What’s Stephen Harper hiding?

Paul Wells on what the latest Economic Action Plan fails to say

Blair Gable/Reuters

One of the little joys of the Harper government’s Economic Action Plan 2013 is a chart on page 298 listing “savings measures since Budget 2010.” There are a few lines listing the total value of all spending cuts from Budget 2010, a few for Budget 2011, a few for Economic Action Plan 2012 and some more for Economic Action Plan 2013. There is much to consider in the chart, but perhaps the most interesting is the news that the government of Canada no longer publishes an annual budget. In fact, it seems to have stopped two years ago.

I work in Ottawa and I try to stay on top of things, but this was news to me. In fact, I didn’t even notice it until four days after Finance Minister Jim Flaherty released his—er—plan on March 21. Of course, there was much chortling in the press gallery at the government’s insistence on calling its annual account of revenues and expenses something besides a budget. But the significance of the thing took a while to sink in. Flaherty and his boss, Stephen Harper, do not call their big annual document a “budget” anymore because it is no longer a budget.

A budget, as anyone who has tried to run a household knows, is the moment when you stop telling yourself soothing tales and inject a note of reality into your life. On page 64 of the 1997 budget, for instance, the government of the day gave us an “outlook for program spending” with multi-year projections for spending levels in defence, Aboriginal programs, “business subsidies” and so on. It was that straightforward.

Harper’s Economic Action Plans, by contrast, are carnivals of fantasy. EAP13— we will use the government-approved hashtag, which I assume is pronounced to sound like a shriek of terror—is 200 pages longer than Budget 1997 but finds no room for a one-page program-spending outlook, nor indeed for a program-spending outlook of any length. Like the best funhouses, this one depends on its volume for much of its amusement value. The decision to merge CIDA into the Foreign Affairs Department is announced on the 31st page of a chapter on “supporting families and communities,” and I can only assume it is there as a reward for perseverance. The morning after Flaherty’s speech, a diplomat asked me how it is possible for a G7 country to release a budget that does not at any point say how much the government will spend on defence next year. I gave the fellow a long answer. I should have said his premise was wrong, because—stop me if you’ve heard this— it’s not a budget.

Not only does the budget not say what the government is spending, it does not say where it plans to stop spending, because that, too, would spoil the fun. Scott Clark and Peter DeVries, former senior finance-department bureaucrats, spotted another Easter egg tucked away on page 226 of EAP13: “The Government will introduce legislation as needed to consolidate operations and eliminate redundant organizations.”

This is not mere talk. Last year’s EAP closed the Rights and Democracy agency and the National Roundtable on Energy and the Environment, and the shutdowns did not stop there. My colleague Aaron Wherry has been keeping tabs on our website on what he calls “the quiet cuts.” In February, the Coast Guard station in Kitsilano, B.C., and eight Veterans Affairs offices closed. In October, nearly 100 employees at the National Research Council were told they may no longer be needed. Water-quality sampling in the North has been reduced, as has Via Rail staffing, emergency preparedness, the Federal Tobacco Control Strategy and programs to rehabilitate young offenders. The Kluane Lake Research Station in the Yukon is closing. There are dozens more examples. Not only are most of these cuts not announced, the government works hard to keep news of them from escaping. While Flaherty was playing his annual shell game in the Commons, Kevin Page, the parliamentary budget officer, was spending his last week in that job in court, trying to get details of the previous round of cuts. Page’s term ran out a few days later; the government no longer has to worry about him.

After the 2012 EAP, there was a good deal of grumbling among Conservatives, including some I know who have sat behind the Prime Minister in the Commons. What the hell is this? they said. We fought and waited and bit our tongues for a decade so we could have a Conservative majority in this country, and we get so little for it? This year, there is less such internal grumbling, at least over budget questions, because Harper’s caucus is on to him: just because he doesn’t announce a conservative agenda doesn’t mean there is none.

Though the title of Flaherty’s annual show changes, one feature remains constant. Direct federal program spending has been held flat in real-dollar terms since 2010, which means that, as the economy grows and programs become more expensive to deliver, there is an inevitable pressure to cut. The result is the federal government’s gradual retreat from Canadian public life. It’s really gradual, but it is starting to be the hallmark of Harper’s career at 24 Sussex Drive.

There is a constituency for that direction. Millions of Canadians have had enough of governments deciding every problem needs more government. I believe that if Harper announced, explained and defended his agenda in detail, he would find much support. But that has never been how he rolls.

If there is a place where reporters gather for information, it is never long before Harper starts to wonder why they are allowed to gather or be given information. In 2004, he asked his staff why he should have dozens of reporters following him on planes and buses as he campaigned. (By 2011, he had found his answer: as long as they were kept on the bus, he could go about his business elsewhere and they would not bother him.) In 2006, he closed the corridor outside the cabinet room so we could not wait there to ask his ministers questions. It has been years since he gave a news conference on Parliament Hill without a visiting foreign leader beside him to take half of the very few permitted questions. [UPDATE: That's wrong. He gave a particularly robust press conference in December to announce his CNOOC-Nexen decision. — pw]

By 2011, many of his problems had to do with details of spending, either real or proposed: on F-35 jets, on baubles in Tony Clement’s riding during the G20 summit, on the cost of criminal-law enforcement. And yet every year, dozens of reporters streamed into an Ottawa conference centre to learn details of Harper’s plans on just such sensitive files. It was only a matter of time before the temptation to lead the gallery on another wild goose chase became overwhelming.

Harper has never been fond of fair fights, because he believes a cabal of Liberal-sympathetic reporters and academics and professional groups will ensure he never gets to fight a fair fight. He prefers to be judged on results, dimly understood, much later, after he has done what he came to do. The problem is that, while he is making it hard for Kevin Page and Paul Wells to find out what is happening to your tax dollars, he is making it hard for you, too. If you trust him, no problem; but you are just going to have to trust him, because there are fewer and fewer mechanisms that allow us to verify.

