated the Liberals ability to learn.

  53. Wildrose, you are hilarious. Did you honestly write the following?

    “For me the most telling point in all this stupidity is lets compare ourselves to the Americans.

    I don’t see Obama putting the boots to McCain when he’s down, trying to ram through a no funding proposal ”

    First of all, I’ll ignore the part where you fail to see the difference between a minority and a majority government, and I’ll ignore the part where you fail to notice Obama has no power to do anything yet.

    But there is one thing I cannot ignore. Are you seriously proposing that we should emulate the Americans? Land of the housing bust? Land of the failed banks, investment companies, auto companies and insurance companies? Land of massive deficits and out of control government entitlements? Land of failed government-backed mortgage companies? And don’t forget, McCain and Obama were in the senate the last umpteen years where government legislation in the house (controlled by Democrats the last two years) was passed. Have you not noticed that this crisis originated in America? That it spread everywhere, but it spread to almost every other country faster than it spread to Canada? Even though we are right next door to the Americans? That banks are failing in Europe and Iceland is in default? And you suggest we should compare ourselves the Americans, NEGATIVELY?

    There is a lot of bone-headed stuff written here today.

    The Liberal kool-aid is flowing like a waterfall today.

  54. Arguments against government action don’t hold water. It is very likely that whatever actions the US takes will be among the least effective in the world. We should not be waiting to see what they do, they are one of the last bastions of the pseudo-economic dogma that got us into this mess. We should also not be bailing out banks (which is perhaps the *only* intervention in the economy that Harper seems quite happy to undertake); banks are almost irrelevant, for all the hyping of the financial and the stock markets and so forth.
    The real problem is that the productive economy is faltering, and further that the US as an export market will be drying up. Unemployment is rising and will rise further, likely much further. In such an environment creating employment in Canada by doing useful things in Canada such as building up infrastructure, is essential. Making sure the social safety net works is nearly as essential.
    The Conservatives are not interested in any of that. They talk infrastructure, but there seems to be no new money involved, and they want to go with PPPs to harness private investment. Aside from the moronic nature of PPPs generally, in the current climate private investment will not be forthcoming–that’s part of the *problem* they’re supposed to be *dealing with*. Duh.
    They can’t lead, they won’t follow, so they need to be shoved out of the way.

  55. sf, an excellent job missing the point altogether – well done

  56. OK If we have a Broadbent / Chretien coalition what do they do?

    Stimulus package- Give GM/Ford/Chrysler 6B$ to last another 6 months? Or better still nationalize them? Duceppe will really support jobs for Ontario. That means 6B for forestery (or maybe just 3B for forestery in Quebec).
    or
    Follow Britian’s lead and cut GST to 2.5%?

    Is their anyone amongst Dion’s group of 1000 faceless economists (whose employers, the Banks, are taking massive write-downs due to their lack of ability to predict things) thinking that Harper’s wait and see what US does and where help is most needed is a bad policy?

    aside: even Donald Drummond is saying that Harper’s approach is viable and I think his bank holds the Liberal election loans markers.

    Muclair and Layton can pay for this by taxing the profits of the Banks and totally shutting down Big Oil and eliminating the last major income source for the government.

    What exactly sort of stimulus package is the coalition upset about? It was all about their entitlements and now that they have won back their entitlements how can they back down without looking like the greedy self-serving power for power sake rouges that they are????

  57. “There is a lot of bone-headed stuff written here today.”

    I agree and your certainly adding to the mix.

    1.) Fact. McCain accepted public funding for his presidential bid, Obama did not. Obama is not President yet, but guess what Sherlock, he soon will be and given the Senate/congress majority he certainly could try to ram through prohibitive measures regarding Presidential election funding. It’s to his credit that he’s not.

