Jim Flaherty Resignation Watch - Macleans.ca

Jim Flaherty Resignation Watch


“The Government is planning on balanced budgets for the current and next five years, although given the downside risks, balanced budgets cannot be guaranteed.”
Chapter 3, Economic and Fiscal Statement 2008, tabled Nov. 27

“The federal government is expected to post at least four years of budget deficits even before Ottawa spends a dime on stimulating the economy, suggests papers released by the Finance Department.”
Canadian Press, Dec. 18 

Each new story posted on the Globe’s website is now accompanied by a new shot of Jim Flaherty looking sick. The paper’s editorial this week—”Flaherty has the title-give him the job”—was altogether cruel in its sympathy for the man. The consensus belief that he has little say over the words that are coming out of his mouth, let alone the management of his department, is both an excuse and an insult. It’s not his fault, he’s just a pawn. And he is now being forced, in painful increments, to withdraw each and every sentence in that economic update he championed just three weeks ago. Death by a thousand retractions, as Gerry Ritz might joke.

He holds the second most hallowed position in government and all he’s getting for it is a slow motion public flogging. All the while, that snappy-dresser Mark Carney gets to go around looking calm and reasonable and, at least comparatively, in control.

Which seems a tad unfair, not least because Jim Flaherty seems like at least a halfway decent fellow.

He and John McCallum have had some nasty scraps, but the Finance Minister generally maintains his sense of humour. He can be self-effacing, publicly mocking his own height on at least a couple of occasions that I’m aware of. After every big day on the Hill, he goes over to the local watering hole and has a glass of red wine. Whatever the actual merits of his legislative actions and fiscal theories, he seems to possess a certain decency, or at least perhaps a greater sense of such than some of his seatmates. 

Even if he is relatively powerless, he is not, of course, entirely blameless. His height notwithstanding, he’s a big boy. He’s responsible for what he says and does, all the more so because what he says and does has real, consequential influence on the nation’s economy and the relative livelihood of Canadians.

But if there truly exists a gap between what he says and does and what he believes, or if what he believes is not compatible with what he’s asked to do, or if he’s only the Finance Minister on the departmental letterhead, at what point does Gentleman Jim owe it to himself to walk into the Prime Minister’s office and tender his resignation?


Jim Flaherty Resignation Watch

  1. I think poor Jim’s problem is he absolutely believed that laissez-faire, stop stifling the economy with regulations, tax cuts beget increased revenue bullcrap. He certainly believed it as Ontario’s Finance Minister. He’s probably been harping on to Harper about it for the past two or three years. The Fiscal Update did not deviate from his stated ideology, therefore he had no reason to argue with what Harper wanted him to say.

    It’s only the FACTS that contradict everything he believed in, and everything in the FU. I’m actually pleasantly surprised Flaherty is aware the facts don’t agree with what he’s said up to this point, and even more pleasantly surprised that he is, if not admitting he was wrong, at least changing his story to fit with the facts going forward.

    I blame our GG for the reality check. I SO wish there was a remote-controlled, tape recording fly on that wall.

  2. Political reality rears its ugly head, but what politician has ever resigned on that account?

    I was hoping Aaron had something new to say.

    • How about this Steve.

      Jim now thinks bailing out investors of Asset Backed Commercial Paper (ABCP) is a good use of your tax dollars. This contradicts the Bank of Canada position completely and defies common sense.

      But that’s Deficit Jim for ya. A budgetary deficit is not the only deficit we’re talking about here.

  3. Don’t confuse the Conbots with the facts, Aaron.

  4. OTOH, the idea of bringing in a rookie Finance minister at this point doesn’t inspire confidence. Unless it were someone who already knew a lot about the file – and no-one in the Conservative caucus does. If all you’re going to do is replace one mouthpiece for another, then it’s not worth the cost of printing new letterheads on the stationery.

  5. These big thinker don’t get out much.
    PM Rudd resignation watch on high alert.
    “Australia’s Rudd rules out budget deficit for now” Nov 24th, 2008

    “We are projecting a modest surplus into 2009. Under current circumstances, therefore, we don’t see the need to borrow for the purposes of investing for growth in the economy for the future,” he said.

