Liveblogging Harper’s speech on the economy

An entire speech — nouns, adjectives, hairspray — devoted to the economy.


Liveblogging Harper's speech on the economy11:52 a.m. ET This just in: Stephen Harper has been alerted to the fact that a) we have an economy, and b) it is in recession. He seems to be handling the news as well as can be expected. As Canadians, we can only assume he had forgotten about both, for it has been months since our Prime Minister spoke to us at length about either.

Over the last three months, according to his official web site, Harper celebrated the 50th Anniversary of the United Macedonians Organization of Canada, celebrated the Year of the Ox, attended the Rotary Pond Hockey Tournament in Mirimachi (research for his book on hockey, no doubt – wink!), presented the Outstanding Achievement Award for the Public Service of Canada, joined in Chanukah celebration at menorah lighting ceremony and supported the Christmas Trees for Troop Families program.

With a schedule like that, it’s not surprising the leader of a G8 country would have trouble squeezing in a few words about something as insignificant as the greatest global financial crisis in three-quarters of a century.

But today, Stephen Harper finally makes the time. A whole entire speech devoted to the economy. Nouns, adjectives, hairspray – the whole deal. Head’s up, recession – today our Prime Minister is totally going to, like, describe you. The TV, the newspapers and the Interwebs are dutifully reporting that Harper spent the whole weekend (wink!) writing all 3,000 words of this speech (nudge!) all by his lonesome (ha!). The only mystery is what the other 2,993 words will be after he says of the current state of the economy: “Move along, please. Nothing to see here.”

12:33 p.m. Interesting strategy – Harper’s come to one of the worst-hit areas of Canada (Ontario), to the home of one of the worst-hit industries in Canada (automobile manufacturing), to make the case to ordinary people in Brampton, Ont., and beyond that… things aren’t actually that bad! Looking forward to the climactic proof point – the fact that he still has a job. All in all, isn’t this a bit like writing a 3,000-word speech about how great television is and then delivering it on According to Jim?

12:35 Harper: “I’m joining you today to talk about our economic action plan.” He adds that he’s determined “to stimulate our economy at the appropriate time.” First, it needs a bubble bath and a massage.

12:36 “We are cutting enormous amounts of red tape and we are doing it quickly.” We have an early favourite in the line most likely to be cited three years from now at Gomery Commission II: Whatever Happened to That $30-billion Again?”

“I tell people the floor of my office is littered with this red tape. I assure you it’s not blood, it’s just red tape.” These sentences brought to you by The Place Where Politicians’ Jokes Go To Die.

12:40 Every politician has his or her strengths and weaknesses. Doing “hope” is not one of Stephen Harper’s strengths. He’s not a guy who gives off vibes suggesting he’s in possession of things like optimism, confidence or a human heart. Whenever he attempts a grin, I can’t help but feel for the 12 facial muscles being called into action to form the “smile.” They’re like the Teamsters of his face. “What? Again?? We just worked last August.”

12:42 People clap as Harper mentions the strength of our banking system. “Only a financial crisis can get Canadians to applaud the banks.” OK, that was a good one.

12:43 Not sure about how his argument here is going to resonate with people. The whole premise is that we’re better off — or, at least, less worse off — than other nations. Harper talks about our debt-to-GDP ratio being strongest in the G8. But does that matter to you if you’ve just lost your job, or if you’re worried about losing your job? The PM mentions that Japan has been hit by this recession four times as hard as Canada. But can someone in Japan be four times more unemployed that you?

12:44 The Prime Minister has come with visual aids! No doubt he spent all weekend designing them himself <cough notreally cough>. Can’t wait for the one of Ignatieff in the black hat and handlebar moustache tying the Canadian economy to the train tracks.

12:45 Tonally, the whole speech seems waaaay off. Harper just cited Canada’s “comparative” resilience in the face of recession and declared: “If there ever was a time to put away that legendary Canadian modesty, it is now!” Uhh, didn’t we just lose a record number of jobs last month? Hope is one thing, but rubbing tens of thousands of people’s faces in it is quite another.