    2.) At no point did I say we should emulate the American economic proposals, YOU DID . All I’m saying is a little bit more of a civil debate would be welcome in Canada compared to the Americans over election funding. ( It always amazes me the depth of anti- American hatred some individuals apparently harbor )

    3.) I voted for Harper….this isn’t , “liberal kool aid”

  58. Well said, Sir!

  59. What Harper is doing here is making the opposition force him into deficit. And force them to vote for it. Or bring the government down.

    This is coalition governing where everyone has some skin in the game. The liberals thought they could win this one any way it went. Now they have to take a position and vote on it.

    Maybe someone could enlighten me. How is wanting a check to show up, borrowed money and all, to make us feel better and buy some trinket different when it comes from government as opposed to some dodgy mortgage scam? And how pray tell will the end result be any different?

    Oh I know. There is some economist that the scheme is named after. Hmm. 12% inflation. 18% interest rates. $45 billion deficits. It brings back fond memories.

    Derek

  60. Rat..

    Wells is not a liberal they did not want him when he was begging Paul Martin for a job. He is just a jaded media person.

  61. I think its a perfect time for knee-capping.

    Paul Wells, I loves ya. And a wrist slapping from you is sincere and should be heeded as such.

    However, the whole world has gone hysterical and I for one am happy that we aren’t leaping into many-billion-dollar stimulus packages just to get good headlines in the press.

    Why is a rush to spend on anything, anything, a good plan? And how will the opposition and media react when the Tories announce the only real stimulus the government can provide…. cutting taxes? I’d bet they will be outraged that client group X and client group Y didn’t get the whole stimulus booty.

  62. That could be part of the problem, A.L.

    All of those things can be seen as an attack on stronghold Alberta, which, now with the Eye of Layton, can’t been seen as quite as strong as it was before.

    So he can’t announce any of those type of subsidies before America has “forced his hand” without threatening more seats in Alberta, and if he announces subsidies elsewhere he looks completely out of touch. As such, he’s stuck in a bind. So tries to get through with no subsidies at all for right now. Problem is, he went and bundled it with a partisan molotov cocktail toward the opposition parties, who were no doubt thinking “They can’t fight this without looking like selfish pricks to the rest of Canada”, and underestimated the opposition in spotting that hook and dodging it by attacking the lack of stimulus package.

    What is confusing, however, is them trying to drop the party funding after the opposition had already committed themselves on the lack of stimulus. If they thought the opposition would fall for bait that obvious, then they’ve bought into their own advertising.

  63. “The forces facing Harper do not look more encouraging, for me as a taxpayer, than the forces arrayed around Harper. But so what? Too much of our politics in recent years has been given over to warring camps who don’t care what their guy does as long as he’s their guy and he wins. A lot of the rest of us care less about the colour of the winning team so much as they desperately hope that whoever it is, he might take the job seriously.”

    An excellent paragraph, and right on the money

    I agree with you fully. But you forgot to add Wells’ last parapgraph:

    “At least since September, we have not been so lucky. Stephen Harper is my prime minister and for all I care he can go on being my prime minister as long as he cares and can win the little fantasy confrontations that so excite him. But he is acting like an idiot and I am ashamed of his behaviour.”

    This, to me, sums up the situation neatly.

    It is looking like Harper will back away from scrapping political party funding after all. Smart move, but maybe not enough. If I were the opposition, I’d defeat the motion on Monday and toss Harper out anyway. At a time like this, we don’t need a sneaky little boy whose greatest joy appears to be playing schoolyard tricks on his class-mates as our Prime Minister. He is having a grand time showing up the Opposition, but he is playing a shell-game with his economic forecasts and doing nothing to address the economic crisis in a concerted, urgent manner. He should be sent to his room with no supper like all the other bad little boys.

  64. I don’t really understand all these people that are counseling that we “wait for the U.S. to act”. Do you people not own televisions? Every time I blink the U.S. is dropping another $20 billion to stimulate their economy. The U.S. has been acting since September. That 700 billion dollar bailout was passed over a month ago.

    I understand the need to be cautious, but pretending that we’re being smart to wait while every other developed nation on the planet responds seem ludicrous to me.

