Monday, September 15, 2008

Harpie's day at the spa

"Harper unfazed by market crisis." Heck, Harpie tells us, most reassuringly, on the news of a major meltdown in U.S. financial markets:
“My own belief is if we were going to have some kind of big crash or recession, we probably would have had it by now.”
Whew! Set the bar high, man! Good to know the steady hand is in shoulder shrugging mode, passively waiting for the fallout in the Canadian economy. More considered judgment from the "economist":
Mr. Harper said that, although there are significant problems in the United States, its economy is still resilient and not in recession.

“I wouldn't throw in the towel on any of this quite yet,” he said.
Not quite yet? What does that mean? Harper's language is often not as clear as they give him credit for, there's always the obligatory couching. And this one was a real laugher:
"Obviously this is a time that requires prudence...this is not the time for wild experiments in new taxes or grand spending schemes," he said.
This from the man who has spent or committed to spend over $19 billion since June in a bid to ensure his re-election (h/t Dawg's blog).

What we know is that over the past year it has been abundantly clear to any observer that U.S. economic troubles have been looming on our horizon. The sub-prime mortgage crisis which has led to record foreclosures in the U.S. and is causing investment banking giants to crumble has been a spectre that's been hovering for quite a while now. It has been the subject of endless debate in the U.S. presidential campaign.

Yet what Mr. Harper and Mr. Flaherty have done in Canada is to spend wildly, as noted above, and at the same time recklessly cut the GST and leave the federal government in a weakened position to deal with economic hard times. And they did so knowing the political difficulty it would create to raise the GST in the future. As we've seen, Mr. Dion has pledged in this campaign not to raise the GST. So when Mr. Harper lectures us about no experiments with taxes or grand spending schemes, his credibility is not really there. In fact, Mr. Harper's record is not that good:

“Mr. Harper did nothing to prepare Canada [for] that. Nothing to invest in the productivity of our economy. Made bad choices regarding the way he spent – he spent more than any other government before him, but he built nothing,” Mr. Dion said.

He said Canadian economic growth was slower than that in the U.S., and other G8 countries, in the first six months of 2008, and that Canada lost more jobs in July than in any month since 1991, when Brian Mulroney was prime minister.

The picture of Stephen Harper as the steady hand on the nation's economic till is one that's long overdue for some serious scrutiny. Conservatives in Canada don't have a good economic track record. They leave massive deficits in their wake. See Mulroney, Canada. Harris, Ontario. And the evidence points to the same future for us under Mr. Harper.