Tuesday, January 27, 2015

When He's Naked, He Looks Ridiculous


Yesterday, the opposition parties hammered the Harper government on what was supposed to be its signature issue going into the upcoming election. The NDP's Nathan Cullen observed that the prime minister had "painted himself into a corner:"

They spent the surplus before they had it, and they spent the surplus on an economic scheme in which only 15 per cent of Canadians receive any benefit, but 100 per cent of Canadians will have to pay for it.

Still, Joe Oliver insisted, the government would balance the budget and not cut services. Scott Clark and Peter DeVries write:

The PM has never liked budgets. He never saw them as a means to articulate a vision of the economy and the country. To Harper, a budget is a PR document — and a Trojan horse for pushing through legislative changes that have nothing at all to do with the budget.

Past governments, both Liberal and Conservative, saw the budget as their most important policy and political document. Budgets set out the government’s fiscal, tax, industrial, social, developmental, international and defense policy objectives and the policy initiatives the government intended to take to achieve them. They were visionary documents. You didn’t have to agree with the vision … but it was there.

No longer. Since 2006, major policy decisions have been made outside the budget, with no discussion or parliamentary debate. The change in the Canada Health Transfer escalator was made at a meeting of federal and provincial finance ministers in December 2011. Harper announced the change in eligibility for Old Age Security benefits in Davos, not Parliament. And he announced his “family tax package” in Vaughan, Ont., back in October — shortly before the oil market fell off a cliff.

At every turn, Harper has tried to cut Parliament and the budget process out of the equation. Once upon a time, governments had to table a Borrowing Authority Bill if they needed incremental borrowing. Parliament demanded that any Borrowing Authority Bill be accompanied by a budget in order to provide the proper economic and fiscal context to justify the borrowing.

In the 2007 budget, the Harper government eliminated the need for a Borrowing Authority Bill. Now the government can borrow through an Order-in-Council — no budget, or parliamentary approval, required. 

That's what happens when a man who claims to be a "trained economist" turns out to be utterly incompetent. He doesn't present a budget -- because he doesn't know how to budget. The trained economist has no clothes. And, when he's naked, he looks ridiculous.


mogs moglio said...

Um ya Owen there is a deeper wave that they don't understand--> Sting:


All the bloodshed all the greed all the angels all the devils all around us can't you see? Sting again.

I say love is the seventh wave... Sting.

When I was in California where my step brothers lived that surfed claimed the waves would come in what they called "sets" and the seventh wave was always the best. Now that being said I hope we are in for the seventh of the seventh of the seventh set of Canadian politicians...

Owen Gray said...

Seven is supposed to be a mystical number, Mogs. Let's hope the coming wave sweeps Harper out to sea.

mogs moglio said...

Out to sea or in to jail eh?

Owen Gray said...

I suspect he'll stay out of jail, Mogs. But he could get soaked.

Pamela Mac Neil said...

When you are deceiving Canadians on the scale that Harper is, then you need to lie, about everything. Deception and lying go hand in hand. He becomes naked when his lies are exposed and you're right he looks ridiculous. What amazes me Owen, is how much lying he gets away with.

Anonymous said...

Trained Economist? He is more like a Trained Opportunist.

Look at how he is now morphing into a great believer that the Canadian economy is more than oil.

Suddenly, our Trained Opportunist has discovered the importance of manufacturing to the Ontario economy.

One can only assume he must have had his Come to Jesus moment when the oil price collapsed, again. Of course, the price of oil had only been collapsing about once a decade.

But perhaps, the U. of Calgary did not teach him that, or he could have skipped that particular class to attend his Reform political meeting.

Owen Gray said...

Opportunist is precisely the right word, Anon. He will sell out an idea or a person -- if it will advance his career.

Owen Gray said...

Perhaps he gets away with it, Pam, because he has learned not to blush.

Anonymous said...

After getting a gold achievement medal in high school, Harper flunked out of UofToronto after 2 months. Ran off to the Prairies getting a job in the mailroom at Imperial Oi, probably because his father was a senior accountant in I-O Toronto.

The off to UofCalgary, the "last chance U" of the west at the time. manages to find a home in the western right-wing think-tank faculty there. A 3-year BA and a 2-year M-Econ (his thesis has been characterized as a derivative, uninspired and pedantic attack on Keynesian economic)and he's on his way to being the Economist PM.

Funny thing, that manufacturing sector in Ontario Harper helped Bay/Wall Streets trash... sure could use it now eh?

Owen Gray said...

Harper claims that Ontario manufacturing will recover, Anon. The problem is that a lot of it has closed up shop. Some of it has moved south.

Troy said...

It'd take a good budget, and a few years, to restore Canada's manufacturing base to a decent, respectable level, and it needs to happen immediately. Good thing Harper's an economist... Wait.
Um, at the very least, if Harper works and cooperates with the provincial governments, then... Wait.
Um, if Harper's willing to, um, I don't know what he could do, other than lie. Like promise a tonne of imaginary money for fairy tale dreams, again. Like he did with the Economic Actin Plan. Anyone remember that act of fraud?
If Harper's government is elected again, this year, we're in for a lost decade. We're already well underway, to be honest.