  65. Oh dear, dear, beloved Rat: If I strike you as Liberal, have at me. If something here seems Slovenian to you, please call Inkless a Slovenian blog. If I appear calcium-deficient, do add me to your tiny little mental list of calcium-deficient bloggers. I will try to pick up the pieces of my shattered life and move on.
    __________________________________________________

    I’m not asking you to cry, Paul, just dredge up the tiniest bit of honesty. I mean, can we expect an article from you decrying the proposed coalition given that all three parties claimed not to be interested in during the election? Or is it only certain promises that get you so riled up? Honesty, Mr. Wells, H-O-N-E-S-T-Y.

  66. So much for working cooperatively with opposition parties to navigate Canada through what has arguably become the most serious world economic crisis in generations. If Harper wishes to reform funding methods for political parties, he should introduce specific legislation for this purpose and gain the confidence of the House for its passage. Instead, Harper has cynically used an “economic update” as an opportunity to poke the opposition parties in the eye while provoking a potential constitutional crisis in the process. This is political gamesmanship of the worst kind. I do not expect the opposition parties will overcome their political differences to form a viable coalition government but it will serve Harper and his crew right if that is the outcome.

  67. Well, LKO:

    What banks are about to collapse in Canada? What exactly would we be bailing out?

    If we are going to bail out because the US bails out and not because we need to bail out, could you put a good word in for my company. We’d love a handout – er – I mean, bailout. Don’t need it, of course, but it seems to me that NEED is not really a test of these things, the test is merely what Angela Merkel or GWB is doing.

  68. It gets more cynical…

    This is about insulating Harper from criticism when he releases his real policy.

    ‘Deficit? We had a plan to balance the budget, but YOU opposition parties told us to change it. So we did, because we want Parliament to Work ™’

    The thing is, anyone who would play things like Democracy, people’s savings and jobs like so many poker chips in his political game – all in the name of some tactical victory – not only deserves to have his bluff called; they also shouldn’t be Prime Minister.

  69. Apologies for mixing your chess metaphor with a poker metaphor.

  70. And Paul, my question is genuine:

    Isn’t it a bit hyperbolic to compare the current Canadian economic circumstance to the burning of Rome?

    I know I’m fiddling with details but it seems to me that we are not doing ourselves any good, inside or outside government, by hyping up the crisis and the only person who seems to be keeping a cool head and steady hand about these things is Harper.

    Its great to have a bucket of water in hand when Rome burns, but if all you do is run around screeching, “she’s burning! she’s burning!” you don’t get much accomplished but panic.

  71. That’s okay, Darrell, because the opposition is playing hungry hippos. So why put any marbles on the table if all they’ll do is gobble them up.

  72. Anyone who can keep a cool head while the [i]Prime Minister of Canada[/i] threatens to use the power of government to undermine Canadian democracy has clearly lost any marbles they may have had.

  73. Paul, a very interesting post, what did you have for lunch?

    Things seem to be churning in Ottawaville with Harper hitting the opposition in the old pocketbook and the Liberals and NDP maybe getting in bed with the traitorists. Holy Cow!

    In the rest of the country, maybe we’re glad there has been some Ottawa liquidity pumped into the financial system although interest rates don’t really reflect that. But the serious problems of the oil companies thinking twice about currently further investing in the oil sands and the big (in small letters) Three auto companies teetering or the declining consumer confidence affecting retail et al will need some attention. However, a made in Canada solution is impossible without knowing what our pals down south may do come January or February. Obviously there is going to be some cash injected into the economy hopefully in the way of infrastucture to pick up some of the unemployment slack.

    On the other hand, there may not be a lot of support for propping up an industry that pays a forklift driver a hundred grand a year when many are trying to put food on the table for 10 bucks an hour.

    So in short, our elected politicians need to get their priorties not their entitlements straight.

