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The Recession is Real Now

Last night, for the first time in my lifetime, my life was touched by a recession. At only 26 years old, I have only lived through one previous recession (1990-92), which I was too young to feel. Neither of my parents’ jobs were affected and – as I assume is the case for most middle class Canadian families – the household budget was always a topic of discussion and a source of concern for my father.

Last night, I learned that a friend who works for a major technology company had been informed that he was being laid off. He had done nothing wrong and was simply a victim of the old last in, first out rule. He doesn’t have time to mourn. He had to be back at work early this morning. So like thousands of Canadians, he’s going to get up every morning for the next two weeks and continue to do the job that he’s paid to do with the knowledge that in only a matter of days, he’s not going to have a job to go back to. And like millions more, he’s going to be kept awake at night wondering nervously what the immediate future has in store for him; how he’s going to find a new job when the economy continues to deteriorate; and how he’s going to find the money to pay the rent and put food on his table.

It’s one thing to read about thousands of auto workers getting laid off; 300 employees at Sears losing their jobs;  Air Canada laying off 340 flight attendants; 230 Canadians being cut by 360Networks; 125 Labradorian miners getting the axe; the more than 200,000 Canadian jobs lost since Stephen Harper went back to Canadians to ask for a renewed mandate or the thousands more whose jobs are in jeopardy as the companies they work for file for bankruptcy or publicly consider it. It’s another thing to see those losses affect your friends and family. 

The challenges facing Stephen Harper in turning around this economy are well known and understood. But as much as Harper’s got an economic problem, he’s got a bigger ideological and rhetorical one.

Conservatives have rationalized their distaste for the social safety net with their argument that the people who rely on the system take advantage of it. People are on welfare, the story goes, because they’re too lazy to get jobs. There are images of these folks living high off the hog and spending every cent on liquor, cigarettes and lottery tickets. The problem is, the people losing their jobs have done everything right. They’ve worked hard to pay the bills and raise their families. And now the rug’s been pulled out from under them.

Stephen Harper got himself elected by convincing Canadians that he was one of them. He’s just an average  Tim Horton’s swilling hockey dad. Remember? He wasn’t an ivory tower intellectual like those Liberals. He was just like us and was going to be the Prime Minister for the average family. He’s spent a lot of time and a lot of money targeting voters in southern Ontario – ground zero for the recession in Canada.

Conservative columnists and the news sites that sell their headlines and race car sponsorships to the Conservative Party seem to be tripping all over themselves to denounce any potential bailout of the auto industry. This despite the fact that 30,000 Canadian jobs are on the line.  Now the Conservatives have to choose between their ideology and their responsibility to Canadian families.

Filed under: Oh, Canada

A Question For the Honourable Minister

Does the Immigration Minister feel it is appropriate that so many of his colleagues refer to him by the monicker Minister for Curry in a Hurry? I ask this question in light of the tremendous indignation that Conservatives across the country feigned when an unelected, unpaid volunteer for the Liberal Party of Canada joked about a Chinese restaurant that he used to frequent. It would seem to me that if the Minister felt it necessary to create an award to present to the aforementioned eatery, it would only be appropriate that he inform Canadians why this particular joke is more appropriate and which elected Conservative officials refer to him by this name.

Filed under: Oh, Canada

The Reviews Are In

Like many Canadians, I watched as CBC breathlessly covered every second of Obama’s Canadian vacation. And reading the reviews afterwards, one article caught my eye. Some highlights:

On trade:

The prime minister responded by giving the president a bit of a lecture, remarking that Canada’s stimulus package “actually removed duties on some imported goods.”

The exchange was an awkward moment in a visit that was intended by both leaders to emphasize their countries’ friendship and longstanding bonds.

On America’s relationship with Canada’s Next Government (patent pending):

If Mr. Obama is not entirely simpatico with Mr. Harper, he may have more in common with Canada’s opposition leader, Michael Ignatieff of the Liberal Party. Mr. Ignatieff is an author (like Mr. Obama) and a former director of a human rights center at Harvard, where he worked alongside Samantha Power, who advised Mr. Obama on foreign policy during his campaign. 

And of course my favorite part of the trip:

Filed under: Damn Yankees, Oh, Canada

…And They Sure Don’t Build Yachts Like They Used To!

In an interview with a conservative talk show host, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) has once again embarrassed herself. Posted by the blog Dump Bachmann and picked up by the MN Progressive Project, the clip has the Minnesota Republican telling KLTK’s Chris Baker that she opposes she stimulus because we’re “running out of rich people in this country.”

Steve Benen organizes some more of the stupidity:

* ACORN is “under federal indictment for voter fraud,” but the stimulus bill nevertheless gives ACORN “$5 billion.” (In reality, ACORN is not under federal indictment and isn’t mentioned in the stimulus bill at all.)
* many members of Congress have “a real aversion to capitalism.”

