Northern Reflections

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"There is no greatness where simplicity, goodness and truth are absent." Leo Tolstoy
Updated: 56 min 10 sec ago

He Wants It Both Ways

Thu, 03/26/2015 - 05:32

When Stephen Harper rode into town almost ten years ago, he claimed that he was the new sheriff and he vowed to make Canadians feel safe. To that end, Steve Sullivan writes, he made all kinds of changes:

He amended the Dangerous Offender law, brought in mandatory minimum penalties for gun crimes, raised the age of consent, toughened penalties for white collar criminals and abolished accelerated parole review.

He repealed the faint hope clause for killers and brought in consecutive sentences for multiple killers. He cracked down on sex offenders, drug dealers and young offenders. He toughened prison rules and made pardons much harder to get. He went after cyber-bullies and those found by the courts ‘not criminally responsible’.

Now Harper wants to limit statutory release, abolish parole for some killers, crack down on sex offenders (again) and, of course, get those terrorists.
If you listen to Harper's election pitch, you'd have to conclude that, as a sheriff, he's been an abject failure:

Harper’s election year message is clear: Canada is a perilous place. In 2015, things are apparently so bad here that we need judges to give police and spies permission to break the law to deal with “terrorists” who don’t seem to know any actual terrorists. And rural Canadians, of course, need to arm themselves right away. Because terrorism. Or murderers out on parole. Or both.

 Harper’s campaign slogan this fall might as well be, “Don’t Keep Calm and Vote Conservative.” Or, “A Vote for Justin Trudeau is a Vote for Terrorism.” Even former U.S. presidential candidate Ralph Nader has noted the deep strain of paranoia in Harper’s campaign strategy.

But after almost 10 years of the Harper government, it turns out we’re still in mortal danger from … everything. Listen to the PM and you’d be forgiven for thinking there’s more danger around today that there was when he took power. And the message is getting through — a recent poll suggests Canadians feel less safe than they did a few years ago.
Never mind the facts:

I could, I suppose, point out the facts. That Canada is not a more dangerous place. That the homicide rate is lower than it has been in decades. That there’s no evidence whatsoever to suggest that more children are being sexually abused by predators today than a decade ago.

And can we please stop pretending that Canada was until recently some kind of sleepy and innocent cul-de-sac when it comes to terrorism? Air India ring a bell? The FLQ? How about Denis Lortie, who walked into the Quebec legislature with a gun 30 years ago and killed three people?
Clearly, Mr. Harper wants it both ways. He wants Canadians to believe that his efforts have made them safer -- and that they are more unsafe than they've ever been. That patently insane pitch might help him get re-elected.

He's A Doodle!

Wed, 03/25/2015 - 05:50

Stephen Harper displays two of humanity's ugliest traits -- slander and stupidity. In the past, he made an effort to disguise those traits. But now, with an election on the horizon, he's taken them out of the closet and allowed them to parade around nakedly. Most recently, he has slandered women who choose to wear niqabs, -- most significantly, Zunera Ishag. Gerald Caplan writes:

What he has done – this great authority on the Muslim religion – is to slander an entire “culture” as “anti-woman.” What he’s done is to unleash his caucus to join the piling-on of this one woman – “stay the hell where you came from” – even if they then pretend to apologize. She is defenseless; he bullies her from his privileged place in the House of Commons while his mindless minions stand and cheer. The court ruling that there’s no law prohibiting her from wearing her niqab at a the citizenship ceremony is unambiguous; Mr. Harper is challenging it. Jason Kenney has been exposed for peddling misleading photos of women in niqabs; he has not apologized. And all of this scapegoating, this character assassination of one woman, is being done for the crassest of political purposes.
And, yesterday, the man who claims to be a brilliant strategist announced that he will extend and expand the war against ISIL. Unquestionably, they are barbaric folks. But, militarily, it is the height of folly to insert yourself into the middle of a civil war. And that is precisely what Mr. Harper proposes to do.

 He will do this not for the Iraqis. After all, they support a culture which he says is "anti-women." As he has slandered Ms Ishag, he wants to slander the opposition parties because they won't support his stupidity. Remember, this is the same man whose "Economic Action Plan" was going to make the Canadian economy better.

You don't hear anything about that anymore. You can't defend stupidity. But you can slander those who call it what is is.

No doubt about it. He's a doodle.