12:47 Harper hasn’t yet declared this a “great buying opportunity.” But it’s pretty clear that today if a terrific opportunity to demonstrate one’s complete out-of-touchness with the mood of the country and the sentiment on the ground. Barack Obama tried to inspire Americans by citing previous challenges and saying that, although times are tough, America and Americans will prevail. Harper’s message appears to be: “I’d prefer for everything to be great and for our economy to be strong, so let’s pretend it is. P.S. My life is going great!”

12:50 “This is an opportunity to position ourselves to be among the first to go forward when the economy is restored.” Harper’s into the “we can use this recession to our advantage” portion of his address — which would be fine if he’d deployed even a single word to describe, relate to or empathize with the plight of the many thousands of Canadians behind the grim statistics. If he were any more tone deaf he’d be wearing a T-shirt reading, “Recessions Rock!” This is a guy who’d show up at an airplane crash and talk about amazing it is the black box doesn’t have a dent on it.

12:53 Harper references the government’s tax credit on home renovations — then, under the guise of describing how the credit works, he quips: “If you own a home and you have a wife, you will probably be doing home reonvations this year.” HAS ANYONE TOLD THIS MAN WHAT A RECESSION IS, AND HOW MANY PEOPLE HAVE BEEN AFFECTED BY IT, AND HOW AVERAGE PEOPLE WHO ARE AFFECTED BY IT OR WORRIED ABOUT IT PROBABLY WON’T BE SPENDING THE SUMMER BUILDING A GODDAMN SOLARIUM?? Harper would be been quite the hit during the Great Depression. “Let me describe to you the details of our three-piece-suit tax credit… hey, why’s everyone here wearing a barrel??!! Wheeeeeeee!”

12:55 Harper says all this stimulus spending is affordable and our deficits will be temporary and dear God — I have never seen Harper look so jazzed and alive. I hesitate to say this but… it’s as though this economic crisis is turning him on. And the way he describes the recession — he makes it sound like the greatest thing ever to happen to Canada. We should have you over every year, Recession! And bring your friend, Deflation!!

12:58 Harper is “very frustrated” with the opposition. Possibly because they don’t respect the complete and utter awesomeness of this wickedly cool recession.

1:00 “Canadians are a… compassionate… people” — well, with the one obvious exception.

1:01 Harper wraps up his speech, probably because he has more pressing duties to attend to, such as asking the recession to marry him.

1:08 I have to admit: I’m kind of stunned. Even I can’t believe that Harper would take three months to give a speech about the economy, and then turn it into a mash note to the recession. Dear Economic Freefall: I love you. You’re so good for Canada. Will you come to my birthday party? A final thought: Our Prime Minister talked three times about debt-to-GDP ratios, and zero times about the daily lives of ordinary Canadians, including the many who despair at what the present offers and fear for what the future holds. I guess he wrote this speech himself after all. No speechwriter could be so inept.

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Liveblogging Harper’s speech on the economy

  1. So far, it sounds like TheStrategist ™ did indeed write this speech. Who else would be tone deaf enough to crack jokes when people are losing their jobs?

    • hey, it’s a trend; remember their great *sensitivity* (NOT) towards the Listeriosis victims?

    • Petulant ‘Crat and failed Paul Martin Liberal speechwriter are not fans of Conservative PM Stephen Harper. Hold the phone!

      In other news: Dog bites man.

      Get some new material.

      • Petulant ‘Crat and failed Paul Martin Liberal speechwriter are not fans of Conservative PM Stephen Harper. Hold the phone!


  2. The only thing I can think of is he must have seen that tape of 22 Minutes interrupting the press conference from McGuinty about all those job losses and thought the whole thing was hilarious. “Wow, that’s totally the way to deal with a recession. Crack a bunch of jokes. Finally, that Ontario guy got something right.”

    • Judging from what Harper actually said, I suspect he was planning for her to show up and interrupt his speech too.

  3. Oh! Scott come on now : 12:42 People clap as Harper mentions the strength of our banking system. “Only a financial crisis can get Canadians to applaud the banks.” OK, that was a good one.

    This one was more than good Scott and I bet you wanted to post a real compliment to Stevie for a change but then again you thought about your image and loyal followers then re-considered.

