How to defuse the crisis
This political crisis is completely the fault of the Prime Minister. Having laid the groundwork for a solid economic update last week – by saying in Lima that he had learned the lessons of the Great Depression and that he would not rule out deficits – what was tabled was a plan that did nothing to address concerns about the economy. Worse, that plan made a fetish out of balanced budgets by bringing in spending cuts, just the opposite of what was needed, plus an agenda of attacking funding for political parties, collective bargaining for the public service and pay equity that appeared nowhere in the election platform of the Tories just two months ago.
There is a way out for the Prime Minister that has not been mentioned in the countless media reports: deliver an economic stimulus package and make sure that it is part of the vote on Monday. The elements of that package are widely agreed upon, from my update for the CCPA last week to the big banks: infrastructure, shoring up income support and EI, and ensuring that we do not experience a wave of foreclosures. This will cost some money, and will take the budget into deficit. But that is what Canadians want, at least the two-thirds of Canadians who did not vote for the Tories want.
The PM must surely have learned by now that he cannot govern with a minority as if it were a majority. If not, it is time he is removed from power, either by the Two-Thirds Coalition or by his own party. This PR campaign of smearing a stimulus package as “socialist economics” is appalling. I guess this means every country in the world except Canada has gone socialist. And if he really believes that then proroguing until a budget in late-January will not change the fundamental equation that this is a mean-spirited government that will not lift a finger to help Canadians or do its part of an international effort to confront the crisis.