Friday, January 23, 2009

Harper’s crude attempt to pre-empt public debate on the budget

Since when do governments in office run radio ads that implore members of the public to call their MPs to support an upcoming budget? A budget whose content has yet to even be released? Harper must think that Canadians at large are as impulsive and pre-judgmental as Jack Layton, who apparently can divine a bad budget before he even lays eyes on it.

Meanwhile there is no coincidence to that fact that Harper has paid radio ads running at the very same time that he engages in the unprecedented release of certain selected details of the budget, namely the disclosure yesterday by a senior government official that Harper will be running a $64 billion deficit over the next two years.

Was this information released to the public because “focus groups” found that Canadians were unwilling to heed Harper’s advice to call their MPs to support the budget without any insight whatsoever into what the budget might contain? Or was the headline number of $64 billion released selectively to the public, in the hopes that Canadians would assume that $64 billion of deficit somehow translates into $64 billion of stimulus? And thereby hoping Canadians would tune out from the budget debate, upon assuming such a favourable outcome was in the works?

Once again Harper is parsimonious with the facts and selective in his disclosure. What Canadians need to know, amongst of host of other things, is how much of that $64 billion in projected deficit is stimulus and how much is the “do nothing” deficit that arises from the extension of Harper’s fiscal mismanagement of the past?


Anonymous said...

Brent: It would appear that Ignatieff agrees with your post:

PM playing games ahead of budget: Ignatieff

Last Updated: Friday, January 23, 2009 | 2:39 PM ET

Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff accused Prime Minister Stephen Harper of playing political games on Friday, calling the leaking of information from next week's federal budget a deliberate attempt "to get the bad news out of the way."

"The release of this budget information was irresponsible and costly to our economy," Ignatieff said in an address to a joint luncheon of the Canadian Club and the Empire Club in Toronto.

"I asked Mr. Harper not to play games like that. I told him, 'Put the facts and figures on the table. Don’t let them slip out at his convenience.' But the guy just can't help himself. He thinks it is all some kind of political game."

Anonymous said...

Opposition leaders chastise PM Harper over budget deficit leak

Canadian Press

TORONTO — It was "irresponsible" and "absolutely inappropriate" for Prime Minister Stephen Harper to allow the release of details on the size of the federal deficit that will be contained in Tuesday's budget, the Liberal and New Democrat leaders charged Friday.

A senior Conservative official said Thursday the Harper government will run a deficit of $34 billion this year and $30 billion next year.

Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff said the government obviously wanted to get the bad news out of the way before the budget.

"I asked Mr. Harper not to play games like that," Ignatieff told a Toronto business audience.

"He just can't help himself. He thinks it is all just some kind of game."

NDP Leader Jack Layton suggested the leak of the deficit figure was a sign Harper is worried about being defeated by a coalition of Liberals and New Democrats supported by the Bloc Quebecois.

"It's the sort of manoeuvre one does when you're afraid of losing your job. It's absolutely inappropriate," Layton told a Toronto audience.

"I can remember when Mr. Harper himself would attack any government that allowed any leak of budget information ahead of a budget. So he's once again doing something that he himself has opposed in the past."

Ignatieff agreed leaking the deficit figures was political positioning by the prime minister, and said it was "at the edge of violating" budget secrecy.

Dr Mike said...

I have talked to several members of the public concerning this 64 billion dollar leak.

All assumed that ALL of this money was going into stimulus & that they could not wait to get their hands on their own piece of the pie.

This type of thinking is leading to a large acceptance of his deficit policy.

There will be a lot of disappointed & disgruntled constituents once it is realized that the actual stimulus portion of the pie is much smaller than expected & has been sliced unequally in favor of very specific groups.

I am afraid the last laugh will be on us as usual.

Dr Mike.

CAITI said...

To the editor,
The conservative radio ads exhorting citizens to tell their MP's to
vote for the upcoming federal budget sight unseen are positively
breathtaking in their contempt for the voters.
Since their near death experience in parlaiment last month, Prime
Minister Stephen Harper and his consiliarie Jim Flaherty have been
making some conciliatory noises towards the coalition in the hopes of
keeping their jobs. Hinting at juicy job creation programs, salacious
stimulous packages and tasty tax cuts, this budget promises to have
something for almost everything . Mind you , no specifics of any kind
have been offered up.
So the radio spots require a mind blowing leap of faith. Essentially
they are saying: Vote for door number 3. We have no idea what's
behind it yet but trust us. Even though we're the same guys who told
you a month ago there was going to be a surplus , which is now a
projected $34 billion deficit. Just trust us. Because the coalition is
bad. Even though you know very little about them either. They are bad.
So pick us.
It is hard to imagine a more cynical ploy.

Tom W.