Friday, September 06, 2013

It's Still The Economy, Stupid

Justin Trudeau has been talking about pot. Tom Mulcair has been talking about abolishing the Senate. But, Paul Wells writes in Macleans, that talk will not generate votes in the next election. The focus will still be on the economy. The Liberals may think they can remind voters of the Chretien-Martin years, when the nation was running budget surpluses. However,

This is something else that Liberals cannot understand: the notion that most Canadians are no longer properly grateful for the work Jean Chr├ętien and Paul Martin did to clean up deficits in the 1990s. In fact, a growing number of Canadians, even the ones who don’t smoke a lot of pot, have dim memories of the 1990s or none at all.

This helps explain a Harris-Decima poll from the end of August that inquired about respondents’ opinions of the national political parties. Trudeau’s net favourable impression is way higher than Harper’s and a fair bit higher than NDP Leader Tom Mulcair’s. Respondents were likelier to believe Trudeau “shares your values.” He’s having a strong year in the polls. But Harper still has a slight edge over both Trudeau and Mulcair on “judgment,” and on “economic management” it was a blowout: 39 per cent prefer Harper to only 20 per cent for Trudeau and 15 per cent for Mulcair.

Those numbers are a little strange, because a good case can be made that Harperian austerity was exactly not what the Canadian -- or the world  -- economy needed. As for the Senate, talking about abolition is much easier than doing something about it:

Canadians are angry at the Senate right now. That’s not the same as believing any party has the ability, once in power, to do much about it. His Senate tour illustrates a little-noticed difference between Mulcair and his predecessor Jack Layton. Layton came from Toronto city politics. He hadn’t the faintest interest in constitutional tinkering. The NDP stood for abolishing the Senate, as it always had, and Layton never talked about it. Mulcair comes from Quebec provincial politics, where a generation grew up believing that if you have no constitutional scheme to peddle you cannot be serious.

Pot and the Senate will be red herrings by the time the next election rolls around. If Trudeau and Mulcair are to be successful, they will have to convince Canadians that Stephen Harper is not the economic icon he claims to be.


Anonymous said...

Harper exporting MORE jobs to China

The [US] Department of Agriculture on Friday approved four Chinese poultry processors to begin shipping a limited amount of meat to the United States, a move that is likely to add to the debate over food imports.

Initially, the companies will be allowed to export only cooked poultry products from birds raised in the United States and Canada. But critics predicted that the government would eventually expand the rules, so that chickens and turkeys bred in China could end up in the [North] American market.

free summary here

Lorne said...

The tide and toll of ineluctable climate change may in fact contribute to dismantling or at least undermining the Harper myth of Tory fiscal rectitude, Owen. Tim Harper in today's Star has some pretty sobering numbers about the cost to the federal treasurey of this year's flooding in Alberta.

Add to this the fact that scientists have now developed a methodology that allows them to say with conviction that half of the 12 severe weather events studied for 2012 were increased in chance and severity by man-made global warming ( and one might feel confident in predicting something less than clear fiscal skies in Harper's future.

bcwaterboy said...

My hope for the remainder of 2013 is that Trudeau takes the necessary step of tearing apart the facade of harper's strength. For far too long he's been allowed to turn every conversation into jobs-and-the-economy which ironically his government has done little to promote beyond pipeline dreams.

Owen Gray said...

Exactly, waterboy. When it comes to the economy, Harper has one pitch -- pipelines. And that pitch seems to be in the dirt.

Despite his Master's degree, the man is no economic genius.

Owen Gray said...

Harper's pipeline pitch has been undermined by his complete disregard for the environment, Lorne.

Lots of people -- including Barack Obama -- have been making that point. But Mr. Harper hasn't been listening.

Owen Gray said...

Precisely, Anon. Harper's economic policies have been good for China. We, on the other hand, have been fed a dose of austerity.

Tossing Pebbles in the Stream said...

I thought you might like this report of a speech by Ms Klein

Owen Gray said...

Thanks for the link, Philip. Naomi Klein understood what was happening long ago. I was struck by this passage in her speech:

Just knowing what is happening – just rejecting their story, saying to the politicians and bankers: “No, you created this crisis, not us” or “No, we’re not broke, it’s just that you are hording all the money” may be true but it’s not enough.

It’s not even enough when you can mobilize millions of people in the streets to shout “We won’t pay for your crisis.”

It will take concerted public action to change things.

CK said...

Granted, the article was written by Liberal MP Ralph Goodale, but the article makes a case that Harper really isn't such a great manager of the economy.

Owen Gray said...

Goodale knows more about economics than Harper does, CK. Harper made the mistake of confusing economics with theology.