* the stimulus bill includes a measure to create a “rationing board” for health care, and after the bill becomes law, “your doctor will no longer be able to make your healthcare decisions with you.”

* the recovery package is part of a Democratic conspiracy to “direct” funding away from Republican districts, so Democratic districts can “suck up” all federal funds. Bachmann doesn’t think this will work because, as she put it, “We’re running out of rich people in this country.”

* the “Community-Organizer-in-Chief” is also orchestrating a conspiracy involving the Census Bureau, which the president will use to redraw congressional lines to keep Democrats in power for up to “40 years.” When the host said he was confused, noting that congressional district lines are drawn at the state level, Bachmann said Obama’s non-existent plan is an “anti-constitutional move.”

Courtesy Huffington Post.

Filed under: Damn Yankees

Harking (Or Is It Harping) Back to A Simpler Time

So I was doing my regular Saturday morning web surfing, reading the news and procrastinating before getting dressed and venturing off into that cold, cruel world to go grocery shopping. Just for the fun of it, I thought I’d take a look at the Conservative Party website. After all, it’s been a while. Featured prominently on the front page is a link to The Truth North Strong and Free: Stephen Harper’s Plan for Canadians

 

A PLAN FOR THE ECONOMY VS PROPOSALS FOR FINANCIAL DISASTER
OCTOBER 07, 2008

Prime Minister Stephen Harper understands the global financial crisis. His plan for the way forward has been clear and consistent: balanced budgets, lower taxes, investments to create jobs and keeping inflation low.

 

This is in stark contrast to Stéphane Dion and Jack Layton, who have only just realized that the economy is an issue.

Dion wants to impose a massive carbon tax that will drive up the cost of everything and hurt families.

Layton will increase taxes on businesses and drive jobs out of Canada.

The Liberals and the NDP are both a vote forfinancial disaster. They have no plan. Both parties would gamble with Canadians’ hard-earned money for short term electoral gain.

For the past year and a half, the Harper Government has been implementing a real plan to protect our economy.  The Harper Government is working for all Canadians who have a job to keep, a mortgage to pay and a retirement to save for.

A Conservative government will not be raising taxes. We will not impose a carbon tax. We will not cancel planned tax reductions for business. We will keep our spending within our means. It is that simple.

The alternative is not a plan. It is just the consequence of complete panic, and this government will not panic at a time of uncertainty.

 

 

In tough economic times like these, I know I’m comforted by the fact that my government has a clear plan to lead Canadians through this difficult time. After all, Harper was the first one to recognize that there was a financial crisis (perhaps on some distant alternate planet we’ll call Harpiter, I suppose). I’m reassured that the Conservatives have a plan to live within our means and continue to offer balanced budgets.

Yep. It was a simpler time!

Filed under: Oh, Canada

She’s Just Not That Into You (Part 2)

It seems like Palin’s givin’ the cold shoulder to conservatives yet again. It seems that this time she’s blowing off CPAC, the biggest conservative party of the year, as yet another step in her pursuit of a more moderate, mainstream image to woo non-rednecks in 2012.

Filed under: Damn Yankees

A Happy Meal Just Got Happier

I’m a big enough man to admit when I’m wrong. Evidently China is now being struck by an economic slowdown as a result of Warren Kinsella’s joke about the cost of food at an Ottawa eatery and now Canada will suffer as a result. Alice Wong was right! What else can we take from the news that McDonald’s is slashing the prices of its sandwiches in China by up to 30 per cent? Way to go, Warren!

And In Other News…

Starbucks is taking a run at the golden arches by introducing a breakfast value meal. For only $3.95, Starbucks customers will have the option of a tall latte with oatmeal or coffee cake, or a tall coffee with a breakfast sandwich. I’ve tried the Starbucks sandwiches and they’re pretty good. But I’d rather eat a Sausage and Egg McMuffin than any breakfast sandwich I’ve ever tried (with the exception of a Western Omelette Bagel that McDonalds has discontinued to the great delight of every cardiologist in the world).

As someone with a great affinity for both McDonalds and Starbucks, it’s not easy for me to see the two compete. While my parents have been happily married for more than thirty years, but I imagine that this is how children of divorce feel.

Filed under: Apolitical

Harper/Flaherty Stimulus Plan Revealed

Stephen Taylor isn’t the only blogger who receives tips in manilla envelopes. Early this morning as I was meandering through the local Starbucks to fetch my morning venti (for the record, I am not the least bit embarrassed about my preference of Starbucks over Tim Horton’s; I’m not a snob, I just like strong coffee) when an unusual man in a fedora and trench coat handed me a nondescript envelope. Before we could get his name or ask him any questions about the package that he handed me, he rushed off. When we got home, we opened the package and inserted the DVD enclosed into our computer.

