Count me amongst the 54% of Canadians who, according to a recent poll, rather cynically believe that the so-called “robocall scandal” is just “politics as usual” and therefore nothing terribly exceptional to be all that bothered about. Certainly nothing warranting an outraged, pant-bunching reaction such as that demonstrated on left-wing blogs for weeks now, let alone cause for actually marching in the streets…

Of course, that isn’t to say that such fraudulent electoral tactics should be condoned or go unpunished, but as Margaret Wente pointed out last week, “this fraud seems to have been engineered by the Keystone Kops.” And as, historian Michael Bliss observed, “From the point of view of anybody concerned about our political system, it’s a non-scandal.”

With regards to the parting comment of GlobalTV’s Tom Clark, not to suggest that they can’t walk and angrily gnash their teeth at the same time, but perhaps the frustrated Harper-haters’ time and attention would be better spent concentrating on the Conservative government’s “revolutionary” plans that we’re told are about to soon unfold…

Harper-Ford BBQ Footage

In case you’re interested, here’s the YouTube video featuring “Canada’s best known fishing buddies” that was described by Tim Harper in the Toronto Star the other day. Better hurry though, as a previous uploads have been yanked, apparently at the behest of paranoid, ultra-secretive Conservative Party apparatchiks.

There’s actually nothing terribly startling about it:

So, to recap — there was surprise guest Harper, telling the crowd about a heretofore unknown fishing trip with Ford, lauding the mayor for cleaning up the NDP mess at City Hall, patting himself on the back for cleaning up the leftist mess in Ottawa, rooting on Tim Hudak (without specifically naming him) to complete the “hat trick” by ousting Dalton McGuinty on Oct. 6.

Perhaps, as Harper (the columnist, not the Dear Leader) suggests, “there’s something unnerving about the two of them trading thigh slappers and appearing to have such a damn good time while cutting jobs and gutting services.” Or maybe the Conservatives just didn’t want people to see Jim Flaherty wearing that ridiculous faux boxing belt awarded to him for being “World Championship Finance Minister.”

Broken Promise #1

Just a week after having been elected and the Conservatives are already indicating they intend to break this key promise made to potential voters in their campaign platform:

“Through accelerated reductions in government spending, a re-elected Stephen Harper government will eliminate the deficit by 2014-15.”

Of course, the notion that an additional $4 billion a year in savings could be realized via undefined “efficiencies” in government operations was patently ridiculous on its face. Now safely ensconced in a majority government however, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty won’t commit to balancing the books and suddenly declares that he has to “look at all of the data” and consult with economists to draft a clear plan to deliver the extra savings promised in the CPC platform…

Fair enough. But where then did the forecast of a relatively modest $300-million deficit in 2014-15 forecast contained in Flaherty’s upbeat, pre-election budget come from? Oh, right… where all of the Conservative’s economic thinking and financial prognostications originate: from here.

Shit Eaters

Look it up in the Dictionary
… you’ll likely find these mugs in evidence.

Seriously, are there three more despised people in the Western world than this loathsome trio of self-satisfied stooges?

Harper Wants a Majority

In other news from the Land of Duh! — the sky is blue and the sun is still hot. I really cannot fathom what all the excitement is about this “bootleg” video of Harper speaking to a closed meeting of the party faithful in the Soo last week. Of course Harper wants a majority… just as I’m sure Michael Ignatieff would like one if he had his druthers.

Not of course that either man should wish too ardently for such a baleful thing, given the present economic circumstances. Consider the news today (another non-startling revelation of the completely obvious) that “Ottawa’s finances are in much worse shape than previously forecast and the Conservatives no longer have any idea when they can balance the books.”

The plain fact of the matter is that whoever wins the forthcoming election (should it happen) will be presiding over the largest deficit in Canadian history, while facing sluggish growth and mounting unemployment for a period of uncertain duration.

Flaherty said the government’s revenue shortfall will total $55.9 billion this year – revising a previous forecast of $50 billion – and $45.3 billion next year.

Yesterday’s update also scrapped an earlier prediction that Ottawa would stop running up debt by 2013-14.

The government will still be saddled with a deficit that year and in 2014-15 – part of revenue shortfalls totalling more than $164 billion over the next five years.

