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.
How will the next financial crisis erupt? (Or perhaps we should describe it as a further chapter of the ongoing financial crisis.) It's like figuring out which piece of tinder will ignite after a sizzling heat wave. We know it's bad out there, but just where will the next spark hit? What follows is one of many- potential financial crisis scenarios that Canada could face.
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.
For those involved in social change work, these days can be frustrating ones. Just as the neoliberal order of tax cuts, deregulation, resource extraction and free trade seems to be maxed out, like the Energizer bunny it keeps coming back. Meanwhile, progressive forces (academics, unions, NGOs and political parties) can give a good fight from time to time, but overall are as fragmented as ever.
So how do we move ahead to create a movement for change that will excite people about the world that could be, and put our ruling class on the defensive? For starters, we need to better focus our energies on articulating a vision and some clear highly strategic "game changing" steps towards that vision.
We all know that wealth inequality is a problem in the U.S., but is it a problem in Canada? Um, yes.
Luck plays a part in any political career. Napoleon famously asked of a general recommended to him for his military prowess: "so he is good -- but is he lucky?"
A barrel of oil that was selling in the US$110 range last summer, now sells for less than US$70. That was not the future Stephen Harper and his ruling Conservatives expected when the party leader touted Canada as an energy superpower, based on massive petroleum reserves -- the world's third largest after Saudi Arabia and Venezuela -- locked away in the bitumen sands of Alberta.
But there is good news for the Conservatives in the bad news.
Lower gasoline and heating oil prices will put money into the pockets of strapped Canadian workers, helping to drive up consumption and employment.