Tuesday, August 31, 2010

A summer of big economic implications

As predictable as the sun rising in the east, it's a John Ivison special: "Ignatieff’s gains mean little if economy sours." What's that? Liberals are having a bit of a party renaissance, feeling boosted by the summer tour, heartened by closing poll numbers and such. Quick! To the column machine to put as negative a spin on it as possible for the team and a well-seated perch on National Newswatch. Today's? Well, things are looking better for Mr. Ignatieff...but if the economy weakens, it's Harper time, baby, trusted economic manager that he is. Well, not so fast.

This summer has seen a few items piling up at Mr. Harper's feet that could, to reasonable observers anyway, shake that conservative pushed perception of the fine economic manager at the helm.

Item one: the census decision and its continuing fallout. Respected economists spoke recently of the increased costs ("billions") to the Canadian government who will no longer have the benefit of the data from the long form to make key government planning decisions. We'll be paying for that lost information, either in reams of ad hoc research being commissioned or in the coming wasted taxpayer dollars that can't be anchored properly to the right stats. It didn't have to be this way if someone wasn't so stubborn and would listen to civil society rising up against him. Those costs are yet to be fully articulated.

Item two: the G20 billion dollar boondoggle. The exorbitant costs from that spectacle are going to continue to be part of the economic record as they are probed in Parliament this fall and by the Auditor General.

Item three: the still unexplained source of funding for the $16 billion we're going to pay for the F-35 purchase. Military personnel, industry persons and those in foreign affairs circles don't seem to be buying the government-of-fine-economic-managers' line that we shouldn't worry, that it's all looked after in the 2008 era Canada First Defence Strategy. Budgets have changed for the worse and we have no credible answers before us as to how the fighter jets will be paid for. That's a lot of money that might blow a big hole in the budget and a certain government's economic credibility.

It has been a summer with some decisions of sizable economic implications. I wouldn't be so quick to sign on to the Ivison thesis, but, you know, maybe that's just me.

Update: Almost forgot about all the billions in new prisons for all the unreported crime.