Harper’s Economy

Julian Wolfe
April 23rd, 2011

Stephen Harper is making the pitch that he is the best suited leader and has the best suited party to guide our economy out of the pit that he put it in. His Finance Minister, Jim Flaherty, the man who destroyed Ontario’s economy under Mike Harris, has left his mark on the Canadian economy and it is now weaker than ever. Here are just a few of the Conservative’s many flops concerning the economy – and their campaigning of it.

Jim Flaherty Promises that there won’t be a recession or deficit

On May 30, 2008, economists predicted an economic decline, but Flaherty thought otherwise.
“If some people are saying that (Canada is recession-bound) I disagree with them,” Flaherty told reporters, according to The Financial Post.

“The strengths in the economy across the country are quite remarkable,” Flaherty said.
After the recession struck, Flaherty told the economists, who forewarned that there would be a recession, that no one saw it coming.

Despite the fact of the recession, Flaherty predicted that Canada could steer through it calmly without a deficit of big catastrophe. Canada at that point was already in deficit, and had been since July of that year. The recession only struck by the end of November.

Canada’s books plunged in the red due to tax cuts where Jim Flaherty underestimated the economy, according to The Star and The Canadian Press. The deficit in July 2008 was $500 million and would mark the trend of Canada’s slipping economy – even before the global crisis started.

Flaherty had initially predicted in February 2008 – upon the release of his federal budget – that Canada would have a $2.3 billion surplus and a slim $1.3 billion surplus in the 2009-2010 year – which was reduced to a deficit.

“The budget will be balanced for this … fiscal year. The big challenge is 2009 and going into 2010,” Flaherty responded in December 2008. “But 2009 is going to be a difficult year for Canada and Canadians and we have to gird ourselves for that.”

The once strong $13 billion surplus left behind by the Liberals had been disintegrated within two years of Harper’s election win in 2006. Harper’s legacy deficit reached $53 billion at its peak.

Income trust Will Not Be Taxed

In the 2006 federal election campaign, Harper pledged that he would, “stop the Liberal attack on retirement savings and preserve income trusts by not imposing any new taxes on them,” in the Conservative Platform.

“When Ralph Goodale tried to tax income trust, don’t forget this,” Harper said in a rally in Regina on December 2, 2005 which was aired on Global News. “They showed us where they stood. They showed us about their attitudes towards raiding seniors’ hard earned assets and a Conservative Government will never allow either of these parties to get away with that.”

However, on November 1, 2006, CBC reported that Flaherty imposed a new tax on income trusts. Shortly after, the stock markets fell and $20 billion of trading was wiped out on the first day of trading since its implication and the Canadian dollar fell the most in four months as a result.

Liberals are ‘Tax and Spend’

Historically, the GST was put into place on September 27, 1990 when then Conservative Prime Minister Brian Mulroney stuffed the senate because the Liberals vowed to kill the bill. His record includes creating a $39 billion deficit and spending measures that dragged our economy into a state of peril.

Ironically, it was Jean Chretien, Leader of the Liberal party at the time who campaigned to abolish the GST but couldn’t when he came to power because the damage that was done by the previous government was worse than the perception going into the election.

On another ironic note, Kim Campbell who was leader of the Conservatives used the same dirty attack ads that Stephen Harper is using right now. In that time, the ‘Face Ad’ was the controversial deal. It mocked Jean Chretien for face deformities.

Members of the Progressive Conservatives distanced themselves from their party adverts – something that Harper’s Conservatives won’t do.

Canada’s new F-35 Planes will cost $16 billion

While Michael Ignatieff and Jack Layton want to fund students, healthcare and families, Harper insists that all of these plans will be bad for the economy and that an untendered contract for arguably unnecessary planes for the moment is a better way to spend public funds than students and families.

The United States of America purchased the same model of planes that we did and they warn us that our cost estimations are way too low. Harper himself had to come up with a new estimate for his hand-picked contract.

Apart from the inflating costs of the planes, the quality is also questionable. Both Democratic and Republican politicians in the American congress agree that the planes were not what they had hoped for.
If this spending project alone were to be cut, Canada would come a lot closer to slaying the deficit that Jim Flaherty said that we would never have.

Provincial Transfers for Healthcare are Safe with the Conservatives

In October 2010, Maxime Bernier told CBC the following,

“This [bringing back a balanced federalism envisioned by the founders of Confederation] would be done by putting an end to all federal intrusion into areas of provincial jurisdiction. Instead of sending money to the provinces, Ottawa would cut its taxes and let them use the fiscal room that has been vacated. Such a transfer of tax points to the provinces would allow them to fully assume their responsibility without federal control.”

In a nutshell, this means that the Conservatives would cut all funding to the provinces. This is something Harper promised that he wouldn’t do. Look at all of the lies that he has spread and the out-right refusal to release information, do you think he can be trusted with our healthcare system?

Harper asks for a majority government after destroying the Liberal $13 billion surplus in less than 2 years – a job that would have taken Brian Mulroney 8 in the 90s.

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On Monday, the longest campaign in modern history will come to a close and if current polls are any indication, Canada may be seeing a change in government after 9 years of Conservative rule under the leadership of Stephen Harper. Accountability was his calling card in 2006 and today, accountability may very well be one of the defining reasons for his departure.

In its length, in its cost and in its debate schedule, this election is unusual. The first and possibly only real debate of the campaign ended and here are the highlights of what happened.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper left Rideau Hall this morning with Governor General David Johnston’s approval to drop the writ and Canadians are now officially headed to the polls on October 19. For the first time since fixed election date legislation was brought in by the Conservative government, a fixed election date has been followed.

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