Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Grits ought not give up reputation for fiscal competence for Rae's sake...

It's now clear that Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government has blown the huge budgetary surplus they inherited in 2006 with their ill-considered cuts to the GST and other spending decisions. The result is in leaner times like today whatever buffers we had under the Liberals against slipping into deficit are now gone. Furthermore, the Tories are now struggling to explain to Canadians how this economic downturn could've escaped their estimations.

Conservatives have gained a reputation in government, both in Canada and the U.S., as bad fiscal managers, while Liberals and Democrats have earned a reputation for fiscal competence. This is quite the reversal from two decades ago when lefties used to be associated with deficit spending. But history is clear: Mulroney ran huge deficits, while Chretien balanced the budget. Mike Harris and Ernie Eves cut taxes too low, created structural deficits during booming times and undermined basic public services, a situation Dalton McGuinty had to fix with the imposition of the health premium and other value-for-money budgetary choices. The $13 billion surplus Harper inherited from Paul Martin just under three years ago is now gone.

Do Liberals today want to give up this reputation for fiscal competence by electing a man with a record of deficit spending even worse than the current Prime Minister? Already, Bob Rae's comments on the John Oakley Show last week downplaying the responsibilities of governments that choose to run deficits are coming back to haunt us.

To abandon the strategic advantage Liberals have earned through many years of fiscal prudence seems absolutely foolhardy. With all due respect, Bob, I don't care about the reputation you're trying to salvage or your leadership bid. Giving our opposition ammunition to attack Liberals (like you did last weekend in Mississauga and again with your comments on deficits) is hurting the party. This is not how you're going to win the leadership, I can assure you.

5 comments:

Blues Clair said...

No they should just move further to the right. Give up any pretense of being a centre-left party. Also the Liberals should give up their opposition to Iraq.

Brilliant, all for the sake of... power.

Matt Guerin said...

Actually, Blues, it's about choosing the most overall qualified candidate in the race and that person is clearly Michael Ignatieff, in my estimation.

Blues Clair said...

Is it his overwhelming economic credentials you speak about?

Matt Guerin said...

I think Ignatieff can credibly argue and carry the Liberal legacy of wise economic management on his shoulders. He's a talented political performer and communicator with much potential, recently named one of the world's top 100 public intellectuals. I think he's got a lot to offer this country as a leader and potential Prime Minister...

http://www.foreignpolicy.com/story/cms.php?story_id=4293

RuralSandi said...

Hey, we all know that a leader is only as good as his team. Management 101 - knowing how to delegate to qualified and talented people.

Chretien said himself that if Trudeau hadn't let him deal with his files with trust and independance, he would have quit. Harper isn't doing that and every file has been a mess.

Obama is picking an excellent team, for example.

I'm sure Ignatieff can do as well, given we have a lot of talented and experienced people in the Liberal caucus.

I think Rae needs to get his ego in check - helping Harper out to aid his own personal cause isn't leadership, it's not supporting the Party - it's about his own ego and power.