  74. Don’t say we didn’t warn you…

    And yet all the major editorial pages of Canadian newspapers (except, not surprisingly, the Star) put their support behind the incompetent and ideological Conservatives during the last election campaign. It certainly isn’t taking long to see (yet again) how incompetent and ideological they (still) are…

  75. undermine Canadian democracy?

    what does it say about our democracy when:

    a) political parties cannot fund their activities through support from citizens?
    b) political parties consider it critical to democracies that entrenched parties win government support where emerging parties could not?

  76. the rat: “Honesty, Mr. Wells, H-O-N-E-S-T-Y.”

    Song of the Rat

    What you want
    Mr. Wells I got it
    What you need
    You know I got it!
    All I’m askin’ is for is – a little honesty
    When you post – just a little bit
    Hey Mr. Wells – just a little bit
    Just a little bit, Mr. – just a little bit

    Ooo your blog
    Sweeter than honey
    And guess what?
    I’m a phoney
    All I want you to do for me
    Is give it to me when you post again
    Yeah Mr. Wells
    Whip it to me – honesty, just a little bit!
    When you post, now – just a little bit!

    H-O-N-E-S-T-Y
    Find out why the rat’s your guy
    H-O-N-E-S-T-Y
    Take care, FYI

    Oh – sock it to me, sock it to me, sock it to me, sock it to me
    A little honesty – sock it to me, sock it to me, sock it to me, sock it to me
    Whoa, Mr. Wells – just a little bit
    A little honesty – just a little bit
    I get tired – just a little bit
    Keep on tryin’ – just a little bit
    You’re runnin’ out of foolin’ – just a little bit
    And I ain’t lyin’ – just a little bit

  77. The “sock it to me” is the best part of that song. Even in the original version.

  78. The ways and means motion never would have included the repeal of the public financing of parties – it was enacted through legislation and would require legislation to repeal.

    This, apparently, is news.

    I’m not sure how you can argue that withdrawing funding (in some cases funding needed to remain extant) from ones political opponents using the budgeting prerogative of Government is anything less than an attack on democratic choice.

  79. I agree entirely with your take on this, and believe me, it’s not a partisan thing. If Chretien was playing these ridiculous little games while our economy faces an imminent melt-down, I’d be as royally pissed as I am now.

    Harper’s just into governing. He’s into sticking to the Liberals. He’s not a policy wonky. He’s a guy who’s been harbouring a grudge the size of the oilpatch over what he imagined the Liberals did since the NEP, and damned if he ain’t just going to keep sticking it to them every chance he gets, and if the fall of western capitalism’s going on at the same time, WELL THE STUPID WORLD WILL JUST HAVE TO WAIT TILL HE’S DONE.

    Man, I’m weary of this. Bring on the Liberal-NDP-Bloc coalition.

  80. “I’m not sure how you can argue that withdrawing funding (in some cases funding needed to remain extant) from ones political opponents using the budgeting prerogative of Government is anything less than an attack on democratic choice”

    well, its withdrawing funding for ones political opponents and oneself. The biggest loser, financially, is the government.

  81. Well, I like Paul Wells alot, but I wouldn’t urge him to “sock it to me” not even “just a little bit”.

  82. The Conservatives’ proposed budget, without any economic stimulus, is a total abdication of responsibility.

    They say they are waiting and seeing what Barack Obama will do. But Canada can’t wait. The economy is weakening EVERY DAY.

    The Conservatives think the other parties won’t want to take “responsibility” for the downturn. But a party not prepared to govern when called upon to do so deserves to perish.

    The opposition MUST defeat this cynical ploy of a budget and take office in a coalition. Canada needs help, and the Conservatives have abdicated.

  83. Chuckercanuck,

    I think you’re smart enough to know that argument that the Conservatives (as distinct from the government, I’ll note) lose the most only holds water if you ignore reality.

  84. Dear Paul, the only ones playing chess are the power-hungry Liberals, who will either force an expensive election or create political instability of the worst order for a lousy $1.95. Just for that, and the fact that they have failed to fund themselves from donations, they really have no place in the political landscape anymore (just like the now-defunct Liberal Party in the U.K.).