In January, Harper took members of his caucus to an Ottawa movie house to see Steven Spielberg’s biography of Abraham Lincoln, which features Daniel Day-Lewis as the 16th U.S. president lecturing his cabinet: “I am the president of the United States of America, clothed in immense power. You will procure me these votes.” A Canadian prime minister has more power, in his modest sphere, than an American president. The votes Harper needed were procured for him on May 2, 2011. He will seek some more votes in 2015, and in the interim, we are left to guess.




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What’s Stephen Harper hiding?

  1. “There is a constituency for that direction. Millions of Canadians have had enough of governments deciding every problem needs more government. I believe that if Harper announced, explained and defended his agenda in detail, he would find much support. But that has never been how he rolls.”

    He is far to cautious and manipulative to show and share what he actually believes and what his government is actually doing. He knows he would be outnumbered.

  2. The core of the Con brand has always been its self-declared competence in fiscal management. But Harper is systematically obliterating all access to any objective data by which to assess that alleged competence. So, the CPC has become little more than a faith-based religion (like voodoo), devoid of any empirical evidence to support its own fundamental tenets.

    • Oh, please. You don’t need to see every line item on the department of fisheries budget to assess the economic situation of the country. Harper hasn’t obliterated access to measures of the nation’s economy, though he has somewhat limited access to government departments budgets. But the countries economy is vastly removed from government operations. Spending at Foreign Affairs or any government department isn’t a main driver of the economy, the private sector is. We still know what kind of deficit/surplus we run each year, and we still know the government’s overall debt position.

      If you want to talk about faith-based religion, I’d be looking over at the Liberals and the selection of their most recent messiah.

      • You can prove very little (if any) of that on the evidence available from this government. But you obviously don’t require evidence. Keep the faith, if it works for you. Me, I’m an unbeliever.

        • You need government data to prove that the government is not the main driver of the economy?

          • The fact that the government isn’t the “main driver” of the economy (anyway, who said it was?) doesn’t exonerate it from the responsibility to disclose how it conducts its business.

            Go find another red herring.

          • To assess their competence in fiscal management, you don’t need budget line-items. If National Defence informed us that they spent $1M on pencil’s last year, that wouldn’t give you any information about how the government is managing it’s finances. To judge that, you simply have to look at the deficit/surplus and taxation levels.

          • If they’re as competent in reality as they are in their own minds, Howcum the endless shell game with the numbers, between the “Economic Action Plans’, spending estimates, serial omnibus bills, and late Friday afternoon announcements (if at all) on program closures, etc? Only a government with something to hide resorts to such stealth and deception.

            I suspect if a government of any other political stripe resorted to such chicanery, you’d be howling. If you find succour in your blind faith, more power to you.

          • This government recently left the UN drought fighting body that costs us about $335,000 per year (if we gave up the F-35 and put that money toward the drought body, funding would last for over 114,000 years) without an announcement, and without even informing the UN.

          • The UN is a rotten and corrupt organization. giving them even one penny is waste. drought fighting? by sitting a posh hotel and drinking booze? why not earth quake fighting? I guess some activists dreaming on having a vacation paid by taxpayers to attend UN conferences.

          • LOL. I increasingly get the irony of you picking a bank employee for your fake persona, because it becomes increasingly clear you haven’t a foggy clue about how finance or accounting work.

            You could, for instance have two government with exactly the same deficit/surplus and taxation levels, but one spends the money they get on infrastructure and social benefit programs, and the other spends it on.. say.. $16 orange juice and last minute hotel re-bookings.

            But to you, they’re both equally competent. Heh.. y’make me laugh, kiddo.

          • You say: To assess their competence in fiscal management, you don’t need budget line-items.

            I reply: Yes, you do.

          • Rick is a slave to the idea of strong leadership and daddy knows best. Facts and figures aren’t required to follow budget claims, just daddy said so.

          • To assess their incompetence you need a history lesson.

            Of the 52 years the NDP has formed governments in Canada since 1980, they’ve run balanced budgets for exactly half of those years and
            deficits the other half. This is a better record than both the
            Conservatives (balanced budgets 37% of years in government) and the
            Liberals (only 27%), as well as both Social Credit and PQ governments.
            It’s not just the number of years of balance that is relevant: it’s also
            the size of the deficits or surpluses that are important. For this,
            the most important figure is the size of deficits as a share of GDP.
            For this measure as well, NDP governments have the best record. The
            average balance (deficit) as a share of provincial GDP for the 52 years
            of NDP governments in Canada is -0.77%, compared to -1.82% for all
            Liberal governments and -0.82% for all Conservative governments over the past thirty years.

            http://www.progressive-economics.ca/2011/04/29/fiscal-record-of-canadian-political-parties/

      • “We still know what kind of deficit/surplus we run each year, and we still know the government’s overall debt position.”
        Then why did Kevin Page have to take Harper to court in an effort to get information that we all know? Harper is hiding from something and we’ll find out in 2015 the government’s overall debt position when their successors get a look at the other set of books, as happened when Mulroney lost to Chretien.

      • You simplify Canada’s budget to the department of fisheries and omit a plethora of other budget items. And like a fool, you assume that is all that is needed. Yet corporations have line by line budgets. Banks have line by line budgets, He#l, every small business has line by line budgets. Yet you agree with Harper in that whatever he says he is doing, he is doing? Last I heard, government is answerable to us and not the other way around. This secrecy and manipulation of facts has got to stop. And it will stop come 2015 with a vengeance.

      • While I disagree, you claim we don’t need to see every line item of our money being spent. That argument is moot. The real argument is what’s wrong with providing it? Just because, in your opinion we “don’t need it” is no reason not to provide it.

      • Stupid is as stupid does. Harper depends on idiots for his core.

