The Commons: Jim Flaherty challenges everyone to a reading contest

The Scene. Thomas Mulcair agreed with Stephen Harper. Just not now. Or at least not the version of Stephen Harper that was now in front of the NDP leader.

“Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives are trying to shove another 450-page budget bill down the throats of Canadians,” Mr. Mulcair reported. “The finance minister once again showed total disregard for our democratic institutions, choosing photo ops rather than Parliament, 450 pages. The Prime Minister once criticized the Liberals for their omnibus approach. He was right then, he is wrong now.”

Staring down the Prime Minister, Mr. Mulcair chopped his hands from one side and then to the other to demonstrate the difference between this and that.

“Will the Prime Minister respect Canadians, respect the role of Parliament and split this omnibus bill to allow for proper study?” the NDP leader asked.

Alas, Mr. Harper was not inclined to agree with his earlier view.

“Mr. Speaker, Canadians’ priorities are focused on the economy. They remain jobs and growth,” the Prime Minister reported. “This government continues to move forward with the latest version of the plan presented in March to promote jobs and growth across this country and to continue the relatively superior performance of the Canadian economy.”

You needn’t read the budget yourself, you see, because it is mostly just the words “jobs” and “growth” written over and over again for 450 pages.

“What we, of course, will not do in all of our proposals is propose tax hikes and, more specifically, a carbon tax,” Mr. Harper continued. “Our goal is not to kill jobs, our goal is to create jobs.”

At least that’s the plan now. These things tend to be subject to change. (A few budgets ago, for instance, Mr. Harper’s government committed $66 million to “lay the foundation for market based mechanisms that will establish a price for carbon and support the development of carbon trading in Canada.”  It was written down in the budget and everything.)

A few moments later, the NDP’s Peggy Nash dared suggest that the budget implementation act tabled before the House this morning included “non-budgetary measures.” Finance Minister Jim Flaherty was apparently displeased to hear such aspersions cast upon the document.

“Mr. Speaker, we have a real plan for jobs. We had it in the first budget bill. It is in the second budget bill. The budget is a wonderful document. We delivered it in March. There is nothing new. What is in the bill today is in the budget,” he grumbled and lectured. “If they have not read the budget, I would say to my honourable friends on the other side, I do not know what you did all summer. You got paid. You had a good pension plan. So, do your work; do your job.”

Understanding their jobs, the government backbenchers sprang up to applaud.

The New Democrats persisted though and Mr. Flaherty was very short of patience.

“Mr. Speaker, as I said a moment ago, there are no surprises. The budget was delivered on March 29. The budget document itself is almost 500 pages. It is the economic action plan of the Government of Canada for our country, not only for this year but for the ensuing years,” he waved the budget in his hand and then slammed it down on his desk. “This is the plan. This is the creation of jobs, growth and prosperity for our country. I urge the honourable members to read it for their own edification.”

The Finance Minister was apparently inviting everyone to play spot-the-difference. This game promises to entertain everyone for at least a few days. Even if the current farce would seem to render the written word relatively moot.

The larger game at play will go for at least a few more years. That game was revealed a little later when Mr. Flaherty was set up with a planted question from the backbench.

“Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for the very informed question,” the Finance Minister said of Conservative MP Blake Richards. “Our government is supporting the economy. Of course we are, with jobs, growth and prosperity. The New Democrats need to explain why they are against that. Why is the NDP against extending the hiring credit for small businesses to create jobs; against promoting interprovincial trade; against improving the registered disability savings plan; against new tax relief for clean energy generation equipment; and against closing tax loopholes? Why is the NDP against all of this and against growing the Canadian economy?”

It’s just that simple. Never mind those 450 pages and whatever they amount to. If you don’t support C-45, you don’t support further help for the disabled and their families.

The Stats. The budget, 12 questions. Ethics, seven questions. Food safety, four questions. The environment, three questions. National security, foreign investment, trade and health care, two questions each. Aboriginal affairs, affordable housing, airports, small business and border security, one question each.

Stephen Harper and Jim Flaherty, six responses each. Pierre Poilievre, five responses. Gerry Ritz, Vic Toews and Christian Paradis, three responses each. Ed Fast, Peter Kent and Leona Aglukkaq, two responses each. Joe Oliver, John Duncan, Diane Finley, Steven Fletcher, Maxime Bernier, Bernard Valcourt and Peter Van Loan, one response each.




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The Commons: Jim Flaherty challenges everyone to a reading contest

  1. “It’s just that simple. Never mind those 450 pages and whatever they amount to. If you don’t support C-45, you don’t support further help for the disabled and their families.”

    You forgot the sarcasm tags Aaron.

  2. I love the black and white decisions the Conservative party forces everyone else to choke down. You’re with this bill, or you’re a pedophile, you’re with this bill, or your a druggy. This particular one focuses on whether or not you support help for disabled and their families.
    None of these issues are black and white, but politicians have been employing this trick for generation after generation to get their way.
    And one of the main focuses here is the need for proper study of each concern addressed within the bill. 450 pages and several hard topics to mull over is the real issue at hand.

