The Commons: What we need right now is an economist - Macleans.ca
 

The Commons: What we need right now is an economist


 

The Scene. John McCallum was up first, sneering as only he can about the government’s plan to run a deficit.

“Our election platform is not full of grandiose, costly promises,” the Prime Minister thundered back across the aisle. “It’s a prudent approach. We can afford it. We’ll never go back into deficit!”

Actually, sorry, that’s what Mr. Harper said in October.

Anyway. Back up came McCallum, now wanting to know about this recession the analysts keep warning us about in altogether insistent tones. The Prime Minister sought immediately to reassure his honourable critic.

“My own belief is if we were going to have some sort of big crash or recession, we probably would have had it by now,” he said with all the calm and foresight of a man with an advanced degree in economics.

Actually, sorry again, that’s what the Prime Minister said in September.

Anyway. In truth, the Prime Minister wasn’t in the House this day. Which is probably just as well, he having only demonstrated with his public comments so far the value of keeping quiet.

Unfortunately, neither was the Finance Minister. And so it fell to Ted Menzies, officially the parliamentary secretary to the minister of finance, to offer the government’s latest responses to the greatest global economic crisis in 80 years. And so the opposition delighted in smacking the affable Mr. Menzies around with the pronouncements of his superiors.

“Why, in the Prime Minister’s own words, did the idea of a deficit go all the way from stupid to essential in just a few short weeks?” McCallum wondered.

Menzies mumbled something about a carbon tax.

“The economy is in recession when it shrinks for two quarters in a row, so why does the Prime Minister insist on talking about a technical recession?” McCallum asked. “Does he think a technical recession is less scary? Is he telling a laid-off worker to be happy because he is only technically unemployed? Does the Prime Minister think that misleading Canadians on the economy is a mere technicality?”

Menzies triumphantly announced something or other about reducing “value added tax.”

Scott Brison questioned whether the Conservatives were guilty of “ideology” or “incompetence.” Menzies assured him they were, in actual fact, merely “frugal.”

Next up it was the Bloc Quebecois shouting various outrages at the government side. “Mr. Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to welcome those suggestions from the Bloc this morning,” Menzies responded. “The minister and the Prime Minister have been asking for some constructive observations, some suggestions as Bloc members put forward this morning as to what they feel they need in their communities. I would encourage all members in the House to approach the Prime Minister, to approach the finance minister with some suggestions rather than just the heckling we are hearing from the other side.”

Now, you might ask yourself why the Conservatives would so eagerly seek the ideas of those whose ideas they’ve spent the last two years denigrating, often in the most outrageous of terms. But then that would only prove you too well acquainted with the rules of nefarious logic to serve in this place.

Blessedly, Menzies was allowed to sit a few rounds—various other ministers stepping forward to plead their respective cases—before the Speaker called on the NDP’s Glenn Thibeault, the new member for Sudbury. In keeping with his party’s line, Mr. Thibeault wanted to know what the government might do about these interest rates charged by credit card companies, referring to such fees as “punishing.”

Old Man Menzies, who apparently pays for all his suits in silver ducats, would have none of it. “No one is forcing Canadians to use those cards,” he huffed. “If the card charges are too high I would suggest to Canadians that they may lodge that complaint with their financial institutions or actually stop using them.”

Indeed.

For what the economy needs now is obviously less spending. No matter what those hack analysts might tell you about buying opportunities.

***

The Stats. The economy, 16 questions. Omar Khadr, four questions. Securities regulation, arts funding, municipalities, forestry, credit cards, free trade, poverty and voter registration, two questions each. Air travel, product safety and the Arctic, one question each.

Ted Menzies, 18 answers. Lawrence Cannon and John Baird, four answers each. Tony Clement, Lisa Raitt, Stockwell Day, James Moore, Diane Finley and Steven Fletcher, two answers each. Leona Aglukkaq, one answer.

