Journalism makes strange bedfellows


Well, that didn’t take long.


FEBRUARY 10, 2010

REALITY CHECK: Would the real Harper Conservatives please stand up?

In a recent speech in Calgary, former Conservative cabinet minister Maxime Bernier put his ideology ahead of economic common sense. In doing so, he also exposed sharp divisions in Conservative ranks on whether to help the 1.6 million Canadians left jobless by the recession.

Speaking to Conservative Party faithful, Mr. Bernier disparaged public services as a “burden,” labeled government support of the ailing economy and its citizens as “intervention,” boasted about using his ministerial prerogative to put hundreds of his own constituents out of work in the name of laissez-faire capitalism, and proposed a Darwinian path forward. Among the highlights:

“To paraphrase John F. Kennedy.don’t ask what your government can do for you; ask your government to get out of the way, so that you can be free to take responsibility for yourself, for your family, and for everyone else that you care about.”

“Last year, the federal government’s total expenses were about 250 billion dollars. You can do a lot of things with [that]!…What if we decided that this is more than enough? That expenses are not going to grow anymore? And I’m not saying zero growth adjusted for inflation and population or GDP increase. Just zero growth. Every new government program, or increase in an existing program, has to be balanced by a decrease somewhere else.”

The full text of the speech can be found here: http://www.maximebernier.com/en/2010/01/vision

While Mr. Bernier’s “zero-growth strategy” places him at odds with Finance Minister Jim Flaherty and his counterparts in the G7 who endorsed a continued economic stimulus plan last week in Iqaluit, his comments raise some interesting questions for the Harper Conservatives:

* Was this the kind of advice Mr. Harper had in mind when he prorogued Parliament to “recalibrate” his economic agenda?
* How does Mr. Harper square his stimulus package – and record $56-billion dollar deficit – with the views of an MP who thinks the entire process is a sham?
* Are Mr. Bernier’s comments a trial balloon for announcements Canadians can expect to hear in March’s budget?


Apparently there are others besides me who’d like to see a debate amongst Conservatives.


Journalism makes strange bedfellows

  1. Sorry, whose news release did you just post verbatim?

    • I had the same question – I concluded that Andrew had sent the release out himself : )

    • tried googling
      REALITY CHECK: Would the real Harper Conservatives please stand up?
      but got over 500,000 hits

      • You need to use quotation marks.

        • Really, Stewie, you shouldn't thumb down useful advice. Nothing pains me more than when people google a string of ten words, without quotation marks, and say things like: "duh, this got half a million hits!"

    • "Sorry, whose news release did you just post verbatim?"

      You slipped up. You needed that information in order to evaluate it, didn't you?

  2. the answer to the very last question is NO. The trial baloon will be expanded upon and introduced next year as right now once this budger is over and the months flow by it will be time to morph back into being a conservative again only this time in charge of the order of all legislation .. gonna be fun to watch lib's squirm …

    • Ahhh we have a teabagger in our midst.

    • Morph back into being a conservative again

      the duplicity
      the deceit
      it's all part of the plan?

      He's not a leader, he's a trojan virus

  3. Yeah, the mainstream media is jumping all over this, like they did with the Williams health-care closet emergence.

  4. If Max is to be Canada's Reagan… should we not have a name for his economics?

    • Can it be Maxonomics?

      • Minonomics would be more consistent with Reagan's trickle down theory, emphasis on trickle.

    • Arsonomics

      and who is the little matchstick boy? Bernier

      • The blue flame of Canadian politics.

        • These comment threads are becoming increasingly goofy. I'm not sure whether that's a good or bad thing.

          • It's a good thing and a bad thing. In other words, it's a paradox.

          • It started about Maxime Bernier's ideas wrt economic policy… whether goofy is good or bad, it is at least in keeping with the original theme.

  5. Maybe I missed it, but I don’t think you mention whose memo this is. The is an ‘NDP’ tag, but that seems pretty oblique.

    • Oh for goodness sake, I fixed it an hour ago. Says right at the top: PRESS RELEASE FROM THE NDP.

      • By the way, Coyne, you should really make it clear whose memo you're quoting. I've read your updated blog post, and every single comment, and I still can't make head or tails of it. Perhaps it's from the NDP?

  6. They didn't quote my favourite part: "Over the past hundred years, government has grown to gigantic proportions. It intervenes in almost every aspect of our lives. It tries to plan economic development."

    Yes, not only a return to the ideal government of 1910 but also the end of the economic development agency in Quebec! Is he sexy enough to be Canada's Sarah Palin?

    • "Is he sexy enough to be Canada's Sarah Palin?"

      He certainly seems smart enough.

    • Yes, let's take everything back to 1910.

      And that should have the added benefit of allowing us to meet our Kyoto targets, for whatever that is worth.

  7. And here I thought you were going to say the matchstick boy was Ignitieff.

  8. The fun thing with this whole idea of ZBG is that I sincerely doubt anyone who advocates for it has given any thought to how capping the budget is going to effect Defence and Policing spending over the long term as the population grows and resources are demanded elsewhere. Or, that the end result of slashing infrastructure spending inevitably means more of the Toll roads that they love so much.

    But, then, they're also of the idea that suddenly people are going to become massively altruistic and stop expecting raises sooooooo….

    • The CPC's own crime bills, with their newer longer sentences, could bankrupt the polity all by themselves!

  9. Bernier seems to have been well-briefed for this speech.

    • Everyone thinks they are a fiscal conservative, right up until it is time to stop spending money. All this snarkiness about how cutting spending is bad. No mention of the fact that our prosperous western country was built by independent individuals who did not have universal health care, universal pension care, universal employment care, universal daycare care…

      I guess if reality does not fit the narrative, you ignore reality? The anti-poverty people like to point out how we are less well off than our parents; maybe the solution they have been trying (more government) is actually the problem.

  10. Okay, I know what you're up to and it's not going to work.

  11. Everyone knew why Maxime Bernier was with M. Couillard, but what did she see in him. We assumed some sort of respectability + access to influence, but maybe it was his economic views which do have a certain reasonance among survival of the fittest (or most brutal) bike gangs. Or maybe she influenced his thinking? I'll leave it to the historians to figure out NeoMotorcyclism.

  12. The speech blows you away if you listen to it with Born to be Wild by Steppenwolf in the background.

  13. "labeled government support of the ailing economy and its citizens as “intervention”

    And the funny part is that the Womyn's Studies major who wrote this press release isn't aware that intervention is a fairly common, mainstream term in economics used to describe government action in the economy.

    This Liberal tactic of putting scare quotes around wholly uncontentious mundane crap is getting old.

    "Apparently there are others besides me who'd like to see a debate amongst Conservatives"

    For all the same reasons, though. Nevertheless, I gotta admit: would it kill Flaherty to pipe up at these FinMin meetings and say that Canada's situation, having not gone through an actual recession, doesn't need any more stimulus? And that Keynesian economics are widely proven to be a crock? And that spending well beyond your means is both bad economics and a human rights violation?

  14. You're starting to make sense.

    STOP IT!!

  15. Try singing it to the tune of Stairway to Heaven.

    Makes me wonder…

  16. "Apparently there are others besides me who'd like to see a debate amongst Conservatives."

    Good line.

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