One Of Harper's Prime Directives

Tue, 03/24/2015 - 06:37

Errol Mendes, a law professor at the University of Ottawa, wonders what will happen when judges start acting in secret.The old adage that justice must not only be done but be seen to be done still holds true. Bill C-51 shreds that basic principle. Mendes writes that the bill is a vicious attempt to compromise the judiciary:

Problems with the bill are many, although the one [Ron] Atkey was talking about — one that has received very little attention from politicians and the media — is in the section that would authorize CSIS agents to apply for judicial warrants that could contravene charter rights. This section would amount to one of the most serious attempts by any Canadian government to compromise the independence of the judiciary by forcing them to be silent partners to unlawful acts. Under C-51, CSIS could apply for permission to break the law — short of causing bodily harm or undermining sexual integrity — in order to disrupt threats to the nation’s security. Court hearings for such “disrupt warrants” would be conducted in secret, with no judicial oversight or review to prevent abuses.
Harper has no regard for the courts. He has disbanded the research department at the Ministry of Justice -- the folks who used to check whether or not proposed legislation would run afoul of the Charter of Rights. And, because no one in the Harper government bothers to ask any more if a law is constitutional, the whole of the warrant process will be struck down:

The tragic irony here is that, by introducing a warrant process that is clearly unconstitutional, the Stephen Harper government is putting the entire framework of disrupt warrants at risk of being struck down. It would have been better for the safety of Canadians, and for national security in general, if C-51 had never been tabled in the first place. C-51’s drafters have not learned critical lessons from the tragedy of the Air India bombings, from the O’Connor Commission report and from our closest allies in the fight against global terror.
But Bill C-51 has never been about protecting Canadians. It's about sabotaging the Charter of Rights and Freedoms -- which has always been one of Stephen Harper's prime directives.

The Moment Of Truth

Mon, 03/23/2015 - 06:26

Justin Trudeau's moment of truth is about to arrive. The Harperities have decided to extend and expand the mission in Iraq. Trudeau opposed the original mission. But, since then, he has supported Stephen Harper's Bill C-51. Michael Harris writes:

Justin Trudeau lent his party’s support to Bill C-51, a bill that former prime ministers, Supreme Court justices, the Canadian Bar Association and hundreds of experts have denounced as dangerous, unnecessary, and unconstitutional unless it gets key amendments with respect to more oversight.
His father would have been up in arms:

Trudeau has jumped on the fear bandwagon, despite the fact that C-51 will allow Canada’s largely unaccountable spy agency, CSIS, to carry out its operations ignoring the Charter of Rights. The Charter was his father’s crowning political achievement. Pierre Trudeau would never have supported the criminalization of dissent.
Despite his claim that he does not want to hand Stephen Harper a weapon to use against him,Trudeau the Younger -- unlike Tom Mulcair -- is on the wrong side of history. Will Trudeau also choose to be on the wrong side of the Iraq mission?

His moment of truth is quickly approaching.

You Can Trust Him -- Until You Become Inconvenient

Sun, 03/22/2015 - 03:21

If you wonder why Canada's international reputation is in tatters, consider a recent incident. Jeffrey Simpson writes:

A Conservative senator of Vietnamese heritage has pushed through a private member’s bill recognizing the flight of Vietnamese people to Canada after the fall of Saigon and the arrival of Vietnam’s Communist government.
The government is rushing the bill through the Commons, to the delight of those who favour it. The good senator has also lobbied, thankfully without success, for Canadians to fly the old red-and-yellow-striped South Vietnamese flag, instead of the yellow-starred banner flown by today’s Vietnamese government – the same government with which Canada is negotiating within the Trans-Pacific partnership and with which Canada generally has sound bilateral relations.
No matter. At a recent Vietnamese cultural event attended by Mr. Harper and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney, the hall was decked out in the old flag. Worse, Mr. Kenney paraded around with a version of it draped across his shoulders, like a middle finger held up to the Vietnamese government.
It’s a wonder Hanoi didn’t withdraw its ambassador from Ottawa. Instead, the Vietnamese embassy sent a protest note to the Department of Foreign Affairs, which, of course, is helpless in the face of political dog-whistling.
Last time around, Harper and Kenney were buying the votes of women who wore niqabs. No longer. They have become inconvenient. And all votes are interchangeable.
Strange, isn't it? Harper's election message is that you can trust him better than any of the other leaders on offer. But that's only half of his pledge. What he doesn't add is "until you become inconvenient." Those who doubt that part of the pledge should ask Garth Turner, Rahim Jaffer, Helena Geurgis, Bill Casey, Nigel Wright  and -- oh yes, Mike Duffy -- if it's true.

