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Where is the Canadian economy headed? The federal finance minister is on the road doing his pre-budget consultations. Expect Jim Flaherty to return with the same complacent views he proclaimed when he left Ottawa; the wording was drawn up for him months ago by the Prime Minister's Office. It reads: the recovery is on track and it is time to cut government spending.
The Harper script for the economy is all about politics and ideology. Liberals want to tax and spend. You can entrust your future to Stephen Harper; unlike Layton and Ignatieff, the Conservative leader will not raise taxes.
The minister of finance has made his Fall Economic Update. We wanted to hear what he had to say about government spending -- but we didn't. Why? Because the real story is one of austerity.
The federal finance minister promised Canadians a look at what is happening with the economy. On the surface, the job is fairly straightforward. James Flaherty has to say whether the economy is growing, or not; and he has to say what he intends to do about it.
Parliament is back this week, and its focus this fall will be on what to do about the economy. The first order of business should be reducing unemployment, but the Conservatives are more interested in reducing the deficit.
Want to reduce the government deficit? Raise business investment? Improve the standard of living? Moving to full employment -- a job for everyone who wants one -- is the way to go. Putting more Canadians back to work will ensure the economy improves.
As the storm gathers in the Gulf of Mexico and the washing machine effect begins to swell, we are still at least 30 to 45 days from a relief well being functional to cover the gaping hole left by the explosion of BP's Deepwater Horizon oil rig. Paradoxically, austere confidence appears to be on the political leaders' menus this Saturday night after the callous optics of lakeside diplomacy.
British Prime Minister David Cameron was the only leader of the G8 courageous enough to actually go for a Deerhurst dunk in the lake, while maternal health took a beating in the name of counter terrorism budgetary profligacy. In Toronto, black clad would-be fence climbers are mingling with torched police cars on Bay Street and the tourism industry shakes it's head in dismay.
Hey, world leaders, I don't need to tell you about the sorry state of the world right now.
Your own communiqués -- a paper trail leading from last year's summit to this one -- outline a lot of the problems pretty clearly.
And they point to a number of potentially powerful solutions that, if actually implemented, could do wonders for our messed-up planet. So it's time to get off your butts and get moving.
Canada needs to be rid of the idea that for the public good, and the general welfare, the federal government needs to balance the budget.
On March 21, in Ottawa, Finance Minister Flaherty (the best finance minister in the world according to Prime Minister Stephen Harper) will deliver his budget. He has already stated he wants to balance the budget sooner rather than later, and he grades himself, and expects to be judged by others, according to the speed with which the federal budget is balanced.
This mindset is dead wrong. Canadians would rather have a job, or a raise, than see Ottawa balance the budget. IMF figures show the federal government deficit equal to only 1.3 per cent of GDP in 2012.