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Sunday, January 29, 2006

How Harper Will Proceed

From "Harper Outlines Priorities For Parliament:"

"During the campaign I found that there was a remarkable amount of multi-party consensus on many of the key priorities I just mentioned. We’ll look for shared goals and for common ideas. And, working together, we’ll seek to implement ideas that will help ordinary working people and that will strengthen our federation."

I agree. I think Layton is being disingenuous when he says he'd need to research areas of common interest with the CPC. Back in November I pointed out that the NDP's Consumers' Bill Of Rights (PDF) might be a good example of common ground:

• Interest rates keep going down, but there’s
nothing to make credit card companies lower
the interest rate they charge you. With many
credit card interest rates at 18-19.5% and a
prime rate of 3.75% (April 2004), something’s
not right.

• Unlike more than 30 countries, Canada still
doesn’t have mandatory labels on genetically
engineered food.

• Consumers have no clout against large banks,
telephone or cable corporations.

•Many neighbourhoods have lost banking
service altogether. And as the banks move
out, cheque-cashing companies and unregulated
ATMs move in, routinely charging you
more than the Criminal Code allows for interest

Jack Layton and today’s NDP have practical,
innovative solutions for consumers, contained in
today’s NDP’s Consumer Bill of Rights:

•We’ll tie credit card interest rates to the prime
rate, so when interest rates go down, your
credit card interest rate goes down, too.

•We’ll establish citizen utility boards just like
some U.S. states have done—saving
consumers millions—giving consumers clout in
dealing with banks, telephone and cable

•We’ll respect your right to know what you eat
by putting mandatory labels on genetically
engineered food.

•We’ll establish a national do-not-call list that
protects your privacy from corporate

I imagine Conservatives don't especially enjoy telephone solicitors, stealth GM food, and usurious interest rates either. There is plenty of common ground on policy matters between The Left and The Right in this country. What seems more problematic is the matter of trust. This is our challenge.

Posted by Anonalogue on January 29, 2006 in Canadian Conservative Politics | Permalink


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The NDP is behind -- as usual. There's already a DNC list.

Posted by: Russ Kuykendall | 2006-01-29 9:40:09 PM

If the CONS are free-enterprise, why would they restrict or care about Credit Card companies and GM food?

1. Credit Cards are a service and a product, not a right. If you don't want to pay insane interest rates, find a cheaper option of financing or pay your credit card off in time. If you pay before the deadline, you don't pay interest! *GASP*

2. We should have mandatory labelling on food, just like the US. We should know exactly what we are putting in our bodies: Calories, ingredients, and other lovely stuff. Consumers have the right to know what they are ingesting, given the way science has manipulated food so much.

3. If you want to give consumers better choice and more power, than give them more options. When BC Tel lost their monopoly, it suddenly became a lot cheaper and a lot better to get long distance options and cell phone options. Mandating monopolies is what gives consumers less clout.

4. Don't pin the lack of trust on the NDP. This is an issue that permeates every poltical party, especially two as far apart as the CONS and NDP.

Posted by: Jes Golbez | 2006-01-29 9:53:54 PM

This reads like an anti-big business rant to be fixed by big government brought to you by the socialists who will fix interest rates and drive capital out of the country.

I agree with Jes, the role of government is to ensure that there is lots of competition in all areas of business: banks, telephones, utilities and so on.

What we don’t want to happen is to have the government start up more businesses such as state run nanny care which will be a unionized monopoly and go on strike.

What I didn’t see on the list was the need to have democratic votes in unions and to have the ability to opt out of the union and not pay dues. Why aren’t we worried about these basic democratic rights?

Posted by: nomdenet | 2006-01-30 6:09:16 AM

I'm a bit curious about the GM food thing myself. I personally have no problem with it (human beings have been genetically modifying food since the invention of agriculture), and I know that most manufacturors and distributors oppose it as an unnecessary government imposition. Why do you feel the Conservatives would support it?