The Future Is In Our Hands

Sat, 03/21/2015 - 06:48


There was a time, Murray Dobbins writes, when Canadians were highly engaged with their governments. We possessed a high degree of civic literacy:

That was the so-called golden age of capitalism and it wasn't just because of expanding government services. It was so-called because of a much broader and well-informed citizen engagement -- both through social movements and as individual citizens. The level of trust in government was much higher than it is today. And absent from the picture were the factors that today dominate the political conversation: fear and economic insecurity.
Demagogues like Stephen Harper know how to play on fear and economic insecurity. That is why they do their best to promote both. And, using these tools, they can destroy a democracy. Consider Harper's record on that score:

It's a familiar list, including Harper's bullying of Governor General Michaëlle Jean to force the proroguing of the House, his guide book on how to make parliamentary committees ineffective, the use of robo-calls and other election dirty tricks, his attempt to break the rules in appointing a Supreme Court judge and his neutering the House of Commons question period through a deliberate strategy of refusing to answer questions -- a practice that institutionalizes a contempt for Parliament that spreads outward to the general public. At a certain point it doesn't matter who is responsible -- the institution itself becomes risible and irrelevant to ordinary citizens. Which is, of course, exactly what Harper intends.
Now, with Bill C-51 -- which Dobbins dubs The Secret Police Act -- Harper stands on the threshold of bringing the whole democratic edifice down. And he's doing it with the cooperation of the media establishment. But things seem to be changing:

Given our shamefully biased media, Canadians still manage to resist Harper's continued assault on our political sensibility. The first polls on the Secret Police Act (don't call it by any other name) were alarming, with upwards of 80 per cent agreeing with the need for tougher anti-terror laws. But things are changing very quickly as the result of a determined fight-back by civil society groups, a phalanx of heavy-hitting experts and the NDP. A Forum Research poll this week showed support for the Act was down to 38 per cent with those disapproving at 51 per cent -- an amazing turnaround. The highest levels of disapproval were amongst "the youngest (64%), New Democrats (77%), the best educated (65%) and the non-religious (70%)."
Now is the time, Dobbins writes, for Canadians to take their democracy back. Unless we renew our civic literacy, we will lose what we used to hold most dear:

Yet a huge effort will be needed to completely immunize Canadians against the next wave of Harper fear-mongering. That's the only lasting solution to voter manipulation and a healthy democracy. Until we realize that, progressive politics will remain crisis management and we will continue to pin our desperate hopes on coalitions and proportional representation. But without a high degree of civic literacy these institutional fixes will be ultimately dissatisfying.
The future of Canadian democracy is in our hands.

A Tale Told By An Idiotic Orwellian

Fri, 03/20/2015 - 06:39


Remember when Stockwell Day used to lead the cabal which today passes for the Conservative Party of Canada? Those were the days when Day insisted that the St. Lawrence River flowed into Lake Ontario, not the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Well, the party has returned to the days of yore. The prime minister and his acolytes have returned to their bedrock base and are spouting all kinds of idiocy. Michael Harris writes:

Conservative MP John Willamson offered his insights on the competition between “whities” and “brown people” for jobs. Not to be outdone, his caucus colleague Larry Miller invited people who insist on wearing the niqab to “stay the hell where you came from” (presumably he wasn’t talking about Scarborough).
And Stephen Harper is promoting the idea that those who believe they are too far away from a police station should buy their own guns for their own protection -- except, he says, that's not what he meant:

So, yeah, a campaigning prime minister gave the green light to vigilantes — much the way he did to Islamophobes, anti-First Nations bigots and anyone who hates environmentalists. Former Ontario attorney general Mike Bryant said Harper’s words were a direct invitation to commit illegal acts.

“It’s vigilantism,” said Bryant. “People are going to find themselves facing the criminal justice system and being charged with serious crimes if they decide to follow what the prime minister is suggesting.”

