Debt walls and other delusions.

Having always admired the work of Toronto author Linda McQuaig, I enjoyed her opinion piece in the Toronto Star the other day. She was suggesting that we should not listen to the deficit hawks. It must be a measure of my admiration that we tend to agree on the subject.

Linda notes that it is only now after months of lock-down and the desperate efforts to protect Canadians from financial despair, that we are starting to hear from Canada’s conservative deficit cops. She sees their reluctance to say much earlier as a reflection of the popularity of the liberal economic rescue efforts.

I certainly shared Linda’s expectation of some blow-back. While the conservatives have lacked an effective national voice for some time, you would normally expect some of their major provincial leaders to speak up. It is also likely that the desire to look like they are cooperating, in the face of the pandemic, has lowered the volume.

And we also need to recognize that the key provincial leaders such as Jason Kenney of Alberta, Doug Ford of Ontario and François Legault of Quebec, each have their own agenda. Kenney has deep financial problems to go with the pandemic outbreaks in nursing homes and meat processing plants. Ford lacks the political background and is trying hard not to stumble. Legault is losing political ground to Justin Trudeau and his attempt to break free from the feds has forced him to backtrack on his early attempts to lighten restrictions.

It is fascinating to see a spectre from the past such as Stephen Harper emerge as a key spokesman for the conservatives at this time. He actually sounded threatening in a recent Wall Street Journal piece when he wrote that those who do not practice a ‘mild’ austerity, will have a “brutal kind of austerity thrust upon them.”

McQuaig even touches on the era of neoliberal Paul Martin when Canadians suffered a “brutal round of social spending cuts.” Many Canadians never forgave him for what he did as Jean Chrétien’s finance minister.

Linda concludes that because of this spending, that we are doing to protect Canadians during the pandemic, we could be on our way “to a very different and promising future.” I agree.


Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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