Anonymous said...

Inequality stagnates growth and some counties have realized that mistake. Harper never will.

Harper sells Canada to China with his FIPA deal, on China's terms. China has the resources and resource jobs to boot. All that money leaves Canada.

Same in the oil patch, foreign workers send their wages back home and all that money also leaves Canada.

In BC, Premier Clark campaigned on 100,000 LNG jobs for BC people, that is a whopper of a lie. So is her thousands of six figure wage mine jobs. China is taking the resources and resource jobs too. More money leaving Canada. Clark says, she is taking steps to make it easier to bring over foreign labor.

Seems to me, there is more money going out of Canada, than is coming in. I would really like Harper to explain, how does all of that benefit the country and the people?

Owen Gray said...

It's never been about benefiting the country, Anon. It's always been about benefiting the few.

Owen Gray said...

In the run up to the election, Troy, the fallacy which is Harperian policy has come home to roost.

We'd be fools to re-elect him.

The Mound of Sound said...

We've become a country where sentients no longer dominate the political realm. Harper knows that, today, people who fear can outvote people who think. We've been groomed to be unquestioning and susceptible to implanted fear and it's already proved its worth to the far right in today's US Congress and, up here, in Harper's majority.

Owen Gray said...

As Roosevelt said, Mound, "We have nothing to fear except fear itself." And when fear dominates, we're incapable of finding solutions.

Our present masters want to keep it that way.

Scotian said...

Owen Gray said...

In the run up to the election, Troy, the fallacy which is Harperian policy has come home to roost.

We'd be fools to re-elect him.

2:16 pm

Yes, we would be wouldn't we, since he and his government is unlike anything we have ever seen before in this nation. Which means, even if you take his progressive detractors vision of Justin Trudeau as gospel reality it is still a far Far FAR better thing to have him as the next PM in either minority or majority form than it is to have Harper stay one second longer then possible, doesn't it? Yet already I'm hearing the NDP with their usual Lib Tory Same Old Story rhetoric in its various permutations all over the place. Anyone with any smidgen of personal honesty and political awareness knows full damned well there is little to no real truth to that where the Harper CPC and the Libs are concerned, they know from the polls, by-elections and indeed the 2011 election results that there simply is not the preference for the NDP to form a government, yet they still act like not just that they can be but are supposed and will be the next government.

That they refuse to acknowledge that stopping Harper is a major fundamental need beyond usual political imperatives even after everything the last 9 years have shown us I find absolutely infuriating and also exposes the dirty underbelly of the modern NDP as being more about expediency and power than anything else especially their supposed principles that make them such a different party than the rest whatever they like to say. I'd said back in the Martin years that Harper was something extraordinary and that we were in unusual circumstances and that stopping Harper had to be placed above normal political considerations, that I wouldn't mind the NDP trying to make gains off the Libs were they up against the PCPC, but this was something truly different. We are now 9 years into Harper as PM, the last 3-4 years as a majority. How can ANYONE still claim that Harper resembling ANYTHING we had seen from prior Lib and PCPC governments?!?!?!

Even if I believed Justin Trudeau was an empty-headed figurehead for Gerald Butts et al, I'd STILL argue they are so far better than Harper than the choice is obvious! That ANY Lib government would be so much better than what we have now that getting rid of Harper is more than worth it, and that if you truly care about this nation surviving at all in any progressive form then Harper has to be gone ASAFP!

I keep getting this feeling of pain in my forehead from all the pounding on my desk when I keep seeing this insanity from those who should know better but cannot place their partisan interests down and place national survival first!

Owen Gray said...

Let's hope that, after nine years of Harper, the public recognizes a phoney when they see one -- a phoney of any political stripe, Scotian.

Scotian said...

Oh, and on your post topic itself (I separated the two because I knew I'd run over the character limit), the way Harper has systematically destroyed the fiscal frameworks that decades of responsible government had established in Canadian tradition was one of those things I was so worried about Harper for in the first place. Remember, we no longer even get budgets in the traditional sense, we get planning documents, economic updates, and similar fluff. I never took the economist credential Harper claims with any seriousness, because he never actually practiced anything where that would show it being used in a practical sense, and no, political criticism alone is not in that criteria in my view. I also knew that Harper would dismantle processes that in some cases go back to Confederation in his revisionism and wholesale "restructuring" (or as I call it being the Destroyer and Salter of the Scorched Earth) of our civil service and basic governing processes/systems.

I always understood that the economic infrastructure of Harper and those that supported him in his quest for political leadership/dominance was a primary target, and we have seen in what way they wanted it to go and what they were willing to destroy to get there. At this point we do not have an understandable effective government fiscal structure, and this is why I have said as bad as we think things are in this area I truly believe we are only seeing the tip of the iceberg, and it isn't a small iceberg either. I do not believe the numbers that come out of Ottawa these days, and I suspect in the privacy of many international institutions both public and private a similar skepticism exists.

