Paul Martin on the Economy

Some sober reflections on the present state of the global economy by the former Prime Minister.

Not a lot of insight beyond the obvious, but Martin does provide some sound advice regarding the current sovereign debt crisis in Europe (that he correctly surmises would be politically untenable).

As for the inevitable “what would you do if you were PM today?” question, I totally agree with Martin’s position that the government should be investing more in the “things that really count” and will make the country more globally competitive in the future (e.g., transportation infrastructure, education, and so on).

24 Replies to “Paul Martin on the Economy”

  1. “More things that really count?” Ugh. We need to start looking at privatizing some public services. It needs to stop being the “boogeyman” of political platforms. Public sector unions have bid themselves completely out of the realm of logical thought to the point where benefits, vacations, sick time and wages are out of this world. It’s funny how nobody wants to address that. Harper included.

  2. And in fairness – this guy is so much better at talking about finances than he ever was at being the Prime Minister. He’s a complete buffoon at that job. It’s too bad he wasted a golden opportunity for greed.

  3. TT: Not sure what the axe you have to grind against public service unions has to do with anything touched on here…

    By “things that really count” I believe that Martin was referring in a general way to the kind of public (or in many cases public-private) infrastructure such as roads, railways, bridges, port facilities, universities, and so on.

  4. For the most part, privatization of certain services will never work. It seems that only idiots such as the Trusty Tory keep on pushing this ideological fallacy. Given that disparity between the rich and the poor, it seems that TT and his ilk may get their way – but society as a whole will be the ones paying…
    Report: Government spends billions more hiring contractors over public workers

    Go suck on that fuckwad. And yes, Red, I have no patience for the stupid.

  5. One thing that almost got tried, but was withdrawn here in Ontario, was a private venture into running the hospitals.

    It’s not two-tier, just put hospitals on a fee grid from OHIP like doctors (that are “private”) are on. I’m sure the efficiency would go up dramatically. There are too many overpaid high-end executives in the hospital system here in middle Canada.

  6. Fuckwad? Idiots? Hahahahahaha. GREAT argument, scum suckers! Oh, I suppose I’ll be labelled “racist” now. Or some stupid dumb shit you come up with. Go fuck your hat, retards.

  7. Interesting that much of what Paul Martin is saying we should do nationally to help deal with the recession and even take advantage of the situation is being planned on a smaller scale provincially in Ontario by McGuinty and the Ontario liberals. McGuinty is putting an emphasis on regular education and post secondary such as planning to create new campuses plus cutting tuition for middle to lower income families. Investment in infrastructure particularly public transit systems, such as expanding the GO train system in the GTA area. Also plans to reinvest in the electric system.

  8. If you weren’t too stupid to comprehend TT, I also included a link that pretty much puts to rest your “emission” that privatization is the solution to everything. Quite simply, the free market is not the solution to everything.

  9. “Go fuck your hat….”

    God, the last time I saw that expression it was written on the back of the door in one of the washrooms at the University of Guelph. Couldn’t have been any later than 1977.

    What a refreshing evocation of those happy days.

  10. The boogeyman of platforms? Yeah, poor down-trodden market liberals, just can’t seem to have any influence on politics. You’re a remarkably stupid person Trusty Tory. And, for the love of God, we’ve already pointed out how absurd your avatar, name, and other historical allusions are, please get rid of them. I’m sure we can offer you some suggestions if you’re interested.

    It’s so odd. Canada isn’t lacking for concrete spending needs. One-offs and replacement spending that would create a cleaner, more efficient country. Cons have no problem spending on nutty tax credits, tennis courts, gazebos, and bible schools. Surely there are votes to be bought the old fashioned way – bridges, highways, streets, trains. I wouldn’t even particularly mind if they siphoned off some of the contracts to fund the bar bill at the next Conservative circle-jerk.

  11. I really don’t understand what objection many “conservatives” have to infrastructure spending. It’s not as if the work doesn’t need to be done, or can be avoided forever. As Martin (and many others) have pointed out, with interest rates at an all-time low and an available pool of unemployed (or underemployed) workers, now is the best possible time to be investing in these necessary undertakings. It’s not as if these maintenance problems are going to go away if they’re ignored – they’ll just get worse and become even more expensive to fix down the road.

    Conservatives abhor the idea of passing on debt to future generations (or so they say – their actions often prove otherwise), well infrastructure represents a very real physical and material debt that will be passed on to future generations if not dealt with now and then properly maintained on a routine basis.

    Besides, it’s not as if the government will be directly sending bands of federal employees out to do this work. The money will go to private contractors who will benefit from the increased activity, thereby allowing them to invest more capital in new equipment and the hiring of employees.

    So what’s not to like?

  12. Can you imagine what Canada would have been like had not Sir John A. and his successors been willing to take a gamble on the future ? They found different ways to do it, but in the end, they had a PUBLIC POLICY for the development of Canada.

    The Liberal Party always wanted Canada to twist & swing with the market – even if that mean continental union.

    Whither Toryism ?

  13. ATY: The early Liberals during the 19th century also had a public policy for the development of Canada, but their vision was somewhat different from that of Conservatives (e.g., less federalism, more individual liberty, support for free trade, etc. Stuff that present day Conservatives would have loved!).

