It is commonly believed that Prime Minister Stephen Harper won his majority government in 2011 because of his handling of the economy. Frankly, that is an insult to economists everywhere. In effect, Stephen Harper is tearing apart Canada’s economic fabric. The man’s economic capabilities are a myth.
It has not always been to Canada’s credit that it has a strong banking system. In fact, the better description of our banks is stodgy, slow to change, ultra-conservative and dull. We used to say that Canada’s bankers will be delighted to lend you money if you can prove you do not need it. These are the traits that kept Canadian banks from chasing their American counterparts down the sub-prime rabbit hole in the early 2000s.
If Stephen Harper wants to take the credit for the glacial rate of change in Canadian banking, he can have it!
Luckily, we have a Bank of Canada Governor in Mark Carney who believes in open communication. He and his predecessor, David Dodge have done more to open up the banking system to the public than any of Canada’s back room bankers. Canadians not only get to hear from Carney but they listen to him and seem willing to follow his advice.
In turn, Canadians would not trust Stephen Harper if he tried to tell them the price of a litre of milk.
Harper’s vaunted Economic Action Plan is nothing but a public relations program with a title that is more of a lie than a plan. He and Finance Minister Flaherty played fast and loose with an infrastructure renewal program that enabled their Conservative MPs to run for re-election on the backs of gullible city councils who received their supposed largess to pour more concrete. All this accomplished was to burden the communities with high levels of debt at bargain prices for the federal government. If you added up all the money the Conservative MPs said they were doling out, the country would be bankrupt.
The serious failure in Harper’s supposed action plan is the slippery slope that Canada’s manufacturing capability is on. With no properly thought through approach to supporting Canadian manufacturing, our manufacturing base in Ontario and Quebec has been particularly hard hit. Instead of trying to balance Canada’s economy, Harper has concentrated on supporting his oil company friends in Alberta. What is really criminal is his effort to push unrefined oil-sands crude through pipelines to the west coast or to the United States. Not only is it posing serious pollution concerns in this unrefined state but it is denying Canadians the processing jobs.
We should never trust an ideologue in power. Stephen Harper is an economic ideologue and it is stupid to trust him as a leader, or as an economist. He is a disaster as either.
Copyright 2012 © Peter Lowry
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