Snarkiness of the Day. The NDP’s Niki Ashton, beginning her second attempt to question Steven Fletcher. “Mr. Speaker, my fellow MPs told me not to expect an adequate answer but I expected at least an attempt.”

Suck-up of the Day. Conservative Gord Brown, with his member’s statement. “Mr. Speaker, it is my distinct privilege, on behalf of every honourable member in this House, to take at least a minute today to recognize an important anniversary that took place on Friday, November 21, for it was on this day in 1988 that you, Mr. Speaker, were first elected to represent the people in the riding of Kingston and the Islands. Twenty years is a long time to serve, indeed. A little research tells me that your first speech in this place was on December 16, 1988, and your first question to the government of the day was regarding procedure. A biographer might call this foreshadowing for the role that you are most well known for today. Along the road, I understand that you served in a number of positions, many of them involving procedure; roles, such as Parliamentary Secretary to the House Leader, Chair of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs and Deputy Chair of the Committee of the Whole House. On January 29, 2001, you were elected the 34th Speaker of the House of Commons, only the third Speaker in our history to be chosen by a secret ballot cast by fellow members of the House of Commons. In the spirit of cooperation that now rules in this place and on behalf of the members of this House, I wish to offer you congratulations on your 20 years of service to the people of Kingston and the Islands and to the people of Canada.”


 

The Commons: What we need right now is an economist

  1. the Opposition should start reading the PM’s speeches back to him.

  2. Sophie – and excellent idea.

  3. It was 20 years ago today
    Peter Milliken was sent to play
    He’s been zoning in an’ out awhile
    While talkin’ parliament’ry style
    But he’ll have them rollin’ in the aisle
    So let me introduce to you
    The act you’ve known for all these years,
    Steven Harpers’ Liberal right hand man …

  4. That, TobyornotToby, was epic.

  5. The behaviour of the Liberal Party during this crisis is ample evidence as to why they do not deserve to ever lead this country again. Their selfish, partisan, misleading attacks do nothing to help the situation and do much to engender fear and uncertainty. While they were releasing a campaign platform with billions of new spending, Mr. Harper was lowering taxes, stimulating the economy and reducing trade barriers. He didn’t just start doint it yesterday or even 3 weeks ago like the Liberals; he started this over a year ago. Harper did not create the US housing melt down; he did not create the world wide credit crisis but by blaming him for all the world’s faults and causing more fear and uncertainity in the Canadian economy, Liberals are making the fallout he in Canada that much worse. During a time when all Canadians should be working together to encourage confidence and instill trust in our institutions, Liberals are using it to score cheap political points. Disgraceful.

  6. Ron; exactly. Misdirection and mis-representation of facts is a Liberal hallmark… No one on earth predicted the severity and continued plunge that we are experiencing. Perhaps MacCullum can show us his stock picks or his record of shorting the markets to show us why he should be at the controls. So this is how the Liberals “play nice”? Sickening….

  7. If credit card rates are too high, I also suggest people stop using them. If you can’t afford something, don’t buy it.

    Its kinda simple really, I mean, who would have known that racking up tens of thousands of dollars in credit card debt would be a bad idea?

  8. I thought Mr. Menzies did a good job in Question Period. He has an affable way about him… I think it would be difficult to be mad at him

  9. No one on earth predicted the severity and continued plunge that we are experiencing.

    Heard it.

  10. Apparently, the new CON talking points came out at 19:31 est. That allowed a minute for con-bots to hold their noses and swallow the latest new improved flavour (liberal-lite with new deal spendalifferic additive!) koolaid.
    Next, the CONtrols will be ragging the puck in defence of the CBC.

  11. When I get older, keeping my Chair,
    Several years from now,
    Will you still be losing all your self-control
    Point of order, calling the roll?

    If I’d succumbed to th’ anarchy
    Would you keep the floor?
    Will you still heed me, who will succeed me
    When I’m sixty-four?

    oo oo oo oo oo oo oo ooOO
    Yes it’s rather strange
    And if we keep this course
    Naught will ever change

  12. Another marvelous well thought out strategy from Dear Leader’s technical assistant:

    1) Insert hands under thighs. 2) Sit down 3) Do nothing until spring.