    • No. I think where people went wrong was, Harper is no Conservative. He was Policy Chief for his, Northern Foundation Party of 1989. He was linked with Christian Fundamentalists and other very dubious links. They say, that is where Harper’s abusive Dictatorship stems from. He has stayed true, to his old policies. He is still, an old Reformer Dictator. It’s sort of like? Canada is Harper’s Fourth Reich. Did Hitler have a budget? A Dictator reigns supreme. If their caucus, steals enough money from the tax payers, to buy houses for Harper’s minions, so be it. If Harper gives the wealthiest outfits in the world, ANOTHER $60 billion tax break, so be it.

      Stalin, Hitler and Mussolini were all Dictators, with the same personalities. They were a litany of, lies, deceit, corruption, thefts, dirty tactics, dirty politics and, they all cheated to win. Sound familiar? It should?

      • Sorry, I’m not buying all that. The Reform Party, for all its loopiness, had no history of autocratic leadership. If anything, they were populist in the extreme, insisting on deference to the grassroots and the membership, and tolerating all kinds of eccentric pronouncements for the sake of libertarian principles. It’s more plausible, IMO, to simply conclude that Harper is an inveterate control freak with a need to micromanage everything the government does out of his office.

        • Good God!! I really don’t care what you buy. I remember Harper’s Northern Foundation Party, very. very well. There was hell to pay. Harper just went underground for a while and kept a very low profile. 6 members of my family served in WW11, so we wouldn’t have such a monster as Harper, governing this country. Harper policies right now are, exactly the same as his old Foundation policies. Harper is certainly not worth, our young Canadian boys dying for.

          What I don’t buy is, Harper giving this country to Communist China. Resources, resource jobs. This is good for Canadians? Convince me.

          • Fine, I admit to knowing nothing about this Northern Foundation Party or Harper’s role in it. Nor am I at all sympathetic to the ideology of the old Reform Party. I simply pointed out that it had no history of autocratic leadership.

            As for “Harper giving this country to Communist China. Resources, resource jobs”, it’s not for me to convince you this is “good for Canadians” – there are too many caveats for me to be convinced, either..

          • Really? It is good China refuses to pay Canadian wages? That Harper permitted Communist China, to bring over their, $800 per month skilled labor? That all company’s are permitted to hire that cheap labor. That Harper’s Omnibull-S-Bill permits Red China to sue, any Canadians getting in China’s way? That China sued in BC, to take the mining jobs? 300 BC miners applied for those 200 jobs, Harper gave China, is OK?

            There are thousands of University, College and Trade school Grads, with huge student loans. Who need good paying resource jobs. My own son is an, Electronics Engineer. I told he and his University buddies, to apply overseas. There is nothing in this country for young people. It didn’t take them long, to see I was exactly right. Three of them have had replies.

            This is exactly what people don’t get. Our kids and grand kids won’t be hired. Who can live on $800 per month in this country? That doesn’t even pay the damned rent. The Chinese send all of their money home. That money doesn’t even get spent in Canada. More revenue out the door. Same as Canadians shopping south of the border. Billions of lost revenue for Canada there too. So. In what way is Harper good for Canadians? Harper looks after Harper, is the one and only thing I see. Where is Harper’s economic plans for Canada? Where is Harper’s job action plans for Canadians?

          • Hey, why are you barking at me? I essentially agreed with you. Take a pill and read my response again, my friend.

          • It boggles many of us, why people just can’t see through Harper. A while back, there was the same fiasco. One person said. Name me one thing Harper has done for the everyday wage earner Canadian? That person, never was given an answer. Corporations are Harper’s number one priority. He takes from us, to give to them. Our tax dollars are wasted and totally abused. Anyone with basic logistics, can see that.

          • I don’t entirely disagree, although I think he is probably motivated more by the ideological commitment to shrink the role of the federal government in the lives of Canadians than he is by any desire to pander to corporations.

            Having said that, he’ll eventually go into his post-political life with membership on as many “blue chip” corporate boards as he chooses to join and rake in his millions then.

            But, in doing so, he’ll merely be joining multitudes of other ex-politicos (of every stripe) before him.

          • You are seriously deluded if you think he isn’t pandering to corporations. Corporations are what Harper lives for, that’s his life blood – showing his daddy the Imperial Oil accountant, what a good little fiscal boy he is. That, and being a Strauss “economist”. Economics degree mentored by Prof Tom Flanagan, who approves of child porn.

          • Everyone is in a mood for barking, now that we’ve all awakened (including the MSM journos – read Andrew Coyne) to the fact that we have an amoral dictator in Parliament. He has no boundaries, cares for nobody – basically he’s a psychopath, and he has the keys to the counting house.

          • With the American Economy possibly on the verge of imploding on itself, diversifying our trading partners probably a good idea, if we don’t want the Canadian Economy to follow suit.

          • Selling our resources to China for pennies on the dollar rather than maximizing the benefits of resource extraction and processing for Canadians is fool-hardy.

          • Selling our resources to China for pennies on the dollar rather than
            maximizing the benefits of resource extraction and processing for
            Canadians is fool-hardy.
            —-
            No, it’s Harper.

        • Preston Manning was an is a foolish man. He opened the way for Harper and his American/Evangelist backers. Harper used the Alliance Church to climb to the top – and then stabbed Manning in the back.
          The GOP and the Mormon church moved into the Alberta Oil patch in the 60s, by the 80s they were well entrenched, with Mormons doing R&D on the Oil Sands. When Pierre Trudeau tried to put obstacles in the Americans’ way via the NEP, all hell broke loose, Americans were furious – and American oil billionaires had no trouble convincing Calgary that Trudeau was a Nazi, that Petro Canada Building was “Red Square”, and that everyone had better vote Tory. Tom Flanagan and others like oh – the Koch Brothers? groomed and polished the expat Torontonian and bitter ex-Liberal Stephen Harper to become their puppet in Ottawa. That’s what we’ve got. American GOP in Canada.

  3. Wow. So there actually is a hidden agenda.

    I don’t like Stephen Harper, and now I’m not sure I even respect him

    • How could anyone respect a person who betrays his own country and his own people and the international community?