    As to your final question, I think Brian Mulroney pretty much terminated its existence.

  14. Whither Toryism ?
    Aeneas, it’s been almost fifty years since Tory guru George Grant pronounced it dead and unrevivable. Dief was the last gasp, but Pearson, Howe and other Lib nasties sold us out to the Yanks, and there was no going back. Since then, successive Old Tories like yourself keep coming up with somebody new and contemporary to blame. Red says Mulroney and there’s a whole bevy of you blaming Harper at every chance. Geez, when can we have the funeral and finally say goodbye? Laments for the death of Toryism have become like Monty Python’s First Final Farewell Tour.

  15. The early Liberals during the 19th century also had a public policy for the development of Canada, but their vision was somewhat different from that of Conservatives (e.g., less federalism, more individual liberty, support for free trade, etc. Stuff that present day Conservatives would have loved!).

    Not in practice. I think we’ve gone over this before, but everyone’s favourite “liberal”, Laurier, loved him some big government national policies and effective mercantilism.

  16. Peter, surely you can mourn the “death of Toryism” in Canada without completely abandoning its contributions to politics. If I can generalise, the crowd here thinks that some degree of central planning and an activist nationalist policy created a pretty neat place to live and work. While no party perfectly represents that combination today you know that some of us have drifted over to the NDP, attracted by the similarities social democracy has with 19th Century conservatism, and some of us have drifted over to the Liberals, sold on a new national identity created after the War. We think some of the Founders had a pretty good idea going, and some of those ideas are relevant to contemporary discussions, I mean Martin could easily be talking about the CPR or trans-Canada highway.

  17. Shiner: Not that I’m defending Laurier’s policies, but I don’t think your description is accurate. Maybe you could elaborate a little on which you regard as being “big government” and “effective mercantilism” because I’m at a loss here…

  18. Laurier continued the Conservatives National Policy with a heavy-handedness on the part of the Federal Government, despite all the talk of provincial rights. As far as the economy goes, the suggestion that Laurier’s Liberals were all about free trade that’s trotted out so often is simply wrong. Freer trade perhaps, but Laurier’s trade policies were designed primarily to protect and nurture central Canadian industry.

  19. I know, Shiner, I do too. But the nationalism in MacDonald’s time was linked to a global Empire, which stood in counterpoint to the Americans and kept us at least from falling into the parochialism reflected in a lot of “red tory” thinking today. There were fears of a real invasion, not a drop in the sales of Margaret Atwood’s novels. The cause was Imperial Preference and Defence, not closing ourselves off to the world outside. As to central planning, that’s fine, but should it not be in response to a real (and affordable ) needs rather than the result of frantically searching for a mission to show we’re different from the Yanks? Plus let’s not forget that Toryism was not just about those. It reflected the views of the old Ontario/Maritimes horsey sets and was anti-French, anti-immigrant, pro-established religion, dismissive of the West and snobbish as all hell.
    Sure, we can still draw inspiration from it, but I am tired of the rote, parochial anti-Americanism, the constant rending of garments over any continental cooperation, the insistence we have nothing to learn from them and the patronizing talk about how they are sucking out our cultural precious bodily fluids with every new TV channel. It’s a very gloomy, parochial theory that betrays an insulting belief that Canada is so politically and socially fragile that too many vacations in DisneyWorld will make us the 51st state. ( It actually resembles the Church’s efforts to isolate Quebecers from the modern world) Plus it seems to be blissfully unaware or uncaring that we are a trading nation in a highly competitive world marked by a technological and communication revolution that has changed the way we live and think and shows no sign of slowing down. If old John A. were still around, I imagine he would try to ban Twitter .

  20. Shiner: Thanks for the clarification.

    I’m not quite sure how “reciprocity” can be equated with mercantilism (even though the net effect of such a policy would certainly have beneficially accrued to the industrial concerns of Central Canada at the time), but I’ll have to defer to your expertise on the matter as I don’t know enough about the subject to debate the point. I was never that keen on Canadian history in school (insufficient wars to keep me interested back then, I guess).

  21. No, you’re right, mercantilism isn’t a perfect word for it, but the goal was essentially the same: the protection of domestic industries through tarriffs and direct subsidy of firms and preferential treatment of domestic resources. My point being that Toryism was not just a Tory thing, the ideas have always influenced our politics.

  22. I get rather confused by all this at times… My understanding of the classical Tory position concerning economic nationalism would naturally support the protection and cultivation of domestic industries through a regime of import tariffs and financial incentives (subsidies or “corporate welfare” as some prefer to call it) and yet you seem to be contending that the “reciprocity” (aka free trade) pursued by the Liberals of the time — that would have markedly reduced tariffs on imports from the USA and forced our industries to be more competitive through exposure to market forces — would nonetheless have effected the same outcome. This is where I just shake my head because it doesn’t appear to make sense. So what am I missing here?

  23. Nope, just that Laurier’s proposed recprocity was never actually very reciprocitous. Laurier continued to protect Canada’s industrial heartland. The reciprocity agreement affected mostly natural resources. Tarriff’s on manufactured goods deemed vital for the continued good health of the Canadian industrial sector remained in place.

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