Sunday, October 12, 2008

Sunday campaign notes: maniacal edition

So to recap, yesterday Harper told us he's not George Bush, he's not an oilman, he's not the devil incarnate and he'll quit if he doesn't win. All in all, you'd have to say that was a banner day at the microphone. So what else was there that we might have missed...

Let's start with two further instances from yesterday of the PM's interactions with the media resulting in pronouncements displaying an increasingly egomaniacal streak.

1. First, there was this indignation from the PM on having been asked a question:
Stephen Harper, who's vowed to avoid a deficit in any circumstances – without raising taxes – says he considers questions about how he'd therefore cut spending to avoid going into the red as the economy weakens “a ridiculous hypothetical scenario.”

He said the question is out of order because the economy won't hit the rocks.

“You're asking me to say what would Canada do if our economy went to hell in a hand basket. This government is running the economy so it can't go to hell in a hand basket,” Mr. Harper told reporters during a campaign stop in London, Ont.

The economic outlook has worsened considerably since the Tory government's 2008 budget, and returns are dropping for commodities such as oil which helped swell Ottawa's coffers. Economists have cut their growth forecasts and the S&P/TSX composite stock index has fallen 40 per cent from its 52-week high. Earlier this week Ottawa was forced to step in with a $25-billion backstop for banks.

Yeah, you moronic press, that's an outrageous question...we're clearly nowhere near "hell in a hand basket" status, are we? Just ignore all the economic indicators and listen to economist Steve. Who is getting quite testy at campaign's end.

2. Second set of remarks yesterday exhibiting the trademark know-it-all streak, still on economic issues, specifically the worldwide financial crisis:
Mr. Harper told reporters that Group of Seven countries are worried about what in some cases they consider excessive efforts to bolster deposit insurance coverage. Nations fear that there will be a stampede of depositors to these jurisdictions as a result.

He was addressing a recent call among G7 member countries for a “level playing field” when it comes to the size of deposit guarantees.

“There is some concern among the [G7] that some countries are going overboard and are getting into backdoor subsidies of banks in a way that is not in the long-term interests of the market place,” he said.
Mr. Harper said, however, that he can't see Canada ever having to step in to honour its deposit guarantees.

“In Canada, as you know, we have a very stable banking system. So we don't lose money if banks don't fail and we have no prospects of a bank failing,” he said.
Ever? Never say ever, Steve. Seems to me I just read a similar tale of strong banks somewhere...oh, here:
Australia and New Zealand gave a blanket guarantee to all bank deposits on Sunday in a move likely to raise pressure on other economies to do the same, amid a crisis of confidence in the global financial system.

The two neighbours, both dominated by Australia's four major lenders, had portrayed themselves as having strong bank systems, especially Australia whose government and regulators gave repeated assurances it was well placed to weather the storm.

But Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd called a snap news conference on Sunday to say his government would guarantee Australia's entire deposit base of A$600-A$700 billion ($386-$450 billion) for three years and guarantee wholesale bank funding.

"We are in the economic equivalent of a national security crisis, and the challenges are great," Rudd said.

Things are moving fast and Harper's pronouncement, in light of his previous meaningless reassurances, is likely to become quickly outdated.

3. See also today's previous entry on the PM's leadership musings, i.e., he will quit if he doesn't win and thinks others should follow his advice too. The coming final few days of Conservative media blackout may be a result of all of the above. Harper was clearly primed and in gaffe mode yesterday.

4. Now moving from "egomaniacal" to just "maniacal," from the Globe yesterday, there was this opinion out of Quebec explaining why Conservative fortunes have declined there:
Mr. Gagné argued that the Conservatives’ “maniacal” control of its local candidates’ public appearances and failure to release a regional platform will be to blame if the party fails to get the results it was hoping for in the area.
The muzzling of Conservative candidates across the country has been well documented at the website. The counter is now up to 110 incidents of candidates refusing to interact with the media, attend all-candidates debates, all party forums, meetings hosted by local interest groups, you name it. The unwillingness of Conservative candidates to participate in these rites of passage in our electoral politics, the grass roots engagements where citizens get to see what candidates have to offer, is a nation-wide shameful phenomenon for these Conservatives. They certainly don't deserve to be rewarded for it.

5. Finally, a must read today, an editorialist weighs in with his case against Stephen Harper, "Feared but not much loved."