Friday, June 12, 2009

Ring Around the Rosy, Harper's Full of Baloney

With much fanfare (smoke and mirrors), Harper came out yesterday to try and convince Canadians that everything was rosy.

What should have been seen as a sign, he used Mike Duffy to give the spectacle some credibility. The same Mike Duffy who was just charged by CRSC for ethics violations.

Yep, that's the one.

Harper tried to assure Canadians that the money was out the door and he had single handedly managed to turn the economy around. Don't worry, be happy.

And we should believe him, why? He told us last election campaign that Canada would not feel the effects of the global economic crisis, then we could be in recession, we were in a 'technical' recession and not long after heading for a depression!!!!

Now I hope against hope that he is right, because I don't want my country to fail. However, I can't feel optimistic when he gives us no idea how he plans to get us back in the black, even if the recession has hit it's peak.

He blustered again about the Liberals wanting to raise taxes, but offered no alternative plan to generate much needed revenue. I know he's trying to sell everything we own, but is that wise? A country with no assets is shaky at best.

He also claims that the money is out the door, but municipalities state otherwise.

Not to be fooled, the opposition saw through the pomp and ceremony, and are now demanding that for once in his life he comes clean, and provides Canadians with something we can take to the bank. What's been dubbed 'the Home Depot bailout home improvement tax credit' might make it easier for us to build a deck, but will our children and grandchildren still be paying for that deck in years to come?

This government has no vision. They fly by the seat of their pants, playing to their 1/3 base, instead of addressing issues in a way that benefits all Canadians.

As much as I don't relish another election, if this is the best Harper can do, there may be no other option.

If I want to see a dog and pony show, I'll go to the circus.

Slow spending, quick spinning
John Ivison,
National Post
June 12, 2009

Political parties live and die by spin. Threatened with its imminent demise prior to the January budget, the Conservative government raised expectations by giving the impression that it would spend more than $20-billion within four months, creating nearly 200,000 jobs.

The suggestion was that the government would come racing to the rescue of the ailing economy with the speed of a Lamborghini, even though the Tories knew that the system does not have the engine of a 640-horsepower Italian sports car. In fact, the bureaucracy has the engine of a lawn mower, which is why it is only now that government departments are looking at applications for infrastructure projects from municipalities and promising to reimburse costs.

Stephen Harper revealed the government's second report card on the progress of its action plan yesterday, as required by the Liberals in return for their support for the budget.

In a campaign-style address in Cambridge, he said that 80% of the plan is "already being implemented." Grammar watchdogs feel free to correct me, but the plan has "already been implemented" or it is "being implemented." This fuzzy use of language seems to be another attempt to mislead people into thinking that new overpasses are sprouting up all over the country.

In fact, while $20.6-billion of the $22.7-billion to be spent this year has been approved by Cabinet and the Treasury Board and is with government departments, by no stretch of the imagination could it be described as being "out of the door." (Many projects have not yet been given the green light, far fewer have seen cheques handed over -- something that only happens after the fact, when the feds have been invoiced and completed their due diligence.)

Take the largest pool of cash, the $4-billion infrastructure stimulus fund. The government aims to spend $2-billion this year and the Prime Minister talked at great length about the 3,000 individual projects "that are now getting underway."

Yet page 138 of the Report to Canadians document reveals that only $1.1-billion of the $2-billion fund has been committed and that money only began flowing to those projects last month. Progress has been extremely slow -- which should not be news to the government, or the Liberal party.

As for the unverifiable claim that the stimulus package would create or maintain 190,000 jobs, the only solid employment numbers we have come from Statistics Canada, which says 363,000 Canadians have lost their job since last October and the unemployment rate is at an 11-year high of 8.4%. The question now is whether Michael Ignatieff believes progress has been fast enough.

He said he will take a few days to review the mini-budget-like report card and decide whether it is in the interests of Canadian taxpayers to have another election. For some reason, this conjures up the image of Tweedledum and Tweedledee agreeing to have a battle, because Tweedledum said Tweedledee had spoiled his nice new rattle.

How long does it take anyone not living on the other side of the looking glass to reach the conclusion that another $300-million general election, only eight months after the last one, is not in the interests of anyone, with the possible (though not inevitable) exception of one M. Ignatieff Esq.?

Many of the deals between Ottawa and municipalities that are being negotiated would be put on ice during a federal campaign because the public service would down tools and the politicians would be preoccupied.

Mr. Ignatieff said yesterday that 1,600 mayors at the Federation of Canadian Municipalities conference last weekend told him they were unhappy at the lack of money coming out of Ottawa. This is strange since the president of the FCM, Jean Perrault, issued a release saying that he applauded the "commitment to co-operation and flexibility" shown by John Baird, the Transport Minister. One suspects that Mr. Perrault would say less kind things about Mr. Ignatieff if he were to provoke an election now and gum up the works.

Mr. Ignatieff has probably concluded already that an election that had the opposite effect of speeding up the dispersal of funds may not be a vote-winner. Mr. Harper offered a hint of the probable Conservative line of attack, if Mr. Ignatieff does decide to use next week's Liberal opposition day to bring forward a motion of no-confidence in the government. Canada should come out of the recession sooner and stronger than other countries, he said yesterday. "The only thing that can get us off course now is needless political instability."

The Liberal leader's bigger problem may be how to back away from an election gracefully.

The NDP didn't wait to read the new document before dismissing it. "The NDP is not going to be voting for these guys any time soon," said the party's finance critic, Thomas Mulcair. He's probably bluffing but the Dippers are capable of anything, even electoral suicide.
The Bloc Quebecois can never win an election but, since it doesn't cost them anything (the public purse covers their costs), they are happy to have them any time, just to relieve the boredom.

Which brings us back to Mr. Ignatieff. A significant chunk of the Liberal caucus wants to bring down the government too, exhilarated by polls like yesterday's from Ekos that suggest that they may be five points ahead of the Conservatives. But, if the Liberal leader decides to pull the plug on Parliament based on such flimsy evidence, it could set up the most delicious revenge for all those Canadians sick of political spin.

After all, how many of those who said they'll vote Liberal will interrupt their cottage vacation in August, in order to troop along to a polling booth in the city?

It would be richly ironic if this time it is the voters who are deke-ing the politicians.

The problem here is confidence. We had lost confidence in this government long ago, and it's a question of how much longer we can live with this kind of incompetence and corruption?

If this is our best chance at finally giving them the boot, I'm game.

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