Thursday, October 09, 2008

Tactical mistakes

Just a few things this morning...

What is with these muzzled Conservatives? From a profile of the Parkdale-High Park race today, here's the note on the Conservative candidate:
The Conservative candidate, Jilian Saweczko, was a no-show at an all-candidates debate on CBC's Metro Morning on Sept. 24, and then a coffee-house chat on CTV. She has not responded to numerous interview requests from the Star. On her website, she has said she'll fight to tackle crime, improve the environment and strengthen business.
What contempt for our democracy they display. They write off cities, these Conservatives.

Bad timing for the release of the cost of the war in Afghanistan. It's today and the figure of $20 billion, not the $8 billion it was supposed to cost, is being heard:
Canada's historic study into the cost of the Afghanistan war is expected to reveal that misleading accounting and a lack of transparency within the federal government effectively obscure the real bill for the six-year mission and most other major projects.

Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page releases his much-anticipated report today, providing the first account of the long-term financial consequences of the Afghanistan conflict to which Canada's troops are committed until 2011. The report's scope is unprecedented, giving the first breakdown of three broad costs -- military, reconstruction and aid and death and disability.

The pricetag will be much higher than previous estimates and will undoubtedly thrust the cost of the war into the heat of the election campaign's final days, amid mounting global economic chaos. It comes days after Britain's Afghanistan commander said western forces can't defeat the Taliban and win the war. (emphasis added)
The context into which this news is dropped could not be worse:
But the report also raises serious questions about the government as a money manager at a time of economic anguish and turmoil. With banks crashing and markets imploding, the demands for already scarce government resources could be significant. The question is whether the government has the information it needs to get a handle on its costs and make sound financial decisions.

The government is no longer sitting on the huge surpluses of the Liberal years, and if a faltering economy cuts into federal revenues, the prospects of a deficit become very real.
Yeah, that two cent GST cut depriving the government of $60 billion over the next five years was a brilliant move...

Also along the lines of the "bad timing" theme here, an article in a Windsor paper provides some food for thought going into the holiday weekend. The reporter talks to a "Windsor Liberal insider, an avid student of the political game for more than four decades" on the dynamics of the race:
"Buckle up and hang on to your hats. This has become a wild-card election," enthused the insider. "God, this is getting exciting. Everybody is just pumped." He believes Harper's hopes for a majority died "forever" with the Wall Street meltdown and plummeting Canadian stock markets and it's now an open question whether the Conservatives or Liberals will end up with a minority.

"What the hell do the undecideds say now?" he asked. "What are people going to talk about around the dinner table Sunday and Monday, just one day before they go out and vote?" Well, some will talk hockey and football, but inevitably the chatter will get around to the financial train wreck, set off by criminally reckless U.S. lending practices, that's eroding savings and scaring the daylights out of Canadians.

"The prime minister is right. It is worse in the U.S. But people here are looking at potentially losing everything they worked 35 years for." For those folks, there's little comfort in being told, no matter how true it is, that Canada's economic fundamentals are sound and we're in good shape to ride out the crisis.

In hindsight, said the insider, it was a tactical mistake to schedule the vote on the heels of a long weekend when families gather to count their blessings or, in this case, tote up losses, ponder dashed retirement dreams and assign blame.