  85. I am reminded of Aesop’s fable about the scorpion and the frog. That’s the one in which the scorpion persuades the frog to carry him across the river to the other side, promising not to sting the frog. As it turns out, the scorpion stings the frog halfway across the river, fatally injuring it. As the frog sinks, it asks the scorpion why it stung him, given that they will now both drown. The scorpion replies that he cannot help himself – it’s in his nature.

    The Prime Minister could not resist using the opportunity presented by the economic slowdown to stick it to the opposition by moving to eliminate their public funding. In doing so, he has unleashed a fire storm that could well bring down his government. But it would seem to be in his nature to always be looking for ways to stick it to the opposition (especially the Liberals, at a time when they are in a particularly weak position), regardless of the potential cost to his government (let alone the country). Notwithstanding the sweet words contained in the Throne Speech, he just doesn’t. understand that, in order to make minority government work, he needs to compromise. As Alan Fotheringham wrote about Joe Clark, the guy can’t. seem to count (i.e., seats in the Commons).

  86. You nailed it Wells.

  87. Paul said “But he is acting like an idiot and I am ashamed of his behaviour.

    As one of your readers, its fair to point out that you are also acting like an idiot and I am ashamed of your behaviour — particularly since instead of responding to Peter’s post that raised a number of good counterpoints to your article — you chose the go after “the rat”. These actions are indicative of the very pettiness that you deplore.

    So below is Peter’s post again. I hope you’ll take the time to respond but if not, feel free to come after me with a firestorm of yo-mama jokes.

    Wells, Rome may be burning, Ottawa is not. Canadian banks are reporting reduced, but still large profits. Canadian employment is at all time highs. Bank lending is up, housing prices have declined moderately. Exactly three companies are in dire straits because circumstances have conspired to let their spectacularly bad management come home to roost. I keep hearing the Auto industry is in trouble, yet why are not Toyota and Honda in Ottawa with their hand out? Three companies are in the trouble they have earned.

    Paul, what would you have the government do? Bail out a few banks? How do you bail out a profitable bank? What fire should they try to put out Wells? I for one don’t enjoy the spectacle of Politicians running around shouting so they appear to be doing something. We have to wait and see what shakes out in the states before any course of action becomes clear for Canada. Doing something which may turn out to be the wrong thing just to appease the chattering classes just isn’t Harper’s style.

  88. The idea that we have to “wait and see” is laughable. It’s well understood what the problems are and what to do about them. Read Krugman in the NYRB:

    “…policymakers around the world need to do two things: get credit flowing again and prop up spending.”

    To prop up spending, the government needs to ‘build things’. Shouldn’t we start planning for that now, instead of wasting a precious few months? Even talking about it would increase confidence.

  89. David Fine,

    Your attempt at finding analogy in Aesop’s fable about the scorpion and the frog is very confusing as it seems to me that in this particular case Conservatives are the frog that knows how to swim (raise money) and the Liberals are the scorpion that does not know how to swim (raise money). This scorpion hitched a ride across the river on frog’s back. Since scorpion keeps on stinging the frog as it swims across the river, the frog proposed that it will do some diving and now the scorpion cries bloody murder.

  90. Risible…Raisable…let’s call the whole thing off.

  91. “I’m not sure how you can argue that withdrawing funding … anything less than an attack on democratic choice”

    Only an attack on the right to vote and to exercise that right during an election is an attack on democratic choice. What everyone is wailing about with respect to funding is at most an attack on political advertising and propaganda and influence. Each of us can refer to it as all flavours of those things, but all the people bleating “attack on democracy” need to pull together some intellectual objectivity and integrity.

    I too am interested to read what, other than vague exhortations to spend, should be the focus of “stimuli” – as distinct from pure bailouts and bridge financing.