    • I feel the omnibus approach is a total circus, they should divide the bill into sections so they can analyse it properly…

  3. Would this same writer or others from this paper use even 1/10 of same criticism when ontario which has less departments has 300+ page omni budget bill?

    Or would the writer criticize the stall tactics used by other side which tend to contribute to omnibus bills in future?… Probably only when US and is Obama in charge and is other side playing stall tactics.

    I find partisan politics boring, would be nice to have same guy being able to criticise cheney and biden, etc. Exact same logic criticising Harper here could be used similarly to criticise Obama and Dalton.

    • But this blog covers the commons. I’m not aware that those other two guys have a right to sit in it.

    • You’re supposed to criticize politics and politicians. They are speaking “for” you.

    • Of course it couldn’t be the Conservatives’ fault for making utterly ridiculous statements… It’s the fault of the journalist for doing his job… Hard-right conservatives are big proponents of personal responsibility — just as long as it’s the other guy…

    • Also worth noting that a lot of the Ontario superbill had stuff the NDP weren’t informed of when they reached a budget agreement shortly beforehand.

    • Too bad Newsweek is shutting down, sounds like it had the issues you’d like to discus.

  4. He asks good questions I too would like to know why the left is always against the economy, against job creation, against victims of crime, and generally against common sense.

    • Source please.

    • It isn’t. Stop lying.

    • Stop buying into this cut and dried BS. Just because Harper and the Conservative party are behind employment and growth, doesn’t necessarily mean the opposition is against employment and growth. You can agree with some things and disagree with others.

    • Why are cranks always trying to con people with ridiculous nonsense like this? Probably because they are completely incapable of carrying out an intelligent adult conversation…

      • Or they’re getting paid to do it…

    • Lame.

    • And they want to impose that job killing carbon tax – ON EVERYTHING!!!

  5. aaron, i would suggest that you get the flaherty interview from may 14 2012 during the budget vote at approx. 1:30am est. …..he’s almost crying when talking about canada’s economy…..I would love to see it re-posted…..especially around the 9:30 mark and forward…………

  6. Point taken Jumbo. You have to eat the whole meal. You can’t say you wont eat the peas because that would mean you also hate steak and potatoes. I think it’s time the opposition declared a fast.

  7. It would not matter what was in a proposed budget,the opposition wil whine,cry foul play and offer nothing constructive.Its best to ignore and proceed when you know that there is no intention to be constructive.

    • insert Godwin’s law here because you’re asking for it

      • They have a right to be concerned. C-45 covers a diverse collection including:
        Navigable Waters Protection Act
        Indian Act
        Labor Code
        Removes the Employment Insurance Financing Board and
        the Merchant Seaman Compensation Board.
        That’s to say the least. Plus having to mull over all 450 pages and come back with finite answers.
        Each of these can be addressed one at a time or at least combined with correlating issues. A lot of the information covered wasn’t included in the March budget.
        You pay the opposition to oppose when necessary. It’s necessary now.

  8. Canada needs Super PAC’s

    • No, we do not.

  9. Where are all the “jobs” and “growth” Harper keeps talking about? Under his watch 500,000 good-paying export-related jobs went down the tubes. Productivity growth is at all time lows. Maybe someone should tell Harper there is more to creating jobs and growth than just talking about it and wasting $100M/yr of taxpayer money on propaganda.

    As for “job killing” green regulations, the strongest economies are in northern Europe and they also have strong green regulations. Under Harper, Canada has become the worst environmental offender in the developed world and he has not created a single job with all his environmental freeloading and backwards dirty-energy economy…

    It’s a fallacy that neo-cons are good fiscal and economic managers. Just ask Bush Jr…

    • My, what an incredibly original post from you. I don’t think I’ve ever seen you mention any of those points before.

      • Wow, lunkheaded sarcasm. I don’t think I’ve ever seen you employ that verbal trick before.

      • Perhaps he has made a vow to repeat this thought in perfect unison with the CPC’s use of the “job killing carbon tax” meme. ;-)

        Regarding the content, do you agree that a shift to a green economy could or would actually be a net creator of jobs?

        IIRC, the economists on the other page say that a carbon tax has no net effect on jobs….

        • I have no idea whether a shift to a green economy in Canada could or would be a net creator of jobs. It probably depends at least in part on how it’s done, e.g., intelligently or not intelligently (cf. Dalton McGuinty for the latter).
          I prefer to defer to the views of genuine non-partisan experts on matters like this, rather than partisan knobs who simply regurgitate NDP talking points ad nauseam.
          I’m as much a fan of Northern Europe as anyone, but Ron’s one-sided fetishization of Northern Europe is a bit much. I’d be interested to know if Ron thinks that we ought to jack our GST up to 26 percent, which is the VAT rate in Denmark. Plus I notice that lefties like Ron mysteriously stop short of fetishizing the Northern Euros when it comes to discussing alternative approaches to health care — on that issue, for some reason, the only country that lefties want to talk about in comparison to Canada is the United States. Because they don’t want to talk about the fact that there’s a considerable role for private delivery and private insurance in many of those Northern European countries.

