Look Over There… Shiny Thing!

A couple of great bits from this week’s Mercer Report dealing quite funnily with the Conservative Elect A Stephen Harper Majority Government Fund, err, I mean “Economic Action Plan”…

It’s terrific that the Conservatives are doling out buckets of taxpayer money like there’s no tomorrow… I guess — certainly one supposes if that happens to be your favoured political team and/or you’re on the receiving end of all the stimulus funds going out the door (quite often the same thing, it seems). Like in say Peter MacKay’s riding that received almost $90 million; fully 13 times as as much as that being spent in a nearby Dartmouth (quite coincidentally currently held by a Liberal MP).

Oh well, that’s politics as usual and buying people’s votes with their own money (not to mention that of their kids and generations of future descendants) is as old as the hills and as Canadian as maple syrup or agricultural supply management systems, but the fact of the matter is that there’s a always tomorrow and surely we all know this can only end badly at some point in time. Eventually, the days of reckoning will come when all that money will have to be paid back to creditors from whence it came… and then what?

We’ve talked here a number of times about what the possible end-game is… sometimes even veering into territory that might be described as a bit conspiratorial; e.g., a nefarious kind of reverse “hidden agenda” where reckless government spending is allowed to get so madly out of control that subsequently there has to be a shocking economic swing in the opposite direction to correct things and somehow balance the books — which, in the process, involves selling off public assets and effectively gutting government to the point where, as Grover Norquist famously said, it could be strangled like a baby in a bathtub (Gotta love the way these folks think, don’t you? Such lovely metaphors.).

At the risk of sounding a bit cynical, maybe Michael Ignatieff and his new team of veteran Liberal advisors should exercise a little selective amnesia and conveniently forget they were egging on Harper and the Conservatives to spend ever more money back when it looked like the sky was in imminent peril of collapse, and instead roughly switch gears and now return to being fiscal hawks demanding to know exactly how the massive amount of debt being accumulated is going to be accounted for. As noted by Tim Woolstencroft of The Strategic Counsel, there are early warning signs “the landscape is starting to shift” when it comes to concerns about the cost of the stimulus.

Or he could simply offer to double funding for the Arts Council…

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21 Comments

Filed under Humour, Michael Ignatieff, STEPHEN HARPER Govrnment of Canada

21 responses to “Look Over There… Shiny Thing!

  1. Navvy

    In a recent poll, more and more Canadians were shown to be in favour of “small government” whatever the hell means. The release from the pollster didn’t say anything other than “it’s interesting”, no word of a benchmark, but I’d be interested in seeing more numbers on this. Just how deep is “the government is the enemy” getting hammered into Canadians’ brains?

  2. Navvy

    FYI, also love basil, I just wish I could get a ball of mozarella without taking out another mortgage.

  3. austin

    That was a funny RMR last night. Unforuntatly the reality is not so funny, we got Harper who is supposed to be conservative spending like a drunken NDPer saying we can get out of deficit without spending cuts or tax increases. Then we got Iggy who says the same thing and advocates even more spending with his national daycare program. These so called leaders truely think Canadians are retarted.

  4. Navvy — Had to buy some Mozarella on the weekend for lasagna… pricey. Ouch! But then all cheese is ridiculously so. That’s what artificial pricing through marketing boards, import quotas, non-tariff barriers, and so on will do…

    But you know what’s good though? Loblaw’s generic “extra old” white cheddar. I cannot recommend it highly enough. Truly superior an not too insanely expensive. Actually, better than a lot of the fancy “craft” cheeses around.

  5. Extra-old white – is it sharp like it should be? I know a lot of the cheeses that are supposed to be extra-old taste more like what medium used to taste like.

  6. I’m not sure how long it’s aged, but it’s sharp without being unduly obnoxious. Some of those 10-12 yr. ones can be a bit grotty on the palette. I’m guessing it’s about 6 yrs. or so. Mature but not over-ripe.

    Whatever the case, it’s very nice. Adds a sharp little kick to a sandwich or hamburger… isn’t too greasy as some of the milder/cheaper forms of cheddar are (also, doesn’t “sweat” — which is gross) and most certainly doesn’t dissolve into an unctuous scum coating that processed cheese or similar “food products” do when applied to grilled meat, etc.