  92. Yeah you’re right.

    Who cares if a government decision results in an election where only the governing party is able to communicate its message effectively; or if a couple hundred thousand people can’t vote for the party of their choice because it can no longer afford to field candidates.

    As long as everyone is entitled to vote, right?

    Thank you for helping me restore my intellectual objectivity.

  93. To all those who say we have to wait for the American counterparts to act, I have to say I’m shocked to hear that given that you actually claim you know your economics!

    1) Why the GST cut and now the sale of government assets??? (mind you if that hadn’t happen we’d still not be going into a deficit, which by the way if we do go into, will go up to 23billion by 2011).
    The plan is to minimize government role. Period. Read about “Calgary school of thought”.

    2) The longer we wait, the more people will be laid off the more mortgage defaults… and you know the rest of the story. There have been no positive move by the government, no assurances. Of course why would there be? Harper et al will get their 6-digit salaries and will never know what it’s like to go to work every day fearing it’d be the least day.

    Harper unfortunately has got his priorities mixed. He needs to realize that he is a “prime minister” and working for “ALL” the people. NOT a “party president” only working for 36% of the population.

    Thank you for the article.

  94. Well, Darrell, if said impoverished party is so unpopular that they have no supporters who can support them at 10 to 50 bucks a head, they will have earned their failure. Please enlighten us as to why such a useless entity deserves taxpayer support.

  95. None of the parties, even the Greens, had any difficulty communicating their basic messages and proposals. None of the four major established parties is in any danger, even without the public funding, of not being able to field candidates in every riding unless they choose otherwise (ie. the Bloc, which has the least funding, also happens to run fewer candidates.) What we are in most jeopardy of losing are negative ads (assuming a party doesn’t decide to go negative instead of positive if it only has enough money to pick one), excessive barrages of ads, and fancy frills and perks for the people involved in election campaigns and who keep the party machinery running. The conventions and other gatherings are not exactly austere.

    If those who favour public funding think it’s important to “democracy” to keep the playing field level, why aren’t they asking for the same lump sum to be assigned to every party? If the concern is that parties be able to “communicate effectively”, then a party which is important enough to qualify as a viable national party but not to obtain a large vote share is always going to be at a disadvantage with the per-vote funding system. What I’m reading is a collective tantrum from the people whose noble intentions don’t extend any further than the welfare of either the LPC or NDP. I am in no doubt whatsoever that there are at least 10,000 well-heeled supporters of either party who obtain enough “goodwill” through their party connections to be able to cough up $1,000 each. $10,000,000 dollars; funding problem solved.

    Anyone who needs to hear a party’s advertising and other national messages more than twice during an election in order to understand the essential points and make a voting decision, raise your hand. I’m curious to see how many of you there are.

  96. why aren’t they asking for the same lump sum to be assigned to every party?

    There you go, Brad, giving them even more ideas.

  97. >2) The longer we wait,

    The more we spend now on “problems” which turn out not to need fixing or to be particularly important or down other blind unproductive avenues, the less we have to spend when we have enough information in hand to actually identify critical threats where some fiscal intervention would have a measurable and beneficial impact. The more of peoples’ money we force them to spend – with or without a balance of intakes and expenditures – on the wrong things or things that are not important to them, the more tight-fisted they will be with what they have left and the slower the economic recovery.

    If the Conservatives are supposed to come up with a stimulus plan in the next few days to soothe the opposition, I make no doubt the bright minds in the opposition parties and among their supporters can do the same, starting from right now.

  98. None of the minor parties had trouble communicating their message in the last election because they borrowed up to their eyeballs – partially because they thought they assumed they could count on the per vote financing that they are in fact promised in the Elections Act.

  99. Brad: if the goal is to prevent deflation, there is a case for governments to act swiftly since the problem is magnified the longer it goes unchecked. This is why you’ve seen the rest of the world’s major economies inject massive amounts of money into the system.

    It is all the assure people that prices won’t be allowed to fall. If we fail to convince people of that, things will spiral out of control and we will have a Depression for realsies.

