Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.
- Scott Clark and Peter DeVries remind us
that any fiscal problems Canada has faced under the Cons have been entirely of Stephen Harper's making:
Harper needed a deficit problem; the fact that the previous government neglected to leave him one was just a short-term inconvenience. From the very beginning his fiscal strategy has been driven by a commitment to his Conservative base and ideology — which demand smaller government by any means — and by a desire to show that he had ‘what it takes’. He desperately wanted to be seen by history as a better fiscal manager than his predecessors.
Harper and Flaherty both believed — as do most modern Conservatives — that smaller government inevitably leads to stronger economic growth. Unfortunately, stubborn reality has once again refused to cooperate with an impractical theory.
The evidence is clear: Cutting deficits does not by itself generate economic growth. The Conservative “growth friendly austerity” strategy has failed consistently, whenever and wherever it has been applied — in the U.S. under Republican administrations, in the eurozone in recent years, by the G20 after 2010 … and in Canada since 2010.
Cutting the GST by two points will go down in Canadian fiscal history as one of the worst public finance decisions ever. It served no useful purpose — apart from giving the prime minister the cover he needed to impose a neo-liberal fiscal orthodoxy that diminished the federal government while failing to generate growth and jobs.
All Canadians paid the price for securing Mr. Harper’s legacy. We’ll go on paying it for while.- Meanwhile, Brent Patterson points out
how another of the Cons' "economic management" themes - that of constantly pushing trade agreements which entrench corporate power at the expense of the public - seems designed to prevent the development of an effective national pharmacare plan.
- Andrew Jackson notes
that it's silly to think that markets can address climate change without some strong public policy leadership. But of course, for the Cons (and other petro-politicians
), the only acceptable time
to consider the well-being of the planet is never. And indeed, Mychaylo Prystupa reports
that the Cons' kangaroo-court National Energy Board is positively bragging about its elimination of any public voices from regulatory decisions about pipelines.
- Adrian Morrow reports
on the Ontario Auditor-General's findings that public-private partnerships have cost that province upwards of $8 billion in public money compared to simple public management.
- Finally, Frances Russell points out
how the Cons go out of their way to eliminate precisely the voices which would ensure that public policy benefits everybody, rather than only the privileged few:
Harper now faces a wide swath of civil society groups opposed to his government on everything from shockingly mean-spirited assistance to wounded veterans to wanton disregard for the environment to authoritarian disdain – and deep antagonism -towards the forms and traditions of parliamentary democracy.
Never content with just opposing his adversaries, Harper enjoys pre-empting them, beating them up with a totally unexpected attack.
As prime minister, he frequently uses private members bills to begin the softening up process.
Take, for example, the Conservatives’ visceral – and obviously intensely personal – antagonism to organized labour. Harper is moving swiftly to destabilize and disempower Canada’s trade unions. Using the ruse of a backbench Conservative MP’s private member’s bill as the cover, the legislation will force unions to publicly disclose the names and salaries of all employees earning more than $100,000 a year and reveal how much of their time each spends on political activities, lobbying and other non-labour relations work.
Noticeably missing from this purported concern for union members is any actual changes to ensure workplace rights and protection for Canadian workers. And, of course, there is not the remotest indication of similar disclosures being required from the corporate side of the economy.
What better way to try to weaken, divide and destabilize Canada’s House of Labour than perpetrating a Hobbesian war of all against all by stirring up internal strife between leaders and members and between unions with strong and progressive collective agreements and those struggling with weaker and less robust ones forced to exist on the fringes?
With the Harper Conservatives, it’s always win-win for corporations and the well-to-do and lose-lose for everyone else.