          • I speak of the success in northern Europe and this guy says that is “fetishizing.” I talk about facts and this guy claims they are “NDP talking points.” And this character has the gall to claim I was using ad hominem attacks and straw man arguments… (If this “knob” is not a Harper Conservative he certainly fits right in with that bunch…)

      • What would a post be without Beans’s standard passive-aggressive sarcasm?

      • The Cons keep spewing propaganda; I keep challenging it… (of course, there’s so much of it it’s impossible to keep up…)

        • Yes, Ron Waller is heroically saving us from the Forces of Darkness. You are a hero for constantly spewing back stale lefty talking points. Maybe one day they’ll name a highway after you.

          • You don’t like stale talking points, Bean? That is funny, given what’s coming from the right.

          • Wow, what an earth-shaking revelation: people on all sides of the political spectrum are known to spew stale talking points and progaganda.

          • You’re just bitter that your party’s propaganda is being exposed.

            BTW, unlike the nonsense that comes out of Harper’s Ministry of Truth, my “talking points” are just facts.

          • Ron, reality check: I’m not a Conservative. I opposed the GST cut, I opposed the long-form census cancellation, I’m in favour of legalized, taxed marijuana, I’m in favour of legalized prostitution, I’m in favour of gun control, I’m in favour of Insite, and I’m in favour of abortion on demand. I’m repeatedly on record on these comment boards for holding all of those views. The CPC is not “my party” and you’re just being a partisan douchebag for desperately throwing that out at me. It’s a pathetic use of straw man ad hominem BS.

          • I’m calling b.s. Your record on here is of knee jerk attacks on any criticism of Harper. That’s not the behavior of the non-partisan you keep claiming you are.

          • Jan, are you claiming that I don’t hold the views or positions that I’ve listed above? Despite the fact that I’ve made repeated posts articulating and arguing in favour of those views?
            And BTW I’m not claiming to be utterly non-partisan, practically nobody is. But I’m not a CPC member or a fan of Harper or this government, and the fact is, I don’t think there are all that many posts over the years where I’ve enthusiastically supported stuff that Harper and/or his government have done. How about it, Jan? Why don’t you give us that great big long list of prominent and controversial policies and decisions of the Harper government that I’m on record as enthusiastically supporting? That must be a piece of cake for you, right? And presumably, that list of Harper stuff that I support would greatly eclipse that list of Harper stuff that I oppose — you know, like that list of 7 prominent matters that I was able to rattle off in my post above in no time flat. Right, Jan?

          • Your record on here speaks for itself. All you do is attack criticism of the current government, not for it’s content, but that is being done at all. It is not an occasional thing, it is constant and chronic.

          • Duck, bob and weave, Jan. Pathetic.

          • So clever, you gave yourself a thumbs up? Now that is pathetic. Just carry on with your routine, but know we’re all on to it.

          • You sound like a Con to me: someone who has an aversion to facts and uses ad hominem BS rather than debating the issues… In all your rants on this thread, you have yet to address a single point I made in my original comment. Instead you use straw man arguments: attack the poster to indirectly attack the position.

          • This is what he does to hijack the thread off the subject at hand. Then he gets really upset if he’s called on it. I think he was traumatized as a child by the NEP.

  10. “If you don’t support C-45, you don’t support further help for the disabled and their families.”

    Clearly a ridiculous position. Here’s Harper in opposition decrying a Liberal omnibus budget bill that was 42 pages:

    “First, there is a lack of relevancy of these issues. The omnibus bills we have before us attempt to amend several different existing laws.

    “Second, in the interest of democracy I ask: How can members represent their constituents on these various areas when they are forced to vote in a block on such legislation and on such concerns?

    “We can agree with some of the measures but oppose others. How do we express our views and the views of our constituents when the matters are so diverse? Dividing the bill into several components would allow members to represent views of their constituents on each of the different components in the bill.”

    No doubt, having *two* omnibus budget bills in a year totaling 1000 pages makes all the difference…

    • That was then this is now; opposition Stephen vs Executive Steve – big difference. Once you have the power why would you need the scruples anymore? This guy is a pragmatist through and through. You wont see scruples again until he can afford them – in opposition.

    • But…but…but…NATIONAL ENERGY PROGRAM ZOMG!!!

  11. The Conservative could launch micro satellite observatories that monitor the water levels of the Hudson’s Bay Lowlands and peat blogs in AB and NWT. They are under relentless attack from the cdn econo blogosphere. I want to bury trees under there but only if they stay wet…
    I should cost more than a few billions over a few decades. centres of excellence in Cgy, Wpg, TO, Que, that I’m aware of.

  12. And you know what, folks? They’ll get away with this again and again and again with absolute impunity. Look at the polls. Their 37% of the electorate seem prepared to support them no matter how crass and unprincipled they’ve become. And as long as that’s the case, they’ll give the other 63% of us the finger like they’re doing here.

    Trudeau’s parting of the waters on the way to the promised land of Liberal leadership only promises to cleave the progressive opposition for yet one more election, giving these clowns a free ride to another mandate.

    Depressing.

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