The Commons: ‘Canadians deserve better’

These are complex issues. Perhaps at some point they will be discussed as such.

by Aaron Wherry

The Scene. Conservative MP Robert Goguen, the duly elected member for Moncton-Riverview-Dieppe, stood just before Question Period and neatly enunciated the absurdity.

“Over government campaigned against the NDP plan for a carbon tax in 2011,” he declared, “and we campaigned against the carbon tax from the Liberals in 2008.”

Precisely. In 2008, the Conservatives proudly condemned a carbon tax while proposing cap-and-trade. In 2011, the Conservatives proudly condemned cap-and-trade as the equivalent of a carbon tax. (And even so, now, in 2012, the Conservatives can’t promise they won’t pursue cap-and-trade if the United States decides to do so.)

It is an elaborate joke. And the Conservatives are very committed to the bit (and unabashedly so). And so Thomas Mulcair is now stuck between laughing at, admonishing and ignoring the gag.

“Mr. Speaker, when the Conservatives took office, Canada had a $26 billion trade surplus,” the NDP leader reported at the outset of QP this day. “Today, Canada has a $50 billion trade deficit, which is an all-time high. How can the Prime Minister explain this failure to Canadians?”

“Mr. Speaker,” the Prime Minister begged in response, “the reasons that trade balances fluctuate are extremely complex.”

“Ahh!” came the mocking cry from the opposition side.

On this though the Prime Minister is surely right. These are complex issues. Perhaps at some point they will be discussed as such.

“With hundreds of thousands of manufacturing jobs lost, productivity growth at an all-time low, Canadian businesses sitting on over half a trillion dollars in dead money because they see no place to invest, and the record trade deficit, does the Prime Minister really expect Canadians to believe everything is going just fine?” Mr. Mulcair asked with his second opportunity.

“Mr. Speaker, we all know that we live in a challenging global environment,” Mr. Harper responded. “What all serious analysts also understand is that the Canadian economy continues to outperform our peers, both in growth and employment, with some of the best records in the developed worlds. Those are the facts.”

Facts are indeed good. They often assist us in the process of understanding complex issues.

“What the leader of the NDP asked me to do, cancel NAFTA, block all kinds of trade,” Mr. Harper continued, gesturing at Mr. Mulcair, “he even sent a trade mission to Washington to argue against Canadian exports, are the things that destroy Canadian jobs.”

“Shame!” various Conservatives cried.

Mr. Mulcair was ready with a rejoinder. “Mr. Speaker, I know the Prime Minister prefers making things up about the NDP instead of answering the questions,” the NDP leader shot back, “but Canadians deserve better.”

Mr. Mulcair proceeded en francais and Mr. Harper did likewise, at least at first. “What I also have to say is,” he said, switching to English, no doubt for the sake of a soundbite, “since the leader of the NDP wants to talk about the facts, on his party’s policies, it is very clear in the NDP platform, they call for $20 billion in carbon taxes on the Canadian economy. Manufacturers and consumers are saying this will destroy job creation and destroy their economic prospects. We will not endorse and adopt such foolish policies.”

The Prime Minister was perhaps half right here. He and his Conservatives have endorsed such policies, repeatedly. They just never got around to implementing them. And they might not ever get around to doing so. Unless the United States does. In which case this satire on modern politics might be taken to another level.

After a fourth try, Mr. Mulcair attempted a kind of summation. “Mr. Speaker, here is their alchemy,” he offered, testing the limits of everyone’s vocabulary. “The Conservatives took a trade surplus of $26 billion and they turned it into a trade deficit of $50 billion. The Conservatives took a budget surplus of $14 billion and they turned a budget deficit of $56 billion. During this time, the Conservatives have presided over the loss of hundreds of thousands of good manufacturing jobs, and all that the Prime Minister does is blame the NDP? People deserve better.”

He stared down the Prime Minister and shook his fist.  ”Will the Prime Minister opens his eyes,” he asked, “realize the problems he has caused and for once assumes his responsibilities?”

The New Democrats stood to applaud.

Mr. Harper stood with conciliatory hand gestures. “Mr. Speaker, the Canadians are well aware that we are in a very uncertain global economy, with many difficulties,” he offered. “Despite this, if we talk about job creation, economic growth, debt, deficits, Canada’s record is far superior to that of others.”

Switching to English, Mr. Harper now referred to a piece of paper he held in his left hand, on which was apparently written a list. “The leader of the opposition asked me to name some specific things we have done on these measures,” the Prime Minister explained. “Even just recently, there was extension of accelerated capital cost allowances…”

The Prime Minister proceeded through a half dozen measures, cut off as his time ran out and the Conservatives stood to cheer.