      • Hey, you’ve got to respect his very strong principles of not having any principles.

      • Traitorous behaviour.

  4. Paul, your second last paragraph is the best description of the situation I have ever seen. You raise an excellent point re: trust, and I agree, but you don’t address how all the lefties you mention can be fended off when they literally control the airwaves/propagandizing of our kids. Politicians of all stripes need a ton of more questions from reporters from the right, and not just trapping them, but honest healthy questions. That’s the only thing that will solve this situation, otherwise you’re simply asking conservatives and conservative supporters to trust ‘you guys’ to not destroy them (the liberal-sympathetic reporters and academics, etc. that you mention). Not going to happen (without questions tons more questions from the right).

    • There’s an essay by the late historian Richard Hofstadter called “The Paranoid Style and American Politics”. Here’s a quote to get you started:

      “I believe, there is a style of mind that is far from new, and that is not necessarily right-wing. I call it the paranoid style, simply because no other word adequately evokes the sense of heated exaggeration, suspiciousness, and conspiratorial fantasy that I have in mind.”

      You appear to have wholly embraced it.

      • Haha, I embrace a lot of things, but I wouldn’t say that though. Seriously, the usual commentland spin back and forth aside, just ask a reporter: “when you’re in a scrum, how many questions percentage-wise are from the right.” Not squishy red-tory right. But an honest healthy set of questions from the right. People can not like the questions, or the answers for that matter, but nobody can say that questions from the right are even existent in most scrums. That’s why my money, time, and effort is available to anyone wanting to fix this problem. I want an open honest debate too!

        • “Not squishy red-tory right.”

          The vast majority of Canadians are either Red Tories or Blue Grits, so you’re not gonna ever get many questions from the Alberta Conservative Wild Rose Fundamentalists you so crave.

          I suggest you just abandon the ultra-liberal media, like Maclean’s and the National Post, and just dive into the American Ultra-Right Opinion Hour over at Sun “News.”

          • I notice how you mention only one supposed “Ultra-Right” news source in Canada, and only one tv channel that’s not even available on standard cable at that (60 channels)! Doesn’t really line up with the 39% of the popular vote that all the lefties always point to as the Prime Minister getting in the last election, eh? So again, how many questions are politicians really getting from the right in their scrums? I want an open honest debate!

          • MacLeans isn’t left or leftist they are owned by a corporation just like many of the other media outlets. Behind each of them is a rich businessman with their own corporate capitalist interests to further. They do very little to expose the crimes of those in authority unless those crimes threaten their bottom line. They are all pretty much in the pay of the political right and to say otherwise is to buy into the Rovian myth created to appeal to the whiny right.

            Oh look another example of that liberal media bias – https://t.co/NnGraTV2Fc
            Save us from conspiracy obsessed whiny wingnuts

    • Ah yes, the old “the media and education system are liberal!” canard.

      • See my response to frobisher on this similar angle below.

  5. Repost from Chris Hedges (Pulitzer Prize winner and former war
    correspondent for the New York Times) on Canada’s right-wing neocon Prime Minister
    Stephen Harper:

    Harper is a poster child for corporate malfeasance and
    corporate power, just sort of dismantling everything that’s good about Canada. So he’s the kind of species that rises to
    political power and is utterly subservient to corporate interests at the
    expense of the citizenry.

    Yeah, he’s a pretty venal figure.

    http://www.straight.com/article-732826/vancouver/chris-hedges-harper-venal-us-politics-totally-rigged

    .

    • Harper is the worst and most corrupt P.M, in the recorded history of this Nation.

      Harper is pretty much banned from World Organizations. Other country’s, want nothing to do with Harper. At every meeting of Nations, Harper always manages to insult and anger, every country present. Those country’s know, it was another P.M. that saved our Canadian bacon. They can’t stand Harper’s bullying and, hissy fits when he doesn’t get his own way. He has shamed and embarrassed Canadians, everywhere he goes. Even other country’s boo Harper.

      The only country left as Harper’s friend is, Communist China and we all know why. China is laughing all the way to the bank, because of Harper’s stupidity. Other country’s don’t trust Harper, over that as well.

      • Don’t forget Israel lol

      • But, he’s right.

        • You kidding? Harper’s decreasing support for the UN is the right move. The UN’s constant attention on the environment is sickening. Why people don’t like Harper is either because their left wing idiots or don’t know anything about politics. I hope enough sound-minded people show up in 2015 so we don’t get stupid Justin Trudeau as our PM. You think Harper is embarrassing? With Trudeau it would be 1000 times worse.

          • Relax, Harper won’t let him get that far. Probably the easiest attack ad target he’s ever had.

  6. The new budget does include a section that explains how Canada is planning its own Cyprus
    style bail-in plan for its “systemically important” or too-big-to-fail banks. This bail-in plan would include the use of bank deposits to keep the banks viable in a crisis. Good planning eh?
    http://tinyurl.com/cvcf9v9
    or see pages 144 and 145 of the budget as it was released in parliament.

  7. This is a pretty good assessment Paul, and it will drive the left-wingers nuts. Why? Because Harper’s strategy is working. And there’s nothing that drives the left crazier than conservative’s having success.

    • Those of us of any stripe who believe in a democratic society and public accountability are appalled by the anti-democratic, increasingly dictatorial approach of this government. And while I’m sure that statement will have you calling me left-wing, the only party I ever held membership in was the PCs of old.

      • Give the anti-democratic, dictatorial crap a rest already. Or did I miss the press release when Harper suspended elections? I mean, it’s just become painfully stupid the way certain segments of Canadian society have resorted to calling anything they don’t like “anti-democratic”. Cutting a department’s budget is not anti-democratic, but it’s typical to hear any spending decrease “criticized” for being anti-democratic. Democracy doesn’t require a consensus, a simple majority of votes will do.

        • Accouintability is key in a democracy. Accountability to parliament (in Canada’s case); accountability to the electorate. If you play hide-the-numbers, you are not giving society the opportunity to scrutinize your actions. You are not accountable. And thus you strike at one of the roots of democracy.

