Unfortunately Stephen Harper is not without cause for the disdain* he shows for Canadian voters every time he stands there and claims that he and the Conservatives are good managers of Canada’s finances and economy.
1 Disdain assumes that Stephen Harper and the Conservatives are aware of their extremely poor performance as managers of Canada’s finances and economy. I have to acknowledge a personal bias that caused me to assume that anyone who brought about the state Canada’s debt, finances and economy are in, would HAVE TO BE aware of the bad job they had done. In writing [thus thinking] about Stephen Harper and the Conservatives it has become clear that there is the distinct possibility that they are totally unaware of the reality of their performance and in fact see themselves as doing a good job.
Canadian voters consistently, and loudly, lament about politicians lying to them, but should a politician dare to tell them something they do not want to hear or deal with, voters turn on the politician like a pack of jackals. They do not literally tear the politician to pieces; they tear the politician’s career to pieces, sending the politician into ignoble defeat and retirement.
If you doubt that just ask ex-Alberta premier Jim Prentice who, in addressing the question of responsibility for the poor state of Alberta’s finances, reminded Alberta voters that “Basically we have had the best of everything and haven’t had to pay for it’ The last thing taxpayers and voters throughout Canada want to have to think about is that there is no free lunch and that at some point someone will have to pay the tab that has been run up.
It isn’t just that reality is obscured by wilful denial, by what we want to believe, by our ideologies, by what we know for sure – that ain’t so [as Mark Twain put it] or the pressure to conform …….
……. reality is also affected by the fact humans are not machines.
I knew, I remembered, that when the Conservatives formed their first minority government they had inherited a surplus from the Liberal government; a Liberal government [Finance Minister Paul Martin] that had been very disciplined in working on getting Canada’s financial house in order.
So, while I was aware of Canada’s finances at the time the Conservatives became the government, being human the details had faded.
Until I did some research when the Conservatives claimed to be deficit fighters who had reduced the deficit by $37 billion. At which point I was shocked I had forgotten the details of Canada’s finances pre-Conservative and post-Conservative because the contrast is so black and white it makes the claims by Harper and the Conservatives of good financial managerment ludicrous.
Looking at before the Conservatives and after the Conservatives it is easy to see why Canada’s economy is tottering along, threatening to collapse.
As to Harper’s favourite boogeyman – what the other parties would do to Canada’s finances – Canadians should be so lucky as to return to a financial and economic state of affairs such as that the Liberals handed the Conservatives.
When the Liberal’s had become the government [prior to their loss to Harper’s Conservatives] they found themselves dealing with the financial mess created by the Progressive Conservative government of Brian Mulroney.
At the point the Conservatives became the government the Liberals had run nine – yes NINE – straight surpluses and had reduced Canada’s debt to $482 billion. More importantly the long term financial projections showed the surpluses continuing, growing as the debt shrunk and the money, the billions of dollars, no longer needed to pay interest on the debt could be applied to paying down the debt.
If the debt that is now $612 billion was $130 billion SMALLER 9$482 billion] when they became the government, by what Stephen Harper Conservative New Math do the Conservative’s slay claim to have cut Canada’s deficit by $37.0 billion?
It wasn’t until their third budget that Stephen Harper and the Conservatives managed to turn the large financial surpluses and decreasing debt of the prior Liberal federal government into deficits and increasing debt – $5.8 billion in 2008/9.
$13.2 [2005/6] + $14.2 [2006/7] + $9.6 [2007/8] = $37.0 billion.
I know; that is three budget surpluses and I stated that by their third budget Stephen Harper and the Conservatives had turned surpluses into deficits.
Stephen Harper and the Conservatives won election and the right to form the next [minority] government of Canada prior to the end of the 2005/6 fiscal year but did not call parliament until after the end of the 2005/6 financial year Thus Stephen Harper and the Conservatives had nothing to do with the $13.2 billion surplus in 2005/6.
Claiming that the $13.2 billion 2005/6 surplus was the result of their actions is business as usual for Harper and Conservatives [if it is good claim it, if it is bad blame someone or something else for it]. It is a behaviour that leaves voters needing to examine every word uttered by Stephen Harper and the Conservatives to ascertain the facts – the truth or falsehood – of those words.