It is lovely to be in Cannes at this time of year. The heavy mugginess of summer on the French Riviera has past. The crowds are sparse between the seasons. Prime Minister Harper took his wife but we doubt you will find her enjoying the topless beaches. She will probably be partaking in a cloying spouses’ program while he tells the other world leaders how they should run their countries.
That boy is just work, work, work.
He is hardly a newby after hosting last year’s fiasco in Toronto. The French police must have used his idea to kettle the protest groups. They are being kept 30 kilometres away from the people with whom they really want to talk.
He had a very meaningful discussion with President Barack Obama the other day. The American President wanted to know what that red thing was on his lapel. Stephen told Barack about poppies and Remembrance Day.
Down to business, Mr. Harper tried to tell his friends in Cannes how to straighten out the Greeks but had to admit that he did not have a clue what else could go wrong there. He told them that the eurozone needs a tough, oppressive and conservative banking system like Canada and that would solve all their problems. He explained that he trained as an economist and he should know.
Harper even offered his Bank of Canada guy, Mark Carney, to police world banks and make sure they run tight operations just like Canadian banks. They jumped at the offer.
What his G20 cohorts in Europe need to understand is that if they want to be an economic zone such as Canada and the United States of America, they have to accept the responsibilities along with the benefits. Even if Harper and Obama do not admit it, there are weak economic areas in America and Canada that are compensated for in the management of the country. It is obvious that Greece, Southern Italy,Spain and Portugal are never going to be the economic dynamo’s of the eurozone, on the scale of France and Germany.
What they do not understand is that the Greeks should not be expected to endure lengthy and vicious austerity programs until the bailout money is repaid. That is akin to blaming the inmates for a badly run insane asylum. The Greeks have every right to be aggrieved. They are in the mood to tell the myopic eurozone leaders to stuff it.
If the eurozone is going to hold as an economic unit, there have to be cash transfers into those faltering economies on an ongoing basis. Nobody should expect a payback or even gratitude. It is reality.
Copyright 2011 © Peter Lowry
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