Friday, November 21, 2008

Scanning the headlines: Quebec, Bob and deficits

*I don’t claim to understand Quebec politics, but I find developments such as this concerning:

A Parti Québécois government would introduce a newer, tougher Bill 101 to replace the 31-year-old Charter of the French Language.

PQ leader Pauline Marois said yesterday the existing language law has "too many holes," and she wants to update it to ensure all consumer services are available in French.

The requirement that businesses operate in French would be extended to companies with one to 50 employees, with tax incentives to help businesses francisize.

Now, businesses in Quebec with less than 50 employees are exempted from the francization requirements of Bill 101.

So if I’m a one person business, an independent contractor, I’d have to do business in French?
Or if I have a small family business, say just me and my hypothetical wife and kids, we’d all need to know French? Bringing the law down to businesses that small seems extreme, and likely pandering to their base nationalist vote.

But it gets worse:
The new law would also seek to ensure the quality of French spoken in Quebec, said former language minister Louise Beaudoin, who is trying to make a political comeback as the PQ candidate in Montreal's Rosemont riding.

Beaudoin said newcomers to Quebec would be expected to learn French, and after three years in the province, the government would only communicate with them in French.

So you have a person that, for whatever reason, has tried and is unable to fully understand French for whatever reason. A PQ government would still just solely communicate with them in a language they can’t understand? That’s disturbing, and anti-democratic.

*The headline says it all, really: “Deficit in '09? Blame Tories, watchdog says”. And here’s the money quote from the Parliamentary Budget Officer, Kevin Page, who, I hasten to add, was appointed under a Conservative government.
"The weak fiscal performance to date is largely attributable to previous policy decisions as opposed to weakened economic conditions," Page wrote in his report to MPs on the government's economic and fiscal position.

Page concluded Ottawa could run a deficit as high as $13.8 billion next year. Deficits could remain higher than $11 billion each year through to 2013, adding nearly $50 billion to Canada's debt over the next five years.

In a column in the National Post today, former Liberal finance minister Ralph Goodle has a good column on this:
Not long ago, as Canadians were about to vote in the federal election, Prime Minister Stephen Harper was emphatic about his Conservative government not running a budgetary deficit.

Now, barely a month later, he wants us to believe that he's being driven toward unavoidable red ink by sudden international circumstances beyond his control.

*Bob Rae’s formal campaign launch yesterday is naturally getting lots of press this morning. The National Post’s editorial raises some interesting points, including questioning his “having managed through a deficit before is a qualification” spin on his Ontario premiership. I wanted to share this passage though the Post ran, quoting an interview Bob did in 2006. I found it interesting:
"I concluded after my time in office that it was very, very tough to convince a whole section of the party that the market was a great thing and it was something to be celebrated and it was not something to run away from, and that we had to recognize that the world had changed all around us and globalization was here to stay. I find that resistance to those ideas is still pretty strong in the NDP when you actually look at it. I mean the resistance to any tax cuts ... the way in which they look at business with a sort of skeptical eye all the time, the assumption that business is bad and government is good and private is bad and public is good. That still lies pretty deep in a lot of sections of the NDP, and I frankly just decided that I wasn't going to spend my life inside trying to fight that -- that I was really fundamentally going to be happier in another political party."

Indeed, Bob was right. The NDP still doesn’t get it today.

Don Martin also had an interesting take, I thought, on what he called Bob’s chutzpah. But as I like to say, go big or go home.

*Lastly, the Globe editorializes this morning on Bob’s launch, and the leadership race. I feel they completely miss the boat by talking just about Rae and Michael Ignatieff, and writing a passage such as this:
It is a good thing for the Liberals that the choice between these two candidates will help them articulate the choice they face between "uniting the left" and recovering control of
the centre.

And then finally at the end, almost as a throw-away, they mention Dominic LeBlanc:
Mr. Rae and Mr. Ignatieff, for all the contrasts between them, also have much in common, almost uncannily so, in age, family background and education. Fortunately, Dominic LeBlanc's candidacy provides valuable regional and generational variety.

I’m supporting Michael as I’ve already outlined, because I feel he is the right, best choice to lead our party today and challenge Harper.

But the media would be foolish to write-off Dominic. I can assure you that he is a very serious contender. He is attracting quality organizers and support across the country, many friends of mine whose judgment, and abilities, I respect.

Dominic will be a force in this campaign; the media would be advised not to, as they did in 2006, get tunnel-vision focusing on the Michael and Bob show.

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