    • uhh, i said it was a good one, wayne. which adjective would you have preferred? I’d have used “great” or “awesome” but harper had cornered the market on those to use to describe his new best friend, the recession.

      • I though you said Obama was Stevies new best friend? I could be wrong though … I would have used what the line deserved if I were a pundit – great as an example as it is a great line and works on so many levels. As after all you can walk and chew gum at the same time and great can be used more than once.

        • Thank God you aren’t a pundit. I don’t think I could read such low level propaganda all the time.

          • Or have it read to you, surely.

      • OK Scott, I get that you don’t like Harper. And I’ll give you kudos that your liveblogging the trade deadline was some funny stuff. I think I my entire paycheque that day went to hitting refresh on your blog. But this thing on Harper here really just comes across as sour grapes: Harper beat your guy Martin to become PM. Let it go already.

      • Surely you must have better. Its so predictable from you now. In psychology, everyone, this is called “Projection”. Scott, it is really you who has befriended the recession. I will be expecting your partner, Mr. Reid, to have an article published in The Star similar to your above comment in the next few days. That will be followed up by a decry against PM Harper from your failed PM Martin within a week.

  4. What else to expect from Canada’s Mediocre Governing Party (TM)?

  5. Dear Scott, i beg to differ. I will in fact be buildng that solarium. I much appreciate the handy excuse our PM handed out today: ” Look frankly, since our debt to gdp ratio is still fine we shan’t starve, afterall this solarium will provide all the tomatoes and such like we’ll need, hope i can stretch out my UI until 2010 – funny he didn’t mention that. But it is comforting news that our banking sector is so…honey, where ya going”?

  6. This is not so much a funny take on a speech but more a liberal comedian trying to advance his own views. C’mon Scott. You’re supposed to be FUNNY!

    • i applied to be the liberal comedian one time, but then joe volpe announced his leadership candidacy and the position was instantly filled.

      • I always thought that Kinsella was the unofficial liberal comedian, but I think you would be an inspired choice for the role. Admittedly, it would be hard to top LPC gems like “beer and popcorn”, comparing Layton’s wife to a dog, or the all time classic knee-slapper: “For me, pepper, I put it on my plate.”

        • Oh c’mon, “a plan, which is a plan is a plan.” was the best. [ did i paraphrase?]

          • “”No, a proof is a proof. What kind of a proof? It’s a proof. A proof is a proof, and when you have a good proof, it’s because it’s proven.”


          • Thanks Ted, i didn’t remotely do it justice.

  7. ” A final thought: Our Prime Minister talked three times about debt-to-GDP ratios, and zero times about the daily lives of ordinary Canadians, including the many who despair at what the present offers and fear for what the future holds. I guess he wrote this speech himself after all. No speechwriter could be so inept.”

    My thoughts exactly.

    • To paraphrase Comrade Coyne … empathy ! phtew !

    • he had to prove he’s a *trained* economist.

  8. I can’t believe you passed on this line: “The global economic crisis has revealed quite a few skinny dippers, but Canada is not one of them.”

    • Maybe because he borrowed it?

      • That’s because he did borrow it from Warren Buffet I think, who spoke recently in Canada?

  9. I can just imagine Harper, typing away this past weekend on his computer, thinking he’s writing some pretty good stuff. “‘Skinny dippers,'” he chuckles. “The wife buggin’ hubbie for renovations…Liberals…stupid opposition…Aw, Stevie my boy…ya still got it!”

  10. Well, with the way the audience was applauding, I assume the standard level of crowd selection was going on by Harper’s image control people.

    Perhaps that was why his wife wanted him to build a solarium — so that he could actually see outside into the real world once in a while.

    • it’s why i need to see the camera pan so we can see who’s really in the audience; and so i can make personal financial decisions that don’t include those cheerleading business types.

      besides somebody probably pressed the “applause” button a lot.

  11. Wow.

    It’s Prime Minister Strangelove! Or, “How I learned to stop worrying and love the recession”.

  12. This will have to go down as one of the worst Canadian political speeches in recent memory. Feschuk nailed it: there is no human element, no attempt whatsoever to let people know that Steve kinda sorta understands the fear people have. Instead, we’re left with the calm, soothing and entirely digital glare of his PowerPoint presentation.

