There's an excellent editorial in today's Toronto Star, detailing the new Conservative expenditures and the wider theme of imported ideology. There is another thesis developing, which hasn't quite made it on to the political radar, but one that could prove central come an election.
With all this talk about planes and prison, upwards of 25 billion allocated for these two expenditures alone, the Harper government has inadvertently given the Ignatieff Liberals a WIDE berth on the fiscal front. One of the supposed chief attack lines- that Ignatieff has made expensive promises, his agenda is something we just can't afford in these "tightening purse string" times. Harper had the clear edge as money manager, Ignatieff attacked by the PMO for every new policy utterance as another example of "big spending" Liberals. It would appear, NOW, with these massive numbers in the public realm, that the Conservatives have lost the "appearances" advantage, any fiscal high ground argument almost laughable, inviting forceful retort.
If the Conservatives argue you can spend 25 billion dollars, AND cut corporate taxes, amounting to another 5-6 billion lost, you've essentially given the Liberals 30 billion to promise this and that, with NO THREAT of credible criticism. The Conservatives can balance the books with all these new measures- heck they deficit is now slated to end a year ealier that previous forecasts- so Ignatieff has a mountain of money available to push the Liberal platform. We won't cut corporate taxes, we think the prison expenditure is ludicrious and we will review the F35 expenditure. The Liberals can nimbly make a mockery of these "fiscal conservatives" and/or pivot and use the same Flaherty balance sheet for other, more pressing, needs. Sure we can afford national day care, and THEN SOME, according to this government, there's money EVERYWHERE and the deficit is still slain- according to this government anyways.
Harper's chief advantage is evaporating before our eyes. The Conservatives are voluntarily eroding their own fiscal image, while simultaneously providing the Liberals with a free pass, to check off a few big ticket items of their own. Then the question becomes, just what expenditures are most important to Canadians. Planes and prisons, hardly a compelling "kitchen table" consideration, allowing for an interesting contrast. Neutered on the "big spending" front, obscure and distant on the allocation front, I'd say thanks for the massive opening if I'm a Liberal strategist.