Jim Flaherty is very disappointed in the NDP - Macleans.ca

Jim Flaherty is very disappointed in the NDP

The Finance Minister offers his preview of the NDP policy convention


Three weeks after asking Manulife to raise its mortgage rate, Jim Flaherty frets—in a statement released by the Conservative party—that the New Democrats do not respect the free market.

“It has recently come to my attention that the NDP will be voting on policy resolutions at their national policy convention this coming weekend.

Normally, I would not comment on such matters. But given the NDP’s position as the Official Opposition and the far-reaching nature of many of the proposals being considered, I am compelled to register my concerns publicly. Many of these NDP proposals would have a negative impact on the economy, stifling job creation and creating hardships for individuals, families, seniors and workers. While we have long come to expect the NDP to advocate for tax increases (which they do repeatedly through their policy resolutions – from a new tax on everyday financial transactions, eliminating popular tax credits for families, imposing higher personal income and business taxes, and much more – Resolutions 1-12-13, 1-29-13, 1-77-13, 1-54-13, 1-77-13, 1-81-13, 1-82-13, 1-84-13, 1-93-13, 5-57-13; Policy Book pages 4 and 8), it is other more jarring aspects of their economic policy resolutions that should give Canadians reason for significant concern.

For example, the NDP will consider proposals to radically change the mandate of the long independent Bank of Canada, effectively making it a political arm of the Government. As recent history has demonstrated, such action leads to serious and devastating impacts on an economy. (Resolutions 1-16-13, 1-30-13, 1-85-13, 1-86-13, 1-89-13; Policy Book page 3).

The NDP policy resolutions would rip up every single trade agreement that Canada has entered into, negatively impacting Canadian exporters. Essentially, the NDP would erect an isolationist wall around Canada, retreating from being a member of the global economy. This would harm Canada’s economy and literally millions of jobs. (Resolutions 4-24-13, 5-58-13; Policy Book page 8).

The NDP policy resolutions would, much like what occurred in many socialist states last century, use the government to forcefully take over almost every major industry in Canada through nationalization. That means the NDP would confiscate and take over companies involved in the oil & gas sector, manufacturing, communications (like radio and TV stations), the mining sector, the financial services sector, the insurance sector, the steel industry, the automotive sector, and more. An economy completely controlled and run for the political benefit of the government, as history has shown, would destroy Canada’s economy and kill literally millions of jobs. (Resolutions 1-91-13,1-95-13, 1-96-13, 1-97-13, 1-98-13).

For those few remaining small businesses the NDP does not propose to outright nationalize, the NDP policy resolutions would reduce them to wards of the state with stifling government control and bureaucratic red tape. This includes proposals that would limit when they could open and would have the government dictate key business decisions. The incentives that help fuel free enterprise, the lifeblood of a market-based democracy would be dead – replaced by control by bloated government. (Resolutions 1-94-13, 1-99-13).

Considered in their totality, the NDP proposals would fundamentally change Canada from a market-based democracy to one resembling a command-economy socialist state – like those that so spectacularly failed in the last century. The fact that the NDP is actively promoting this utterly discredited economic model at their national convention raises serious concerns about their support for Canada’s proud and long traditional of being a market-based democracy centered on free enterprise.”

Here again are the resolutions that will be debated this weekend. The Conservatives have a policy convention this summer. The resolutions submitted for their 2011 convention are here. The resolutions submitted for their 2008 convention are here.

Policy conventions are, of course, tricky matters to navigate for political leaders, presenting, as they do, opportunity for expressions of thought that might not correspond with the leader’s preferred message. Just ask the Conservatives.