Ah, but this is Harperland, where the words mean what the man says they mean. The PM insisted it was “patently ridiculous” to interpret his words as an incitement to vigilante acts. Why? Because all he was trying to do was show that the Conservative Party of Canada was pro-gun owner, while the other parties are clearly anti-. The words themselves meant nothing; the sentiment was everything. As usual, most of the press corps assumed the supine position.
You have to ask yourself, who would buy this kind of idiocy? If the polls are to be believed, there are lots of idiots to be had for the taking. The strategy is transparent:

Harper has simply made the calculation that if the way to give a chameleon a nervous breakdown is to put him down on plaid, the way to win an election in our disappearing democracy is to offer Canadians only two flavours — vanilla or chocolate.

That means hitting the hot buttons, over and over. Before oil prices tanked, greed was the button of choice. Now it’s fear. It makes things starkly simple — black and white, good and evil. As simple as War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery … and Ignorance is Strength.

A Game Of Inches

Thu, 03/19/2015 - 05:58

The upcoming election, Geoffrey Rafe Hall writes, will be about nasty, brutish and small things. That's because Stephen Harper has nothing else to run on:

Lacking evidence of either sound fiscal management or a healthy economy — and certainly having nothing to offer on the ‘change’ front — Stephen Harper is confronted with the problem of campaigning on not much at all.

The PM’s answer to that problem so far has been to deliver more of the same — more fear, more legislation that ‘gets tough on crime’ – but these tired old tactics won’t, on their own, mobilize support beyond the party base.
So his first task is to shore up his party's base. That's what all the fear and smear is about. His past election victories have been based on playing a game of inches:

Remember how narrow the margin is between winning and losing in federal elections now. In the northern Greater Toronto Area in the last federal election, seven seats were up for grabs. Five went to the Conservatives, who received 39.2 per cent of the votes cast. One seat went to the Liberals with 38.2 per cent of the vote; the NDP took one seat on 20 per cent of the vote. Less than 59 per cent of eligible voters actually cast a ballot — meaning that the difference between winning one seat and winning five came down to the choices made by less than one per cent of voters.

So even the smallest of actions matter. One tactic that has proved effective in galvanizing base support, regardless of political affiliation, is what psychologists call “out-group derogation”. In simple terms it means creating an Us vs. Them split in supporters minds, with the ‘Them’ group presented as threatening. The tactic works, and Conservatives have used it before. But it really only works well when the distinction between “us” and “them” is based on shared values — such as banning face coverings in citizen ceremonies.
But that's a risky strategy. What if  the "shared values" the Conservatives espouse are shared by only their base?

What if, in the process of identifying and shunning the ‘other’, that group expands beyond the boundaries set by shared values — by many Canadians’ discomfort with the niqab, for example — to a broader multicultural/multiracial society? What if, in the heat of an election campaign, some of the ‘Us’ camp get roped in with ‘Them’?
The Conservatives have courted the immigrant vote. But, if immigrants become convinced that Harper has them in his sites, what happens to his game of inches?

Stephen Harper has made gross miscalculations in the past. Perhaps this is another one. And perhaps it will do him in.

Establishing His Bona Fides

Wed, 03/18/2015 - 06:49

Last week, Jason Kenny claimed that Russian aircraft provoked HMCS Fredericton  as it participated in a NATO exercise in the Black Sea. When the Ottawa Citizen asked DND for a comment, they refused to go near Kenny's statement and referred the paper to NATO. Stewart Webb writes:

NATO brusquely dismissed Kenney’s tales of an old-fashioned Cold War showdown involving Canadian forces — stating that Russian overflights have operated at altitudes higher than the 500 feet cited by Kenney’s office and that there had been no confrontation with Russian warships. NATO reported that at one point two Russian warships were seen off the horizon by the Canadian task group in the Black Sea, but that the Russians followed all regulations required of vessels in international waters.
Some might put the blunder down to the new defence minister's inexperience. But Kenny's claim is part of an entrenched pattern:

In April 2009 Kenney’s predecessor, Peter MacKay, reported that two TU-95MSs had come within 192 kilometres of Canada’s Arctic coastline. This incident occurred the day before President Barack Obama visited Ottawa. “I am not going to stand here and accuse the Russians of having deliberately done this during the presidential visit,” MacKay said at the time. “But it was a strong coincidence”.

