Sunday, December 21, 2008

Why Are Harper & Flaherty So Damned Clueless?

A lot has been written lately of the succession of astonishingly erratic and offmark economic statements we've been getting these past months from what passes for a prime minister in Canada today and his diminutive finance patsy, L'il Jimbo.

It's gotten to the point that, whenever either of them pronounces on the economy, you know that, if what they're now telling you is right, it'll be a first. Time after time after time they've weighed in and got it wrong.

So, what gives? Harper is supposedly a trained economist. Flaherty is a veteran finance minister with both federal and provincial experience. The two of them sit atop a sea of accountants and actuaries and economists and all other manner of financial wizardry.

My guess? There's a deliberate disconnect between the political side and their advisors. I think Harper and Flaherty have been discarding the forecasts and clarion calls of their staffers and, instead, shaping their public statements to conform to their political purposes. I think they've been telling us only what they wanted us to hear.

When it comes to respecting the public and treating them with candour, Steve feeds them a diet as lean on truth and rich on fantasy as he thinks he can get away with. And these days, with such complacent, even collaborative Canadian media cartels, he's pretty much got a blank cheque to lie his ass off without being called on it. And so he does. Who needs to worry about honesty when you've got CanWest Global, Bell Globemedia and SunCor curled up around your feet before the hearth?

It was obvious in what L'il Jimbo was saying yesterday that one of two things is going on with Harper/Flaherty. Either they've been getting really lousy advice or they've been getting good advice but ignoring it so they could game the forecasts for their political advantage. From Toronto Star:

"Just three weeks after saying that the federal budget was on track for modest surpluses, Flaherty admitted there will now be a deficit of at least $5 billion next year.

"It's quite clear on the basis of the forecasts and the continuing declines in the forecast that there will be a deficit," said Flaherty in Saskatoon after meeting with his provincial counterparts at a brainstorming session.
He also admitted for the first time the economy would suffer an outright contraction in 2009 – the first in 18 years. He said economic growth next year would decline by 0.4 per cent. In his November economic statement, he said the economy would show slight but positive growth of 0.3 per cent in 2009.

Come on Jimbo. Three weeks to go from "modest surplus" to billions in deficits next year? At this rate what is Harper's fiscal leprechaun going to drop on us after the new year? I'll bet we haven't heard the truth yet from Flaherty or Harpo.

1 comment:

Brad Dillman said...

I think the Conservatives were getting used to saying anything and having at least some of the mainstream media back them up. But I think those friendly MSM are hesitating, because they're worried about looking foolish in repeating the Conservatives' story. As media, they're worried about losing their own credibility defending Mr. Harpers.

Now I think Mr. Harper is trying to mend some of those relationships. I have no idea what Mr. Flaherty is up to. I speculate he's simply too busy with the economic meetings to keep up with PMO... but that's a stretch.