    Budget may fall into deficit: Rudd Nov 26th

    “KEVIN Rudd has conceded for the first time that Australia’s budget may have to go into “temporary deficit” if the global financial crisis worsens.”

    “IT took six months for Wayne Swan to tear up Labor’s first budget in 12 years. It has taken another three weeks for Kevin Rudd to shred the replacement budget that insisted Australia would keep growing through the global crisis and preserve its budget surplus.”………..
    That undercuts the Treasury’s latest forecasts, contained in the mid-year budget review released on November 5, that the economy would expand 2per cent in 2008-09.

    Point is…noone….anywhere has a good handle of this mess. They are all flying by their seat of their pants, wondering where to throw money.

  6. Unless it were someone who already knew a lot about the file

    What’s there to know? Shake the magic 8-ball and report what you see. We are talking about economics, after all.

  7. “If all you’re going to do is replace one mouthpiece for another, then it’s not worth the cost of printing new letterheads on the stationery.”

    But think about the stimulus for our pulp and paper industry. We can’t afford not to print new letterheads on the stationary.

    “Shake the magic 8-ball and report what you see. We are talking about economics, after all.”

    Or not. We are talking about the Finance department, after all.

  8. Apparently an economist run over your puppy when you were a kid. I offer an unreserved apology.

  9. Apparently an economist run over your puppy when you were a kid. I offer an unreserved apology.

    I couldn’t care less. I stopped taking you people seriously in the 80’s.

    Face…you have no idea what you’re talking about. You’re courtiers.

    • You must have really liked that puppy.

      • Is this really the best defense you can mount?

        What am saying? Of course it is.

        I don’t hate economists, Professor Gordon. I just think the entire system of thought is a sham.

        • And yet you can’t explain why. Or even what the entire system of thought you’re rejecting even looks like.

          I really am very, very sorry about your puppy.

          • Ok Heather…the mean girl routine has run its course.

            Or even what the entire system of thought you’re rejecting even looks like.

            I’m not the only one.

  10. A little off topic.
    Kevin Rudd fueling panic, fear and pessimism with ministerial statement..film at 11.
    I hope Australia will be able to recover after reading his statement from nov 26

    ………..There is no point in sugar coating the situation. The global economic downturn is accelerating. It will get worse before it gets better.
    Every morning we wake up to more sobering developments from abroad.
    Bank bailouts – 30 and counting.
    Diving sharemarkets – down 50 per cent and counting………
    ……..Government rescue packages – from 15 countries and counting.
    Major developed economies, like dominoes, are falling one by one into recession.
    Japan; Germany; Italy and the eurozone have already fallen.
    Other major economies have already experienced quarters of negative growth this year: including the United States; the United Kingdom; France; Italy; Canada among others.And the projections emerging for the US for the fourth quarter are not good. …………
    The impact of the global financial crisis on our economy will be real.
    Its impact on our businesses will be real.
    Its impact on our families will be real.
    Its impact on our workers will be real.
    Its impact on our country will be real. …………..
    Mr Speaker, beyond the economic statistics, the global financial crisis is imposing a very real personal cost on Australian businesses and Australian families.
    Put simply, the global financial crisis means tough times ahead for many people.
    It means Australian families will find it harder to make ends meet.
    It means more challenging conditions for older people whose incomes derive from share market investments.
    It means harder conditions for the more than two million small businesses and independent contractors who form much of the backbone of the Australian economy and employment.
    And it means a tougher employment environment for many people who will find it more difficult to find their first job. ……….

    It goes on.

    • I’m looking forward to hearing this speech from Mr. Harper in the House of Commons.

  11. …he seems to possess a certain decency, or at least perhaps a greater sense of such than some of his seatmates.

    Aaron, I’m pleased to announce that you’re the 2008 winner of the Jean Chretien Award for Faint Praise. Well done, my friend, and congratulations.

  12. Relatively powerless? pehaps. Blameless, certainly not.

    The writing has been on the wall for months now. (some would even say years). Instead of looking into his glass of wine, he should have been paying attention to what is already writ large on that particular wall.

