The holiday season is rapidly approaching, and with a tightening economy putting a clamp on government spending, Tom Flanagan has visions of CBC privatization and selling off the post office dancing in his head. Because the neo-con symbol for economic crisis is opportunity.
“I'm hopeful there will be some ideologically-driven, neo-conservative cuts to government,'' political scientist Tom Flanagan, a former chief of staff to Harper, said in an interview.Part of the very long-term plan, to be sure. Slash the GST to curb government revenue, constraining the ability of any successors to implement new programs? Check. Become the biggest spending government in Canadian history in a failed attempt to buy a majority? Check. Eliminate the contingency reserve to make a deficit inevitable, given your super-high spending and fiscal-capacity constraining? Check.
“I think that's always been sort of the long-term plan, the way that Stephen was going about it of first depriving the government of surpluses through cutting taxes . . . You get rid of the surpluses and then it makes it easier to make some expenditure reductions.''
Now we’re just waiting for the other shoe to drop: the ideologically-driven, neo-con style spending cuts to government programs. It’s the part of the Harper agenda we’ve always been mocked for calling his hidden agenda. I guess it’s not hidden anymore, if Flanagan is admitting it’s “always been sort of the long-term plan.”
As for specifics on the newly unhidden agenda. Well, here’s what Flanagan, who for the uninformed is to Harper as Karl Rove is to George W. Bush, is hoping for:
“I think there's certainly room for some incremental cuts to useless programs.''Still, right-wing hopes for a neo-con Christmas spring eternal. Recommend this Post on Progressive Bloggers
The government has already used the economic crisis to put off plans for a national portrait gallery, citing the need for fiscal restraint in uncertain times.
From Flanagan's perspective, the government would do well to scupper a host of grants, contracts and business subsidies and to pare a lot of what he considers wasteful spending on cultural and aboriginal programs.
Flanagan said a five-per-cent cut to the CBC's $1-billion budget might be in line, much as the previous Liberal government imposed reductions during the last era of restraint in the mid-1990s.
Flanagan wishes Harper would go even farther and slap a for sale sign on the public broadcaster _ but doubts anything so radical is on the agenda.
“Not with a minority government,'' Flanagan said.
“It would require legislation. I can't imagine the other parties approving legislation to privatize the CBC, much as I would support at least selling off parts of it, or the Post Office.''