“Our imaginations are stuck in the age of Fred Flintstone: the man, confidently driving his nuclear family around in a square box, enjoying the “freedom” symbolised by the private car. Maybe there was a time when the automobile brought freedom: the ability to get away from the stultifying smalltown world, and as a movable trysting place for couples in the age of strict morality.
Personally, I would quite happily leave the world of the car behind, as with the cassette tape and the landline.”
“The older conservative idea of society as an organic whole and of the state’s capacity to defend and promote a common, collective interest, remembering the less fortunate among us, has all but disappeared in the Conservative Party.”
“Under Mr Harper, Canada has not only moved to the right in almost every area of policy but has entered an era of highly calibrated, money-driven negative campaigning at odds with the courtesy that is one of the most attractive of Canadian qualities. So the result matters, obviously for Canada itself, but also for a world that has long been missing the special role it used to play on the international scene.
Money, its uses and its abuses, runs like a thread through Mr Harper’s time in power. At the very beginning, a scandal over the diversion of government funds under the then Liberal government helped him into office in 2006. Ironically, it then turned out that his Conservative party had itself been breaking electoral laws on spending during that campaign. Forming another minority government after the 2008 election, he began dismantling Canada’s system of political party subsidies, a policy that benefits the Conservatives, who have the largest base of wealthy donors, and puts other parties, particularly the Liberals, at a financial disadvantage.”
“Domestically Mr Harper has tried to move Canada away from its social democratic tradition, reducing government spending and services, privatising government agencies, cutting public health. He has gagged government scientists and civil servants, is bringing in new internal security laws, and made Canada a less open society. Internationally he has made the Canada that begged to differ (with Britain on Suez, on Vietnam with America, for example) and the Canada that was a pillar of peacekeeping and the United Nations a distant memory. And his particularly passionate identification with Israel has lost Canada the “honest broker” status that it arguably enjoyed in the Middle East in the past.”
“But while rural Alberta will almost certainly stay blue, Edmonton and Calgary could see ridings up for grabs that have never before been in play, says Mount Royal University political scientist Duane Bratt.
As many as four ridings could go to the Liberals in Calgary, he says. In particular, incumbent Joan Crockatt in Calgary Centre is in a battle with Kent Hehr, a provincial Liberal veteran.
And in Calgary Skyview, Tory Devinder Shory could be vulnerable to the Liberal’s Darshan Kang, the former Calgary-McCall MLA.”
“There’s a disjoint between saying that policy couldn’t have been used to avert downturns like this one and screaming bloody murder anytime someone raises the prospect of even mildly activist, redistributive, old-school social democratic economic policy. If current policy is that ineffective, then perhaps it’s high time to try something else? ‘There’s nothing we could have done’ is just a fatalistic cover for political choices.”
“What remains is for lower interest rates to keep feeding construction booms and real estate bubbles across Canada. A post on the FT’s Alphaville blog makes this point, warning that this latest rate cut will only aggravate what everyone including the OECD and the Bank of Canada describe as an “overvalued” market. On the other hand, there’s still enough capital sloshing around the world that this strategy might work for a few more rounds. Canada’s more stringent laws have so far contributed to slowing more explosive bubble growth.”
“I cannot vote for them. I just can’t. They should be my natural choice but their coarse, vindictive, proudly unprincipled cynicism must not be rewarded with electoral success, regardless of the consequences.”
“If it were economics, it would clearly be bad economics, aiming to “stimulate” one of the few sectors of the economy doing so well it already has the government worried about a bubble.”
“You can’t jump to the conclusion, like, we were all right, they were all wrong and —
because those — they’re too complex. They require really hard thinking.
And remember, these are imperfect people making decisions based on imperfect information, doing the best we can.”
“If taken seriously as political philosophy, it’s die-hard socialism. And as I’ve said before, if you’re going to get socialism, at least get it from honest socialists. But of course it’s not meant to be taken seriously. It’s just the nudge and wink that accompanies the envelope full of cash. And that corrosive dishonesty is the real sticking point for me.”
“Harper wrote his 1991 master’s thesis on ‘public choice’ theory that, as his abstract put it, ‘policymakers are motivated by political goals, in particular electoral goals, rather than the social optima assumed by traditional macroeconomic policy prescriptions.’ As a Reform MP and National Citizens’ Coalition president, he understood this to be a warning. Now he treats it as an operating manual.”