In August 2010, Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s communications director Dimitri Soudas e-mailed journalists claiming that a pair of TU-95MSs had been intercepted approximately 56 km from the Arctic coastline by our CF-18s. “Thanks to the rapid response of the Canadian Forces,” Soudas wrote, “at no time did the Russian aircraft enter sovereign Canadian airspace.” NORAD’s commander did not rebuke the accusation this time, but NORAD’s spokesman Lieutenant Desmond James has this to say: “Both Russia and NORAD routinely exercise their capability to operate in the North. These exercises are important to both NORAD and Russia and are not cause for alarm.”
The international community knows that, when it comes to crying wolf, the Harperites have established their bona fides. And, as the man who is rumoured to be first in line to replace Harper, Kenny has established his bona fides as a man who is well qualified to mislead the nation.

Paranoia Unbound

Tue, 03/17/2015 - 06:35

Stephen Harper has always defended his abolition of the long gun registry by saying it prohibited farmers and hunters from using the tools of their trade. But last week, in Saskatoon, he said that Canadians needed guns to protect their castles:

“My wife’s from a rural area and obviously gun ownership wasn’t just for the farm, but was for a certain level of security when you’re a ways away from immediate police assistance,” he said.
He now suggests that Canadians are under attack from jihadists and from prisoners who will not be behind bars forever. Lawrence Martin writes:

The Conservatives were already pushing hot buttons everywhere – provocative rhetoric about the niqab, sabre-rattling on Russia and Iran, fear-mongering on terrorism, lock-’em-up-forever legislation on crime and punishment.
It’s hard to recall another time when we have witnessed such a flame-throwing approach to politics, policy and Parliament. Too often, the governing party resembles a band of belligerents rather than sage public servants. How many fights do they want to pick? Are they not concerned about the impact on the country’s social fabric, the dangers of pitting one Canadian against another?
We have known for a long time that Stephen Harper is paranoid. But there used to be a few people in his government who could keep him from going over the edge. No longer:
Other governments had men at the top who served as voices of reason or restraint – think of Don Mazankowski in Brian Mulroney’s government, or John Manley under Jean Chrétien. Mr. Harper has no such force of measured resistance in his office or cabinet, no one to keep his harder-edged ideological impulses in check.
And his acolytes in Parliament are sounding like Joe McCarthy:
 Meanwhile over at the Commons public safety committee, critics of the government’s security legislation were being treated as if they themselves were threats to national security. Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney spoke out against the “so-called experts” raising concerns about the bill – a group that includes national security specialists, former prime ministers and former Supreme Court justices.
One witness from a civil liberties group was accusingly asked if she was “fundamentally opposed to taking terrorists off the streets.” Another Tory questioner said the executive director of Greenpeace’s opposition to new surveillance measures “makes me wonder if your organization is a national security threat.”
Mr. Harper now knows no restraints. He is Paranoia Unbound.

Questions And Answers

Mon, 03/16/2015 - 05:55


Stephen Harper doesn't like questions. He doesn't take them. In Question Period, he dodges them. On tough days, he doesn't show up.  When things really get uncomfortable, he prorogues parliament and nobody shows up.

But Mike Duffy's trial starts in three weeks. Harper will not show up to answer questions. But his PMO staff will have to be there to answer questions. Michael Harris writes:

The questioning will be direct and unavoidable — the opposite of Question Period, and those exercises in stand-up comedy that go by the name of “press conference” in the Harper era. For the collection of PMO staffers who offer evidence against Duffy, it will be a new experience to deal with a grand inquisitor like Donald Bayne. Bayne, the accused’s lawyer, is not a member of the press who can be put off with a load of pre-fabricated flapdoodle from the Langevin Block. He is a detail man who is relentless, and who knows the criminal law and how to get answers to his questions.

More importantly, he has a wagonload of emails between his client and the PMO, as well as other evidence, to direct that razor-sharp mind of his. Bayne is someone who demands your “A” game. People like Benjamin Perrin, the PM’s former legal advisor, and Ray Novak, his current chief of staff, had better bring theirs.
Most importantly, Nigel Wright had better bring his:

The most critical witness from the PMO of the day will be Nigel Wright, the PM’s former chief-of-staff. Wright is a titan compared to the many political hacks who will testify against Duffy. He is also a gifted negotiator and a lawyer.

