I’ve been reading the paper this morning and thinking about next week’s Canadian election. I had planned to vote Green. My rationale? I’m deeply opposed to the Conservative copyright legislation introduced earlier this year; I can’t see Stephan Dion as Prime Minister of Canada; and I like the idea of supporting the Green party because I think raising awareness of environmental issues in politics is super important. We all have to live on the planet, and like many Canadians I don’t think that the Conservative party is treating the environment as seriously as it should.
However, the economy trumps all and at the moment I think I’ll be voting Conservative after all. Ironically parroting George Bush’s lead south of the border, our opposition leaders have ratcheted up their shouts that the “sky is falling”. But they know that the Canadian banking system doesn’t have the same structural weaknesses that the US system does. They know that our government has been spending down the debt and cutting taxes, not financing a war in Iraq. And they know that Canadians don’t have the same level of indebtedness as Americans.
Yes, the US fallout is going to hit us here. The sensible solution is to do what your personal financial advisor would tell you — tighten your belt, pay down your debt, and wait out the storm. If you don’t believe that, then think back to 1990, when Premier Bob Rae and Finance Minister “Pink” Floyd Laughren tried the opposite and attempted to spend Ontario out of a recession. In just four short years, they went from a balanced budget under David Peterson’s Liberals to a forty billion dollar debt. They ballooned the Ontario bureacracy to manage all that spending and then when they couldn’t manage the ordinary functioning of government within budget (never mind the spending programs) they forced civil servants to take unpaid days off — the so-called “Rae Days”, leading to province-wide mass protests. And it was all for nought – they never did effectively manage the economy through that downturn. To fix that mess, we got Mike Harris and his “Common Sense” revolution, which gutted schools and medicare to pay down debt accumulated under the free-handed spending of Mr. Rae.
So I’ll be voting for a steady hand on the wheel, rather than ill-conceived and unneeded “bailouts”. And that means that it looks like I’ll be voting for considered economic management rather than any of the three hysterical ninnies who would like to lead the country in Mr. Harper’s place.
As they say in Quebec, “Je me souviens”.