The Commons: We are an island that Louis XIV is protecting from debt zombies

Our analogies runneth over

by Aaron Wherry

The Scene. Apparently something of a fussy TV critic, Thomas Mulcair seemed not to appreciate the Stephen Harper’s demeanour during last night’s showing of “The Prime Minister & The Queen (And The Continent That Is Like A Plane That Is Running Out Of Runway).”

“Mr. Speaker, last night in London” Mr. Mulcair reported, seeming to sound out the city’s name in a certain la-de-da tone, “the Prime Minister mused about catastrophic events about to hit the Canadian economy. He laughed about Canadians having to face the most volatile stock market since the Great Depression.”

There were groans from the government benches.

On the matter of the stock market, the Prime Minister did seem to smile, perhaps in hopes of projecting reassurance or confidence or so as not to scare the Boomers watching at home who are fretting about their RRSPs. Mr. Harper did also seem to acknowledge that the last time Peter Mansbridge asked him about the markets, the Prime Minister had perhaps not expressed himself that well. But to suggest he had openly guffawed seems to apply a loose measure of frivolity.

In any event, the leader of the opposition was most interested in whether the Prime Minister had a plan for the next recession. And, if so, what was in that plan. To answer this stood Peter Van Loan, the Government House leader having apparently come away quite moved by last night’s broadcast.

“Mr. Speaker, as the Prime Minister articulated well, Canada’s economic policies have helped make Canada an island of economic stability in a world that is in deep trouble on that front,” Mr. Van Loan mused. “And we are not immune to those problems. But that’s why we’ve taken measures through our Economic Action Plan, including Economic Action Plan 2012. The leader of the opposition asked where the plan is. That is where the plan is.”

That, presumably, is why the budget bill is so large. So that while the rest of the world drowns—either metaphorically, in the case of economic disaster, or literally, in the case of environmental disaster—Canadians will be able to use copies of the bill as flotation devices.

Mr. Mulcair rose to quibble with the House leader’s analogy.

“Despite the talking points, no country is an island in the world we live in today,” he charged.

On the Conservative side, Rob Nicholson and Gary Goodyear applauded, demonstrating approval for Mr. Mulcair’s point and also possibly proving that these analogies are getting difficult to parse. If memory serves, Canada was last year said to be an island that could only be swamped if a coalition led by Michael Ignatieff took power and, as a result of refusing to consolidate the government’s computer systems, turned us into Greece. Now we are an island that is not immune to the debt flu, which apparently now threatens to cause Europe’s plane to crash, possibly into our island. Perhaps we are meant to ward off the flu-ridden zombies that may emerge from this wreck by beating them about the head with those copies of the budget bill.

“The Prime Minister pretends to be concerned now, but two months ago in Washington the Conservatives were singing a different tune,” Mr. Mulcair scolded. “At the G20 meeting in April, the Finance Minister led the effort to block an international plan to resolve the European economic crisis,” the leader of the opposition continued.

“Hogwash!” yelled a voice from the Conservative side.

“He told European countries to, quote, ‘step up to the plate and fix the problem on their own,’ ” Mr. Mulcair recounted.

“Hear! Hear!” called Pierre Poilievre, clapping.

“As if our fate wasn’t intimately connected to theirs,” Mr. Mulcair said. “And he gets applause for that from the peanut gallery.”

This, of course, provoked more applause.

“When will the Conservatives stop lecturing European countries and put forward a real plan to protect and create jobs in Canada?” the NDP leader finally asked, winning a standing ovation from his fellow New Democrats.

In response, Mr. Van  Loan saw fit to sermonize. “Mr. Speaker, when the Prime Minister travels abroad, people talk to him about Canada’s economic success and the fact that we have the lowest debt of any of the major developed economies. The fact that we’ve posted the strongest economic growth and job growth of those economies coming out of the economic downturn. And they look at us and say, what is the key to our success?” Mr. Van Loan explained. “And the reason is because we have been pursuing a plan: Economic Action Plan and now Economic Action Plan 2012, that delivers jobs. When we go abroad, we talk about the ways to balance budgets and creates jobs.”

Presumably this balanced budget talk is mostly theoretical.

“When they go abroad,” Mr. Van Loan concluded, “they talk about how to kill Canadian jobs in our important resource sector.”

For effect, he stressed the k-word. Presumably he meant it figuratively.

A few moments later, Bob Rae was on his feet, loudly likening Mr. Harper to Louis XIV as least so far as it pertained to the Prime Minister’s approach to federalism. So apparently are we left to hope that a French monarchy can protect our island from the debt zombies.

The Stats. The economy and employment, seven questions each. Government spending, five questions. Fisheries and ethics, four questions each. Crime, three questions. The military, military procurement and arts funding, two questions each. The United Nations, the budget and search and rescue, one question each.

