The Commons: PM Harper explains why his 2008 platform was written in blue ink

(Hint: cap-and-trade)

by Aaron Wherry

The Scene. The day’s prize for Inventiveness in Partisanship goes to Joyce Bateman, the Conservative MP for Winnipeg-South Centre, who, in standing to ask the Foreign Affairs Minister about the appointment of a new ambassador to China, somehow managed to accuse the NDP of proposing a “job-killing carbon tax.”

Any backbencher, having been duly awarded one of the highest honours a group of voting-age citizens can bestow on another, can stand and publicly proclaim the party line. But only the truly exceptional can do so in reference to something completely unrelated. Bravo Madame. You have established an impressive standard that will be difficult to match. Not that we should underestimate your colleagues. Especially when they might have three years to match or exceed your accomplishment.

For sure, you should probably settle in because this joke is probably going to take at least that long to tell (or, put another way, it will probably be for at least that long that the Conservatives will continue telling it).

“Mr. Speaker, with 300,000 more Canadians unemployed today than before the crash of 2008, a record $50-billion trade deficit and the highest household debt in Canadian history, the Conservatives’ solution is to send the Minister of Finance to lecture business leaders,” Thomas Mulcair reported this afternoon at the outset of Question Period, “but Canadian business leaders are voting with their wallets and holding off on new investment. They are sitting on over half a trillion dollars in dead money.”

Dead money and killed jobs. The world of finance is a gruesome one.

“When,” Mr. Mulcair wondered, “will the Conservatives stop lecturing Canadians on the economy and start listening?”

The Prime Minister was listening enough that he knew it was now his turn to stand.

“Mr. Speaker, as I have said repeatedly, we all know that there are great challenges in the world economy that affect this country,” he offered. “With that said, Canada’s economic performance continues to be far superior to that of most other developed countries. The number of jobs is up by more than three-quarters of a million, investment is up, exports are up and growth is up.”

Mr. Harper now waved his hand in the general direction of the New Democrats.

“We will make sure that we resist any ideas for carbon taxes, for tax increases, for shutting down industries and for blocking trade,” the Prime Minister declared. “This government is committed to the growth and prosperity of this country.”

The Conservatives stood to cheer this commitment.

Mr. Mulcair had a retort. “Mr. Speaker, our priority is jobs,” he clarified. “The Conservatives’ priority is making up stuff about the NDP.”

The New Democrats applauded, the Conservatives grumbled.

The NDP leader switched to French and the Prime Minister followed suit, only to return to English halfway through his response.

“Let me just say this,” he said. “I do not have to make up anything about the NDP. I have here, in black and white, black and white, its platform from the last election.”

He held in his hand a piece of white paper.

“There is a little table at the end,” he reported, “which states, “Cap and Trade Revenues By Year, $21 billion. Be a part of it.”

The Conservatives stood to cheer their man’s reading.

You would perhaps be tempted here to interject and point out that the Conservative party’s 2008 platform also included a commitment to cap-and-trade. But you would be interjecting too hastily. You see, the Conservative party’s 2008 platform is written in blue ink. And it is a widely accepted convention of civil law in this country that that which is written in blue isn’t binding. You might’ve thought the blue ink was simply a nod to the Conservative brand. But it was actually a way of ensuring that, should the Conservatives ever decide to completely repudiate a concept they once endorsed, they could not be held responsible for the previous commitment.

(One flaw in the plan: the 2004 election platform, this 2008 news release, the 2008 Throne Speech and this 2009 speech were all printed in black and white.)

Mr. Mulcair disregarded Mr. Harper’s evidence entirely. “Mr. Speaker, after seven years of Conservative corporate tax cuts, the Conservatives have nothing better to offer than more lectures to Canadian businesses, but despite their finger-wagging Canadian businesses are sitting on over half a trillion dollars in dead money,” he charged. “Even the Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters have said that Conservative corporate tax cuts have had little observable impact on new investment in Canada.”

“Woah!” mocked the New Democrats.

“What,” Mr. Mulcair asked, “will it take for the Conservative government to finally change course?”

In response, Mr. Harper stood and demonstrated his own deference to manufacturers. “Mr. Speaker, under our government, our record of growth continues to be superior. Taxes are down not just for business, they are down for individuals, they are down for families. In every case, the NDP voted against those tax cuts. We have voted for them,” he first reviewed. ”The manufacturing sector can speak for itself. Let me read what the president of Patriot Forge, a manufacturing company in southwestern Ontario, just said. He stated: ‘The higher taxes proposed by the NDP will make it much more difficult for our Canadian plants to compete….’ ”

The man from Patriot Forge having spoken, the matter should obviously be considered closed.

The Stats. Employment insurance, 11 questions. Foreign investment, five questions. The environment, four questions. The economy and food safety, three questions each. The Parliamentary Budget Officer, seniors and abortion, two questions each. Foreign affairs, pensions, prisons, Canadian Forces, privacy, foreign aid and the Quebec City armoury, one question each.

Diane Finley, 11 responses. Christian Paradis, six responses. Tony Clement, four responses. Stephen Harper, Gerry Ritz and Peter Kent, three responses each. Rob Nicholson, two responses. John Baird, Ted Menzies, Candice Bergen, Peter MacKay, Julian Fantino and Rona Ambrose, one response each.

The Commons: PM Harper explains why his 2008 platform was written in blue ink

  1. canada is being governed by children…………….

    • Who apparently fancy themselves ‘Philadelphia lawyers’. LOL

      And we will discover the man from ‘Patriot Forge’ is a Con who sent in a form letter to the editor.

  2. harpo and his Cons are a joke and an insault to Canadians and our democracy. Time to send the packing!

  3. Harper’s reading was highly misleading: NDP’s Cap & Trade was ^NOT going to be $20B in YEARLY revenues but $21.5 over the first FOUR years, and thus: $5.4B yearly.