    Wow. As the kids say, epic fail.

  13. I have a couple of questions.

    First question: I’m not married. Can I still build a solarium?

    Second question: I can’t actually afford to build a solarium, even with government assistance. Does anyone know if I can get a mortgage on a solarium? I hear interests rates are really low, and while a solarium is beyond my means, I don’t see anything in today’s speech that suggests that I should let anything as petty as my inability to afford it get in my way!

  14. Harper making a speech – huge backdrop (at taxpayer exense). He turns to the left (like a robot) and says a few words, then he turns to the left and says a few words – whoops better put a smile in there somewhere – s–t-r-e-t-c-h those smile muscles (damn I hate smiling), then turn to the right say a few words…..etc, etc.

    Harper and Obama buds? Right. Obama doesn’t believe in demonizing or playing partisan politics. Oh ya, they have two kids each and that makes really, really buds. Oh, no other politician has kids – I didn’t know that?

    • Yeah, those huge backdrops must be so expensive. We’re talking hundreds of dollars here. Couldn’t Harper just buy some poster-board from Staples and write “Canada’s Economic Action Plan” over and over with a felt pen?

      • No, but Dion would’ve!

  15. Something just occurred to me.

    Do you suppose it’s possible that Harper thinks he’s a Jedi?

    “These are not the droids you’re looking for… and you will build your nagging wife a solarium”.

    • A jedi? close, but think… darker. didn’t you see the end of the speech when he put the hood of his cloak over his head and shot lightning out of his fingers?

      • Oh that’s what that was.

        I thought that was a welding demonstration related to the work he’s gonna do on the solarium.

        • You’re both wrong. It was just static electricity that occasionally builds up in Harper’s hair. When he’s fully charged the effect can be quite shocking. That’s why he wears a special de-ionized cloak from time to time, as a matter of public safety.

          • Maybe that’s why he had trouble with the nail-gun a few weeks back.

          • When he’s fully charged the effect can be quite shocking.


      • Lacking Paul Martin lackey lacks the funny. When you gonna bring back the funny Scott? I can get this at any Liberal blog. Cherniak brought the funny better than this back in the day.

  16. Lmao..

    Good stuff Macleans…..

    Now I know why PM Harper goes to the US media to have a real conversation on enconomics and other issues…

    Canadian Media= Z list actors.

  17. Thank you very much Scott. First time in years I’ve laughed at Stevie: most of the time I cry when I think about him. If I think about him at all

    • Helllo Curmudgeon. Are you the guy who broke both my little toes on the same day about 48 years ago??

      • Have I forgotten something or are you just fantasizing again? Total blank.

  18. Look people. Harpers’ first job was with Esso in the mail room. The only reason he got the job was because his father was an employee of Esso. This company is known in the industry as the most narcisstic unit in the oil patch. It is a cult designed to proove that WE ARE THE BEST AND DON’t THINK OTHERWISE OR YOU WILL SPOIL THE ILLUSION. He obviously was infected. The problem is that they have their heads so far up their own arses they do not realize there is a world outside their own. Never mind the funny handshake club!!!!

    Now he is the bloody Prime Monster.

    • Howdy wafafox! Yup thats me. You ought to know about about that. You worked for Esso too until you got fed up with the crap. Seems I think you told me that the bunch of arseholes at Esso in Calgary wouldn’t say shit until their mouths were full of it. Harper learned his lesson well

  19. Scott , I am new to your column.. I just loved it. .I have not laughed so hard in a long time…..I especially love you because my eldest brother has an identical wit , which has cracked up everyone he knows since he was born, as well.
    Keep up the good work…..You are just what we need in these dire times….Heck, I think you should have your own show on TV……you are funnier than everyone on TV now…..I will read your column faithfully
    from now on.

  20. Howdy Pat Taylor: Agree! Agree!
    Me and my brother Wafafox are new here too but apparently great minds think alike. Scott is warped but we’re all tuned in on his frequency. I too intend to follow. Take a boo at TheYarnbarn.Blogspot.com if you like a good joke. Post a comment if you get a chuckle to let me know I did my good deed for the day

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