  7. Navvy

    God bless the Westons. I try to always have a bucket of Loads Of Cookie Dough ice cream in the freezer.

  8. Bucket loads… that can’t be good. 😉

    I shop there often. Drives my wife crazy. Not quite as much as when I go to Wal-Mart, however. But then she’s an anarcho-syndicalist commie…

  9. Speaking of cheesy comestibles…

  10. Navvy

    Going OT from the OT, this is why I like an appointed senate:
    http://www.eurekablog.ca/?p=582

    Representatives that don’t give a shit.

  11. I do like the independence that appointed Senators have… especially if they actually take their jobs seriously. I quite liked the work Pat Carney did here in B.C. and might contact Larry Campbell’s office to get copies of the Senate Hansard if they still do that sort of thing. Bud Olsen use send them to me back in the day when I lived in Alberta. It could be dry at times, but I enjoyed reading through them.

  12. jkg

    You know; I can never understand exactly what the people think of the CTV. One minute, it is decried as a another Liberal bastion led by the ignoble Craig Oliver, yet it takes a Senator to draw attention to the mishandling (or should I say misrepresentation) of the report on Bill c-25. Odd, I thought the whole point of the Senate was to scrutinize and amend legislation, weeding out ill thought bills, a design feature that did exactly that when previous governments faced an incompatible Senate, since its composition is politicized only at the level of the Prime Minister, which is mitigated by the Senate’s institutional memory.

    I’m with you on the appointed and independent Senate, RT. Some people forget that our system has a remarkable concentration of powers which can be amplified with further politicization. At least in the US, some politicization is tempered by their institutional separation of powers. One can argue about the realized separation down south, but with only the Governour General and the Senate (both practically appointed by the PM), our checks and balances are not exactly robust. Should the senate become elected, whatever power that the PM had wrt the Senate will still exist but in the form of political allegiance and caucus solidarity, a dynamic, I would argue, is far more problematic. Further, abolishing the Senate altogether would serve to only concentrate further power to the executive, a thought I do not find all comforting.

    What I do find interesting is that the general vaulting ambition for the romanticized and “True Scotsman”-like ideal of democracy implicitly rejects the premise that part of a thriving democracy is to keep it from destroying itself via means that would probably violate this putative “vision.” I wonder why it is such a stretch to consider that some institutions should not be at the whim of the popular vote, especially in our system. Our system, as an artifact of our institutional history, affords so much power to the executive that given the right conditions, the Prime Minister can effectively become a friendly dictator of sorts because the likelihood of the GG intervening would be rather slim.

  13. I’d like to join this echo chamber in agreement, LOL.

    Democracy, in that certain individuals are elected by the public, is not the best solution for all offices any more than it is the best solution for making family decisions (in my family, anyway). Sometimes unpopular decisions must be made anyway. Sometimes the issues are too complex to make their way to the public via 5-second sounds bites bleated by the media (or too complex for my kids, or kids of any age ;-).

    Indeed, we need something to moderate a swift change in public opinion to prevent mistakes recognized by individuals with lots of practical, on-the-job experience… if only leaders like GWB had listened to their advisors, rather than their ideology.

    Electing judges is a bad idea. Electing senators via the same geographic representations whether proportional or not is also a bad idea (though using different demographics other than geography is something I’d like to see some study on before I’d shut the door, just IMHO).

    All that said, how do you appoint senators that will take their jobs seriously? I think it begins with the appointer taking those jobs seriously before making a selection. I don’t see that happening now, eh?

  14. There’s always been a kind of old-fashioned sentiment around here about the traditional role of the Senate, defending its right of independence to the greatest extent possible so that it can provide some kind of check as was originally intended on the “other place” and provide some degree of reasonable counterbalance to the expedient political posturing that often emerges from the Commons…

    Abolishing it altogether as the NDP is committed to doing would be a terrible idea (one of the reasons I can’t support them federally) as there needs to be an institutionalized form of review to proposed legislation coming up from the House (the whole “sober second thought” thing). The notion of electing senators is a misguided idea that would be highly problematic to implement without a wholesale restructuring of the institution — something requiring the constitution to be opened up… and we all know how well that sort of thing usually works out.