We were shocked to discover that the contents of that DVD was actually a video containing the top secret economic plans of the Ministry of Finance to assist Canadians in coping with the current recession. We consulted with our lawyers and though we were warned of the potential legal consequences of showing the video here, we here at The Centre for Strategic Centrism take our responsibility to bring Canadians the news that matters very seriously. So in spite of the potential legal consequences, here is the Harper/Flaherty stimulus plan:

Filed under: Oh, Canada

If I Loaned Them Two Hands and a Flashlight, They Still Couldn’t Find Their Rear End!

I’ve said before that I have no intention of making a habit of defending Warren Kinsella. And there’s one big reason for that: Warren’s name isn’t going to appear on a ballot any time in the near future (to my knowledge). Yet for some reason, the rocket surgeons on the Conservative benches seem to want to spend all of their time fighting him. So I’m not going to defend Warren. I’m not going to ask how a party that hires Ezra Levant (at least twice, once in Government) can justify their opposition to Warren Kinsella. But they’re clearly pre-occupied with him. After all, they’re paying that race-car driving finger painter to keep Kinsella as his top five links today. 

So first let me pose a question to the Prime Minister:

As hundreds of thousands of Canadians are wondering how they will continue to pay the rent, feed their children and keep the heat on; as thousands of Canadian families and businesses file for bankruptcy; as millions more fear losing their jobs; and your own Finance Minister seems to be contradicting you on the Canadian governments economic plans, how is it that your MPs and Ministers are preoccupied with one lone Liberal Party volunteer? How do you rationalize wasting time in the House of Commons on a single inappropriate joke made by someone who doesn’t work for either the Government or the Opposition? How is this Parliamentary business in the first place? And how do you reconcile this preoccupation my government (funded by my tax dollars and the tax dollars of those same families who are now wondering how they will survive) has with your party’s assertion that it is the party that will look after the average Joe?

Is it possible that you never really cared about Joe the plumber and Jane the machinist? Is it possible that all the while you were drinking your Tim’s, the only thing you really cared about was getting the keys to that sprawling house on Sussex? Is there any other way to explain the fact that as people and government around the world were waking up to the reality of the worst recession in generations, you were denying any crisis existed and advising them to buy stocks? Or that after becoming the last person in the world to recognize the crisis before us (making an incredible farce of your economics background) your response was to not assist a single Canadian, but rather to try to remove funding for your political opposition?

I suppose I just answered my own question. And now, let me pose this question to Burke:

On a day when President Obama addressed the nation in prime time to sell the stimulus package; Defense Minister Peter MacKay discusses the impediments that Canadian soldiers are facing in Afghanistan; the largest forrest fires in Australian history (which have killed more than 160 people so far) are revealed to be the result of arson; at least 13 people were injured in a Chinese riot; and countless other significant issues made the news around the world, you judged the top five stories to be Warren Kinsella?! That’s quality reporting, Picasso!

Art has been around since the days of the cavemen, but I suppose Burke’s better-known job is even older (the world’s oldest profession, if I’m not mistaken)!

PS: Just in case you gave the Conservatives the benefit of the doubt and assumed that they might not have lost every ounce of their senses, Conservative MP Alice Wong believes that a joke about the price of food at a Chinese restaurant in Ottawa will alienate a billion Chinese citizens and spark a trade war. I’m anxious to find out if anyone can find a reference to lemon chicken-gate in any Chinese paper (not Chinese language Canadian papers, but Chinese papers). Only in Canada’s confused and colon-gazing government does this warrant the kind of attention that Jason Kenney, Dean Del Mastro and Alice Wong have given it.

Filed under: Oh, Canada

Special Delivery

Well my boss sent me home from work today. Sure… I was a little dizzy and a lot nauseous, but I was willing to play hurt. Anyways, I wandered home mid-day and decided to check the mail before heading up to my apartment and discovered my Laurier Club package in the mailbox.

For only $45 a month (or to put that in more understandable terms, the cost of about two venti lattes at Starbucks) I am not a member of the Laurier Club. I point this out because I, for one, always assumed that it cost much more. It’s no secret that the Liberal Party could use the money. And $45 per month is a small amount to help my party fight the Conservative Party (who have stocked their war chest by sending out countless emails and letters frightening their members about the prospects of a government made up of ivory tower liberals (read: those with a university education) that is out to destroy the nuclear family (read: supports gay rights and human rights in general) and hates the West (read: does not hate Torontonians or Quebecers), etc…), support our leader and the next Prime Minister of Canada, Michael Ignatieff, and get some decent fringe benefits, as well (not the least of which is this snazzy Laurier Club pin that I’m assured makes all the lovely Liberal ladies weak in the knees). And that doesn’t even take into consideration the tax credits. After taxes, this membership is only going to cost me $175.

Now I know the economy’s not good right now (after all, it’s only the Conservatives who have trouble figuring that out). But consider your $45 contribution an investment in a government that actually understands the economy.

Filed under: Oh, Canada,