Wednesday, November 26, 2008

A Study In Contradiction


Apparently, we are in uncharted economic waters that nobody foresaw, but this government was astute enough to take measures to deal with the unforeseen a full year ago. Apparently, the economic situation is deteriorating on a daily basis, but Canada can afford to wait months before entertaining any stimulus. Apparently, you can chastise the former Liberal government for reckless spending in yesterday's QP, even though your own government holds the title of the biggest spending administration in history. Apparently, the opposition should stop "stop bad-mouthing" the Canadian economy, but things are headed for the shitter in stunning speed, 1929 a good reference point. Deficits unacceptable, deficits a "necessity".

The Conservatives have tied themselves into contradictory knots, it's so bad that each successive sentence, shows no relationship to the logic uttered prior. What the mixed signals tell us, despite the tone of a "steady hand at the tiller", the government is making it up on the fly, and would probably be better served by just admitting they've horribly miscalculated. People would accept that admission, because I believe there is a mature resignation to rapidly changing events. The government only bears more responsibility, when they cling to their past choices as indicative of future health, as though that thought process has any relationship to today's reality. Nobody had any idea what was to come, but we saw it coming and acted accordingly, further urgent action is required, see in the spring. Good luck with that.

22 comments:

CousinBen said...

Couldn't agree more. The refusal to admit mistakes is a pandemic that seems to affect most governments/parties/representativesin this country and was an integral part of the Bush administration.

There are exceptions of course, one being a contender in the current leadership race. His honesty about his mistakes 1991-1995 are admirable, as too were his comments about the current deficit, much to your chagrin, I know.

Hyper-partisan criticism like the "made-in-canada" deficit argument go too far, just like hyper-partisan defenses like "we saw it coming and you would have implemented a carbon tax."

I support Bob Rae because of his willingness to piss off the establishment in the name of sincerity and moving forward.

p.s. In the very persuasive report released yesterday by the Task Force on Competitiveness, Productivity and Economic Progress, Dr. Roger Martin calls for a carbon tax. Go figure.

Joseph said...

Well, this is what governments do when governing by campaigning (i.e., using policy and government mechanisms and positions as simply props for the next campaign) faces the reality of actual world concerns.

For example, prior to Katrina, the Bush administration had done an excellent job of forging FEMA into a great political tool. They took a widely respected agency during the Clinton administration and turned it into a "reward" agency that bequeathed money on key states - such as Florida - every time an emergency situation unfolded. Bad things happen and mountains of money flow easily into the hands of voters.

That worked well until an honest-to-God critical emergency requiring planning, coordination, and processes of a world-class agency are required. Then suddenly putting a political players in charge instead of folks with expertise in functional areas required is exposed as a really bad idea.

To me the latest actions just looks like the keystone cops who have run a government from day one prepping for the next election have suddenly realized that an actual crisis is upon them. They can't resist the urge to just play each day as a new campaign script and are struggling to play catch-up on managing an actual crisis instead of a strategically invented one.

They just wanted to play "competent" - they never expected to actually have to act competently.

I know this sounds rather crass, but I don't see a reason to beat around the bush. Their behaviour through the campaign and afterwards on this brewing crisis just reeks of political opportunism. They don't have a plan. They didn't think they needed to have a plan. Conservatives - meet real world. Why mince words?

CuzBen said...

Anon

No I'm not kidding.

Sure, Bob can schmooze with the best of em, and he is quite the media darling, as you say.

But that doesn't contradict my point. I'm not arguing that he's a rogue, maverick, or a rebel without a cause. He simply has shown that he will stand up to the flagrantly partisan backroom when he feels it's necessary in the long-term interest, pretty bold for a recent convert if you ask me.

It shows a good balance in leadership, willing to occasionally stand alone but still appealing to the core.

To be fair, I think Ignatieff shows those same qualities.

And while you're giggling away at that, Joseph made some serious comments:

I agree Joseph and that's why I don't support mixed member proportional representation.

Unending minorities will make us resemble Italy, which despite it's great people, has a lousy political system.

Don said...

Steve,

I agree with your post, but I am wondering where your favoured candidate is on the economic crisis?