A government official briefing reporters in Ottawa said it’s impossible to predict when the federal accounts can be balanced. It may take five to 10 years to put an end to budget deficits, the official said.

Perhaps those opposed to Harper should almost hope that he’s cursed with a majority victory. At least then the Conservatives will have nobody to blame but themselves for the consequences of their actions. Wouldn’t that be a refreshing change?

Relatively Speaking

Here’s another clever video from “Grit Girl” — this time poking fun at Jim Flaherty’s somewhat bizarre, disconnected, and rather tone-deaf pronouncement last week about the recession.

For your complete enjoyment, this was Jim’s kooky musing:

”Most people in Canada came from other places, including the United Kingdom. Most of them came on boats. Most of them came with nothing. Many … died because of disease while they were travelling to Canada. We commemorate that in various places in Canada.

Relatively speaking, this is a mild economic recession. These are relatively mild challenges for us. We will come out of this strongly.”

So there you go, folks. Quit bellyaching already. Your threadbare, disease-ridden, death-prone immigrant forefathers fleeing from the Dickensian horrors of their native land that somehow managed to survive a harrowing, nightmarish, often fatal ocean voyage prior to scrambling ashore in Canada untold decades ago, suffered far more than you can ever imagine.

A valid enough point, I suppose, but rather small comfort I’m sure to the swelling ranks of the unemployed (particularly those unable to obtain benefits or that fall through the cracks) and everyone else on the shitty end of the meltdown that wiped out $50 trillion in assets and brought the global financial system to its knees.

Also, it has to be said a rather contradictory thing to say coming from a Finance minister soon to be presiding over a projected $85 billion in cumulative deficits by the spring of 2013. That’s a whole lotta “mild”… relatively speaking.

But this raised another question, and it may be not an altogether comfortable one for Liberals. While it’s great fun (and easy as pie) of course to ridicule Flaherty for his misbegotten historical reflections, casting him as heartless or clueless or whatever, and to take aim at the Conservatives for flip-flopping all over the place about the economy and “making it up as they go along” as it’s charged, what would the Liberals have done differently had they been in power?

Because They LIE… All the Time

In addition to the economic forecasters contradicting Flaherty’s ludicrous claim that “nobody… not one economist” predicted the global recession — wickedly pointed out by “Grit Girl” in the widely circulating video shown below — I’d add the following individuals who were well ahead of the curve on this: Bill White, formerly of both the Bank of Canada and the Bank for International Settlements; Harvard University’s Ken Rogoff; Nouriel Roubini of New York University; Wynne Godley of Cambridge; Bernard Connolly of AIG Financial Products; and of course Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital.

Doesn’t Sunny Jim realize that 65 percent of Canadians aren’t gullible rubes?

The R-Word

Jim Flaherty discusses the state of the Canadian economy with Steve Paiken on TVO’s The Agenda program a little while back.

“The election was called in September. No one in September, no one had ever suggested the Canadian economy might go into a recession,” said Flaherty.

Um, no. That’s simply not true. Moreover, by the very first week of October all of the economists for the major banks were loudly warning “that the domestic economy’s current gloom will deepen into something worse than a recession.” It’s almost impossible to believe that Harper and Flaherty weren’t fully aware of this possibility in September, if not well before that time.

The Great Canadian Fire Sale

Well, it certainly would have been nice if Harper and the Conservatives had mentioned the possibility of selling off some of the country’s capital assets in order to balance the books back during the recent election when they were confidently boasting that the fundamentals of economy were strong.

Haven’t we been down this road with Jim Flaherty before?

Update: Harper wants us all to stop calling it a “fire sale” for goodness sake. He’s just looking at “privatizing” some holdings, that’s all. There now, don’t you feel reassured by that? We all know how well privatization generally works out.


Like 32.5 million others or so, I must have completely missed this program on CBC’s Newsworld channel. Billed as “the show that kicks democracy into hyperdrive…” There are several parts to it, but here are two (the beginning and the end, in fact) that will give you the flavour of this “political experiment that’s never been tried before in this country”:

I won’t be a spoiler and tell you who actually “won” this fun-filled little event focused on the economy, but let’s say that it wasn’t the NDPs or Greens.