With so many of his own policies to brag about, it is to wonder why Mr. Harper is so concerned with a convoluted complaint about someone else’s policies.

The Stats. The economy, eight questions. Ethics, four questions. Foreign investment and the Canadian Forces, three questions. Trade, firearms, border security, fisheries, seniors, aboriginal affairs and employment insurance, two questions each. The F-35, the environment, veterans, foreign aid, Iran and temporary foreign workers, one question each.

Stephen Harper, eight responses. Diane Finley, four responses. Christian Paradis, Peter MacKay and Tony Clement, three responses each. Vic Toews, Peter Van Loan, Ed Fast, Maxime Bernier and Keith Ashfield, two responses each. Rona Ambrose, Peter Kent, Pierre Poilievre, Gerry Ritz, Steven Blaney, Julian Fantino, John Baird and Jason Kenney, one response each.

The Commons: ‘Canadians deserve better’

  1. Aaron – well done, tallying “responses” rather than “answers,” thereby addressing a pet peeve of mine.

  2. Mulcair to the PM: ‘Canadians deserve better’…..!!!
    Well… rest assured, a NDP or Liberal gov’t cannot do better based on their current caucus members and leadership, or lack thereof..!!!

    If we had an election now, I feel confident that true and loyal Canadians would return the Harper Conservatives to gov’t and with an even greater majority.

    What Mr. Wherry reports is quite insignificant to a majority of Canadians because it IS insignificant to the average Canadian. Interesting but insignificant.

    • “a NDP or Liberal gov’t cannot do better based on their current caucus members and leadership, or lack thereof..!!!”

      The NDP’s front bench outperforms the sycophantic empty suits and robotic “carbon tax, carbon tax” voice boxes in Harper’s failed collection of so-called cabinet ministers most days of the week.

      The NDP caucus learns from experience and applies it. The Con parrots learn by rote and repeat endlessly.

    • True and loyal Candians eh…that makes the rest of us…

      • A bunch of whiny lefties..

        • Whining is still one of our democratic freedoms, for now at least.

          • Don`t worry Whiner, you can continue to whine—nobody cares.

          • So nice of you to tell me your “cares” are the only legitimate ones.
            The fact that i’ve annoyed a self described nobody has made my day.

          • And you guys do a mighty fine job of whining.

        • A bunch of whiny lefties, righties centrists and rastafarians with a democratic right not to be true and loyal toward the govt if we so choose.

      • … miscreants and malcontents …. soooo obvious.

        • Nice one, but we all know what you implied. I’m not particularly surprised you don’t have the balls to just say so when you’re called on it.

          • Don’t worry, Harper and his TRAITORS will know the word well when it is above the gallows under which they hang.

          • Don’t know if you’re joking, but that aint likely, nor is it helpful.

    • “True & loyal” Canadians would only vote Conservative? Does that mean people who don’t vote Conservatives are traitors? I respect your right to vote who you want but please don’t degrade the discussions with negative labels. Canadians deserve better!

      • True and loyal Canadians elected a large Conservative majority in the RoC (excluding Quebec). Harper won 166 seats with only 5 from Quebec, which means they won 161 ridings out of 233 in the RoC, for a 69% win rate!! True and loyal Canadian in the RoC don’t need the separatist Quebec vote to form a large majority Conservative gov’t, ever now..!!!

        • Conservatives got 39.62% of all votes cast across Canada. My calculator tells me that number is NOT a majority; rather, it is an anomaly in the Canadian electorate system that should be fixed so criminal elements can no longer take control of Canada and change it for their own purposes.

        • So what do you plan to call your new country? My Canada includes Quebecers, annoying as they or any family member can sometimes be.
          Anyway, your equivalency reasoning is bogus. Put it to a straight referendum – is Quebec a part of your Canada? Maybe closer than it used to be back in the day, but close only counts in horse shoes – you’d still lose.

        • A “large” majority? They’re only a few seats away from a minority.
          Large majorities are Diefenbaker, Laurent, King, or Mulrooney.

          True and loyal Canadians also elected a raft of Liberal, NDP, Bloc, and even a Green member.

          And if you’re going to accuse basically 2/3rds of the country of being less than True and Loyal Canadians, kindly go die in a fire. Our country will be that much better without you.

  3. I see all media have decided that the goal for this fall is to keep repeating the line that the Cons are a farce and a joke . The Carbon Tax seems to be their chosen weapon. Never mind the facts. Let’s just repeat over and over that the NDP is against a Carbon Tax and the Cons are. That is the farce. The Cons have always been for reducing pollution, carbon capture and not waste money on unproven “green” utopia. But who cares about the fact. Media shaping politics again!