Go to his website and you will only see generic hyperbole about the need for "real leadership" and the need for "hope" in the manufacturing sector but ultimately there is nothing on there of any substance or as importantly, that would give any member of his party any sense of how he would manage the country through the crisis.

Imagine if this was the US and the perceived frontrunner in a primary race had absolutely nothing on his or her website about what to do in the face of this economic crisis.
It would not be tolerated, and it shouldn’t be tolerated in this race either.

The economy is the #1 issue for Canadians. Only one candidate, Bob Rae, has actually said what he would do. I am in no way endorsing Rae, as I am still undecided, but at least he has addressed the issue! You might not like the colour of his baggage, but at least we know where he is at.

If the Liberal Party has any chance, it’s going to need a leader that will step up with a strong voice on the issues that are important to the times.

Where is Iggy?

Steve V said...

Don

I appreciate the manufactured concern ;) I have a funny feeling Ignatieff may bring forward some views, seems to me the race has just begun, but you're welcome to create a non-existent issue if you wish.

A BCer in Toronto said...

I don't have confirmation on this, but my understanding is Michael Ignatieff is opposed to the economic crisis.

But seriously, he is addressing the economy, as he begins to travel the country meeting with Liberals. I understand it was a topic when he spoke in Winnipeg this weekend.

The race hasn't even officially begun, I'm sure detailed policy will come from all candidates. It's a little early for that. I don't want economic policy written on the back of a napkin. And I'm sure all the candidates are onboard with the party's call for ramped-up infrastructure spending, and the other measures we've been advocating.

I'm reasonably hopeful, however, that Michael's policy will not involve declaring that deficits aren't ever the fault of governments and so we shouldn't blame Harper because that wold be unfair.

Fingers crossed.

CuzBen said...

"I'm reasonably hopeful, however, that Michael's policy will not involve declaring that deficits aren't ever the fault of governments"

I'm reasonably hopeful that Michael won't twist Bob's words like that and turn the leadership race into a manipulative dung-slinging contest.

Why can't we have a contest about REAL ideas? Rae has admitted to his 17 year-old mistakes in an effort to look forward, acknowledged the severity of the recession by being realistic about the deficit and you rub it in his face.

Steve V said...

Don

You might want to watch a video of Ignatieff's speech to the Economic Club of Canada last month, I heard it was real barn burner and those in attendance left incredibly impressed.

Steve V said...

Ben

I think the problem here, is the Conservatives will "rub it in our face", and yesterday's comments in QP are proof positive.

I'm sort of done with what's fair and what's not, the last election proved that you won't get a honest debate with the Conservatives, the disinformation simply staggering. I really like Rae, and I suppose on one level I appreciate his honesty, but that just won't cut it, the Conservatives will crucify him. That's reality, not a statement on the man himself, who I greatly admire. It's time to do away with what we want, and accept what we'll get, go in eyes wide open, rather than pretending it's a noble exercise.

Gayle said...

"What the mixed signals tell us, despite the tone of a "steady hand at the tiller", the government is making it up on the fly..."

If you recall, during the election I was saying it might be good for the LPC if Harper won and had to deal with the economy. This is why.

CuzBen said...

"I think the problem here, is the Conservatives will "rub it in our face", and yesterday's comments in QP are proof positive."

Yes, but the answers in QP were to questions that should not have been asked.

The Libs (especially once reborn under a new leader) need to resist the temptation to dwell on past mistakes. There are so many, I know, and they have had real consequences. However, in my opinion, the questions that will have better traction are "Where is your plan? What are you doing now? What bold new policies will you introduce?" etc etc. They have no good answers for these because, as Joseph said, they've been governing from the communications department for almost 3 years.

Fact is, even if this deficit could have been avoided (doubtful i.m.o.) the recession was NOT the sole fault of Harper. I think the public understands that and its the answer they would give with or without fodder from Rae.

No, you will not get an honest debate with the Cons, but does that mean the Liberals should stoop to their level or hide anything controversial? I say no way, do like Eminem in the movie 8 Mile: get the ugly truth out there so that their defamation looks silly. (best analogy I could think of, ok? Leave me alone.)

I think the debate bewteen Ignatieff and Rae will be healthy and productive so I'm optimistic about either. I simply think Rae is exemplary when it comes to this "study in contradiction"
and deserves a fair shot.

