Tuesday, January 07, 2014

When Corruption Trumps Economics

Going forward, Stephen Harper's strategy appears to be ride out the scandals and crow about the economy. If he had any sense of history -- even recent history -- the prime minister might re-evaluate that strategy. He would only have to revisit Paul Martin's tenure as prime minister. Michael Harris writes:

If anyone saved Canada from going into the abyss of Mulroney-era deficits, it was the former finance minister in Jean Chretien’s government. As Preston Manning observed, Canada dodged a bullet in the financial meltdown of 2008 precisely because Martin got the deficit under control in the mid-1990s, casualties and all.

Martin also produced successive budget surpluses, reduced the country’s debt-to-GDP ratio from 70 per cent to 50 per cent and got Canada’s AAA credit-rating restored. Despite this solid domestic record, and international successes involving the creation of the G20, the electorate was unkind. The best Paul Martin could do with voters was a minority government, followed promptly by defeat. 

What brought Martin down was corruption. And the irony was that the corruption wasn't of his own making. Harper, on the other hand, is steeped in scandal -- from Mike Duffy, to robocalls, to Arthur Porter -- and his economic record isn't nearly as impressive as Martin's. Like Martin, Harper's claims he is eliminating the deficit. But he is not growing the economy:

As for balancing the budget, it’s being done not by growing the economy but by cutting social services, selling foreign embassies and flogging Canada’s stock of gold coins. It is a shaky plan, premised as it is on the idea that the only thing that matters to Canadians is their pocketbooks.

Despite his management of the economy, Canadians turfed Martin. Mr. Harper assumes he can avoid Martin's fate. But corruption -- more often than not -- trumps economics


Lorne said...

Harper's corruption, along with the many names associated with it, needs to be kept as much as possible in the public's mind until the next election, Owen. We all have a part to play in this if we are to have any hope of seeing a better Canada within our lifetime.

Owen Gray said...

During Richard Nixon's final days, Lorne, I recall hearing a song with the title, "Haldeman, Erlichman, Mitchell and Dean."

It got a lot of play, even in Montreal. And it became a litany.

A good satirist could do wonders with Harper and his associates.

Danneau said...

And what happens when you have corruption, deceit, bad economic and social management and a lack of direction other than payoffs to friends? Christie Clark managed a majority win on just such a platform, and I'm not too hopeful that the wider Canadian electorate will have a great deal better grounding in reason once the next election looms and the spin machine notches up a click or two.

Owen Gray said...

I agree, Danneau that the BC scenario might be repeated in Ottawa. All I can add is that it's my impression that Clark won because Dix lost.

The paths the opposition parties choose to take in the next election will make all the difference.

The Mound of Sound said...

The problem with corruption and the Tory government is they've learned they can get away with it. Given enough time or toss out some bright, shiny thing, and the public simply forgets.

Richard Gwyn just wrote why Harper is probably the best choice in 2015. With a national media that won't hold a corrupt politician accountable, why should we be surprised when the public's memory fades so quickly?

Owen Gray said...

I read Gwyn's column this morning, Mound, and was -- as he predicted -- upset.

It seems to me that Gwyn has confused the cure with the cause. As long as Canadians buy Harper's line that he is the cure for what ails us, their future will be bleak.

the salamander said...

.. Corruption will not bring Stephen Harper down ..
only his conceit, fear, narcissism, doubt, greed & ego will ..

Canada & Canadians really have no idea what this venial & shallow current Prime Minister is up to.. much less how his complicit pack of incompetent political jackals and lickspittles are interpreting or enacting his borrowed Flanaganism ideology, directives or dazed, vague make believe ekonomic 'policies'

Certainly there is a blunt vicious message from Stephen Harper, in the transfer of Fisheries Act power from The Department of Fisheries and Oceans to The National Energy Board re fisheries permits vis a vis endangering fish or their habitat via pipelines and power lines.

Somehow in his distorted view as our elected public servant.. aquatic species at risk - their habitat, biology, place in the environmental food chain etc.. is in 'good hands' with his lickspittle, conflicted NEB that is in up to its ears in collusion with Chuck Strahl, Christy Clark, CSIS, RCMP, Enbridge.. and of course, that mysterious boyz club, THE HARPER PMO ..

What next Mr Harper? Shall we outsource marine patrol to China?
How about Food Safety administered by Dept of Religious Freedom? Foreign Policy directed by Ministry of Agriculture?
We already have a useless idiot on Democratic Reform..

We know you're packing your parachute... its obvious
but where to land? Ah.. !! Washington DC
where your lawyers can interminably contest your complicity ..
offshore .. so to speak ..
and whine, solicitor/client privilege uber alles

Well, you were never there for us anyway..
'all hat & no cattle' cowpoker pretender
its always been about feeding your small minded giant ego
and your tiny selfish heart.. missing in action
never glowed .. never will ..

Owen Gray said...

That last line would make an excellent epitaph for Harper, salamander.

"Never glowed, never will."

Anonymous said...

Thousands of jobs forecast for, Chinese Northern BC mining plan.
March 19/2011

Y'know all of those made in BC jobs, Christy Clark promised
Dec 22/2013

Immigrants given Canadian oil patch jobs.

Harper is bringing over thousands to train foreigners, for the oil patch and Northern BC mine jobs. And still, Canadians do not listen.

All of the opposition are useless, as are Harper's Ministers.

Owen Gray said...

The evidence is everywhere, Anon. Harpernomics doesn't benefit Canadians.

An economy should work for people. With Stephen Harper it's the other way around.

thwap said...

Martin shrank government more than harper did. Martin's numbers do look good on a superficial level. More so than does harper's and Flaherty's presiding over Canada's relatively less-awful economic fortunes during the global meltdown.

But Martin went down both because of disappointment with his austerity agenda and because the Conservatives are supported by shameless, hypocritical, braying jack-asses who screamed "AdScam Scandal" at the top of their lungs and continue to do so to this day.

Furthermore, let's never forget that harper only won a minority in the last election. his majority is based on criminal election fraud. he's not as politically successful as his evident victories make him appear.

Owen Gray said...

You would think, for the reasons you mention, that Paul Martin's fate might serve as a cautionary tale for Harper, thwap.

But the prime minister and his acolytes suffer from tunnel vision. All they see is the deficit. And they refuse to acknowledge the corruption.

If there is any justice -- or wisdom -- Canadians will make the same judgment of Harper that they made of Martin.

Anonymous said...

At the time, Martin should've thanked the ranks of the unemployed and jobless.

After all, his successes were possible only on their backs by ripping off the EI fund.

At the end of the day, the Liberals are just as bad as the current "Conservatives".

Owen Gray said...

The Liberals' turn to the right had everything to do with their defeat, Anon. The Adscam business was the catalyst which hastened their fall.

Harper has simply turned even harder to the right. And his corruption is worse -- much worse -- than the Liberals.

Given his record, one hopes that voters will also show Harper the exit.