Has Carol Goar of the Toronto Star finally awakened to her responsibilities as a journalist, with her piece today entitled “Dig beneath the clever packaging”.
Has she actually found her investigative shovel?
Gone, perhaps, are the days when she had to admit on the question of this government’s canard called tax leakage: “I didn't explore the possibility that [Flaherty] was lying. Perhaps I should have.”
Dig beneath the clever packaging
Sep 05, 2008
A strong leader, a straight-up guy, the steady hand we need.
Conservative strategists have packaged Prime Minister Stephen Harper well for an election fought under gathering economic clouds.
Canadians want a safe choice, a responsible choice, a candidate equipped to steer the nation through a period of adversity.
But the reassuring message in the Tory ad blitz doesn't match the government's record:
Ottawa had a $13.2 billion surplus when Harper came to power. Two-and-a-half years later, it is hovering on the brink of a deficit.
The slowing global economy is partly to blame. But deliberate government action also drained billions of dollars out of the federal treasury. Harper cut the GST, reduced corporate income taxes and doled out a plethora of tax breaks. At the same time, his government went on a military spending spree and increased provincial transfer payments sharply.
As a result, Ottawa has almost no fiscal cushion at a time of looming hardship.
Disregarding the advice of almost every economist in the land, Harper chopped the goods and services tax by two percentage points.
Not only was this an extraordinarily expensive tax cut, it did nothing to reward effort, encourage saving or stimulate investment. Even those who tout low taxes as the key to increased productivity don't advocate cutting the GST.
The Prime Minister can take credit for keeping his 2006 election promise to bring down Ottawa's consumption tax to 5 per cent. But $12 billion in foregone revenue is a high price to pay for a handful of extra change at the cash register.
Harper boasted that Canada was an "energy superpower" while the country's industrial heartland was bleeding from the twin blows of a high dollar and a sharp increase in fuel prices.
As plants closed and well-paying jobs disappeared, the Tories insisted it wasn't the role of government to rescue dying industries or interfere with market forces.
Voters looking to the Prime Minister to provide a buffer against the fierce economic headwinds battering most of Canada might want to ask what he has done for the 167,500 manufacturing workers who have lost their jobs since he took power.
Cities have no place in Harper's economic vision. He considers them creatures of the provinces.
The Tories have repeatedly brushed off entreaties from the nation's municipal leaders to treat them as partners in creating magnets for new talent, incubators for the industries of the future and vibrant, attractive places to invest. He has told them to go to the provinces for the resources they need to shore up their aging infrastructure, curb pollution, provide affordable housing and tackle the social problems that breed crime and hold back young people.
This outdated view of Confederation offers little hope to the 80 per cent of Canadians who live in urban centres.
It is true that Harper is decisive. But his decisiveness borders on dogmatism. It is true that he projects self-assurance. But it takes more than that to navigate through economic shoals.
None of this means voters seeking shelter should rush into the arms of Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion.
He is not the weak, dithering figure the Tories portray him to be – his Green Shift plan is as bold an election blueprint as Canadians have seen in decades – but he is an unknown commodity, even to his political peers.
He takes a disconcertingly long time to move from deliberation to action, not an attribute that inspires confidence in times of economic turbulence. His laboured English and his tendency to lecture listeners can be off-putting. And he is asking Canadians to embark on a radical restructuring of the economy at a time when many are worried about their paycheques and fuel bills.
So what is an anxious voter to do?
First, tune out the ads. They are designed to sell and smear, not provide accurate information.
Next, think independently. Herds are for lemmings.
Finally, accept that there may not be a good choice. Make a reasonable one.
Friday, September 5, 2008
Posted by Fillibluster at 1:32 PM