Saturday, 31 January 2009

Harper & Ignatieff together in a state of denial | Insight | Harper and Ignatieff have heads in the sand
the budget demonstrated anything it's this: The government and
opposition are united in a state of denial about the economic crisis

First, the depression promises to be worse than most analysts have
been predicting. It hasn't yet hit Canada full-bore. It will. The fact
that the U.S. appears to be re-embracing trade protection only
underscores the point.

Second, neither the governing
Conservatives nor the opposition Liberals seem to understand the
seriousness of this crisis. Rhetoric notwithstanding, both parties
appear to think they are dealing with a problem that will go away in
two years and allow the world to return to business as usual.


Yet the government remains grudging. Much of the $12 billion in planned infrastructure spending is contingent upon dollar-for-dollar matching by provinces and municipalities. If they can't come up with their deemed share, it's not clear whether the federal money will be spent.

The unemployed got enough in the budget to win Harper Liberal support, but not enough to help the 58 per cent of jobless Canadians who don't qualify for employment insurance.

Yet for Ignatieff's party, the fixation on deficits is driven less
by ideological commitment than desperation. During their last 13 years
in government, the Liberals shredded most of the social safety net they
had once helped to construct.

Their only significant achievements
over this time were their decision not to go to war against Iraq and
the elimination of the federal deficit.

In fact, even the
latter may be an exaggeration. It's arguable that the deficit problem
was solved less by good government than by the worldwide reduction in
interest rates and a renewed global appetite for Canadian raw materials.

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