Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Adventures in Conservative web design

Really, the Conservatives should be running a p.r. firm. That's what they spend a great deal of time doing and every effort they make is neatly packaged up, supported by a nifty website and talking points that, well, just don't hold up, but they plow on, regardless. Fortunately for we Canadians, the latest offering from the Harper government is their new action plan website for us to bookmark and peruse at our leisure. The communications team surely does work overtime in the Harper government.

On the site, you will find the first budget progress "Report": Canada's Economic Action Plan - Report in Brief. Looking at just a few aspects of this thing, it's easy to become jaded. The spin, it's all there.

To take one premise of their report, under the completely objective and reasonable report heading, "Extraordinary and Unprecedented Action," for example, we see this bit of rhetoric that was previously trotted out by the PM on his NY whirlwind tour:
Canada was one of the first countries to inject major fiscal stimulus into its economy to offset the downturn and encourage continued growth. On October 30, 2007, the Government introduced $65 billion in permanent tax reductions over this and the next five fiscal years. At that time, the Government stated: “Given this global economic uncertainty, now is the time to act…to make broad-based tax reductions that will strengthen our economy, stimulate investment and create more and better jobs.”
Yes, the re-branded in hindsight "first stimulus" effort rears its head. But, you're asking yourself, how can this be? If they injected "major fiscal stimulus," why have the results been so horrific? How is the Parliamentary Budget Officer speaking today of a dip in gross domestic income of 15%? How can it be that the government had to buy billions of dollars in mortgages from the Canadian banks? How can it be that so many Canadians are losing jobs?
Canada has shed 213,000 jobs since October.
Statistics Canada said the manufacturing sector that is centred in Ontario and Quebec dropped 101,000 jobs in January, the worst decline ever recorded.
And, if they did see it coming, then how can Jim Flaherty be lecturing us all that "nobody, I mean nobody, not one economist, not one...predicted the global recession?" Mr. Flaherty yesterday:

They saw it, they didn't see it, it all depends on the day, the forum in which a Conservative is speaking or the document being produced for political purposes. The point of course being, that yes, the Harper Conservatives are spinning madly, making it all up as they go along. It's what they do best.

Another gem from the report that needs to be pointed out...this claim, under the heading "Extraordinary and Unprecedented Early Action" that omits a major fact:
We made early changes to Canada’s mortgage industry by reducing the maximum term for new government-backed mortgages from 40 years to 35 years and requiring a minimum down payment of 5 per cent for new government-backed mortgages.
Reality check:
The mushrooming of a Canadian version of subprime mortgages has gone largely unnoticed. The Conservative government finally banned the practice last summer, after repeated warnings from frustrated senior officials and bankers that the country's financial system was being exposed to far too much risk as the housing market weakened.
They didn't act so early after all, to remove a foolhardy innovation that Mr. Flaherty himself introduced into our marketplace, to significant criticism for the risk that the move posed. Yet they seem to think this is worth a pat on the back to themselves for acting "early," to remove a practice that should never have been introduced in the first place.

Adventures in web design, spin and unfortunately, the Canadian economy...