This is also why I am glad the Libs have shown such restraint in talking about big spending items, because I do not believe the resources are there for them, and what there is will be needed to start repairing the damage to core systems like medicare and transfer payments for long standing programs which have been damaged by the Harper regime. I think the NDP are playing a fools game with their big ticket item talk for this reason, because they are to some extent trusting the CPC, sorry, Harper government figures to have some connection to reality. I think given all the other fictions we have seen to date that is insane.

If anything I think both opposition parties ought to be pointing this out in the next election, but the problem is the more they do so the more they may well destabilize our economic stability by engendering increased awareness/fear in the wider markets to this truth. It is a very ugly situation we are in, and there are no easy answers I believe, and I believe strongly that we will not have any idea just how bad everything truly is until the Harper government is totally removed from power. This in turn further underscores why I said in my last comment why removing Harper from power is and should be seen by all as an at all costs need, and that means normal political imperatives should be put aside to make sure it happens.

to be concluded...:

Scotian said...


The harsh truth is only the Libs have a high probability of replacing the Harper CPC, this is the basic political reality of Canada, and claiming that the NDP because they finally got lucky to become the Official Opposition against what might be arguably the worst Lib leader ever last time out means that has finally changed is delusional to my way of seeing things. If one really believes Harper to be the worst PM ever, to be doing damage unlike anything we have ever seen before, then how can one not also then make his removal a higher political importance than one's usual partisanship, especially if you are supposedly a party that cares more about principles than just expediency as the NDP and its partisans have claimed so as to slam their opposition with?

Our economic reality is worse than we have ever seen it before, because Harper has destroyed so much of the framework infrastructure and institutions any Canadian government needs to be able to manage it in a responsible manner. This is one of the most important reasons for removing him from power at all costs I submit.

Owen Gray said...

Harper is driven by a deep hostility to parliamentary government, Scotian. He's taken a wrecking ball to the country's political, social and legal infrastructure.

Lots of Canadians -- myself included -- never fully understood how dangerous he was -- and is.

Scotian said...


Fortunately, or perhaps unfortunately given the Cassandra curse I've lived for over a decade now, I did. That is in part why I limit what I say these days, because the urges towards "I TOLD YOU SO!" is not small. I did try to explain in detail why this was true and what in the Harper history/record showed us what he was all along, and for me the Grewal recordings fraud showed that Harper has no morals, no qualms about major legal fraud even in Opposition, so with government power one had to expect at least as bad and more likely worse given the increased power that comes with government.

I'm just hoping and praying that this time enough voters have like you come to understand what Harper truly is and why his removal is so imperative for the future of this nation's very survival. I've grown very weary of fighting this fight over and over again, and I would like this nightmare to finally come to an end.

Owen Gray said...

Michael Harris has done yeoman's work on Harper, Scotian. He has carefully documented the stuff that has bothered you for so long.

He has a record of righting injustice. And his latest book seems to be reaching lots of people.

Scotian said...

It is a good book, I bought it early afternoon New Years Eve, started to read it and ended up not being able to stop until I finished it around 4am New Years Day. Not how I had originally envisioned spending New Years Eve (although did toast the New Year at midnight with my wife and some Bushmills), but the book was just too hard to put down. For me most of what was there was not new to me, but the level of detail it had was exceptional. The fact that the notorious sue happy Harper CPC has not even tried to go after Harris and his book shows they fear it greatly and do not want to give it any more publicity than it already has, otherwise I expect they would have gone after it even knowing it was a losing cause in the end, that would hardly be a first for this government/leader/party.

The fact the book is doing so well it one of those factors that is allowing me to have some hope that change is finally coming. It isn't the only one, but it is a nice one to be seeing. I've currently loaned the book to my parents, not that this time out either needs convincing about just how bad Harper is, they have both long since come to the same conclusion. With my mother, not all that surprising, but with my strongly conservative father (and I mean that in the traditional more than the political sense, but it does tend to inform his political views and voting choices) his increasingly open and increasingly intense active dislike to anger with Harper is something I have never seen from my father towards any politician in my entire almost 50 years of life now.

Indeed, he has come out point blank and said with vehemence that he wants to see a Justin Trudeau majority come out of the next election, both my mother and I nearly passed out from the shock of not just him thinking that but saying it openly. While my father is an informed voter, he unlike my mother and I is not one to talk openly about his thinking in that arena nor how he plans to vote. This is no small deal with him, and I am wondering how many other pre-Boomer to Boomer generation voters like him are feeling the same way this time out.

Because my parents each came from highly political families, hers Lib, his PCPC stretching back to Confederation including elected federal officials as well as Provincial (one of my great grandfathers for example was a member of the last Upper House of Nova Scotia and voted himself out of a job, and that family history is in part why I am such a process geek and care so much about process issues) the rule has generally been between them that they do not try to influence the other on politics. So for my father to not just come to this opinion but be as vocal with us about it, and apparently to others in his circle, well that is fairly unprecedented, and yet a further proof for me of just how far away from the mainstream, even the conservative Canadian mainstream Harper truly is. Not to mention why it so pisses me off to hear that Lib Tory same old story crap from Dippers.

Owen Gray said...

A good friend of mine -- a strong Conservative -- has no use for Harper, Scotian. He says he'd even put up with four years of socialism to get rid of him.

Like your father, he has had enough.