    • Let’s hope the NDP fights fire with fire and water like Democrats do in the US. No matter how silly the talking point, the NDP (and Liberals, for that matter) must stand up and expose the lie (put out the fire.)

      Then they must return fire. In this case, keep hammering Harper on Canada’s lagging economic performance with economic stats. Canadians don’t need to be economists to get the picture. Bad numbers look bad. That will debunk Harper’s propaganda that Canada has the “strongest recovery on the planet” thanks to him.

      When Harper rightfully loses the economy, he will not have a leg to stand on.

    • The NDP is against a carbon tax. That’s the problem. They’re for cap and trade.
      The CPC is against a carbon tax. That’s the problem, They too are for cap and trade.

      If you want unproven, and possibly money wasting, carbon capture is the poster-boy for it.

      But do feel free to keep your blinders on. It’s probably a happier place then reality.

      • Well C&T has worked well in the case of acid rain – apparently. Doesn’t it depend on whether the permits are properly auctioned off and monitored? Both systems put a price on carbon, no.

  4. “Mr. Speaker, when the Conservatives took office, Canada had a $26 billion trade surplus,” the NDP leader reported at the outset of QP this day. ‘Today, Canada has a $50 billion trade deficit, which is an all-time high. How can the Prime Minister explain this failure to Canadians?’ ”

    Glad the NDP are starting to hit Harper hard on the economic facts. They need to own the economy and debunk the fallacy that neo-cons are fiscally responsible and good economic managers.

    The Harper Government’s strategy is to constantly lie to Canadians taking a page from Goebbels on propaganda: if you keep telling a lie long enough people will begin to believe it. But this ignores the reality that, in a democracy, when a government’s lies are exposed it loses all credibility with the public.

    Harper has been peddling illusions about the Canadian economy instead of taking action to actually better our economic performance. We are far from #1 as Harper tells us and he has squandered all the economic advantages he inherited from the previous Liberal government.

    • The Economist (2010): Canada’s resilient economy: The Goldilocks recovery
      ‘Strict financial regulation and a new commodity boom have turned “boring” Canada into an economic star’
      “Much of the country’s resilience stems from policies—such as bank regulation and sound public finances—which predate Mr Harper.”
      http://www.economist.com/node/16060113

      Canada’s ranking among the rest of the developed world:

      * OECD productivity (2011): #17
      * OECD productivity growth (2011): #24
      * OECD government debt/GDP (IMF 2011): #25
      * OECD Unemployment rate (2012 Q1): #17
      * OECD GDP growth (2011 2.4%): #14
      * OECD trade balance (IMF 2011 -2.81%): #24
      * Inequality-adjusted Human Development Index (2011): #12
      * Conference Board of Canada Economy Rankings (2011): #11
      * Davos Global Competitive Index (2012-2013): #14

      Time to debunk Goebbels and get to work fixing the damage caused by Harper’s failed doctrinaire policies.

      • The Economist is a leftist rag …. soooo obvious.

        • You are so obviously wrong on that account…

          • Ron, there is an invisible sarcasm font, you know.

          • Har!

          • I thought the remark might have been sarcasm at first. But the more zealous of conservatives, like ones that post on the NP and Sun, believe Macleans and the G&M are leftist rags. So I think he was being serious.

          • Yes, and that is possible. But even if he WAS being serious, assuming he was being sarcastic is definitely the right response. I think :)

  5. “On this though the Prime Minister is surely right. These are complex issues. Perhaps at some point they will be discussed as such.”

    The high trade deficit is directly related to the soaring dollar. (The OECD says our dollar is overvalued by 25%.)

    Exports and tourism become too expensive and decline. Imports become cheaper and increase. The end result is a trade deficit: a country consuming more in imports than it is earning with exports.

    But there is no free lunch. Like when the eurozone PIIGS adopted the euro as their currency (Canada is effectively adopting the US dollar as its currency) the increased purchasing power produced big trade deficits. But it was all fueled on borrowed money. Then end result was soaring debt.

    The troubled eurozone countries are expected to raise competitiveness to Germany’s level through wage deflation. The same is true of Canada. To keep a dollar at parity we will have to reduce wages by 20% to restore competitiveness. But as one can see in Europe, it’s a rough ride down the deflationary spiral.

    It is much easier to revalue the currency (as Switzerland is doing.) When wages are reduced by 20%, the relative value of debt increases by 25%.

    The NDP is talking about this issue. The Conservatives are playing wedge politics avoiding a rational debate. Unfortunately, propaganda will not fix the problem.