Posted by: balbulican | 2006-01-30 6:30:10 AM

We'll put you down as "Pro-Stealth-GM food", old chap.

Posted by: Anonalogue | 2006-01-30 7:06:59 AM

You can put me down as Pro GM, and you can indicate that in this case I trust the market to define the need for marketing. Consumers can indicated their preference for distributors, producers and vendors who label if they so choose, and the industry will adjust accordingly.

Posted by: balbulican | 2006-01-30 7:22:14 AM

nomdenet - Harper is not a fan of corporations who are unaccountable, he has made this clear in one speech in particular. Corporations are effectively unaccountable in many ways - please spare me any econ 101 arguments - and if Harper gets the chance I believe he will make them more accountable.

See, this is the thing: at the end of the day Canada does not have a statism problem, it has a twenty five hour a week television watching problem. The average Canadian kid sees 100,000 beer commercials before he reaches the age of majority; here in the reality based community, we recognize this is a bad thing that hurts Canada.

If you're any kind of social conservatve you recognize that corporations have more power - primarliy through advertising - over The People than the feds. And standing up for Canada means more than digging for dirt on Liberals; it means standing up to corporations like Bell "Pimp Tonez" Mobility, too.

Posted by: Anonalogue | 2006-01-30 7:23:03 AM

I’m not “any kind of social conservative” I’m a social liberal! Do you have a problem with that?

I don’t think corporations have very much power as long as there is lots of choice, if there’s lots of choice then it’s consumers that have the power. Ditto with the feds. The problem has been Canadians have not had a choice in the ballot box and the feds ended up with too much power. Especially in the PMO.

I just paid $400 for a Platinum American Express card that charges about 30% on outstandings. Who are you going to investigate? Me or American Express?

You didn’t answer my questions on unions.

I’ll “spare you the eco 101 arguments” if you’ll tell me how you and Harper are going to take on Corporate Canada that you’ve suddenly decided is “unaccountable”.

If you’re speaking for Harper, I just made a big mistake in the voting booth.

If you’re speaking for Ezra, I’m cancelling my subscription.

Posted by: nomdenet | 2006-01-30 7:42:42 AM

"I’m not “any kind of social conservative” I’m a social liberal! Do you have a problem with that?"

Yes, but it's your angry demeanor that is more problematic.

"I just paid $400 for a Platinum American Express card that charges about 30% on outstandings. Who are you going to investigate? Me or American Express?"

As for investigations I think you mean "Elliot Spitzer" here. The Bush administration has taken an innovative approach on this matter, check this out:

"From Yahoo:

If you have a high balance on your credit cards, you may be in for a shock when the next bill comes.

Within the next month, Bank of America, MBNA and Citigroup will raise minimum monthly payments on their cards from 2 percent of the balance to up to 4 percent, not including interest. Other card issuers are expected to make similar changes by the end of the year.
Credit card companies are under mounting pressure by the government to raise the minimum monthly payments to help Americans get out of debt more quickly. If you can't afford the increase, experts recommend that you contact your credit card company and try to negotiate a lower interest rate, which could offer some relief."

"You didn’t answer my questions on unions."

Dude, we're violently agreeing here. State run unionized daycare bad, gotcha.

"Corporate Canada that you’ve suddenly decided is “unaccountable”."

In light of the public data on the Income Trust scandal and the commentary from Bay Street insiders likening it to "third-world stuff" I'm not the only one who suggests there should be better market oversight, just to name one example. Are you suggesting people who leak inside stock info shouldn't be punished?

"If you’re speaking for Harper, I just made a big mistake in the voting booth. If you’re speaking for Ezra, I’m cancelling my subscription."

Yikes! I'm a Harpermaniac, and there's nothing Better Than Ezra, but neither of those fine chaps could afford me, so I speak for neither of them. Loosen up, nommy, you're too tight.

Posted by: Anonalogue | 2006-01-30 8:12:29 AM

Anonalogue, I’m relieved to hear you’re freelancing.

