Friday, October 03, 2014

Not For You


Stephen Harper tells us that there are lots of things we can't afford -- like veterans affairs offices, lawyers to check the proposed constitutionality of legislation, and home mail delivery. But last week we paid the tab -- $300,000 -- to fly two European representatives round trip to celebrate the Canada European Trade Agreement.

Linda McQuaig wonders what, exactly, there is to celebrate:

According to Harper government hype, routinely repeated uncritically in the media, the trade deal will be a boon for all Canadians, boosting our economy by $12 billion, generating 80,000 jobs and adding $1,000 a year to the incomes of Canadian families.

But as economist Jim Stanford has pointed out in a concise analysis, these big economic gains were calculated by a computer model — based on a series of assumptions that are “not remotely realistic.”

For instance, they assume Canadian companies will sell as many services in Europe as European firms do (despite being thousands of miles away), and that Canadian firms will then invest these profits in new capital here – even though Canadian firms have notoriously hoarded profits in recent years rather than re-invest them. Yet this wildly optimistic assumption about re-investment accounts for more than half of the $12-billion economic boost.

As for job gains, well, the models actually showed productivity gains, not job gains. But knowing the public has little interest in something as esoteric as productivity gains, these somehow morphed into more politically popular job gains, in a sleight-of-hand by government spin-doctors that Stanford dubs “intellectually dishonest.”

Most far-fetched is the claim that the deal will boost the incomes of Canadian families by $1,000 each. As Stanford notes, the government simply took the $12 billion economic boost – a specious number at best – and divided it by the number of Canadian families.

That last calculation is mind boggling. Our prime minister claims to be an economist. But he's obviously math challanged. The last Conservative minister who suffered from the same disability was Bev Oda. When she started ordering $16 glasses of orange juice, she disappeared.

What has Harper bought? He's bought a legal regime to protect investors from Canadian law:

This could mean, for instance, that if a future Canadian government wanted to create a new public program – such as universal pharmacare or national child care – it could face lawsuits from disgruntled European firms objecting to the way the program limited their opportunities to sell drugs or child care to Canadians.

Imagine the outrage if a Canadian government had negotiated a trade deal that gave such an extensive set of rights to labour unions, allowing disgruntled unions to sue the Canadian government for millions of dollars. And then, to top it off, the government had spent $300,000 so that foreign officials could attend an exclusive soirée with Canada’s “union bosses.”

Mr. Harper's is a proud Thatcherite:

Over the past 30 years, virtually all the gains of economic growth have gone to the top 10 per cent of Canadian families. If this pattern of the past three decades continues, there will be no gains from the trade deal for ordinary Canadian families. Really only for the corporate sector are the gains significant. Indeed, the trade deal is, above all, a kind of constitution that enshrines corporate rights above the reach of national laws, that is, above the reach of democratically-elected governments.

During the last election campaign, Mr. Harper accused Michael Ignatieff  of not coming back to Canada "for you."  While it's true that Harper has always been here, it's clear that whatever he does, it's not "for you."


Unknown said...

"CETA will likely severely crimp if not end "buy local" strategies at all levels of government in Canada."

Now as a municipality if you want to put in a new sidewalk for example you must open the biding process to the Europeans who will bring their own labor with them when they come.

Boy Steve I'm really impressed with your sense of economics you dazzle me. All the way across the Atlantic to put in city sidewalks wow, Steve you are a dream. No excuse me a nightmare.

Owen Gray said...

He's thinking about his retirement, Mogs. He wants to be more than comfortable -- and he knows who can meet his requirements.

Rural said...

If there is one thing we cannot afford it is more years of the Harper Regime, the cost must not only be measured in dollars and cents but in costs to our environment, to our governmental research facilities, to our social services, to parliamentary process, to electoral systems, and indeed to our very democracy.
I wonder if the cost of those yet to be bought fighter jets, unbuilt arctic ice breakers, much needed SAR helicopters or the cost of 'supporting' the US in the middle east is figured into the “surplus” made available by these cuts in order to buy our votes next year?
Look for lots of 'creative bookkeeping in the coming months.

Owen Gray said...

"Creative bookkeeping" is a euphemism for fraud, Rural.

Anonymous said...

CETA is about fluffing the pillows for Western separatists.

Owen Gray said...

All part of the plan to build a firewall around Alberta, Anon?

Anonymous said...

Harper accused Putin and Russia of being dirty Communists. Harper sold Canada to Communist China, for a minimum of 31 years. However, we will never get Communist China out of Canada. China has polluted their country so badly, they can't even feed themselves. There will be more Chinese than Canadians.

Harper has permitted every foreign country, to take Canadian jobs. Chinese, Jewish people, Philippine people, East Indians, Ukrainians, Poland, Somali's, Irish, Americans and now Europeans.

Jason Kenny out and out blatantly lied regarding, his TFW program. Jason Kenny is bringing thousands of foreigners, over for, big businesses, mine barons, oil barons, the wealthy and NG barons to exploit. Kenny just made a speech to big business.

There is no shortage of labor in Canada, what-so-ever. A call to a company's HR? She said, there were over 4,000 for just that one position. Labor shortage means, Canadians are not permitted the jobs. Without Canadians being counted? That makes a shortage of labor in Canada. Everyday Canadians just don't count in Harper's reasoning.

Jason Kenny brings foreigners here who, are not certified nor ticketed. Foreigners are too damned dangerous to work with.

Canadian Engineers are applying overseas. My Engineer son, has been advised to do the same. Leave Harper with the foreigners. They will likely blow the tar sands up.

Owen Gray said...

Harper works hard for people with money, Anon. But he as no interest in the needs of ordinary working Canadians.

Hugh said...

The jobs and gdp benefits claimed for CETA sound a lot like the bogus benefits claimed for TILMA, another so-called trade agreement, between BC and Alberta. TILMA also has investor-protection provisions.

Owen Gray said...

It's all about making the world safe for capital, Hugh. Jobs are not on the agenda.