Bob Rae does not do economics.

Interim Liberal Leader Bob Rae spoke to the Economic Club of Canada in Toronto this Wednesday.  We know it was a Liberal speech because he quoted Wilfrid Laurier.  Anyone looking for a liberal insight into solving the current world economic situation was bound to be disappointed.

The last lesson in economics that Rae ever listened to was from Thomas d’Aquino, when d’Aquino headed up the Business Council on National Issues in the 1990s.  At the time, Bob Rae was the New Democratic Premier of Ontario.  After listening to d’Aquino, Bob Rae soon became the ex-premier of Ontario.  He tried to sell his Social Contract to NDP supporters and they turned on him.

As economics and socialism are not compatible sciences, Bob Rae became a Liberal and offered to replace Paul Martin as Liberal leader in 2006.  The road from Martin to Rae was fraught with too many hurdles and Rae came third to Dion and Ignatieff.  When he won a seat in Parliament in 2008, he again put his name forward for the leadership but the party executive chose Michael Ignatieff.  When Ignatieff’s leadership garnered fewer seats than the NDP in the 2011 election, Rae won the interim leadership by default.

But being interim leader does not guarantee instant liberal wisdom.  It did him little good to heap praises on Paul Martin’s management of Canada’s books in the 1990s.  Martin balanced the country’s books on the backs of the poor, the unemployed and by cutting provincial transfer payments.  While he was at it, Martin burned the red book and blocked all the liberal promises of the Chrétien Liberals.  Some role model!

Rae’s speech in Toronto called for a simpler, clearer tax code.  And he wants to have a comprehensive review of tax spending to make sure we are getting value for the money.  He does not think we are right now. You can hear that in any Conservative economic speech.

Rae complains that the Liberals find they are competing with two other parties with simplistic messages.  Bob needs to keep thinking.  Eventually, he will come up with some simplistic messages for us.

It was very much a kitchen sink type of speech.  There were not many economic clichés left out.  One good idea that was lost in the speech said we had to support innovation.  It was too bad that Rae had no idea how to do that.  Instead of beggaring our municipalities with debt through infrastructure programs, Canada should have realized that it could shovel more liquidity through the economy faster by a mix of programs that put money in the hands of entrepreneurs.  You do not do that through tax credits alone.

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Copyright 2011 © Peter Lowry

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