Friday, June 22, 2012

More Europe bashing from the Harper crew

From the "Today's Must Reads" on the Globe's Politics page, an op-ed from Conservative Senator and former Harper campaign chair Doug Finley with a familiar refrain: "Europe needs to take responsibility for its own mistakes." This is what we've been hearing from the PM, from Jim Flaherty and various other government supporters. It is interesting that they feel the need to keep saying it.

So what does Senator Finley have to add to the conversation? Well, not unexpectedly, he punches back at European Commissioner José Manuel Barroso who got a lot of attention in Canadian media this week when he stated that he didn't go to the G20 to be lectured by nations, etc. Widely taken as a shot against Harper. So you can understand that Finley would say something about that. Says, ever so diplomatically, that Barroso's statement was made "In typically arrogant fashion..." Lovely.

Also something there about our banking sector being one of the strongest in the world. The Royal Bank was included, however, in the Moody's downgrade yesterday that was characterized in the New York Times' leading business story of today in this way: "Already grappling with weak profits and global economic turmoil, 15 major banks were hit with credit downgrades on Thursday that could do more damage to their bottom lines and further unsettle equity markets. The credit agency, Moody’s Investors Service, which warned banks in February that a downgrade was possible, cut the credit scores of banks to new lows to reflect new risks that the industry has encountered since the financial crisis." RBC was lumped with Bank of America, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase and others. There is a tremendous push back on the downgrade, saying Moody's is out of date, etc. Nevertheless, it's strange to see a Canadian bank there given the sense that our system is safe.

Finley also takes a run at European welfare states with all their high taxes and bloated bureaucracies leading to bankruptcy. See Paul Krugman on that where he captured quite effectively what the right wing and the Finleys are really doing as they pile on Europe: "Whenever a disaster happens, people rush to claim it as vindication for whatever they believed before. And so it is with the euro."[...]"Sweden, with the largest social expenditure, is doing just fine. So is Denmark. And Germany, which is the up side of the pulling-apart euro, has a bigger welfare state than the GIPS. Not that the facts will convince anyone on the right, but the blame-the-welfare-state meme is nonsense." Finley...or Krugman.

Repeats the canard about spending Canadian taxpayer money on Europe. Linked to disproof of that earlier this week. And of course, lots of red meat abounds: "culture of entitlement," "big-government approach," Europe as an "irresponsible teenager," etc.

Guess we can look forward to the continuation of this unsophisticated and tactically questionable message. You would think that if they're going to go big on this position, at the very least, they might listen to those who support them and might help them in credibly articulating it. But I guess they're not listening to such voices. Meanwhile, Finley's sledgehammer diplomacy can't be helping us much at all.