    Kinda hard to do anything else after promising for months and months there will be no deficit in 2008. I guess it’s better to have Canadians freeze in the dark than to look like the clown-servative you really are, eh Technical Deficit Jim…

  13. What we need now is a citizenry to take a deep breath and find ways to remain self-sufficient without expecting some government in shining armor to rescue us all from the evil fire-breathing recession.

    Good grief, it sounds like we’ve collectively lost all sense of personal self-reliance. Save us, o might government! Save us! We have sacrificed tomorrow’s prosperity by borrowing beyond our means to excessively enjoy these last few years, so bloody well do something already so we can go back to enjoying our irresponsible ways! Why we expect government to solve everything, when the odds are better-than-even that any random new government initiative makes things net worse instead of net better, is beyond me.

    As a final spit into the wind, if we citizens could just limit our request to government to avoid making things worse, that would be a refreshing start on our part. But, alas, the “heartless right wing extreme neo-con” government will likely try to out-Lib the Libs in the next year or two. And the profligate spending, sorry, the “targeted stimulus investiments,” will pass the IOUs on to our kids.

  14. I love the indignity on the part of CPC goons here. Shrewd partisan self-interest getting in the way of doing the right thing for Canada? I do believe that is the MO of the CPC in opposition and in government.

    I haven’t seen anything to suggest that they deserve opposition cooperation. They certainly haven’t offered any olive branches in their Throne Speech.

  15. madeyoulook: you voted for them. You will get the government you deserve.

  16. MYL — Is this what you mean by “find ways to remain self-sufficient without expecting some government in shining armor to rescue us all”? From the Washington Post yesterday:

    PLATTEVILLE, Colo. — A farm couple got a huge surprise when they opened their fields to anyone who wanted to pick up free vegetables left over after the harvest — 40,000 people showed up.

    Joe and Chris Miller’s fields were picked so clean Saturday that a second day of gleaning — the ancient practice of picking up leftover food in farm fields — was canceled Sunday. ” ‘Overwhelmed’ is putting it mildly,” Chris Miller said. “People obviously need food.”

    She said she expected 5,000 to 10,000 people to show up Saturday to collect free potatoes, carrots and leeks. Instead, an estimated 11,000 vehicles snaked around cornfields and backed up more than two miles. About 30 acres of the 600-acre farm 37 miles north of Denver became a parking lot.
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    Miller said they opened the farm to the free public harvest after hearing reports of food being stolen from churches. It was meant as a thank-you for customers.

  17. “… or actually stop using them.”

    Indeed.

    For what the economy needs now is obviously less spending. No matter what those hack analysts might tell you about buying opportunities.”

    Who writes this? Do you really no know what is meant by avoiding credit card debt? interest shopping? Do you really not understand the idea of “Buy low, sell high”?

  18. Imagine that – Liberals criticizing the CPC – the horrors of it all. I see the impressive economic team Obama has picked and then look at what we’ve got. Flaherty and Harper ( an supposed economist who never held a job at it, dealt with a crisis and appoints a cabinet minister as Finance Minister – who was a total failur in Ontario)….sigh

  19. Ron – it’s not the job of the Opposition to fluff the government.

    Though you apparently believe it’s yours.

  20. “Now, you might ask yourself why the Conservatives would so eagerly seek the ideas of those whose ideas they’ve spent the last two years denigrating, often in the most outrageous of terms. ”

    Boudica <—- Frantically raising her hand.

    I know the answer! I know the answer!

    The Cons want input from the opposition and will likely include the said input in the upcoming budget. They are basically trying to inoculate themselves on the question of economic stewardship for the next election. If they can claim that the budget included input from the opposition, they can spread the blame.

    It worked on the A’stan file. It might work again.