          Democracy is not a once-every-election event.

        • No, Harper hasn’t suspended elections…yet, but he has suspended fair elections, run legally. This is the last in a list of 14 defining characteristics of fascism.

          14. Fraudulent Elections – Sometimes elections in fascist nations are a complete sham. Other times elections are manipulated by smear campaigns against or even assassination of opposition candidates, use of legislation to control voting numbers or political district boundaries,
          and manipulation of the media. Fascist nations also typically use their
          judiciaries to manipulate or control elections.

          http://rense.com/general37/char.htm

      • Wrong Keith. You will never get that through peoples heads. They just do not get it.

        Most of us in BC, saw through Harper long ago. CSIS even warned of, Communist China’s huge inroads into Canada. BC was specifically mentioned, Harper’s favorite henchmen Gordon Campbell gave BC to red China long ago. Campbell shipped BC mills to Red China, along with our raw logs. This put hundreds of BC mill people, right out of jobs. He also gave China, our BC mines. Campbell had China send their people to school, to learn 100 English words, so they could take the BC mining jobs. Harper rewarded Gordon Campbell, the post of High Commissioner to England, for doing his dirty work for him. Campbell twice lied and cheated to win his elections too. First lie. The BCR wasn’t for sale. Second lie, the HST wasn’t on his radar either. However, caught in a lie, the HST had been plotted with Harper, long before the BC May election.

        As we all know? Harper’s Omnibull-S-Bill permits China to sue any Canadians, who block China in the takeover, of our resources and resource jobs.

        Harper is an old, true Reformer Dictator from way back. People had better be damned careful, what they wish for.

    • For a while Mussolini made the trains run on time, but that ended badly for him.

      • Very good point. Fortunately we are far too civilized in this country to leave Harper’s body hanging from the neck in the public square for all to see, which was the fate of Mussolini you were alluding to.

        • Actually it was by the feet.

          • And he was castrated!!

        • Germany was just about at the pinnacle of civilization in the ’30s – but Hitler was allowed to cheat his way to power and that led to the Nazi atrocities. Even Canadian docility has its limits, I’m sure, and may turn into its opposite.

          • @ John…sadly, it didn’t happen in Germany…Hitler was clever and he fooled the people by dividing them against each other, as is happening here. I hope you are right..but I have serious doubts. People here just refuse to believe they have a major problem on their hands with this government.

    • It isn’t just “left-wingers” who will be driven nuts by this, but any taxpayer who wants to know how their money is being spent, how the government is balancing its books, what cuts and expenditures are being made, etc.

      You are essentially saying that “left-wingers” are the only fiscally responsible citizens in this country. I don’t believe that, I’ve met plenty of small-c conservatives who hate Harper and his cloak and dagger way of operating.

    • That’s exactly how obtuse People really are.

      Harper is handing Canada to Communist China, resources, resource jobs and all. China already owns huge chunks of the tar sands. China refuses to pay Canadian wages. Harper has permitted China and all company’s to hire, $800 per month Chinese, skilled resource workers. Harper is also planning Communist China, in the rich resources, in the High Arctic. Wonder who will get those jobs? Why do you think, there is no Trades schools training for Canadians? China has millions of skilled workers who will work for $800 per month. Harper’s Omnibull-S-Bill gives Red China the right to sue any Canadians getting in China’s way. China sued in BC to take the mining jobs. 300 BC miners applied for those 200 jobs, Harper gave Red China. Harper should send his E.I. Police to bang on the doors, of those 300 very pissed off BC miners. There are another 2000 Chinese miners on the way.

      F.N. at Port Alberni are very worried about, Harper giving Red China the logging and mining there. They are worried about contaminated lands and water. China has no respect for eco-systems, what-so-ever. Much of China’s farmland and water has been poisoned. However F.N. said, if they block China? China will sue Canada.

      Go ahead and block Red China, you F.N. people, we are willing to help. We are supporting you, on the dirty Dibit Enbridge pipeline. We don’t give a $#!t if Red China sues the @$$ off Harper’s Canada. There are many of us who, hate Harper’s Canada. People are just too stupid to see. This could very well be, the spit-up of Canada. Who in the hell wants to be swallowed up, by Communist China?

    • What is working???? Largest deficit in the history of Canada! Action Plan money unaccounted for, jets and boats and stuff that we can’t afford, 50 million for border security in Parry Sound, Del cheating, Penashue thanked for illegal spending, Con Senators told it is okay to commit fraud, companies getting monye to create jobs that end up giving bonuses to their CEOS with no job creation, young people who can’t get work are told they will have to work until they are 67 to get OAS, … and the list goes on and on… This is what you call working!!!!! Con myth making.

      • This is global not specific to Canada. There are things the government cannot control. In fact we are in less bad shape than anyone else.

        • No we’re not, not even close.

          Members of the G7 that Harper compares us to:

          France

          UK

          Italy…haha

          Japan

          US

          Germany

        • Strange excuse that the Cons never bought when the Libs were in power. And by the way, according to OECD we are not in less bad shape than others. In fact the prognostic for Canada is the worst of all the G-8 countries.

          • The OECD is another UN organization like the IMF and the World Bank. They award rankings not based on reality but how many of their policies you adopt. They are like the old Soviet system of awards. You get them for towing the line.

          • And your basis for that is…?

          • Thank you for your response.

          • This is the Con shell. Only accept feedback when it suits you. It is then much easier to manipulate the information to suit your own propaganda. Facts and data (like science) are to be silenced and manipulated. If on the other hand this same feedback is to your liking, tout to the world how well we are doing compared to everyone else. What a sham.

        • The government could at least try.

        • Norway and Sweden might disagree with you there.
          But unfettered corporate butt kissing wasn’t their style – oh those successful damned socialists

    • So that’s why our economy has GOTTEN WORSE since Harper took over?