    • American fiscal and monetary policies are also aimed at forcing China to allow it’s yuan to float to higher levels instead of keeping it devalued. The Chinese are holding Trillion$$$ of US currency with which they can do little in the USA. Of course they can dump the USD into Canada buying up Nexen.

  6. The NDP has a cap and trade system in their platform. So it is NDP policy and if Mulcair is ever going to get his precious environmental sustainability in place it will have to be through an outright carbon tax or a cap and trade system. He is being too cute by half. He can characterize it by whatever name he wants but the fact is it is a tax on carbon. There is no lie. It is all about semantics. It is a tax on everything directly or indirectly. It will cause inflation to rise, increase in interest rates and reduce the standard of living of the middle class. Perhaps the lefties could be more honest and say in plain English what the plan is and how it will impact Canadians. Perhaps the media can decide to do their jobs and report the facts.

    • Yep, cap and trade is a carbon tax now, but it wasn’t in 2008 when it was part of Harper’s platform…

      • Nor will it be if the Americans adopt a cap-and-trade system in the next few years…

      • Yes it was part of the platform when Harper saw Obama win and he was spouting a cap and trade system for the States. To survive we would have had to do the same thing. However, it didn’t happen and the party abandoned that part of the platform.
        By the way that was 2008. The NDP’s cap and trade is part of the 2011 platform of the NDP. So it is relevant.
        As well, Mulcair is quickly becoming known as a one trick pony like Lizzy May. Its always about the environment. So nobody doubts that he would implement it if given the opportunity.
        Mulcair needs to embrace it and talk about his plans or Harper and the Conservatives are going to keep talking about it. However, Mulcair doesn’t have the guts to speak about the subject directly but uses words like environmental sustainability or polluter pay. Those are the big lies. It is about getting more revenue for the government. If GHG’s go down that’s a bonus.

        • Actually, it’s the CPC that’s trying to make it all about the environment. If you actually read the article, you’d see that Mr. Mulcair spends quite a bit of time dressing down the CPC economic performance.. which is why they’re trying to change the channel.

          • When Mulcair starts telling us what his solutions are then I will start paying attention. In the meantime it’s just rhetoric. How will he improve the trade deficit. Follow the logic through.He imposes higher taxes on companies which causes them to increase their prices making them less competitive. How does that improve the trade inbalance?

          • You do understand the concept of “opposition”, yes?

          • Anybody can criticize. It is the easiest job in the world. Are you suggesting Mulcair has no substance behind him.

          • Rightly so. If you believe that malarky that Mulcair is spouting well I feel bad for you. Why is our trade deficit out of whack? Perhaps Mulcair could explain it to the masses since he is suddenly an economic genius. More importantly maybe just maybe he could suggest what he would do if he was the government.

          • You forgot to change to your fake account before posting this second one.

            That said, apparently you still haven’t grasped the concept of “opposition”.

          • Give me a break. There is opposition and then there is opposition. The NDP agrees with absolutely nothing. Think about the last time any opposition party put forward any suggestion to improve legislation. Their intent is to stop the government from accomplishing anything. They think that is their ticket to winning the next election. It won’t work. So what do they get omnibus budget bills and closure. All legitimate tools of a government in order to pass its agenda in a timely fashion.

          • That’d be every party with the Omnibus Budget.
            Nice try though.

        • I’ve got no grief (necessarily) that a party changes policies. In fact I would be very unlikely to support a party that sticks to every policy idea that it might have proposed year after year after year – the world changes and policy responses need to be able to change as well.

          And the CPC has not abandoned attacking GHG emissions, they just aren’t doing it via a carbon tax or via a cap and trade system – instead they are implementing regulations, on a sector by sector basis.

          • I agree with you. The sector by sector approach is a more workable approach because it is done in cooperation with the sector involved. It is a slower way to go but probably allows the lest disruption the business.

          • Although to be fair, even this approach will have costs, and those costs will ultimately be paid by the end consumer.

    • “It will cause”…and tidal waves ,and earthquakes ,,and BC to declare bankruptcy, and your nose to grow six inches.

      • There is no lie and you know it. That’s why the smart alecy remark back. However, if he ever gets control of the federal treasury we are all in for a world of hurt other than his union buddies of course.

        • He has to make his case. Just because people like you think the very worst doesn’t justify the govt making its case so sleazily. I happen to think the ndp aren’t being upfront either. CT or C and T, both put a price on carbon. So what’s his plan to offset through tax cuts? No need for the Tories to lie about their scheme. That’s their problem– they can’t help themselves.

