Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Run on our economic records? Okey dokey

Despite all the posturing around the crime legislation, Afghanistan counter proposals, and Stephen Harper threatening to make his morning Egg McMuffin a matter of confidence, it is looking increasingly likely that the budget will the election trigger.

The Liberals would rather go on the budget for any number of reasons, and it appears its dido for the Conservative “brain trust”:

In a memo addressed to MPs, strategists and senior campaign volunteers, the Conservative brain trust urged high-ranking Tories yesterday to begin the pre-election fight by talking up Ottawa's performance in paying down the debt, preserving jobs and cutting taxes.

If they want to make the economy the ballot box issue, that’s fine with me. I’ll put our economic record and our economic policies up against there’s any day of the week, and twice on Sundays.

Now, that’s not to say it will be easy. Far from it. The Cons will have their spin out there, filled with misinformation, obfuscation, and outright falsehoods. Here’s a taste of their likely line:

"In the next election, Canadians will have a clear choice," says the memo, circulated by the party's research bureau. "They can choose the lack of priorities, reckless spending and higher taxes of the St├ęphane Dion Liberals..."

"... or they can continue to move forward with lower taxes, balanced budgets and lower debt thanks to the strong leadership of Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Conservative government."

Of course, that’s a load of bullshit. They’re making that all up. It will be our job to expose their line for the odious crap pile that it is, while at the same time getting our message out.

It is actually the Liberal Party that is the party of fiscal prudence. We inherited a massive deficit from Brian Mulroney (remember him?) and turned it to surplus, turning in a string of eight consecutive balanced budgets. More than $60 billion in debt repayment. When the budget was balanced we returned to Canadians the largest broad-based tax cuts in Canadian history, while at the same time reinvesting in the knowledge economy and in social programs. The balanced approach Canadians favour, not the tax cut cure all the Conservatives push. And a massive job boom. More than three million new jobs from 1997 to 2005.

We have a strong record on the economy, and we need to emphasize it and run on it. Not doing so was one of the (many) major mistakes the Martin team made.

We can contrast our record with that of the Conservatives. A GST cut that only benefits the wealthy. An income tax increase to pay for it. An unnecessary complication of the tax code. The income trust flip-flop; that will be a big one. The billion-dollar softwood sellout, that will be big in B.C., Northern Ontario and Quebec. Cuts to the Status of Women, plus literacy programs and other programs important to Canadians. Contracts for their friends. Politics with the Wheat Board. And, for all their talk of fiscal prudence, two of the highest spending budgets ever, far more then the Liberals spent.

Of course, it won’t be enough to just highlight our record, and highlight the weaknesses of theirs. Canadians are becoming increasingly concerned about the economy, and we need to present a detailed, comprehensive, and balanced plan for dealing with the coming downturn, unlike the half-baked Conservative measures.

This won’t be an easy fight. A lot will depend on how good a job we do our communicating our message, and getting our message out. Frankly, we haven’t been doing a stellar job on that front of late.

But if we communicate our message well, I think the economy is a great issue for us to run on, and one that could definitely break out way. An election on the economy? Bring it on, Steve.

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Burton, Formerly Kingston said...

BCer, I think it will be an interesting contest, I said during the economic statement the CPC was reducing the bank account so that the LPC could not campaign on large social programs such as National Childcare with out either cutting other programs, increasing taxes, and or running a deficit. I think that is actually what will happen now. My question is what will they offer now, in the best of the LPC tradition of run with programs from the left, govern from the center. Which option do you think they choice.

Gayle said...


The CPC cannot campaign on tough on crime without doing the same. Their package is going to cost billions of dollars and that money has to come from somewhere.

Burton, Formerly Kingston said...

Actually, you raise an excellent point Gayle, but I do not see billions at the initial outlay stage, it will be spaced out, most of the crime bill deals with repeat offender or min sentences for those that will be going to jail anyway for committing another offense, with the add on of using a restrictive weapons so if they would of received 5 years they will now receive 8 for example. This will build some time in for new prisons to be built if required. Your correct about it costing more down the road, but it will be in two or three years since any changes cannot be retroactive. I guess we will have to see what the economy looks like then to determine what effect it will have on the budget. I just checked a web-site the latest data I can find says,
"In 2002-03, CSC had a rated capacity of 14,264 beds across its five regions. 1 For men, there were 824 vacant cells, approximately 6% of the total capacity. For women, there were 79 vacant beds, approximately 17% of the rated capacity".
Besides my friend if the LPC campaigns on Kyoto, Childcare and Kelowna, those numbers alone are going to make the cost of some new prisons pale in comparisons. On the positive side, this will afford more time for the rehabilitation to take effect on our most dangerous re-offenders

Jeff said...

Kingston, maybe the Cons were trying to drain the coffers. I think they were also trying everything they could to buy a majority. Didn't work.

Anyway, all parties will have to have detailed costing for their platforms. We'll see what they come up with.

burlivespipe said...

While the easy thing would be to contrast Harper and his mexican economics degree with the Bush plan, and how there is no contrast. Cut taxes low for the wealthy, offer middle class the thin trimmings. Reduce or amputate social programs. Nope, while I'd love to see the correlation being spread far and wide, unfortunately it likely would not do the Liberals any favours.
Instead, offer what Jeff said, examples of Liberal prudence and good gov't -- there's plenty to be shown -- and then a few innovations that will secure our future and fortify our economy during the storm.
The billion dollar investment in smart technology changes for sectors hard hit by the recession (if that's what it is) was a good one; I'd suggest a plan to improve, protect and preserve Canadians' access to clean drinking water. Then you can contrast that with the evidence of CONs -- pictures of Baird, Flaherty and Clement would go well in an Ontario ad -- and their disregard for the public interest over corporate interest. I'm sure we've learned some things since Walkerton but I don't think the CONs have.

MississaugaJoan said...

I disagree.

In spite of you and I knowing that the Liberals have been better money managers than the Conservatives (Chretien vs. Mulroney), the Conservatives (like the Republicans in the U.S.) are perceived by the general population as better custodians of the nation's purses.

With Dion and some of the other leadership candidates still having not paid all their expenses, with the federal Liberal Party doing a pathetic job of fundraising, with the Conservative Party's coffers full, trying to change public perception will be very, very difficult.

Not the issue, I as a Liberal, feel comfortable running on or one I believe that we will win with.

Winner of yesterday's Liberal Afghanistan amendments were the Conservatives and NDP. Harper looked more prime ministerial yesterday and received credibilty from the Liberals. The NDP are the now the alternative to those who are against COMBAT in Afghanistan.

Jeff said...


In spite of you and I knowing that the Liberals have been better money managers than the Conservatives (Chretien vs. Mulroney), the Conservatives (like the Republicans in the U.S.) are perceived by the general population as better custodians of the nation's purses.

That may be so Joan, but as you say it's just not true. I think we need to fight that perception with the facts, and I think we can do that. I'm not willing to just cede that ground to the Cons; it's a fight worth fighting.

Susan said...

Too bad all those "senior liberals" hiding behind anonymity don't read your blog. It might help them understand they're the problem - the nervous nellies who rode on Chretien's courage are now sabotaging Dion instead of using their brain and coming up with ideas like yours.