Friday, 28 November 2008

Flaherty fiddles while Canada burns

The new Stephen Harper emerged with a stronger minority into a different world than the one he left by calling an unprovoked election. During the election campaign a world economic crisis emerged which was played down for Canada by the Harper Government seeking majority election. That worked but costly mistakes in Quebec kept the Conservatives from getting their majority. The new Stephen Harper spoke of the times in which we lived being ones where governments must run deficits and provide economic stimulus to avoid a depression. Economists and virtually all government leaders worldwide agreed on what has to be done. Major steps have been taken by the United States, Europe and governments elsewhere to save financial institutions. For those who have studied economics the statement "We are all Keynesians now" became the new philosophy.
It looked like the same economic stimulus policies would be applicable for Canada as we awaited Finance Minister Jim Flaherty's statement of economic policy on November 27, 2008. There was talk of Canada taking measures to preserve the auto industry so vital to jobs in Canada as the Republicans who still have temporary control in the United States were reluctant to take steps to prevent bankruptcy of the Big Three auto makers. This could be followed by the incoming strong Democratic majority and President Obama following through to keep the auto industry alive in North America.
Then Minister Flaherty spoke with a shocked reaction to his do nothing policy. Now the opposition parties are talking about a coalition rather than simply defeating the Conservatives and causing another election. See our poll where nobody thought the Harper Government would be gone in 6 months but now that is emerging as a possibility. I can see a Liberal NDP coalition with Bloc Quebecois support emerging very soon. Will it happen? I would not predict such an unprecedented move but I would not be surprised either. Jack Layton could be Prime Minister for 6 months with Stephane Dion as Deputy Prime Minister and then the new Liberal leader becoming Prime Minister with Jack as Deputy. After a year the necessary steps to save Canada's economy would be in place and then all bets would be off and the coalition could continue to govern if the parties agree, or we could then have yet another election.
It is an exciting but far fetched scenario given the lack of past co-operation of the Liberals and NDP but these are very different times than we have seen before in our lifetimes. Will Finance Minister Jim Flaherty be over-ruled by his boss? Will Jim Flaherty change his tune? Will the Liberals blink, again? Will our opposition politicians be able to put their egos aside and work in coalition for the good of Canadians? Will environmental issues be completely forgotten or will they emerge as part of the plan to save the economy including the auto industry?
We are in a real crisis now and I believe strong measures need to be enacted quickly to keep Canada healthy.
What do you think?

1 comment:

Murray H. Miskin said...

There was to be a vote of non confidence on a Liberal motion Monday December 1 but the Prime Minister was able to use his power to delay it one week. The coalition agreement of the Liberals and NDP was reached quickly with the help of Ed Broadbent and Jean Chretien, and now it is up to Stephen Harper to make embarrassing changes to his policies if he wants to save his job and keep his Government in power. This is a blow to the credibility of both Harper and Flaherty. They may save themselves for now by actually doing something about Canada's serious problems, but their future will be in doubt even if they survive this first crisis of their re-elected minority government.