Friday, August 22, 2008

What's Your Hurry?

Something is up, it's as simple as that. There is a reason Harper is suddenly so bullish for an election, and it has nothing to do with the reasons we've been given to date. The question for the Liberals, deciphering just what exactly the Conservatives are up to, and responding accordingly. I'm of the belief that you never give your opponent what he wants, if you can help it. I have several theories, and here's one.

Today, Minister Flaherty released the latest surplus figures, which suddenly show Canada back in a comfortable surplus, a complete reversal in just one month. Flaherty also "pledged" to do a fiscal update sometime in October, and update that will never happen if Harper takes us to the polls prior to Parliament's return. So, while government Ministers are clearing their September schedules, is it credible for Flaherty to muse as though it's business as usual? Pardon my cynicism, but it just doesn't add up.

In the first two months of this fiscal year, we had a 500 million dollar deficit. Then, in just one month, Flaherty announces a quarterly surplus of 1.2 billion. That translates to a 1.7 billion dollar surplus in the last month reported, which is a staggering figure, considering Flaherty projected a scant 2.3 billion surplus for the entire fiscal year, a figure which was based on a 1.7% growth rate. Today, Flaherty admits that the growth rate will be 1.1%, a large drop from his earlier projection. And yet, despite increased spending and all these economic warnings, we are to believe that Flaherty is half way to his surplus in just the first quarter? That doesn't pass the smell test, especially when one considers Flaherty's previous proficency in moving numbers around. A sudden fiscal turnaround, just after talking heat for the initial deficit, occuring at the same time when Flaherty reduces his grow projection by a full third. If anything, one would expect the surplus to be behind Flaherty's targets, given the growth drop that he admitted today, not a sudden uptick. Couple this quirk in logic with the simple fact that the economy has really started to tank this summer, and the numbers look even more suspicious.

Back to one of my theories. Is Harper moving so fast, because the government has knowledge of a looming deficit? Isn't it interesting, that just as we hear all this election talk, presto, back in the black, in a big way, so much so, that even if another monthly update is released during an election, the buffer is enough to keep the perception of "in the red" at bay? The timing is a little too cute from here, and it becomes even more intriguing when you hear Flaherty floating his October update, while everyone around him goes full tilt into election mode. Harper wants to get to the polls, before he has to face the economic and fiscal music.


penlan said...

Yes it is interesting that there is a sudden surplus. Odd. And as you said, Steve, how convenient just as an election is looming.

I'm not sure I can believe it given Flaherty's terrible financial skills,
as witnessed in Ontario. But it sure looks good in an election.

There is definitely, as far as I see, going to be more economic downturn & hardships created by that & the govt. will go into a deficit the way they are spending, spending, spending & with less income due to tax cuts & loss of revenue by, for example, the Income Trusts debacle.

So, yes, perhaps that is why Harper is in such a rush, now, for an election. Keep the wool pulled over our eyes. Or so he thinks.

Anonymous said...

I am an election hawk - yet I agree with you.

Something is up, something worth Harper willing to start an election off with a broken promise (sure, a one day story, but why give yourself any disadvantage?)

Anonymous said...

Once the election starts, the issue of who started it will disappear within hours, and its onto the actual race.

The bigger issue here is how Harper has left Dion, as opposition leader, complaining about an opportunity to gain power.

It's surreal. I just read a long press story about how this is one of the longest running minority governments in history and Dion's accusing Harper of "rushing" to an election.

As for the what's up, two things: 1) as all the editorials have been saying, this run is past its due date. Minority governments don't last long for a reason, and this one's no different, and

2) Dion, already considered "weak" made one of the greatest political miscalculations in Canadian political history: having one's central plank the promise to INCREASE fuel costs at a time when insane fuel costs literally threaten our current standard of living.

Harper would be a fool to pass up going to the polls on Dion's folly,

and Harper's no fool.

Anonymous said...

I can't help wondering whether Harper knows something about the "October Surprise" Karl Rove has threatened for the eve of the US election. An event/situation that closed the border, for example, would have an impact on Canada. Maybe he'd rather not be in office in the aftermath.

Steve V said...

"The bigger issue here is how Harper has left Dion, as opposition leader, complaining about an opportunity to gain power."

Wow, there's some bad spin. Actually, it seems everyone is questioning Harper, considering that tiny little issue like his own law. If you think that reflects poorly on Dion then you're not really paying attention. These are legitimate question, why are you ignoring your own pledge, why are you in such a hurry, why are you avoiding parliament, scared of "in and out", is the economy tanking, etc.

I think you are right, this will be a short lived story once the writ is dropped, but I also don't think there is any question Harper will begin the campaign with some negative press. Nobody understands the PM's sudden urgency, don't think it's just ignored.

Anonymous said...

Stephen Harper is walking in Julius Caesar’s footsteps - it’s clear to anyone reading the War Commentaries. For those who haven’t, the demonstration is here:

Anonymous said...

It seems unlikely there will be a deficit. Government revenues are mostly determined by income taxes, and the country is up a large number of jobs so far this year.

Steve V said...


You need to get your facts straight, we have lost jobs for this fiscal year. HELLO.