    Harpers’s approach to the problem has been sort of the worst of all possible worlds. On the one hand he talks a good game by supporting the “triple EEE” concept that plays well back home in Alberta and other corners of the West, but then he floats reforms that nibble around the edges… e.g., setting term limits, elevating someone “elected” in a sham contest years ago, etc. Then he pretty much gives up on the idea of so-called reform, and instead just turns around and packs the red chamber with Conservative cronies to shift the political balance in the direction of his party, presumably to prevent legislation from being stymied by the Liberals.

    There are better ways to handle the issue. One might be to have appointments recommended by an independent committee within each province after having taken nominations from citizens and elected provincial officials, then reviewed and vetted by an all-party committee in parliament prior to final approval by the Governor General. Remove it from the discretion of the PMO. Essentially, try to take the politics out of the process as much as possible and ensure the best qualified and most capable people are appointed to represent the interests and concerns of their regions. And the distribution of representation needs to be redressed to better reflect current realities in terms of population. For example, there is no way that PEI with a population of 122,000 people should have four senators and BC with a population of 4.5 million should have just two more… that’s completely absurd.

  15. Mitchell H.

    Red Tory,

    I think before you go around quoting people… you should do research so that you get the statements correct. When you (unintentionally or intentionally) distort someone’s words to make them appear a certain way that fits your opinion, you risk two things: the credibility of your blog; and the credibility of yourself.

    I would recommend that you research Mr. Norquist’s quote about “drowning the government” and what he actually said.

    There is NOWHERE in the actual quote where the man refers to any “baby” or “strangling”. Now, maybe you misread the quote or got it from someone else who misread or miswrote it.

    That being said, I stick with my original advice so as to make sure you’re not pegged as some partisan hack. I’m certain you wouldn’t want people misquoting any of the many things that you have wrote on this blog. I think you should treat others with the same respect… and make sure you do not distort their words either.

  16. I stand corrected. The actual quote is:

    “My goal is to cut government in half in twenty-five years… to get it down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub.”

    I was going by my recollection of the Norquist’s quote and the way in which it’s sometimes been described. Most often a metaphorical baby is inferred.

    As such, I would put this question to you regarding the quote: What exactly does one “drown” in a bathtub?

    p.s. People (who don’t particularly like me for whatever reason) have been known to misrepresent things I’ve written on this blog, take quotes out of context and cherry-pick things to fit their particular narrative(s).

    As for being “pegged as a partisan hack” well folks can think whatever they want, but the evidence wouldn’t really back up that assertion. In any case, I don’t pander to the impressions of others.

  17. Ti-Guy

    I would like to drown Grover Norquist in a bathtub.

  18. jkg

    And the distribution of representation needs to be redressed to better reflect current realities in terms of population.

    I think certain smaller in terms of populations regions or provinces should have greater representations in the senate to counterbalance the fact that such regions have less representation in the HOC due to their population size. I tend to be a little bit of regionalist at times due to where I grew up (‘rural canada’), but my fear with calibrating the Senate with population growth is that the provinces who already have such large federal representation will just get more sway.

  19. I know what you’re saying, but I find it difficult to argue with the “rep by pop” principle. There’s something fundamentally unfair about giving a voter in one region 13 times more influence than a voter in another. Same thing in the USA. Why should two senators from Rhode Island or Maine have as much sway in Congress as two from New York or California? It’s absurd.

  20. austin

    I have to disagree with you on this RT. Our HOC is there, in theory, to represent the wishes of each riding, if we gave each province equal say the Senate could be the voice of the provinces collectively. Just because some things are good in certain regions through out the country does not mean they are good for the provinces as a whole, so it would give stronger say to the provinces. We would just have to make it less partisan, your idea earlier for appointing them was good.

  21. Agreed. It’s a complex problem with no easy or trite solution. I’m not entirely sure how to balance off national interests with those of provinces according to their popular representation.

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