          • It is not part of their platform since 08. It is part of the NDP platform as of 011. Hence they need to be called on to justify why they think collecting anothe $21 billion out of the economy at this tenuous time is good policy. I know you love to talk about the Conservatives but do you think for once you can stay on point.

          • I know that but you couldn’t help yourself. You still had to take shots at the Conservatives. You just can’t help yourself I guess.

          • No. As i explained there was no reason for the Tories to be so sleazy. As Stephen Gordon pointed out the NDP position was already compromised as a CT & C&T both put a price on carbon – get it yet? It has the same objective. Both the tory and NDP positions are essentially dishonest. It’s just the tories got to be assholes too – it’s in their DNA. So, it was context, something you don’t do. Now are you going to parrot that back at me too?

          • Its not worth it. Time to move on.

          • By all means. Sorry i attempted to make you think. Wont bother next time.

  7. In 2008, Climategate was yet to to happen… so the political climate was such that AGW needed to be accepted as fact.

    In 2009, when Climategate broke, everything changed.

    So by 2011 it is no wonder to any rational observer that both cap-and-trade and carbon taxation were seen for what they are: scam taxes. Either way, someone pays more and that someone is us.

    And deny the impact of Climategate all you want: it completely destabilized the relationship between the science community and the citizens. Oh yes and this does include the whitewash inquiries which, while they deemed Climategate to be nothing, my own analysis deemed Climategate to be clearly something, and thus saying it was nothing only further cemented that belief, and still does to this day.

    Harper was right about AGW in 2006, about it being merely a socialist wealth redistribution scheme. That’s exactly what it is.

    • The above poster is lying or is grievously mistaken. Science still matters at all times, and it always accepted global warming and still does.

    • Priceless.

      “So by 2011 it is no wonder to any rational observer that…”

      …anyone who disagrees with me is irrational.

      “And deny the impact of Climategate all you want: it completely
      destabilized the relationship between the science community and the
      citizens.”

      …well, that and all the propaganda that Big Oil could afford. And they can afford a lot. Heck, they turned a handful of out-of-context quotes into a global pseudo scandal that some yokels still believe to be real.

      “…my own analysis deemed Climategate to be clearly something”

      Well, thank heaven we have your trained, unbiased analysis. You do realize you’re alleging a conspiracy in inquiries spanning the House of Commons, Penn State U, the EPA, the Dept of Commerce, and the NSF. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Climatic_Research_Unit_email_controversy#Inquiries_and_reports)

      Amazing that they’ve maintained 100% secrecy across so many participants in this conspiracy!

      “Harper was right about AGW in 2006, about it being merely a socialist wealth redistribution scheme.”

      So was he lying in 2007 when he called it “perhaps the biggest threat to confront the future of humanity today”?

      • All I needed to do was look at the emails themselves unfiltered.

        Purposeful manipulation with intent to deceive, deleting data… those things happened. I can use my own brain to figure out those particular details. As for conspiracy, it’s no conspiracy: leftists simply believe we need to be controlled, right down to the very air we breathe.

        Harper in 2007 would have just been playing politics. Ina democracy if 70% of a population says “we believe this” whether or not it’s right or wrong it does not matter… if 70% say this is what we want, then one way or another that’s what they’ll get.

        Just like with the screaming of the left for spending all that “stimulus” money, I don’t blame Harper one bit for doing it in order to keep the socialist/communist/separatist hands out of Canada’s till.

        • Read it again: you’re alleging that each of those inquiries was a whitewash, and that not a single honest person in any of those organizations blew the whistle. That, Ryan, would be the Grand Bull Moose of conspiracy theories.

          And even if you did read all 3000 leaked emails/documents, does it not seem possible that you misunderstood scientific jargon? Are you an active research scientist? What did you find that all those other people failed to find?

          • If Climategate was accepted as damaging as it was, the entire climate-based agenda would fall… funding, cap-and-trade, carbon taxes… all of it.

            Personally, I don’t even know what the relevance of those who were involved in the inquiries were, I just know I can read the emails and comprehend the intentions and the actions caused based on them.

            I know it can seem difficult to look at a scientist and think they’re wrong but based on what I saw, I see no other explanation. I saw outright fraud being committed and basically was told “nothing to see here”. I am trusting my own judgment on this one.

          • Judging from your responses.. it seems you actually can’t comprehend intentions or actions caused.

            Lookup “Dunning-Kruger” effect to understand why your very certainty in your own analysis shows you haven’t a clue.

          • And the rabbit-hole goes deeper: you’re actually alleging a massive global fraud on the part of nearly all climate scientists around the world. Seems a stretch.

          • Confirmation bias. He saw what he wanted to see.

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