There have been a couple of important developments since I last posted about StÃ©phane Dionâ€™s lack of progressive economic policy.
Yesterday, Dion outlined his economic policy in a speech to the Economic Club of Toronto and the Toronto Board of Trade. Dionâ€™s previous statements were so vague that optimists could interpret them in a progressive light. His Toronto speech continued this troubling vagueness about environmental policy as a tool for economic development, but was crystal clear about adhering to right-wing economic nostrums.
In his introduction, Dion argued: “The first condition to succeed is to stay true to the sound fiscal policies of the ChrÃ©tien/Martin government. For me, balanced budgets, debt reduction and competitive taxes are bedrock principles.”
To reinforce the point, he concluded “I would respect absolutely the legacies of the ChrÃ©tien-Martin governments: fiscal responsibility, less debt, competitive taxes . . .”Â Of course, it was this commitment to debt repayment and tax cuts that held federal spending at its lowest level, relative to the economy, since the 1950s during the ChrÃ©tien-Martin years.
Dion mixed environmentalist rhetoric with anti-government rhetoric. He dismissed regulation as “smothering bureaucratic oversight” and instead proposed to “unleash market forces.” As if to accentuate the similarity between himself and Harper, Dion referred to Canada as “an energy superpower.”
Dionâ€™s only proposals to profit fromÂ green technologyÂ were a retread of the vacuous “innovation agenda” and “stronger enforcement of intellectual property rights.”
There has never been much reason to expect progressive economic policy from Dion. Yesterdayâ€™s speech confirmed that none is forthcoming.