    • Success? Pfft! 54,000 more full time jobs lost last month, 1.3 million unemployed, food banks can’t keep up to demand, and he’s importing cheap Chinese labour to extract our resources for themselves. Ya, that’s success alright!

  8. Economic Action Plan: Repurposing

    Rights and Democracy agency…pipeline rights-of-way

    National Roundtable on Energy and the Environment…tree felling and ROW grading

    Coast Guard station in Kitsilano, B.C…beaver trapping and dam removals, swamp weights for pipelines

    Veterans Affairs…existing pipeline flow reversals

    100 employees at the National Research Council…pressure welding

    Water-quality sampling in the North…construction camp cooks

    Via Rail staffing…hot shotting of valves, fittings, flanges

    emergency preparedness…pipeline start-up, commissioning

    Federal Tobacco Control Strategy and programs to rehabilitate young offenders….construction camp security

    The Kluane Lake Research Station in the Yukon…rest and recreation station during Spring break-up

  9. Sir Arnold – If people don’t know what you’re doing, they don’t know what you’re doing wrong

    ——–

    “There is much to consider in the chart, but perhaps the most interesting is the news that the government of Canada no longer publishes an annual budget. In fact, it seems to have stopped two years ago.”
    ——–
    March 2013 – Today, U.S. Senator Dean Heller (R-NV) issued the following statement after the Senate Majority party released a budget for the first time in four years. The nation’s federal debt has increased by $6 trillion since the last time Congress passed a budget, peaking at nearly $17 trillion.

  10. Gee, this sounds like a Michael Harris column. Nice work.

  11. Comrade Harper make over 980,000 new jobs. He gets Pandas free of charge. He is very good politicians.This bad propganda arguments against glorious country of Canukistan is being mades by not patriot citizens. The Central Planning Committee is watching. We have a nice Gulag all ready for you. There will be knocks at your door.

  12. What I find especially distressing is that other parties, seeing how Canadians didn’t seem to care about basic stuff like HOW THE GOVERNMENT SPENDS THEIR MONEY, might find it useful to adopt the same techniques once they are in power. What if Harper, in stooping to a new low, is also creating the new normal? In this particular venue my words will probably be taken for granted, but I implore every Canadian to watch whatever government finally replaces Harper’s like a hawk!

    • Where do you think Harper got it from?

      The Chrétien Liberals demonstrated in the 90′s that Canadians really don’t care all that much about this stuff. It’s a lesson that Harper has learned well, but it was the Liberals who taught it – with the tacit agreement of the people of Canada.

      And I don’t doubt for a second that the Liberals would do it again. As would the NDP, if (God forbid) they ever get the chance.

      • Anything is possible, but Harper promised better and has delivered worse. The next guys will probably not be perfect, but harper’s making it easier for them to be an improvement.

        • This is the crux of the matter – Harper and his xian reform promised to be better and more transparent. This was a blatant lie yet his supporters never call him on it.
          I guess it’s the reason why I’ll never vote conservative and will not trust the religious; lying appears to be only wrong when others do it.

      • Bull Crap. Chretien may not have respected the letter of the law, but he did respect the country, the people and the law itself. I used to get mad at him, but he was nothing compared to this cold bastard*.

        • “may not have respected the letter of the law”? And you think that’s okay?

          Chrétien demonstrated utter contempt for the people of this country. He promised to repeal the GST, when he knew he was lying; he wasted our money by keeping the foolish helicopter contract promise, and later fiddled with the replacement selection process to avoid the embarrassment of having the same helicopters selected by his own government; he abused his position to funnel money to his friends, and in Shawinigate to himself.

          The Liberals can and will engage in all the histrionics they want, but it doesn’t change the fact that Chrétien was at least as bad, and in many respects even worse.

          • He said he’d repeal the GST, until he got a look at Mulroney’s uncooked books, and found out he couldn’t afford to. While I never liked the Lieberals or Chretien, he didn’t do the damage in a long political career that Harper has in his 2 short yrs.

          • What nonsense. How can you be naive enough to accept that excuse?

            Chrétien didn’t suddenly discover that he couldn’t afford to abandon the GST because Mulroney had cooked the books – he never intended to do away with it. He just wanted to capitalize politically by making that promise.

    • That’s a good point. Take it to the Liberals and the NDP. Ask them. Personally, if Justin Trudeau is ever Prime Minister, he’s the least secretive of politicians, he is not in the slightest bit fazed by the press, he’s not afraid to argue, and he knows his stuff – I don’t think he’d dishonour the people who believe in him that way. Mulcair – I don’t think he would either. Nobody in Parliament is as much of a thug as Harper is.

  13. A majority Liberal government in 2015 with Canadian values of listening to the N D P and Green Party opposition members and the even to the conservatives and amend legislation accordingly that has been given due diligence, has been vetted for other challenges as per our Charter. That means dialogue with municipalities Provinces, territories, Aboriginal and First Nations , that is to say all Canadians before enactment of any legislation. The Liberal Finance Minister will actually introduce and deliver a real Budget to the House in 2015. All Canadians will then know what a budget is supposed to show (numbers would good) not a scripted so called reality show with Panda s in the trailer for the blockbuster effects.

    • Democracy is so messy. Harper keeps me safe from all that filth.

      • I hope you’re trying to be funny.

  14. Well, if the cuts are truly having a negative impact, you’d expect people to notice sooner or later. Harper is betting that people will not, or they won’t mind. I believe he is right.

    Harper is also betting that any announcements of such cuts will be spun by the media as draconian and savage. The same cuts that nobody will notice.

    It reminds me of the 2008 election when $45 million in cuts to arts programs were portrayed endlessly by the media as savage and draconian. I’m sure that Canadians of all stripes can now name the arts from which we have now since been senselessly deprived by those horrible cuts. I’m sure the quality of our lives has been degraded, and we can all point to the moment when we felt the loss personally.

    • The “or later” is key. Kind of like how water rotting out a bridge can have no noticeable effect for years… until the bridge collapses.

