Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Ducks In A Row

A fairly important tidbit, buried at the end of a Globe and Mail piece:
The Tories are considering delivering the fall fiscal update earlier this year - perhaps in September - as they prepare for a possible defeat in Parliament. This update, which would coincide with the fall report on stimulus spending, will likely include funding approvals for already announced aid for pulp mills and loans to Air Canada.

If the government is planning to move up the date for the fiscal update, this is probably a tactic to try and set the stage for an election. If the fiscal situation was speculative heading into a campaign, then the government is more vulnerable to attacks, particularly on the deficit. I suspect the Conservatives want to present a clear, up to date picture, to Canadians, so they are armed with a current counter. Almost certain, this fiscal update will offer estimates that show no long term structural deficit. By establishing this argument, the government will try to insulate themselves from the entire tax debate, as well as setting up the Liberals.

The government can acknowledge the short term realities, putting themselves more in line with other independent estimates. This will address the "out of touch" argument, which explains why the government wants to move up an update which isn't optically attractive. The longer out the projections, the more wiggle room the government has, in terms of predictability. Even though the government may look optimistic, it's easier to manipulate numbers 3,4,5 years out, because there is so much uncertainty, nobody can really be definitive. Some criticism, but the Conservatives will counter that they see better days on the horizon than their critics.

Moving up this fiscal update, in tandem with the stimulus report(sure to paint the government in a positive light), looks like a concerted effort to get their economic argument together for a campaign. The Conservatives are vulnerable on the fiscal front, and I'm willing to bet this update will be as much a political presentation, as it will be a sober assessment. I'd also wager, the Conservatives use this update as the underpinning to argue that no new taxes will be required, simple restraint and future prosperity will be enough to tackle the deficits. Where that will leave the Liberals remains to be seen.


Anonymous said...

Seems to me that fighting fire with fire is working in B.C. so wouldn't it make sense for the Liberals to put out their own economic statement including a broad outline of what they would do , the day before parliament opens?

As you have pointed out several times, the Liberals need to put some "meat on the bones" or lose credability. If they are looking at a fall election then they need to counter this obvious Harper designed trap that has been used over and over to make the Liberals look bad no matter what path they chose.

An article from the Toronto Star on National newswatch this morning would be a good cornerstone. The fast track temporary foreign worker program has flooded many comunities like ours with workers from mostly asian countries which was fine last year when there was a shortage. Now with students unable to find jobs as well as millions of other Canadians this program should be scaled back. Origionlly companies had to prove they looked in Canada first but now they don't even try. At minimum they should have to post the job for 4 weeks regionaly at EI then 4 weeks nationally. If someone applies for the job then they should be denied being allowed to hire outside the country even if they don't hire the applicant. As the article points out this program is now being used to keep wages artificially low and is already starting to result in the same major problem Europe has with huge numbers of uneducated illegal aliens brought over to work but now are unemployed.

The Liberals need to use issues like this one to force Harper to defend himself on his record rather than continueing to allow him to set the agenda. God knows there are at least a thousand other economic issues like that one that he has manipulated for his pals that are ripe to be exploited.

Jerry Prager said...

And will the Tories lie and then have the Parliamentary budget officer blow them out of the water for the umpteenth time and will Canadians finally care that all Harper/Flaherty do is lie and proclaim that Harper is an economist.Never mentioning what a bad one he is.
The brain dead live on. Stephen Harper - too small for Canada.
And Anonymous the 15th billionth of your tribe, the Liberals really don't have to say anything until it's election time. But they'd better have something to say by then, and it better be worth it.

Marie said...

Opposition parties that claim to want "parliament to work" have two broad duties:
1. To oppose legislation they feel is not in the best interest of the country (and to give reasonable reasonas why) and
2. To Propose alternative solutions and ideas.

So far Ignatieff has the first half of part one down pat. He Opposes pretty well everything - but does not give good reasons why and as for number 2 - still waiting.....

Steve V said...


Well, to be fair, your guy didn't even bother to have a platform for an ELECTION. Only when he got his ass handed to him in the debates (where's your platform, under the sweater?) did they hastily release something. I thought this pretty remarkable, since it took 13 years to come up with 5 ideas, and then not much after that.

All Harper did was oppose. As a matter of fact that's about the only source of inspiration I can find in the man. I oppose this, therefore I'm for that.


"will the Tories lie and then have the Parliamentary budget officer blow them out of the water for the umpteenth time"

That's the tricky part for the opposition. Because we're talking about a few years down the road, the government can still cling to some sort of optimistic scenario. Of course, it will be intellectually dishonest to suggest the deficit will just disappear, but because it's not an immediate conclusive argument, I suspect they will just try and skirt the tax angle, offer up something bland on fiscal restraint and hope they can whitewash the whole debate. After what they pulled last election, I don't underestimate the capacity to dodge and weave, with a massive smokescreen. I think that's the gameplan, coupled with attacking us for spending and wanting to raise taxes.