    • The Conservatives are notoriously soft on fact, just look at how they dealt with Attawapiskat

    • Oh, but cap and trade is supposed to be revenue neutral. Only carbon taxes bring governments revenue. Right?

      • You can book revenue or not. Most experts think not booking revenue is the worst option, a tax holiday – the Tory’s option in 08 i believe.

  4. Agreed… Childen run our country. Anybody could stand in the House of Commons and yell back and forth, but our government is embarrasing. What a waste of time.

  5. This is why I have nothing but disgust for the partisan hacks that make up the Canadian media. The entire QP is loaded with Opposition members making partisan comments, launching false and misleading attacks and doing anything they can to insult, degrade or belittle Conservatives — and you attack a Conservative over being partisan! Liberals have run this country into the ground and the Canadian media has been there to prop them up, lie and mislead in order to ensure their lefty masters get ahead. Oh, well, it is a free country and you have every right to be as biased and petty as you wish. But, please, don’t lie and say you are a journalist – you’re not.

    • Who is running the country, Ron? Who is standing up there and lying?
      While I agree that opposition parties have degraded Parliament as well, though not nearly as much as Harper, in Question Period, all they are doing is asking a question flowered with some partisan rhetoric. It is the government’s job to provide an answer and this cabal refuses to, the same cabal that PROMISED you and me that they would only let the right minister answer questions and they would end the Liberal bob-and-weave in QP. Meet the new boss, 10X worse than the old boss.
      ps. only someone with severe short term memory loss or stupidly hyperpartisan could possibly say the media weren’t very harsh with the Liberal government in their time.

      • You honestly can’t compare the loving care the media treated the Libs with to the insane “gotcha journalism” the Media Party practices with the Tories.

        • The media coverage was very favorable to Harper during the last election campaign. Almost all endorsements favored a Harper majority. The media is owned by corporations, not Liberals…

          Harper is receiving flak in this column for outright lies. Maybe he simply deserves the bad coverage.

          The media coverage of Ad Scam certainly helped Harper come to power in 2006.

          In short, the Liberal media conspiracy theory is a fallacy.

        • That’s silly. In my life i’ve seen the media go after Trudeau, Mulroney, Chretien and Martin. In the case of Martin they went from lionizing him to crucifying him. Admittedly the new social media tools and the net make it much tougher to hide anything nowadays, but the media doesn’t do any where near the amount of investigative journalism that it used to what with budget cuts everywhere. I think it might even be a wash,

        • You sir are living in wonderland. The Canadian media overwhelmingly endorsed the Conservatives in the last (and the 2008) election. Only one major daily in Canada endorsed a different party in 2011. Mike Duffy. Pamela Wallen. Ibbitson. Wente (yes, I wente there). Murphy (Rex or Steve). The list is endless.

        • Any fool(s) can see that the Canadian media are overwhelming pro-Conservative.
          As a matter of fact I intend to stop reading certain MacLeans bloggers if they continue to, day-in and day-out, show such an obvious favouritism towards the Conservatives.

        • Pretty much every media organization in the country endorsed the Tories in BOTH of the last two elections.

  6. Don’t know if the “blue ink” thing is true, but there actually is a reason why blue ink is verboten. This is because the color xeroxes poorly, or not at all, and is often used to write in notes (copyediting, for instance) which won’t show up when copied. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Non-photo_blue

  7. “With that said, Canada’s economic performance continues to be far superior to that of most other developed countries. The number of jobs is up by more than three-quarters of a million, investment is up, exports are up and growth is up.” (Harper)

    This statement is packed full of lies. For one, GDP growth this year is down, not up. It’s shaping up to be lower than 2%. Mark Carney’s original forecast was 2.5%.

    Second, exports are down, not up. According to a recent G&M article exports have hit rock bottom: ‘This is about as bad as it gets for Canadian exporters’ (Harper turned a $26B trade surplus to a $50B trade deficit.)

    Third, investment is also down. Carney and Flaherty are chiding corporations for hoarding money instead of investing it or giving it back to investors in dividends.

    Last lie: our economic performance in comparison to other developed countries is mediocre. Here’s how we rank among OECD countries (31 developed; 3 emerging):

    * 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 CIA): #14
    * OECD trade balance (IMF 2011): #24
    * Inequality-adjusted Human Development Index (2011): #12
    * Conference Board of Canada Economy Rankings (2011): #11
    * WEF Global Competitive Index (2012-2013): #14

    Harper has squandered the advantages left him by the previous Liberal government. He has done nothing to improve the economy.

  8. Regarding Harper’s “job-killing carbon tax” propaganda: Germany has one of the greenest economies on the planet, yet it is also one of the strongest.

    Contrary to what Harper says, Germany’s recovery has been stronger than ours. It has had higher GDP and productivity growth; lower government debt and unemployment. It also has a 6% GDP trade surplus compared to Harper’s 3% GDP trade deficit (which was a 2% surplus before he came to power.)

    So clearly environmental responsibility does not kill jobs. Unfortunately the same can’t be said of Harper’s 19th-century economic ideology. It has killed 500,000 good-paying export-related jobs since he came to power.

  9. “Taxes are down not just for business, they are down for individuals, they are down for families.”

    This much is true. Harper has slashed taxes by over $30B/yr since coming to power (which coincides with our $30B deficit.)

    But Harper is importing this “low tax” ideology from American Republicans who trashed the US economy and bankrupted its government.

    Since this policy hasn’t created jobs, increased investment, raised productivity or met any other of its other objectives, these tax cuts amount to a 30 billion-dollar boondoggle.

  10. UGH! this comment point system sucks Macleans! Get rid of it or improve it soon or you’ve lost a loyal reader!

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