  15. Why hasn’t this little tin plated god been impeached? Harper has single-handedly destroyed Canada’s reputation abroad, making himself and us a laughing stock on the world stage. He has destroyed the constitution and civil rights. He has sold the country wholesale to the communist Chinese government. He has pandered to the corporate elite while starving the common citizen. He has gutted the environmental policies we worked so hard for, in the name of the almighty buck. We will never be able to undo all the damage this despot has done to our country. We need to start unraveling his spider web of lies and corruption, now, not in 2015. We need to cancel the back-room ‘deals’ he’s made and repeal the omnibus bills he has rammed through against the grain of the Canadian conscience. Get him into a cell and start the enormous job of rebuilding our nation now, Not in two years! Now!

    • We don’t have impeachment in Canada. Actually Harper hasn’t destroyed Canada’s reputation abroad. The US is actually thinking about withdrawing from the Drought Convention for the same reasons. As for selling wholesale to China, wasn’t it Chretien who suggested he visit China? The Liberals are deep into China. Mo Strong lives there, Chretien has investments there and Ignatieff was summoned there as well. No doubt little Justin will have to make his obligatory trip there. The only environmental laws he has unraveled are the duplicate ones between the feds and the provinces. Of course big supra national organizations like the EU and the UN don’t like this. They prefer dealing with a national government bureaucracy not eleven little ones.

      • What a putz. There is a difference between negotiating and abdicating. The Chinese fiasco is an indication that Harper went in for the benefit of big oil and not the benefit of Canada. He further sunk to the lowest when he then allowed Chinese workers in the country which undermined workers in Canada. He did this with Air Canada when he interceded and forced labour into a corner. This is Conservative? Whatever happened to market forces? Is it only used against Canadians when it suit corporations but circumvented when it’s great for corporations. And while we’re at it, what happened to open government, democracy,

        One could say that corporations head to cheaper labour and less regulated countries to acquire bigger profits but for Harper to then also have foreign workers come into our country and provide cheaper labour is an affront to Canadians. Sorry but this has been the worst PM in our history. Fascist countries are more open.

    • Might have to all start marching on legislatures, each province, and maybe go to Ottawa en masse. He’ll ignore First Nations people because he figures he can get away with it – Flanagan having conveniently escalated racism in Canada for the last 15 years . . . but he might have a harder time with the rest of us. If we ever get mad *enough* to do something.

  16. The one obvious fact about proceeding with as much secrecy as possible is that Harper knows that the majority of Canadians wouldn’t agree with his direction or his desired outcomes. If we’re complacent and dumb enough to let him get away with it we’ll deserve what he does to our country.

    • What are we supposed to do? How do we stop this? Are First Nations people going to have to do this on their own? Maybe we all have to march to Ottawa.

  17. The budget theme is Jobs, Growth and Prosperity, yet there is little to nothing in the budget that will achieve this. You can fool some people all of the time, all people some of time, but this budget ain’t fooling anyone.

  18. “Canadians don’t care about these things. They only care about the economy and jobs.”
    ~ Stephen Harper

    Remember that in the last campaign? Mr. Wells, if you do care – then the logic goes – you’re not Canadian.

    SHHHHHHH! Go back to sleep! There’s nothing to see here…. just keep repeating:

    C a n a d i a n s – d o n ‘ t – c a r e…..

    You’ll be OK…

  19. Paul, you might be right about the poor light people like you want to give him.

    Conservationism isn’t just about a serious of cuts to reverse the sloth of a previous Gov’t. Or a moaning process that continues by opposition who wish to re-frame what conservationism is.

    Conservatives believe in the Person, believe in Family, believe the Gov’t is a tool not a grandfather with cash. There is no free cash. Gov’t is there to enforce law and protect, to macro manage Economic problems.

    Conservatives also believe in kindness to those in need, not to the slothful. They know that Gov’t spends money the worst, and the the private citizen always gets more bang for the buck. Conservationism knows that when in power they need to watch how things are spent because trouble and miss use of someone else’s money is inherent.

    Conservatives believe Religion is positive for the country and people should be free to practice their religion.

    Conservationism is against others taking away rights or infringing on peoples rights, on stealing or invading or undermining of a persons freedom to live a prosperous life.

    I have missed a dozen things, but I think Conservatives do not have to play nice with opposition who at their very core are attempting to take another’s job, to mis-characterize what is going on. Opposition is not what it used to be, and while it can be useful, it usually cannot stop the kind of scandal the Liberals where involved with, or the kind of theft going on in Quebec today.

    • Just some clarifications:

      1. Enforce their law, and protect their customs and traditions — with the use of legal force if necessary. Hence why it tends to be conservatives who are against homosexual marriage or abortion, or who will require other religions to abandon their traditions in order to meet their christian moral code. (ala Hiqab)

      2. They know that gov’t spends money the worst and the private citizen always gets more bang for the buck. Which is why we have all those privately built national rail-ways and high-way systems.. oh wait..

      3. And by “their” religion, you mean the religion of the conservatives. See #1

      4. Unless by a person’s freedom, you mean the freedom to form unions and demand better for themselves regardless of what employers would prefer to do.

      Now, of course, these are horrible generalizations because most conservatives don’t do all of these things, and some of them don’t do any of them, but it’s an equally poor generalization to suggest that these things aren’t part of conservatism as it seems to exist today. However, the worst part about conservatism seems to be it’s inability to acknowledge these problems within their own group.

  20. Isn`t this surprising, someone in the media is finally catching on that Harper really is a sham. One would think that the media is controlled ( or told ) to publish what Harper says.

    • That’s why Harper drastically cuts his exposure to the the media, because they’re in his pocket. Waaaait, what?

      • Wonder who really owns the media, for sure it is not those that report.

  21. Go Harper Go,
    What is good for you, must be good for Canadians also.
    How should we salute you?

  22. Interesting that NOBODY has twigged to the item on pages 144 & 145 of the budget.
    “the very rapid conversion of certain bank liabilities into regulatory capital.”
    Since bank deposits are liabilities they could be subject to “the very rapid conversion into regulatory capital” or as called in some quarters “theft.”