And Wright is something else that Stephen Harper probably doesn’t understand. Though deeply loyal to the Conservative party, he will not lie for the Prime Minister. According to the people who know him best, Wright is a deeply religious man who will answer truthfully any question put to him under oath.
And there are two questions which Wright will have to answer:

What did the “good to go from the PM” email mean? If it means what even recent speakers of the English language would be entitled to conclude, it means that Stephen Harper approved the deal he later pretended to know nothing about. It would be Harper’s Richard Nixon moment: the leader of the country caught out knowingly and deliberately misleading the nation.

But there is at least one other question that could have serious consequences for this Prime Minister. Did Harper or did he not fire Wright, as he claimed on a Halifax radio show weeks after CTV’s Bob Fife broke the story of “Duffygate”?
It will be interesting to hear Wright's answers -- and Harper's responses.

Pitching To The Young

Sun, 03/15/2015 - 03:22


Justin Trudeau did Q and A sessions recently at the University of British Columbia and at McGill. He knows that there are lots of potential votes on campus. Jeffrey Simpson writes:

Pollster Angus Reid’s latest survey on the matter gives the Liberals 34 per cent of voters in the 18-34 age category, compared to 29 per cent for the New Democrats and just 22 per cent for the Conservatives. Among over-55 voters, the Conservatives lead the Liberals 38 to 32 per cent, with the NDP at 22.
Ipsos Reid has the Liberals seven points ahead of the Conservatives among 18-34-year-olds, but the Conservatives lead by four points among voters over 55. Nanos Research’s “Party Power Index,” which blends voting intentions and prime ministerial preferences, shows the Liberals ahead among 18-to-29-year-olds but trailing among those over 60.
It's not easy to get the young to the polls -- and that fact has worked in Stephen Harper's favour.  But there is another reason Harper doesn't make his pitch to university students:
Liberal supporters have much more formal education than Conservative supporters. Put crudely, the more formal education a voter has, the more likely he or (especially) she will be to vote Liberal.For example, the latest Ipsos Reid poll has the Liberals leading the Conservatives by 41 to 29 per cent among those with a university education, but trailing 36 to 23 per cent among those with less than a high-school diploma. In the Probe Research survey, Liberals led by 10 points (45 to 35 per cent) among those who had attended university, but trailed by a whopping 37 points (57 to 22 per cent) among those who did not finish high school. Other polls show the same pattern.
Those with university education, especially professional school training, tend to be among the business and intellectual leaders in any society. By income, status and responsibility – and ability to be heard publicly – they are society’s “elites.”
Attacking those “elites” is a staple of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservatives. Polling numbers show why: Fewer of these “elites” favour the Conservatives than the Liberals. Attacking “elites” holds few risks and offers an appeal to the Conservative base, which skews much older and has less formal education. The resulting political divide is a conflict more of culture than of class.
Harper knows who his enemies are. Trudeau's challenge will be to get Harper's enemies -- and the young are among them -- to the polls.

Only One Answer For All Time

Sat, 03/14/2015 - 06:58

Neo-Liberals have been preaching the same message for over thirty years: Debt -- all debt -- is bad. And they have relied on a well worn analogy. Public debt, they say, is like household debt. But, Scott Clark and Peter DeVries write:

We’ve said it before and we’re saying it again: When a government spends money on infrastructure that will provide services to Canadians for decades to come, that’s not the same as spending the same money on programs and services that only benefit current generations.

Programs and services that benefit people paying taxes now should be paid for by the people using them. But public infrastructure is different. Things like modern transportation systems are going to be around for 20, 30 years or longer, and will be used by Canadians who aren’t paying taxes now but will be in the future. So it’s fair and logical to expect future generations of taxpayers to share the burden — through debt.
And right now the economy reqiures public spending:

Build an efficient new highway system and you increase productivity for trucking companies — possibly earning them a return of five per cent, which is taxed. And given the government can issue 20-year bonds at 2.0 per cent right now, the argument for new infrastructure spending becomes bulletproof: cheap debt for higher productivity and higher tax revenue.

This means that if the federal government spends $5 billion fixing the Champlain Bridge — money which could be borrowed in financial markets on 50-year bonds in the first year of work — the spending wouldn’t show up in the budget until the work is done. At that point, the government would start recording $100 million in new spending in every federal budget for 50 years (assuming the bridge that lasts 50 years), along with the annual interest costs associated with the borrowing. Not really a big deal.
The answer to the problem of debt is the same answer to most of life's problems. It depends. But for Neo-Liberals, there are no extenuating circumstances. There is only one answer -- for all time.