I’m from the school that calls for lots of competition offered to consumers and lots of corporate disclosure; not big-daddy-like NDP/Liberals to protect me from myself. You call it “oversight” then you recommend that government enforce people to increase their payments from 2% to 4 %; looks like big brother to me. I prefer the option of 0% to 100%.

The issue with Goodale was government leaks and maybe government favouritism, we’ll see.

Finally, I won’t “lossen up” when you list an NDP Bill of Rights aimed at the business community as a way to join hands in a Faustian kumbya just to stay in power.

Posted by: nomdenet | 2006-01-30 9:00:21 AM

Here another good example of common ground from Muchael Geist:

"Policy makers worldwide have scarcely begun to reconcile the risks and rewards of data retention. In the immediate aftermath of the Google issue, at least one U.S. politician has called for legislation to set limits on data retention and establish a positive obligation to destroy data under certain circumstances. In Europe, the debate has centred on mandating data retention to assist law enforcement.

While Canadian privacy law establishes general obligations on data retention and destruction, there are few clear legal obligations to either retain or destroy information. In light of recent events, it is time to search for some solutions."


Posted by: Anonalogue | 2006-01-30 10:25:56 AM

"We’ll tie credit card interest rates to the prime
rate, so when interest rates go down, your
credit card interest rate goes down, too."

This will only insure that poor people don't get credit cards, and will rely on the even more usurious paycheck cashing services and pawnshops instead. Of course, they'd probably just spend that credit card money on "beer and popcorn" anyway, eh?

Posted by: John Thacker | 2006-01-30 12:56:54 PM

All the talk of credit card rates leaves me aghast that people appear to use them for anything other than an emergency and even then, use them as little as possible. Once faced with monthly payments, it is hard to get out of that pattern.

At my mother's knee, I learned to stay out of debt. Save and then buy. As a result, I discovered that I never regret what I haven't bought.

Our mistake is in allowing any medium to bombard our children with ads; we take them shopping as family entertainment, not as a necessary part of living, and they grow up thinking consuming is living, and that going in debt for things is normal. Obviously, there are exceptions, but the kinds of things one gets with a credit card are often discretionary, not necessary, spending.

I would support any political party that agitates for lower credit card rates and for banking facilities situated for people's convenience, as opposed to closing local branches and going global. However, wouldn't it be better to teach people to make do with smaller and less? To forego credit and credit cards? Or is that too old fashioned an idea?

Additionally, I don't want complex and extensive services from a bank, simply basic services. I don't need ads offering something I might win nor any other come-ons. I just want basic service readily available. A machine doesn't cut it either, come to think of it. I don't trust ATM's situated in supermarkets, etc. Does anyone else agree?

Posted by: NJC | 2006-01-31 1:58:13 AM

I agree about card use. But today in Canada, if you are having children and your wife stays home to care for them, getting by without the card is tough. With our eight children, we had to move to a place without income tax, and with a family home, in order to be debt free. (Of course the social environment in Canada was also motivation to move.)Thank goodness we did, as the college years are just starting...

Posted by: lwestin | 2006-01-31 5:59:26 AM

What a god-awful list of "priorities". For practically every one of these bullet items, the mighty hand of Big Brother is already present, awarding and protecting the oligopolies of which the NDP are complaining. That is why consumers lack choice.

And of course, like all NDP policies, whatever is alleged to be done in the name of the poor has the exact opposite effect - increasing the misery of ordinary people while enriching the already-wealthy bureaucratic and political class. For example, you can be damn sure that the drones hired to maintain and enforce the "do not call" registry will make far more money than 99% of the people making or receiving the calls.

Posted by: Justzumgai | 2006-01-31 9:43:43 PM

Harper should appoint to the Senate-some the elected Alberta Senators soon. Too many Liberal Senators now. The Canadian Senate truely need more Conservative Senators.

Posted by: Larry | 2006-02-01 12:21:56 PM

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