As we approach the end of a year filled with considerable financial, economic and social turmoil, Canada probably more than most countries may be on the edge of something ominous and transforming. Our country has been predisposed to interventionism from a leftist element for many years. I fear that the “perfect storm” of global circumstances may have now conspired to push Canada into an economic maelstrom from which it will be extremely difficult to emerge, unless our Government stands strong.
I say this not because Canada’s economy is in particularly poor condition. On the contrary, Canada leads the G8 in GDP growth, and is forecast to lead western economies out of recession by 2010. We are not as yet in a recession in the strict definition. The threat is not of an economic nature, but of a political agenda which would push our relatively small country (3% of world GDP) into a lengthy downturn.
When Mr. Flaherty recently delivered his financial program for our country, he hit all the right buttons and demonstrated a measured response to the country’s declining but still positive growth. His forecast was for smaller surpluses but surpluses nonetheless. He would have done this by getting government out of the business of paying private political parties with taxpayers’ public funds. He would have also done this by ensuring that the public sector unions would temporarily be denied the right to strike in the face of economic weakness and private sector job losses. And he would have done this by avoiding a knee-jerk bailout plan of an economy which had not yet demonstrated the need for government stimulus. In short, Mr. Flaherty showed the strength of leadership.
What happened next though is what we should all be worried about. The tri-party so-called coalition succeeded in forcing Canada’s Parliament into hiding. The Conservatives backed down from the bully when Canadians were squarely behind the Government. I do not believe that Mr. Harper’s Conservatives would have lost a vote of non-confidence. There was too much pressure on Liberal MP’s from constituent Canadians who saw through the concocted scam of a $31 billion bailout, not to mention the emergence of the Bloc as the power brokers. Many Liberal MP’s were rumoured to be considering not showing up for the non-confidence vote. Whether this was out of conscience or the fear of later electoral backlash is up for grabs. It’s also not out of the question that some Liberal MP’s may have supported the Government out of sheer principle, if Mr. Harper had extended the invitation.
But even if the Government had been defeated, there was no appetite for the shaky coalition with separatists holding the balance of power. Another election at a cost of $300 million is far more preferable than the decade of deficits that would have been the result of a $31 billion coalition spending spree. An election would have been called within months at the most, and Mr. Harper would have likely earned a healthy majority government.
When Parliament returns we will see if the Conservatives will remain true to their original program of measured stimulus and spending cuts, along with the previously legislated measures from last year’s budget.
If not, if there is any sort of multi-party compromise package which will throw the country into deficit for the sake of propping up unsustainable businesses and regions, then the left has won and the Conservatives days are numbered.
I hope Mr. Harper and his team do what’s right for Canada, not for the patchwork socialist coalition. If it means a vote of non-confidence then so be it. This is the time for leaders to lead. Canada is waiting.
Richard Scott.Tags: canada's finances