  100. Ms. MacLeans for dummies…

    If you’re going to pick a fight with a giant, you might not want to paint a target on the top of your head.

  101. Darrell,
    I’ll drew it myself with blood from a stone and I can take care of myself, but thank-you!

  102. grumpy old man:
    “there may not be a lot of support for propping up an industry that pays a forklift driver a hundred grand a year when many are trying to put food on the table for 10 bucks an hour”

    That is the auto-industry crisis in a nutshell. Well said. Bring on Toyota and VW.

  103. Harper Blinked…

    Guess Machiavelli Harper & Co. pulled back from the brink after all. He thought he had an ace up his sleeve: having cancelled the cancellation, he now could make the opposition –the Liberals in particular –look self-serving and hypocritical if they backed off; by claiming that they were only interested in saving their subsidies. When it appeared that the opposition parties were going through with a non-confidence vote regardless, he backed off –buying time by postponing a vote until December 8th –but not before he showed himself for what he is: a cunning, conniving partisan who puts political scheming before the common good, in spite of his protestations to the contrary.

    I predict that something like this will happen: The opposition parties, tired of playing political poker with the Harper & co. will pull the plug anyhow, as they should. They will likely have Dion move up his resignation date and then appoint Michael Ignatieff as temporary leader of the coalition, until an election can be held –after the Liberal convention and the resolution of the current economic crisis. After all, though not ideal, Ignatieff is all ready the Deputy Opposition Leader.

    Regardless, we cannot afford to play politics as usual during these trying times. We need a concerted, non-political effort to face the tsunami of economic tidal wave about to engulf us.

  104. >Brad: if the goal is to prevent deflation, there is a case for governments to act swiftly

    My point is that if the swift act is wrongly targeted, it will likely improve nothing and may very well degrade something – every intervention will send unintended signals, regardless whether it achieves what was intended or thought to be the chief aim.

  105. Brian [Nov 28, 2008 18:41],
    My thoughts exactly. Well said. It would be far more interesting (not to mention adult) for Mr. Wells to “Join the discussion” and respond to some of the excellent counters to his post rather than wasting his time composing churlish comebacks to “the rat”.

  106. The Conservatives didn’t win majority of seats. They didn’t win the majority of Canadian votes. The Conservatives won exactly 37.65% of votes, while the Liberals and the New Democrats got 26.26% and 18.18% respectively. Furthermore, the Bloc Québécois won 9.98%. Overall, it’s 54.42% of the popular vote. The only reason that allowed the Conservatives to form the government is the archaic and undemocratic first-past-the-post election system, a tragic remainder of post-colonial ties with similarly democratically deficient Great Britain.

    Digging deeper reveals the abysmal voter turnout – 59.1% making it the lowest in Canadian election history. Many Canadians just didn’t bother. There’s no sense to vote if you know that your vote will be disfranchised, courtesy of the first-past-the-post-system. All this means, that the Harper’s Conservative have the mandate of 22.26% of eligible voters. The Liberals, NDP and the Bloc together have a) more seats in the parliament (163 vs 143), have won more votes (54.42%) and the mandate of 32.16% of all Canadians.

  107. “Digging deeper reveals the abysmal voter turnout – 59.1% making it the lowest in Canadian election history. Many Canadians just didn’t bother.”

    Maybe that has more to do with the fact that no one engages with parties at the grassroots level because they are already funded by our tax dollars. Voter turnout has only declined since we did that. Maybe if the Liberals had actually had to raise money from their base and engage with them, their vote would not have declined so precipitously and voter turnout would be higher. Because we are largely talking about the preciptitous decline of Liberal voter turnout, not Conservative, NDP, or Green turnout.

    Of course, it’s much easier to blame everything on Stephen Harper and a voting system that was the same voting system back when turnout was much higher.

  108. And you think Ignatieff will act like an adult?? Or perhaps Bob Rae??

    Harper’s only a C+ PM, but when the alternatives are D- and lower you take what you can get.