Gayle said...

"I'm sort of done with what's fair and what's not, the last election proved that you won't get a honest debate with the Conservatives, the disinformation simply staggering."

Steve, I understand your logic here, but with the greatest of respect I have to disagree.

While the dishonesty from the CPC may be a factor in your leadership decision, that is no excuse for dishonesty within the leadership race itself.

Ben is quite right in asking the leadership contest be conducted in an honourable and honest fashion.

Once that is done and a leader is selected, then the gloves can come off.

Steve V said...

gayle

I do remember that sentiment and it may well prove correct.

Don said...

Steve and Jeff,

I have tremendous respect for you guys and I can totally understand your veracity in defending your candidate of choice.

All I said was that there is nothing on his website about his views on the economy.

We are for all intent and purpose six weeks into the leadership campaign (or really more like 23 months, with two acts) and a candidate's website is, for many people, the source of information.

I am sure that you "have a funny feeling Ignatieff may bring forward some views" and that the speech to the Economic Club of Canada was real barn burner, but I wouldn't know that by going to his website.

All I am saying is that I am not impressed that Ignatieff has not been clear about his views on the economy. To me that should be an absolute priority.

Steve V said...

Ben

Agree on a positive agenda, but it has to work in concert with hammering the government relentlessly. I can assure you, the Libs will see a barrage coming their way, so to operate on the assumption that "vision" will bring us back to government fails to accurately see the landscape. If this deficit balloons, and the prospect seems more likely, by the day, then the government will share some responsibility, no matter the circumstance. To voluntarily cede that issue, along with all the reminders of past recessions and the regrets, seems a dangerous and frankly unnecessary path. I'm interested in winning the next election, I want to see the Liberal team at the helm, Bob's catharis is a side issue, and if he represents any drag on a potential victory, throw him overboard. Rae would be the first to admit that politics are a bloodsport, and he knows full well that campaigns don't lend themselves for detailed discussions, nor re-framing cemented opinion.

Steve V said...

Don

Come on, the race has just begun. Do you think Ignatieff isn't speaking to the economy, as he meets with Liberals across the country? I say give it some time, before you pass some ultimate judgement. The only reason Rae is fleshing out details now, it's part of his strategy to neutralize the albatross, nothing more, nothing less.

All that said, I do want to hear more detail and my support won't preclude me from criticism, if I feel it's warranted. This isn't a propaganda blog now, just because I support Ignatieff, and I'll also give praise to others if I agree.

CuzBen said...

Steve

Well I don't agree on the deficit issue obviously. Yes, the deficit will undoubetdly balloon, way up and above the $10 billion the Cons MIGHT have saved with better policy this fiscal year. To criticize them for that larger deficit will mean you are either calling for cuts or taxes.

If this was an election year, I would tend to agree more with an agressive blame strategy, but right now I think you need to build support by making people think "Gee, what a good idea. I wish _____ was Prime Minister and not the chubby guy with the evil eyes."

But as for Rae as a liability, you are probably right, Ignatieff has better chances to win as it stands now. But one must be careful with a "win at all costs" mentality. It can lead to unhealthy compromise.
(Not referencing Ignatieff here, just sayin.)

RuralSandi said...

Hey, it may be over anyway. According to Bob Fife on Duffy's show tonight - Harper is going to take away the taxpayer subsidy (for elections) which will mean approx $7 million for Libs, $2 million for NDP and I forgot what the amount is for the BLOC.

Is this a dictatorship or what - obviously Harper's using the economic times to continue to try to destroy the Liberals and cripple the other parties.

New name: Vladimir Harper

Steve V said...

I wonder if that's why Jay Hill was so cryptic with Easter today in QP. That would be amazing, if true...

Steve V said...

Here's what Hill said:

When Easter persisted, Hill turned threatening. ”I urge the member to wait until tomorrow,” he said, “and we will see who wants to lead by example.”

RuralSandi said...

They were pretty cocky and smug today.

Is the makeup lady going to lose her job too? What about those 10%rs.

Steve V said...

In all seriousness, the opposition should reject everything, until the government scales back its cabinet. How can you justify an extra 20 million on the one hand, and then argue belt tightening on the other.