Peter Van Loan, 10 responses. Diane Finley, Julian Fantino and Keith Ashfield, five responses each. Tony Clement, four responses. Ted Menzies, three responses. Paul Calandra and Vic Toews, two responses each. Denis Lebel, Rob Nicholson and Christian Paradis, one response each.

The Commons: We are an island that Louis XIV is protecting from debt zombies

  1. Harper has no idea what he’s doing….or even what year this is….he’s just treading water, and hoping it’ll all go away.

    • This government is the Canada has enjoyed since Sir John A Macdonald.

      • The drunk who had the Pacific Scandal and hung Louis Riel?

        Not hard to beat that.

        We’ve had a lot of good PMs since then….Harper isn’t one of them

    • This government is the BEST Canada has enjoyed since Sir John A Macdonald.

      • I agree with this. The criticism, however, is relentless and often misguided, much of it petty and small minded.

      • Macdonald Canada enjoyed Sir this since government A the is John BEST has.

      • Under what measures?
        Patronage appointments to high offices, perhaps? They’ve certainly done more of that than any previous.

        Secrecy? Most certainly. I can’t argue with you there. Hell, they keep so much secret I don’t think even they know what they’re doing most of the time.

        Deficit spending? Again.. it seems you’re correct, they’ve had the highest there as well.

        Faith-based governance? Given how fast they’re cutting our science and R&D institutions, and what they’ve done to the census, I have to agree there. This government has been working hard to make sure they have the fewest facts possible to base decisions on. They have to go on faith because there’s nothing else there.

        That’s all I can think of though.. so what measures were you thinking of?

  2. Harper is just sooo dreamy….

    • This comment was deleted.

      • Meow

  3. “we have the lowest debt of any of the major developed economies … we’ve posted the strongest economic growth and job growth of those economies…”

    What a bunch of nonsense and lies. Canada has 85% debt/GDP, tied with France (86%.) The only major developed countries that are worse are the “US PIIGS” and Japan. http://bit.ly/DqF9p

    In terms of GDP growth, in 2011 we had an anemic 2.2% which ranked #132 in the world! Is this really something the Harper Government should be bragging about? http://bit.ly/jItaa2

    We are also mediocre (or worse) in all other rankings: Conference Board of Canada, #11; Davos Global Competitiveness Index, #12; OECD productivity, #17 (which has fallen under Harper.) http://bit.ly/avdtFy

    Among major developed countries, Canada also has a whopping trade deficit of 3% GDP, tying us (at the bottom) with the US and Italy. http://bit.ly/dey5Y1

    It’s true Canada didn’t face the ravages of a full-blow financial market meltdown in 2008. But according to The Economist, this stemmed from “policies—such as bank regulation and sound public finances—which predate Mr Harper.” http://econ.st/tqfVQP

  4. “Perhaps we are meant to ward off the flu-ridden zombies that may emerge from this wreck by beating them about the head with those copies of the budget bill.”

    Sounds about right – the quickest way to kill a zombie is to chop its head off so of course The State would hand out paper books. For health and safety reasons, wouldn’t want to hurt ourselves.

  5. Wow! Is Mulcair suggesting we bail EU countries out? Which? Socialist countries such as Greece, Spain or France? Talk about divided loyalities. This is why our PM should never hold dual citizenship. If Mulcair is one day PM and making decisions on Canada’s behalf at G20 etc. meetings, who will he be looking out for: Canada or France? Will the media please quiz him on this.

    • He’s suggesting nothing of the sort. He’s saying that Harper seems to think that if the EU’s economy collapses, thats their problem, not ours, but due to emphasis on free trade, etc. the worlds economies are so heavily linked that we can’t help but be affected. Just look at what effect Greece’s economy has had over here. If the entire EU collapses it will drag us down with it. It has nothing to do with divided loyalties, but a basic understanding of the effect globalization has had.

    • “Socialist countries such as Greece, Spain or France?”

      A “socialist” country like France (which has the highest public social spending in the world) has the same level of public debt as we do (about 85% debt/GDP,) yet we rank #23 in the world in public social spending.

      The US must be the most socialist of all countries given it has a debt/GDP of 102%. But no, it’s social spending ranks #25 in the world.

      Here is a cross section of public social spending rank (OECD) to debt/GDP (2011 IMF):

      Top 5: France #1, 86%; Sweden #2, 37%; Austria #3, 72%; Belgium #4, 99%; Denmark #5, 46%.

      Bottom 5/25: Switzerland #21, 49%; New Zealand #22, 37%; Canada #23, 85%; Ireland #24, 105%; US #25, 102%.

  6. Harper. Great or greatest Prime Minister? That’s the real question. I can’t wait to vote for him in the next election!

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