    The American economy is in a huge mess. We are inevitably going to suffer as a result.

    As an aside, an article in the current Harper’s Magazine – The $10 Trillion Hangover, Paying the Price for eight years of Bush (by Linda Bilms and Joseph Stiglitz ) is fascinating though depressing read..

    As a result of the American economic meltdown Obama will spend even more. We don’t have the same huge debt problem (though who knows what figures lurk unreported) but we do need to take the right kind of action – economic stimulus.

  13. ‘Flaherty seems like a halfway decent fellow’ Tell that to the homeless!

  14. Isn’t trying to spend your way out of a recession — or is it a depression? — something that the Harris Conservatives, Mr. Flaherty included, slammed Bob Rae for?

    And isn’t cooking the books to hide a deficit something that everyone else slammed the Harris Conservatives, Mr. Flaherty included, for?

    Maybe I was dreaming the entire 1990s in Ontario politics. Am I imagining things?

  15. Having eaten so many of his own words, I now see why Flaherty is a little puffy faced these days. It is hard to see which “economist” – Flaherty or Harper – is more messed up over this ‘try-to-lie’ with a straight face reversal.

    At least the new advisory council will give these fellows something new to think about because they obviously haven’t had enough good thoughts up until now.

  16. I’m tired of the leprechaun references, we need a taller Irishman for Finance Minister.

  17. Did we expect too much from the ambulance chaser?

  18. how is this different then Flaherty’s work at the end of his tenure as Ontario’s finance minister.

    for those debating whether Flaherty carries any blame given his controlling boss, pls read Wells piece on torture in the US and replace Cheney with Harper; soldiers with Flaherty; torture with false budget projections; and the Times with the Globe (and Wherry?)

    @ http://blog.macleans.ca/2008/12/18/high-crimes-and-misdemeanours/

  19. This entire economic disaster was created in and by the U.S. with its laissez faire regulatory regime and “high seas pirate” business mentality. (Seems to me, the actions of the U.S. had a lot to do with the Great Depression as well. (Isn’t the U.S. one of the few counties whose limited liability laws mean that creditors have no claim against the personal assets of owners? For example, try walking away from a mortgage in Canada.)

    Because the U.S. is hegemon, the rest of the world followed like the children of Hamelin followed the Pied Piper.

    It doesn’t matter who is Finance Minister — we’re screwed. (Although it’s telling that Flaherty and his boss wanted to adopt U.S. style economics. They sure did a good job snowing the Canadian public. All the neo-cons and libertarians that support them ought to give their heads a shake. If this crisis hasn’t awakened you to reality, nothing will.)

    We’re all going to endure a lot of pain because so many people (and entire nations) are deluded. I hope the pain is worth it — but I doubt all the empty suits will ever understand their complicity in this debacle.

    Yeah, I’m angry — and you should be too.

  20. Deficit Jim deserves the public flogging he is getting IMO.

    His string of disasters did not start on Nov 27 with the Economic update. His decision on Income Trusts 2 years ago was a good precursor to the shallowness of his knowledge on all things finance-related and it is what I expect from an ambulance chaser like Jim.

    At least after 2 years the media has wised up marginally and the Opposition parties are willing to challenge the words that come out of the little man’s yap.

    As for the FU, back at you Flaherty. It looks good to see you eat crow.

  21. Jim’s platform for running for the leadership of the Ontario PC’s after Harris stepped down should show something about his true self. I lived in Ottawa at the time, & I seem to recall the main plank was that if everyone on welfare was arrested and jailed, they’d get off their lazy collective posteriors and start making tons of money which would stimulate the economy.

    Since keeping someone in jail costs about ten times what Harris paid someone for welfare, I didn’t really see the logic in this, but then again, I’ve never been finance minister.

  22. The MinFin may be a pixie, but he’s an evil pixie!

  23. We have determined that Jim would be better utilized as the Parliamentary Chimney Sweep for the duration of this government.

    I am excited to announce that we will be installing a Nintendo 64 as Jim’s replacement.

  24. Like the one step forward, two steps backward Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper has found himself only closer to the ext door.. Jim also he should get a resume for a job he is more suited for.. such as another used car salesman