    • “certain bank liabilities” very likely mean only from large deposits, and only if the banks were in a failing position. It’s not theft any more than taking taxpayer money to bail that same bank out, arguably less so since the typical bailout takes the money of people who aren’t personally invested in that bank as well.

  23. Harper is corrupt and criminal. Only people that find some devilish delight in his twists annd turns doubt that or believe otherwise. Go ahead you serpents and goats, they are singing your favorite song. Come on baby lets do the twist, come on bay bey lets do the twist…..

  24. Harper is corrupt and criminal. Only people that find some devilish delight in his twists and turns doubt that or believe otherwise. Go ahead you serpents and goats, they are singing your favorite song. Come on baby lets do the twist, come on bay bey lets do the twist…..

  25. He will make sure he gets those votes by fair or foul play, more than likely by foul play. I don’t trust that we’ll have an election in 2015, or that it won’t be pre-ordained. I’m glad Justin Trudeau is on the move, because there doesn’t seem to be any other fearless David to slay this Goliath. Mulcair – meh; Joyce Murray – forget it. I hope someone has a plan.

    • Sorry to say, Harper would eat the kid for lunch. Its a good thing he’s self-destructing on his own. Because so many people mistakenly equate socialism with communism and so don’t bother to find out what the NDP actually stands for Mulcair, the only one that could beat down Harper, won’t get a shot.

  26. ” I believe that if Harper announced, explained and defended his agenda in detail, he would find much support. But that has never been how he rolls”

    Because 30 odd % of the country is unsympathetic to the concept of govt funding bodies that strive to come to terms with the most intractable problems besetting the modern world, there’s no reason for the rest of the country( particularly the so called liberal media and academia) to thrust it’s head in the sand, or abandon the citadel to the barbarians. Just who the hell else is going to tackle these problems; the free market! Big business! Give me a break. Are you guys just going to stand around and fiddle while Rome burns PW? Just what will it take for you guys to collectively call this guy out – for all our sakes! Will your final piece on the guy go – well, that was fun while it lasted. Sometimes I think it’s just a big game for the lot of you…I wonder what it’ll take to finally bring the temple down!

  27. “Cuts to our services = (effective) increases to our taxes.”

  28. “he believes a cabal of Liberal-sympathetic reporters and academics and professional groups will ensure he never gets to fight a fair fight” . That is not an imagination that is the reality. This cabal including Maclean’s hates him and what he stands for. The endless disparaging remarks accusing him for all kind of imaginary transgression, secret agenda etc can be seen and heard daily. What counts is not what is being said but what is being done and the result. In mean time the above mentioned cabal can continue glorify empty suite Justin T

    • That’s a pretty fair rationalization of political paranoia. Has it ever occurred to you that most Canadians are liberal because they choose to be. There’s no cabal, just consternation of how Canada ever came to choose a person whose instincts are so profoundly undemocratic and secretive.

      • Most of the Canadians are liberal? Typical leftist elitist arrogance. Election of Harper and Rob Ford was not a fluke. What is not democratic about Harper? that he does not do what you want?

        • Learn the difference between large L and small l liberal – please.

    • What exactly does he stand for, aside from his own re-election and doing everything he can to make it as easy as possible for oil companies to do as they please?

  29. Harper and his government are cutting every where except when it comes to their pay. They are today (April1st – not an April fool joke) gettting a 1.5 % increase in pay. It is not the amount, it is the principle. They want to add 30 new members of parliament in a time of fiscal restraint. How much more money will that cost taxpayers? I guess the proverb applies: ”Do as I say and not as I do.” No wonder people are disgusted with politicians.

  30. I have always been a Stephen Harper fan, mainly cause i had blinders on to everything other than gun control, i believe in it with a passion. However now that registry is gone im looking at the whole rather than a part , and the fact that democratic watch dog programs are disappearing is honestly scaring the shit out of me. Think about it this way, the police do whatever he wants without question because they like the power to control. That is the basis for (Most) but not all police officer personality makeups. Thank God we have a military that can think on its feet, because if the prime minister ever ordered martial law on canada. I think we would quickly see the military change sides in a big hurry.

    • Good point…gun control is nothing beside what these monsters are doing to Canadian democracy.

  31. I got side tracked in thought there. I should also mention it seems that that is the direction we are taking . That our country is systematically being taken away from us, piece by piece I’m scared of living in a dictatorship with a passion. Unfortunately I’m not as eloquent as i would like to be. I’m educated but not enough to express myself without, shall we say, more colorful metaphor’s. This puts me at a place where i can see the trouble coming, but am unable to decide where to spend my efforts. Fighting the government on an intellectual basis is something im not equipped to do. If fighting is needed such as a militia or whatever, that is where my strengths may one day lie. Not that i’m some sort of militia nitwit who wants nothing more that to say ye-haw and shoot my gun in the air either. My question is how do you fight a government, that is unwilling to fight fair in the intellectual field, but has the citizenry so lazy that it will just about bend over backwards to do nothing until nothing is all that can be done.

  32. The lack of details in expenses and cuts that usually make
    up what a Budget is, are the very details Kevin Page tried so hard to find out.
    This is why these documents put out by this sly, sneaky manipulative regime are
    anything but budgets. Is this Corrupt Manipulation or Blatant Incompetence, Probably Both,
    either way its Canadian tax payers who will end up footing the bill long after
    we toss these Pirates out. The sooner that happens the better.

  33. let’s just call it deception, political magician

  34. Economic Mc-Action Plan, more like it! What happens to the tax base when middle class incomes hit rock bottom and decent-paying jobs have gone to India?

    Where will Harper’s children & grandchildren work when they arrive with their degrees in “Harper Economics”?

  35. He is a nut case.

  36. CON shillls strangely silent. i guess they’re running out of excuses for the Dear Leader.

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